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Miami Dolphins Full Draft Breakdown, Projections, Final Grades

NFL Draft Football
In this still image from video provided by the NFL, Tua Tagovailoa shows off the lining of his jacket during the NFL football draft Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Alabaster, Ala. (NFL via AP)

The Miami Dolphins entered the 2020 NFL Draft with more picks (14) than any other team. As rumors and trade winds scattered through every media source, it was Brian Flores and GM Chris Grier that kept their cards close and stayed patient.

The Dolphins brass decided to stay put at No.5 and selected their QB of the future, Alabama’s Tua Tagavailoa.  Tua went 22-2 as a starter and fits the bill of being a team leader on and off the field. After passing up Drew Brees TWICE in his career and selecting Minkah Fitzpatrick over Lamar Jackson, the Dolphins couldn’t take the chance of passing on one of college football’s greatest stars in the history of the quarterback position. Tua will have to answer to critics after his season ending hip-surgery, but there is no rush for the former National Champion to play as he will learn the ropes from “Fitzmagic” as the young offensive line continues to gel.

Speaking of offensive line, it was clear that the Dolphins brain trust went in with a solid plan to not only draft a young qb, but to protect him at all costs. Miami spent the No.18 selection on the youngest player in the draft, Austin Jackson (20 years old) from USC. Jackson could start his career at left tackle as he will likely be protecting the blindside of Fitzpatrick in his rookie season. Draft critics were all over the board with this pick, but its hard to blame Miami for taking the upside tackle who will eventually be asked to protect Tua at all costs.

Continuing the trend of building through the trenches, the Dolphins selected OL Robert Hunt from Louisiana-Lafayette with the 39th pick in the second round and followed that pick with Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama.

As a member of the Rajun Cajun, Hunt was known for pancaking defenders to the floor and at 6’5 325 lbs, he has experience playing both guard and tackle, but is projected to be better suited at guard. The Dolphins signed OG Erick Flowers in free agency to man the LG position so expect Hunt to compete at RG and/or RT.

The Dolphins continued to beef up the offensive line in the 4th round when they selected OG Solomon Kindley from Georgia. If you’re watching a DeAndre Swift highlight tape, its not hard to notice number 66 opening up holes the size of 6-lane highways for the speedster to make a long gain. Kindley earned the nickname “Big Fish” in college and revealed he has a lot of family that live in Miami. Only fitting that the Dolphins made this pick to secure the interior.

Davis was drafted to add to a 3-man rotation of first round pick Christian Wilkins, and Davon Godchaux. Flores’ defense has multiple 3-4 formations so Davis could be asked to play nose tackle. In 4-3 sets, the Dolphins will rely on newly signed Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah to create pressure from the ends and if former first round pick Charles Harris can match expectations, it should dramatically improve the defensive unit.

At the end of the first round the Dolphins decided to trade back and acquire an additional 4th from the Green Bay Packers, who took QB Jordan Love with the 26th pick. At 30,  Miami then selected Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn. At the time of Igbinoghene’s selection, the Dolphins decided to pass up the number 1 ranked safety on the board in Xavier McKinney which surprised many.

However, after reading multiple reports, many scouts have said that Igbinoghene is an aggressive man coverage defender with excellent speed and a good physical tackler. It’s hard to blame Brian Flores for what he believes could be his next top nickel corner on a Dolphins defense that already has Xavien Howard and Byron Jones.

The Dolphins finished the 3rd round by selecting Brandon Jones, S, Texas.

Jones underwent labrum surgery in January and missed the Senior Bowl. Jones opted to impress potential NFL suitors by breaking down almost four games’ worth of defensive tape to display his experience.

Jones finished his Longhorns career with 175 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, four interceptions, 11 pass deflections and three fumble recoveries.

Still, the Dolphins got more of a project player than a day one starter. Jones will have to also show his value on special teams after Bobby McCain and Eric Rowe are expected to return as the teams starting safeties.

Miami closed up shop by loading up on the defensive line and drafted DL Jason Strowbridge from North Carolina and Curtis Weaver an EDGE rusher from Boise St. Strowbridge is a Deerfield Beach High School product and returns home to South Florida to play in a stadium he attended as a child. Coach Flores labeled him as “tough and versatile” as the Tar Heel  played 283 snaps in the B gap, 272 over the tackle as the 4 technique, 111 outside of the tackle and 23 in the A gap according to Pro Football Focus. He even had eight reps off the ball as a stand-up linebacker.

Over the past three years, Weaver has accumulated 34 sacks. Few, if any, edge rushers available have that level of production.

The Dolphins traded their first of three 5th round picks to San Francisco for Matt Breida. Breida was part of a three man rotation at rb for the 49ers but still contributed over 600 yards rushing on 5.1 ypc. Many wondered why the Dolphins didn’t address the rb position in the draft, but it was clear that Grier had a plan to add a saucy veteran at a cheap price.

The Dolphins concluded their 2020 draft by selecting LS Blake Ferguson from LSU to replace John Denney in the 6th round and followed up with Malcolm Perry from Navy in the 7th. Perry lined up at QB, RB, and WR for Navy and had a career high 274 yards rushing in the Army vs Navy game in 2019.

In one draft, the Dolphins were able to add the future of the franchise at QB, beef up the OL, add mass and skill players on the DL, trade for an electric rb at a cheap cost, add a nickel corner with unlimited potential, and a long snapper.

How’d your team do?

Miami Dolphins 2020 Draft Class

1 5 QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama A
1 18* OT Austin Jackson, USC B+
1 30* CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn C+
2 39 OL Robert Hunt, Louisiana-Lafayette B+
2 56* DL Raekwon Davis, Alabama B+
3 70 S Brandon Jones, Texas D+
4 111* G Solomon Kindley, Georgia A
5 154* DL Jason Strowbridge, North Carolina B
5 164* EDGE Curtis Weaver, Boise State A+
6 185 LS Blake Ferguson, LSU D
7 246* WR Malcolm Perry, Navy B

Final Grade: A-

This has been an A++ offseason for the Dolphins, but the players still have to take the field and live up to their expectations. The class of 2020 could end up being an A+ if Tua can repeat his production in the NFL. Miami added beef on both sides and the trade for Breida was executed to perfection. If there is a season, expect Miami to reach the 8-8 mark in 2020 and gear up to win the division in 2021.