Miami Dolphins’ Defensive Positional Grades Post-Free Agency

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Brian Flores takes over the helm of the Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins made many major pickups in free agency this offseason. These will be the defensive positional grades I give to each position on the Dolphins. 

Defensive Line

Shaq Lawson was signed by the Miami Dolphins this past free agency. Lawson had a good season with the Bills ranking 58th in sacks, 21st in tackles for loss, and 27th in quarterback hits. He isn’t that good of a tackler though because he was 393rd in solo tackles, 393rd in combined tackles, and 343rd in assisted tackles. He will be one of the best pass rushers in the NFL by the time he gets in his prime, but right now he is above average. Davon Godchaux is going into his fourth season in the NFL. He is another younger defensive lineman who has some talent. He ranked 23rd in assisted tackles, 87th in combined tackles, and 136th in quarterback hits. Godchaux and Lawson are going to be one of the scariest future defensive lineman duos in the league. Christian Wilkins is currently the starting defensive end for the Dolphins. He ranked 88th in assisted tackles, 184th in combined tackles, and 185th in sacks. Wilkins is an alright back-up to keep around, but he is not the starter that the Dolphins need.  

Grade: C+

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Dec 8, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) on the field against the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Outside Linebacker

Kyle Van Noy was another big free-agent signing the Miami Dolphins made this offseason. Van Noy was a major part of the Patriots defense last season and he is reunited with his old defensive coordinator. He will be a leader on the team to all of the younger players. He ranked 45th in quarterback hits, 53rd in sacks, and had three forced fumbles throughout the season. Van Noy is an average tackler ranking 181st in combined tackles, 172nd in solo tackles, and 210th in assisted tackles. Van Noy is also in the prime of his career at 29 years old, so he should have his best season this year. Vince Biegel is the other starting outside linebacker for the Miami Dolphins. Biegel is an all-around good football player for the Dolphins. He was 60th in quarterback hits, 48th in assisted tackles, and 86th in tackles for loss. Van Noy is only 26 years old, so he has a lot of time to improve his game even more. He will be a good outside linebacker for the Dolphins this season. 

Grade: B+

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Nov 3, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) reacts during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Inside Linebacker

The inside linebacker position for the Miami Dolphins is not the best currently. Raekwon McMillan is a young player with some potential but was hurt a few games last year. He has the talent and potential to be a good linebacker, but right now he is not at his best. McMillan is a great tackler for the team when it comes to combined tackles he finished 98th in the league. He is 261st in tackles for loss, 224th in solo tackles, and 312th for quarterback hits. He is not anywhere near the level they need him at yet, but he could get there. Elandon Roberts was signed by the Dolphins this offseason. He played for the Patriots last season which he played fullback, linebacker, and special teams for them. Roberts was playing both sides of the ball, so his stats are not the best, but he is an all-around good player. He ranked 277th in quarterback hits, 332nd in sacks, and 349th in assisted tackles. Overall they may need a better second middle linebacker, but it is not the main priority on the team currently. 

Grade: C

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Oct 21, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson (33) is tackled by Miami Dolphins linebacker Raekwon McMillan (52) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback

For the Miami Dolphins cornerback is probably the best position on their football team. Byron Jones is an amazing lockdown corner, but not good at making plays on the ball. He signed with the Dolphins for a large amount of money this offseason. Jones is one of the best man-to-man lockdown cornerbacks in the NFL. He is only 27 years old and in the prime of his career. I expect him to have a great year next season and show everyone what a Dolphin can do. Xavien Howard is the other cornerback on the roster. He was hurt most of last season and he is not the best behaved outside of the locker room. When he is playing he is one of the most talented cornerbacks on the field. If Howard and Jones both play all season this secondary is going to be one of the scariest secondary’s in the league. 

Grade: A

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Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones plays against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Safety 

Eric Rowe plays strong safety for the Miami Dolphins and he had a good year last season. He ranked 74th in passes defended, 66th in combined tackles, and 77th in solo tackles. Rowe is 27 years old and hitting the prime of his career. He may have a break out year this season and prove to everyone that he is a top safety in the league. Adrian Colbert only played in six games last season because of injury and he did not do a good job. The Dolphins are going to draft a safety in the first or second round this season to replace Colbert. Colbert will be an alright back up, but he will have to fight for the starting position this offseason. 

Grade: C+

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Nov 3, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin (84) is unable to make a catch as Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Jerome Baker (55) Miami Dolphins cornerback Eric Rowe (21) leaps during the play the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Overall

The Dolphins have made some improvements to the team this offseason, but the team is not fully there yet. They will have to draft some positions to fill up spots on the team. The defense is not there yet, but after this offseason, they are definitely heading in the right direction as an organization. With the signing of Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy, and Shaq Lawson it is clear they plan on contending for the wild card spot this season. 

Grade: B


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Go Check out the Offensive Positional Grades Post Free Agency

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