One the most anticipated NFL Drafts in recent memory has been completed. The mystery of where Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert would fall to has been solved. What’s even more exciting is that all of the smoke screens and negative reports regarding Tua have been done away with. He was selected 5th overall by the Miami Dolphins. This pairing came as no shock to Dolphins fans and NFL enthusiasts alike. For the majority of the year, it was widely speculated that the former Crimson Tide signal caller would land there. So, now that the Dolphins have selected who they feel will be their savior of the franchise, what exactly have they done to set him up for success?
“With The Fifth Pick In The 2020 NFL Draft, The Miami Dolphins Select Tua Tagovailoa” is our new favorite song 😁— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 24, 2020
📺 Watch the Draft on NFLN/ESPN/ABC pic.twitter.com/MSqzdYJ9TK
The Miami Dolphins are a team in dire need of a “glow up” on both sides of the football. Assuming you ignored what was one of the worst teams in the NFL this past season, you’re probably asking the question, “How bad can they be”. For the sake of this article, the focus here will be on the offensive side of the ball. In 2019, the Dolphins were horrendous when it came to generating anything resembling an offense. As a matter of fact, out of 32 teams, they were ranked 25th in points per game (19.1), 27th in yards per game (310.0), and 32nd in rushing yards per game (72.2). Stats like those do not provide a formula for getting to the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl. When reviewing those numbers, it appears that they barely got out of the locker room.
During the previously mentioned season, Miami was absolutely atrocious when it came to pass protection. They were ranked 28th in the league and surrendered a total of 56 sacks. It almost makes the observer ask, “Were they that terrible” or “Did they hate their quarterback”. Knowing the current state of things, it’s a cause of great concern. This is a team that is ushering in their future franchise quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa isn’t just any rookie. He is a highly talented quarterback who is not only known for his success on the field, but also for his durability issues. Protecting him is priority number one.
When it came to addressing this need via the free agent market, names like Bryan Bulaga (Pro Bowl), Jack Conklin (Pro Bowl & All-Pro), and DJ Fluker, among others, were available. The Dolphins acquired none of those players. Instead, they went with NFL journeyman Ereck Flowers to the tune of $30 million for 3 years. While Flowers was a former 1st round draft pick, he hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations. As a matter of fact, many have labeled him as a “bust”. Maybe this will be his awakening. All we have to go on is past performance. It doesn’t exactly provide a recipe for success.
It looked as though the Dolphins would place their efforts to provide for this need via the NFL Draft. Having several selections at their disposal, it appeared that this route would be quite successful. With those picks, they selected Austin Jackson (USC), Robert Hunt (Louisiana-Lafayette), and Solomon Kindley (UGA). Each of those players have a tremendous upside, but are viewed by many as very raw. Some have labeled drafting Jackson in the 1st round as a possible “reach”. If their intent was to go young with rebuilding the offensive line, to be honest, a better effort could have been made. Outside of selecting Tua Tagovailoa, Miami had 3 other selections in the 1st round alone. They could have easily traded those picks and possibly their pick in the 2nd round to move up. Ascending to a higher place in the draft order would most likely have guaranteed them an offensive lineman of greater merit. Had they truly made a concerted effort, a possible reunion between Tua and Jedrick Wills Jr could have been arranged. Alas, it was not to be.
With the No. 18 overall pick, the @MiamiDolphins select @USC_Athletics OT Austin Jackson!— NFL (@NFL) April 24, 2020
📺: 2020 #NFLDraft on NFLN/ESPN/ABC
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Devante Parker is one of the most productive wide receivers in the league. In 2019, he had 72 receptions for 1,202 yards and 9 touchdowns. Aside from Parker, the pass catchers on the roster don’t exactly jump off the stats page at you. The next closest receiver was Matt Gesicki with 51 receptions for 570 yards and 5 touchdowns. He and the rest of his counterparts don’t provide much of a boost when it comes to generating production. Parker cannot do it alone, although it appears that he tried to or was forced to. With last season behind us, what moves has Miami made to go forward?
Just like offensive lineman candidates, there we some names of value available in free agency. The most notable of which were Brandin Cooks and Emmanuel Sanders. Add to that, veteran Ted Ginn Jr was looking for a new home as well. Were the services of any of those players acquired? They were not. Maybe, with the seemingly unlimited draft selections, the Dolphins would look to the draft to provide for this need.
Miami almost completely disregarded the wide receiver position in the 2020 NFL Draft. It wasn’t until the 7th round that a wide receiver was taken. Recently converted quarterback Malcolm Kelly from Navy was their choice. Perry was excellent for the Naval Academy in college (4,359 rushing yards, 40 TDs) and has been christened to be the next Julian Edelman. No disrespect towards Kelly, but this decision was a “head scratcher”. With a great platform to make an impact at this position, Miami came away virtually empty-handed. Again, 1st round picks could have been traded to grab a viable player like Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb, who was chosen 1 spot ahead at pick No. 17. Instead, they elected to wait until the 7th round. Someone please help me to understand this strategy. Are they holding out for Jaylen Waddle or Devonta Smith in 2021?
As stated before, the Dolphins were ranked dead last when it came to rushing yards per game in 2019. They had an explosive, “destined to be a superstar” back in Kenyan Drake. However, he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals. What did that leave them with? Well, Ryan Fitzpatrick (243 yards, 4 TDs) was the team’s leading rusher last season, if that tells you anything. Kalen Ballage had the most carries (74), but it was only for a total of 135 yards. That’s an average of 1.8 yards per carry. That won’t win you a rushing title.
Now, they did manage to acquire former 49ers RB Matt Breida (814 yards, 3 TDs). He’s a good back, but not a game-breaker. Breida is not a player who can take pressure off a quarterback or wide receivers. Behind him on the roster, there is no decent runner to share the load with. The only name of merit is former University of Washington standout, Myles Gaskin. However, he has yet to fulfill the enormous expectations placed on him since leaving the college ranks.
It should come as no surprise, but this position was completely bypassed in the draft. This is absolutely mind-blowing considering the plethora of talent available: D’Andre Swift, JK Dobbins, Cam Akers, K’Shawn Vaughn; especially still available in the 2nd round. Instead, other franchises’ rosters became rich with talent because of this unexplained blunder.
Dolphins Off Season (Offense)— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) April 25, 2020
QB: Tua Tagovailoa
RB: Jordan Howard, Matt Breida
TE: Michael Roberts
OL: Austin Jackson, Ereck Flowers, Robert Hunt, Ted Karras, Solomon Kindley
I am very excited that Tua Tagovailoa has been given the opportunity to realize his NFL Dreams, despite his many setbacks. However, my comfort level with him being with the Miami Dolphins is very low. It really seems as though not much effort, if any, was poured into ensuring the success of this new regime. He assumes the reigns of a once proud organization with a fragile offensive line situation and virtually no weapons. It is understandable that the Dolphins are undergoing a major reconstructive process. However, outside of Tua Tagovailoa, it gives the appearance of being built on a faulty foundation. If Tua Tagovailoa were to sit this year and be allowed to wait until the time was right, the concerns mentioned throughout this article can be appeased somewhat. Will everyone be patient though? Are they willing to endure the process with another bad season possibly looming next year? Or, will everyone go into panic mode and thrust Tua Tagovailoa into action earlier than he should be? Time will tell. Tua’s dream of becoming an NFL quarterback is coming to fruition. I just hope that Miami doesn’t turn it into a nightmare.
I am a 2003 graduate from the University of Alabama with a degree in Exercise Science. While at the Capstone, I served as a student assistant with the head strength and conditioning coach of the Crimson Tide football team. I have competed in both powerlifting and bodybuilding for several years. In addition, I have served athletes and people through the arena of personal training. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I am a passionate fan of Alabama, but do not make other fan bases miserable because of it. College football has my heart first, but I cover all areas of sports. Follow me on Twitter: @justinriley7!