Whenever you’re looking to buy a house, the phrase “good bones” comes up quite often. Essentially, it means it was built with good quality and a solid foundation. Well, the Miami Dolphins have been under construction over the last few years and each decision that GM Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores have made thus far has put the organization on a track to be characterized as a team with good bones that should be in contention in short order.
2020 proves to be a pivotal year in that rebuild as they were able to identify their franchise cornerstone at quarterback after drafting Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick last spring and then made a push for the postseason after notching a 10-6 season. As they step toward 2021, Miami is expected to take another leap forward, owning the second-best odds to win the AFC East. Not only will Tagovailoa be entering his second season in the league, but the club put an emphasis on putting more offensive weapons around him to help jumpstart that ascension.
While we have to wait a little while longer to see this club in game action, let’s take a look at the roster as it’s currently constructed heading into minicamp and the rest of the offseason.
Rookies will be denoted with a (*).
One of the bigger needs that the Dolphins had to address this offseason was getting Tagovailoa some more weapons in the passing game. Miami did that in free agency by signing veteran Will Fuller to a one-year deal and double-dipped on injecting speed into this offense by drafting Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle with the No. 6 overall pick in the first round. The arrival of Waddle serves as a reunion for Tagovailoa as the two played together during their days under Nick Saban for the Crimson Tide. Both Waddle and Fuller can create separation with their speed, which should help Tagovailoa as he continues to develop his downfield passing. Not only did the Dolphins give Tagovailoa two receivers, but tight end Hunter Long could be a solid pass-catching option to develop, especially as Mike Gesicki is set to hit free agency next offseason.
Meanwhile, Miami drafted Liam Eichenberg in the second round of the 2021 draft. If he can compete for starting role in the near future, that would give the Dolphins three young tackles (2020 first-round pick Austin Jackson, 2020 second-round pick Robert Hunt) to build around for years to come.
The only glaring hole within this Dolphins offense seems to be in the backfield. While Gaskin, Brown, and various other members of that unit are solid pieces, there’s no true leader in the pack at the moment so this looks like a committee heading into 2021.
Miami’s defense ranked just outside the top 10 in DVOA last season and there’s no reason to doubt that Brian Flores’ unit should take a dip as it heads into next season. While the club did cut bait with linebacker Kyle Van Noy this offseason, Miami was able to bring in Benardrick McKinney, retain Elandon Roberts and draft Jaelan Phillips to help solidify the front seven. Phillips has the highest upside of the bunch as the No. 18 overall pick has all the tools to be an elite pass-rusher for Miami for years to come. During his final collegiate season at Miami, he finished with eight sacks over 10 games played and 15.5 tackles for a loss. If he can come out strong during his rookie campaign, this front-seven should once again be a tough foe on a weekly basis.
Meanwhile, the secondary has largely held true. The club did add safety Jevon Holland in the second round of the 2021 draft, which only adds to the talent on the back end of the defense. As for the corner spots, Jones and Howard will continue to form one of the better one-two punches in the NFL while 2020 first-rounder Noah Igbinoghene continues to develop. The addition of Jason McCourty also gives the position group some solid veteran guidance.