The Miami Dolphins are one of the most interesting teams to watch in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Dolphins have more picks than any team in the league, and more needs to fill than just about any team as well. They have three picks in the first round, which puts them in a position to dictate a lot of how the draft shakes out. While there have been rumors that the Dolphins might look to trade up, that was not what happened in NFL Draft writer Chris Trapasso's seven-round 2020 NFL mock draft, released earlier this week.
Instead, the Dolphins stood pat, made a league-high 14 picks, and added a whole lot of talent on both sides of the ball.
No. 5 overall: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
No. 18 overall: Josh Jones, OL, Houston
No. 26 overall: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
This Day 1 haul would represent a pretty dramatic makeover for the Dolphins. Miami finished last season ranked 27th in overall offensive efficiency, per Football Outsiders' DVOA. That ranking came via a passing offense that ranked just 24th and a rush offense that checked in dead last. Each of those issues is addressed in just the first round.
In Tagovailoa, the Dolphins get their quarterback of the future and a player who would have been in consideration for the No. 1 overall selection but for the scary hip injury that ended his 2019 season. Recent medical reports regarding his hip have been positive, though, and he is scheduled to participate in a pro day on April 9. Tagovailoa is an extraordinarily accurate passer and a quick decision-maker with a fast release. So long as he's healthy, the Dolphins should feel good about his chances for success.
Keeping him healthy is of the utmost importance, though, and that's why the offensive line also needed to be addressed. The Dolphins allowed pressure more often than all but two other teams last season, according to Football Outsiders, and do not have anyone on their roster at the moment that should be considered a locked-in, long-term starter up front. Selecting Jones at No. 18 is a good first step in establishing the kind of protection Tagovailoa will need in the pocket.
The wisdom of using a first-round pick to do it aside, it's clear the Dolphins do need to upgrade their infrastructure in the run game. Taylor played three collegiate seasons and ran for at least 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns in each of them. He also showed an improved ability to contribute in the passing game last season, catching 10 more passes for 97 more yards and five more touchdowns than he had in his first two seasons combined.
Day 2 picks
Round 2, No. 39 overall: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Round 2, No. 56 overall: Robert Hunt, OL, Louisiana
Round 3, No. 70 overall: Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
Baun is coming off of an absolute monster of a season during which he racked up 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. He's also an above-average athlete who posted a 20.7 percent pass rush win rate, according to Pro Football Focus, each of which is a strong indicator that he could keep up his pass rush production in the pros.
A good pass rush isn't all you need to upgrade the pass defense, though, which is why Trapasso also has the Dolphins nabbing Cameron Dantzler near the top of Round 3. Dantzler did not test particularly well at the combine, but he's 6-2 with long arms and he did an excellent job covering some of the best receivers in the country while playing in the SEC.
In between, Trapasso sends Robert Hunt to Miami in order to provide the Dolphins with a player who has the versatility to play guard or tackle. As previously mentioned, the importance of Miami building out its offensive line cannot be overstated. The Dolphins need to keep Tagovailoa upright and they need to create some running lanes for Taylor. Landing two top prospects in the first two rounds is a good start.
Day 3 picks
Round 4, No. 141 overall: Anfernee Jennings, EDGE, Alabama
Round 5: No. 153 overall: Cheyenne O'Grady, TE, Arkansas
Round 5, No. 154 overall: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
Round 5: No. 173 overall: Jacob Phillips, LB, LSU
Round 6: No. 185 overall: Jordan Fuller, S, Ohio State
Round 7: No. 227 overall: Quez Watkins, WR, Southern Miss
Round 7: No. 246 overall: Josh Metellus, S, Michigan
Round 7: No. 250 overall: Dezmon Patmon, WR, Washington St
Miami has an incredible eight Day 3 picks. In Trapasso's mock, they split those picks evenly between offense and defense: three receivers, one tight end, one edge rusher, a linebacker, and two safeties.
Given the declining hit rate of late-round picks, stacking multiple players at a single position is a strategy that makes a good deal of sense. Wide receiver is not the greatest area of need for the Dolphins given the presence of Devante Parker and Preston Williams, but finding another contributor at that spot would help raise both the floor and ceiling of their offense, so Trapasso has the Fins nabbing Collin Johnson, Quez Watkins, and Dezmon Patmon. Johnson in the fifth round seems like a particularly good get, considering he averaged 2.06 yards per route run last season, per PFF, over a half-year more than other, more highly-touted prospects like Jalen Reagor.
Bringing in Jennings to help Baun on the edge is a nice pickup as well. Over the past two seasons, he collected 13.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss, as well as 16 batted passes. With the Dolphins cutting ties with longtime safety Reshad Jones, taking a couple of shots at the position late in the draft makes sense as well.