Breaking Down the 2020 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins entered the 2020 NFL Draft with 14 draft picks, and after a couple of draft-day trades, wound up making 11 selections.

Intentions were made loud and clear. Miami was going to add bodies to its offensive and defensive lines after possessing a pair of the worst statistical units last season.

Six of the team’s 11 selections were either offensive/defensive line or edge rushers including Austin Jackson (OL), Robert Hunt (OL), Raekwon Davis (DL), Solomon Kindley (OL), Jason Strowbridge (DE) and Curtis Weaver (EDGE).

The obvious splash pick was selecting QB Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth-overall selection, but rather than surrounding him with playmakers, the priority was clearly protection, which may prove to be the most important factor in determining Tagovailoa’s success at the next level after suffering multiple injuries throughout his collegiate career.

With the future in mind for head coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier, here’s a breakdown of all 11 Dolphins’ 2020 draft picks.

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Round 1, Pick 5

After sending out nearly every smokescreen known to man, the Dolphins were able to land their franchise quarterback without having to trade up from No. 5. Tagovailoa is nearly everything you want in a quarterback. His accuracy is pinpoint, decision making is that of a multi-year NFL starter, and the way he maneuvers defenders with his eyes is a thing of beauty. Tua’s arm strength isn’t going to blow you away, but there’s enough there to make every throw he’ll need to make at the next level. The most likely plan of action for the new face of the franchise is to treat the 2020 season as a redshirt year behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, and then begin 2021 as the team’s starter. There’s a chance that Tagovailoa may be called upon at some point this upcoming season if the team gets out to a slow start, but the safe money is on Tua playing very limited snaps in 2020. Stay patient, Dolphins fans (which won’t be the easiest thing in the world after enduring the 2019 season), the future is bright.

Austin Jackson OL, USC
Round 1, Pick 18

As most draft analysts expected, the run on offensive lineman happened early as the top-four OL were all off the board by pick No. 13 after the Buccaneers traded up one spot to select Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. There were three more offensive lineman selected in the first round after Wirfs, and Jackson was the first of these three as Miami made him the selection at No. 18 – the first-round pick they received in the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade. The youngest offensive-line prospect in the draft, the selection of Jackson felt a bit forced as the team desperately needed to address the position of tackle. However, most draft analysts would tell you that the best is yet to come for Jackson based on his size, athleticism, and the fact that he had a far-from-normal offseason last year due to being a perfect match for his sister who he donated bone marrow to in a very strenuous and time-consuming surgery. We’ll have to wait and see if his long-term position ends up being left or right tackle, but it’s safe to say that he’ll compete and have a strong chance of starting at left tackle from day one in 2020.

Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
Round 1, Pick 30

After signing Byron Jones to pair with Xavien Howard this offseason, the Miami Dolphins added yet another cornerback to the mix with the 30th-overall selection by picking Igbinoghene. A physical press corner, Igbinoghene is fairly inexperienced at the position after beginning his career at Auburn at wide receiver. However, his athleticism is off the charts, he thrives at jamming wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, and he’s ultra competitive – a trait coach Flores will embrace from day one. He figures to compete for snaps his rookie season at slot corner, and may eventually move to the outside when it’s time to move on from Howard. There may be some early growing pains at the next level with Igbinoghene due to playing just two years at the position and potentially being thrown to the fire in year one, but he definitely found himself in a great position to learn from Howard and Jones as he begins his NFL career.

Robert Hunt, OL, Louisiana
Round 2, Pick 39

Miami made Hunt its second offensive lineman selected with the seventh pick in the second round. A complete mauler in the trenches, Hunt provides versatility to play both guard and tackle, however, I think he’ll get his first shot to start at guard. The best way to describe Hunt is to simply call him a bully. He goes all out on every snap, which is great when he keeps his form and have his way with his defender, but can cost him every once in a while by whiffing on a block. For an offense that is going to pound the rock with Jordan Howard and Matt Breida in 2020, and then gradually evolve to suit Tagovailoa’s needs in the future, Hunt (along with Jackson) will be given every opportunity possible to be key components of this rebuild for the long haul.

Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
Round 2, Pick 56

An absolute monster of a man, 6’6″ 311 pounds, Davis was a very solid and consistent contributor at Alabama over the course of his final three seasons. The issue most draft analysts had with Davis is that he seemed to “max out” his sophomore season with the Crimson Tide. In 2017, Davis contributed 69 tackles (10 for a loss) and 8.5 sacks. However, he saw his number of tackles decrease both his Junior and Senior seasons, and combined for just two sacks over this same timespan. We see this every once in a while with Alabama prospects. Due to the fact that they are already so good and physically mature when they get to Alabama, there are some cases where the player doesn’t seem to get much better at the next level. However, if Grier and the rest of the coaching staff can motivate Davis to go 100 percent on every play, which he should be able to as a rotational piece on the defensive line, Davis has the potential to grow into a regular contributor alongside last year’s first-round pick, Christian Wilkins, for years to come.

Brandon Jones, S, Texas
Round 3, Pick 70

Many thought the Dolphins would go with a safety at the end of round one, or for sure in round two with Grant Delpit still on the board, but the Dolphins opted to go other directions while landing Jones with the sixth pick in the third round. The position of safety wasn’t addressed in free agency, so Jones’ selection was definitely warranted, especially as the team looks to replace Reshad Jones. Coincidentally enough, Brandon Jones projects best as a strong safety that can lay the lumber on wide receivers and help support in the run game. He’s not the fastest or most athletic safety, so trying to keep him involved with under crossing routes and helping in run support is likely the best way to put him in a position to succeed. The Dolphins currently project to start Bobby McCain and Eric Rowe at the safety positions, so Jones likely won’t be asked to contribute much right away. However, we’ve seen plenty of struggles and injuries the last few years in Miami at the safety position, so hopefully Jones is able to parlay a successful training camp and preseason into confidence should his number be called in 2020.

Solomon Kindley, OL, Georgia
Round 4, Pick 111

The third and final offensive lineman draftee for the Dolphins came in the fourth round in the form of Solomon Kindley. Nicknamed Big Fish, primarily due to serving as a lifeguard, Kindley fits the nickname well as a 6’3″ 337 pound interior offensive lineman. The selection of Kindley can be seen as a wake-up call to all existing Dolphins’ lineman that they are now on notice and it’s going to be a battle in training camp for roster spots. Kindley uses his weight/mass to his advantage and anchors well while also bringing loads of power to the run game. He’ll have to work on his footwork and technique at the next level, but he should have time to do so if Hunt and free-agent signee Ereck Flowers end up winning the starting guard positions. At the very least in 2020, Kindley provides depth at a position that arguably requires more depth than any other position. Hopefully Kindley is able to blossom into a starting-quality guard, especially if Hunt eventually moves to one of the tackle positions.

Jason Strowbridge, DE, North Carolina
Round 5, Pick 154

Athleticism and size to the defensive line, that’s what Strowbridge is providing as the Dolphins made him their first of two fifth-round selections. Strowbridge put together some nice tape at North Carolina, but really solidified himself after an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl. One of his strengths is just that, the strength that is required in order to rush from the interior. He’s not the typical defensive end with great bend and quickness around the edge, but rather, he’ll beat his man with an initial move after the snap and make stops in the backfield while also racking up a few sacks (10.5 in his career including five his Junior season). He’s bit of a ‘tweener in regards to where he’ll find most success (between 3- and 5-technique spots), but the depth Miami was able to secure earlier this offseason in free agency should allow him plenty of time to grow and catch up to the speed and nuances that come with the position at the next level.

Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
Round 5, Pick 164

A player not many expected to be available at this point in the draft, the Dolphins moved up and made Curtis Weaver the 164th selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Mountain West Conference’s all-time sack leader (34) was the definition of production during his time at Boise State. He racked up 52 total tackles and 13.5 sacks last year as he makes up for not having elite quickness and bend around the edge with powerful hands and upper body strength that allows him to shed blockers on his way to the quarterback. He actually has a really nice inside pass-rush move that was highly productive at the collegiate level, but he’ll need to work on fine tuning his moves around the edge so that his inside pass-rush move remains effective. The position of edge rusher left a lot to be desired last season for the Dolphins, but the addition of Weaver to go along with Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah may just come together nicely to form a more consistent pass rush in ’20.

Blake Ferguson, LS, LSU
Round 6, Pick 185

Despite being a sixth-round pick, the selection of Blake Ferguson may have been the most shocking pick the Dolphins made in the 2020 NFL Draft. We can all agree the position of long snapper is important, but there is also the argument that Miami could benefit by adding another slot receiver to the mix – and both Quez Watkins and James Proche were still on the board at this point in time. Ferguson was highly respected at LSU for his special teams work and was a team captain in both 2018 and ’19. His brother, Reid, was also a long snapper at LSU and currently plays for the division rival Buffalo Bills. Ferguson may compete for non-special teams snaps in camp, but the reality of the situation is that he’ll delegate to long-snapping duties only.

Malcolm Perry, WR, Navy
Round 7, Pick 246

Listed as a wide receiver after spending the majority of his time at Navy at quarterback and running back, the Miami Dolphins made Malcolm Perry their 11th and final selection in the 2020 NFL Draft with the 246th-overall pick. Perry will never be utilized as a traditional WR, but offers versatility and the ability to be used more so as a “gadget player” if he’s able to secure a roster spot. We’ve seen more of a role for these type of playmakers as play callers in the NFL are becoming more innovative, so that’s one of the primary things Perry has going for him as we approach training camp. At the very least, if he’s able to make the final roster and be active on game days, Perry adds an additional wrinkle that opposing team’s defensive coordinators have to account for. It’ll be an uphill battle for Perry, but he has the toughness, determination and intelligence to make a run at one of the team’s final roster spots.

For more draft coverage, be sure to check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as we recap the 2020 NFL Draft!

Ben Morgan is a co-host and blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast. Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook

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