Miami Dolphins 2020 NFL Draft Review

The Miami Dolphins 2020 NFL Draft class was one of the most highly anticipated groups of players to make their way to South Florida since the Lebron James-led “Heat-les” arrived on the scene in 2011. This time around, it was not a few new basketball players, rather it was a BUNCH of new NFL rookies embarking upon South Beach.

With pick 1.5, the Dolphins locked onto Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa to be the future of the franchise. Then, with their second first-rounder at 1.18, Miami picked USC OT Austin Jackson. If you thought they were done for the day, you were sorely mistaken. With the ‘fins THIRD first-round pick of the Dolphins 2020 NFL Draft “Party” (Pick 1.30), they grabbed the silky smooth corner from Auburn, Noah Igbinoghene.

That is when the fun started. At 2.39 they grabbed another offensive lineman, Robert Hunt, from Louisiana-Lafayette. They then took DT Raekwon Davis out of Alabama with pick 2.56. At 3.70 Miami snagged safety Brandon Jones out of Texas and followed that up with another guard at 4.111 in Solomon Kindley out of Georgia.

Round five came and saw Jason Strowbridge, the big DE from North Carolina as pick 5.154. Pick 5.164 wasn’t much later and the Dolphins were able to get a sliding Curtis Weaver. The DE from Boise State was projected to go much earlier than he was chosen. In round six, pick 6.185 was a LS, Blake Ferguson out of LSU, and then Miami ended their day at pick 7.246 by taking the small WR out of Navy, Malcolm Perry.

Miami Dolphins 2020 NFL Draft Review: Day One

1.05 | Tua Tagovailoa | QB | Alabama

The first pick of the Dolphins 2020 NFL draft class started the year on the bench, and effectively ended it there, as well. The entire year, coach Brian Flores played a dangerous game of development/winning chicken. Coming off of a major leg injury at Alabama, Tua Tagovailoa had his ups and downs; in the end, though, many have decided that the choice to draft Tua over Oregon QB Justin Herbert was one of the worst of the first round.

Herbert did, after all, set the NFL rookie record with 31 touchdown passes. That “surface level” stat, along with the fact that Herbert was throwing the ball to one of the premier receivers in the league, Keenan Allen, might actually be blinding us all from the truth, however. According to the pro football network, Tua actually graded better than Herbert in three huge categories. For intended air yards, Tagovailoa edged Herbert 7.7 to 7.5 and for effective completion percentage, he also had the slight lead at 65.5 percent to 65.1 percent. Not to mention, possibly the biggest stat that shows that these two players are closer in terms of talent and development than what is portrayed: aggressiveness.

The experts have lauded Herbert as a gunslinger and Tua as a “game-manager” yet Tagovailoa actually threw the ball into a tighter window on more occasions (20.3%) than Herbert did on the year (18%). So, while playing with a worse supporting cast, and Ryan Fitzpatrick breathing down his back, Tagovailoa came back from a gruesome leg injury to actually be the more aggressive quarterback with more wins. Herbert proved to be more efficient as a rookie, but once again, that is easier to do when you have Allen.

Redraft: I would still take Tua over Herbert.

1.18 | Austin Jackson | OT | USC

Jackson started 12 games for the Dolphins’ young and inexperienced offensive line and delivered mixed results…at best. Pro football focus (Pff) had him graded as a below-average player in terms of both run blocking and pass protection. Jackson was considered a reach in the first round, especially since he was coming off donating bone marrow to his sister while playing football at USC the previous year.

While he should be commended for his efforts to save his sister’s life, Jackson should also be judged with a grain of salt. On top of the recovery from the transplant, an injury forced him out of the starting lineup for weeks 5-9. If Jackson can get some continuity in the offense and if his health holds up, this could still end up being a good pick.

Redraft: There is no chance on god’s green earth that I am passing on adding LSU WR Justin Jefferson to Tua’s arsenal. Sorry, Austin, but I’m Taking JJ.

Embed from Getty Images

1.30 | Noah Igbinoghene | CB | Auburn

Another pick that was considered a reach, and another pick that has NOT worked out so far. Igbinoghene was routinely torched early in the season and was clearly playing too many snaps for it being so early in his career. He was forced back to the bench, but when occasionally given snaps in sub-packages he never seemed to improve.

On 188 coverage snaps for the season, the rookie CB allowed three touchdowns on just 28 targets and a disgraceful 144 passer rating when targeted. Many corners need to be “hardened” by getting torched early in their careers before they can truly put it all together. Miami is surely hoping that is the case, as they certainly had better options on the board when they picked. That is both in terms of pre-draft analysis and post-rookie-season analysis. Not an easy pill to swallow for Dolphins fans.

Redraft: I would pass on Noah and take Louisiana Tech CB L’jarius Sneed.

Miami Dolphins 2020 NFL Draft Review: Day Two

2.39 | Robert Hunt | G | Louisiana-Lafayette

Robert Hunt was one of my favorite picks of the Dolphins 2020 NFL draft class back when the picks were first made. As an NFL-ready run blocker, Hunt was going to immediately step in and open holes for the Dolphins’ run game. What most didn’t expect was that he would be almost as good in pass protection, as well.

His 74.0 grade as a run blocker is definitely above average, especially for a rookie. As mentioned, that was expected. However, Hunt’s 65.0 grade as a pass blocker was much better than anyone could have expected from a rookie coming out of a smaller school in Lafayette. The transition to playing with the “big boys” was seamless for Hunt, making it hard to pass on him here, even in the redraft.

Redraft: I would stick with Hunt.

2.56 | Raekwon Davis | DT | Alabama

Another second-round pick, and another huge success for the Dolphins. Davis played over 530 snaps for Miami in 2020 and graded out positively across the board. As an above-average player against both the pass AND the run, Davis one of a handful of young players in the NFL who can say that.

Davis was asked to play just as many pass-rush snaps as he did run-defense snaps, and yet he struggled in neither. A 71.0 pass-rush grade from the interior is outstanding, as is his 66.8 grade against the run. With that number being slightly lower than his pass-rush number, he seems like the perfect fit next to Christian Wilkins, who is the team’s best run defender. In the end, this was the best pick of the Dolphins 2020 NFL draft class, so far.

Redraft: Definitely stick with Davis.

Embed from Getty Images

3.70 | Brandon Jones | S | Texas

Jones has worked his way in the opposite direction of Igbinoghene. He did not show much early in the season, yet by the end of the year, he was making a few plays and playing decent coverage.

Jones is not guaranteed to be a starter in 2021 but seems close to it. He played the majority of his well-played snaps in 2020 were in coverage and will need to show more against the run if he is to get more playing time. It will be interesting to see how he handles the adjustment to more snaps and more importantly, having to make more tackles.

Redraft: Miami should have taken Ohio State safety Jordan Fuller.

Miami Dolphins 2020 NFL Draft Review: Day Three

4.111 | Solomon Kindley | G | Georgia

Kindley is another player who came in and immediately played a huge amount of snaps. He had a few rough spots as the season went on, and in the end, he ended up being graded as an average player.

Many rookies have had average rookie seasons and gone on to become multiple-time pro-bowlers. The good thing for Kindley is that he didn’t get worse as the season went on, he got better. Kindley made it hard for the coaching staff to take him off of the field in 2020, missing only three games and starting every matchup he took part in.

Redraft: If Miami could go back, they would take Hunt’s teammate, Kevin Dotson, instead.

5.154 | Jason Strowbridge | DE | North Carolina

Strowbridge only payed 55 snaps all year and had just two total tackles. he will need to be active for more than three games in 2021 if he hopes to have a long future in the league.

Redraft: CB Bryce Hall was taken just four picks after Strowbridge. Hall would have played much more than the 55 snaps that Strowbridge took part in.

5.164 | Curtis Weaver | DE | Boise State

Weaver was injured in training camp and subsequently released. He signed with the Browns and is healing up on their injured reserve list.

Redraft: WR Darnell Mooney is yet another weapon that the Dolphins failed to add to Tua’s arsenal. He went to the Bears just nine picks after weaver was picked by Miami.

6.185 | Blake Ferguson | LS | LSU

Ferguson came in and started every game as the long snapper. He will probably continue to be the man for the Dolphins who snaps the ball farther than a normal snap, for the next decade or so.

Redraft: The Dolphins would still take Ferguson. They just needed the position to be filled cheaply and now it is.

7.246 | Malcolm Perry | WR | Navy

The last pick of the Dolphins 2020 NFL draft class was Malcolm Perry. As an option-quarterback at Navy who was converted to a receiver during training camp, Perry was immediately deemed to be a “project”. Perry is allowed to play football instead of joining the military but could have probably made a bigger impact as a Naval officer. Perry finished the year with nine catches and two drops on 11 catchable balls. He also ran the ball three times for five yards.

Redraft: At the time, Perry was the best choice and nothing has changed. He may not be the best pick of the Dolphins 2020 NFL draft class, but none drafted after him made much of an impact as a rookie.

Overall View of the Dolphins 2020 NFL Draft Class

With so many draft picks, including three in the first round and 11 overall, the Dolphins needed to hit on AT LEAST 4 of these players in order to make this a successful draft. So, if you count Tua, Hunt, and Davis as successes, one would speculate that this draft is a failure. It is far too early, however, to give up on players such as Igbinoghene and Jackson; that is not to mention the possible development of Jones and Kindley. In the end, the Dolphins 2020 NFL draft class has to be seen as a success, for the time being. The team improved significantly in competitiveness, and that is the first step.

Thank you for reading my article on the Miami Dolphins 2020 NFL draft class. For more content follow me @JbellSportsTalk and also follow us at @OTH_Football.

Main image credit

Embed from Getty Images