Okay, being a former Bears fan I am going to hold my bias back in this article, but it will be extremely tough. For some reason people seem to have forgotten about Jay Cutler's career in Chicago or at least only picked out the rare good moments. People and pundits still see this team as a playoff caliber squad, which seems preposterous to me. Suddenly, people think this team is still equipped with talent around Cutler to push into the playoffs when in reality I think some of the Bears teams he played for during his tenure had a better roster and yet he was still only able to make it to the playoffs just once in his tenure. People point to his offensive weapons as being better, but people forget he had Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, Martellus Bennett, and Matt Forte to play with and he still squandered it. Then people will point out that his offensive line was bad, well have you looked at Miami's it's not all that much better really. He also does not have nearly as good of a defense as Cutler had in Chicago when Brian Urlacher and company were there carrying him to wins. Plus, Cutler has proven to be a brittle quarterback and if I had to guess I doubt he plays all 16 games for the Dolphins. You can call me pessimistic, but I think I am just being realistic.
I have heard pundits squash Ryan Tannehill to death recently all because of the big contract he got from Miami. Well, at the moment the going rate for solid albeit lesser quarterbacks are still worth the money for just having consistent play to not have to really worry about the position. I also think Tannehill who was a former receiver in college was finally getting it together under a good offensive coach in Adam Gase so to me him missing this year is a huge disappointment to what I thought would have been a really good year. Now suddenly the drop off between him and Cutler is not that extreme, really? Cutler is the guy nobody wanted up until now and many teams still need a half decent starter. He is a brittle quarterback, who throws bonehead picks, and a lack of an ability to actually read a defense at the line of scrimmage. Yes, he had a really good year with Cutler, but even then he missed games and was unable to win enough games to make it to the playoffs. To me this team is just not good enough to win games even if they had Tannehill who I think is a whole grade better than Cutler. First off, their offensive line is a mess with only Laremy Tunsil a second year player, playing left tackle for the first time in the pros is their only guy with actual talent. The rest of the line includes Anthony Steen, Mike Pouncey who can be good, but like his brother cannot stay healthy, an aging and oft-injured Jermon Bushrod, and major first round reach/bust Ju'Wan James. I know the Bears lines have been shaky over the years, but this one is terrible and I doubt Cutler makes it through the season. I love their running back Jay Ajayi, but like Cutler he will have to rely on a line with very little ability to open holes for him. Then the receiving corp includes overrated Jarvis Landry who is best served as a high end number two, middling first rounder DeVante Parker, deep threat receiver with terrible hands Kenny Stills, and not much else. Maybe tight end Julius Thomas can find his groove again to help the interior passing game. Other than that I can see this being a very one dimensional offense relying on Ajayi to the point where teams will stack the box on them defensively and allow them to throw behind a shaky line.
This defense is actually one that does not get enough love in my opinion. Especially, up front on the line where they have Cam Wake, Andre Branch, Ndamukong Suh, and a rookie Davon Godchaux who I think may be a gem. Suh gets a bad rap for being lazy, but to me he has been his consistent self with just a bigger pay check where everything he does is magnified and scrutinized. I do worry about Wake's age and health, but the Dolphins did a good job getting William Hayes can be a one year rotational player. This linebacker corp to me is a big weak spot, but it does have some nice players like Kiko Alonso and Mike Hull. I am a bit disappointed that rookie Raekwon McMillan suffered a season ending injury cause I thought he would be a terrific inside presence for them. People will love the pick up of Lawrence Timmons out of bias of former Steelers and their success, but Timmons is a very old player who has lost his best trait his speed and I doubt he makes that much of an impact. Continuing on to their secondary it is a bit of a mixed bag with the terrible Byron Maxwell still commanding a solid sized contract forcing them to start him. However, I like their younger players like last year's 2nd round pick Xavien Howard who was raw coming out of college, but had some good games last year and then this year they drafted Cordrea Tankersley who to me is a nice mid-round talent who will see the field sooner than later. Their safeties include veterans Nate Allen and Reshad Jones who should be better than bad and can hold down the back end of the defense for the Dolphins. Overall, I think their pass rush is good enough to cover up their mixed bag end, but not against good teams.
In the end, I predict this being one of the disappointingly bad teams in the league. I know people still have them as a borderline playoff team, but I just do not see it. Cutler cannot stay healthy nor is he good enough to over come this bad offensive line. Meanwhile, this defense will probably be forced to do more than their capable of to keep the score close. They are lucky however, to play against the Bills and Jets twice each, which may just be sure fired wins for the Dolphins. After that it's tough to see where they can pull out wins with match ups against the Bucs, Chargers, Saints, Titans, Falcons, Ravens, Panthers, Broncos, and Chiefs. Plus, they already have two losses against the Patriots coming up. I think this team will be lucky if they have a record better than 4-11 and even if they had Tannehill I think they would have been maybe a win or two better at best.
1 (22) - Charles Harris DE - I thought this was a great pick by the Dolphins landing one of the least talked about top prospects from the draft. Missouri has had a history of giving the NFL a ton of pass rushers over the years with Markus Golden, Kony Ealy, Shane Ray, and Sheldon Richardson. Some obviously better than others, but to me Harris will be along the same line as Ray who is a pass rusher who will pop next year more than he will this year. He should just rotate in with Cam Wake and company to gain his traction and build up his strength to better combat the run game.
2 (22) - Raekwon McMillan LB - I am was quite sad when I heard McMillan will miss the year due to an ACL injury. I thought he proved himself very well leading up to the draft to quell doubters on his speed and athleticism. He is a good tackler and run stopper who will have a good impact next year when he finally gets to see the field.
3 (33) - Cordrea Tankersley CB - A player with great promise to be a great corner with terrific size, athleticism, and speed. He is a top flight press corner thanks to his arm length. However, the cause of his slide is his unwillingness to get involved in the run game or giving up on plays when he gets burned. If he can get his head on straight to stay aware throughout the game I think he should turn into a very high quality player.
5 (20) - Isaac Asiata OG - Out of many poor blockers in this draft class I thought Asiata was one of the better ones with solid upside to be a quality starter. Landing in Miami may not have been a good mix however, since he will have to start sooner than he should. However, trial by fire may help him develop faster. He is a strong road grading run blocker who at the very least will be a good friend to Jay Ajayi in the run game.
5 (35) - Davon Godchaux DT - The former LSU product had some bonehead moves off the field and some teams have nitpicked on his size, which was the cause for his slide. However, whenever I put on LSU games he just popped off the screen going against the high quality blockers in the SEC. I think he will be a perfect 3-technique for the Dolphins next to Suh where he can easily beat his lone blocker with team's focusing on Suh and Wake. To me I think this is one of the best picks in the draft and can see Godchaux go on to have a great career if he can stay out of trouble and maybe pack on some more strength.
6 (10) - Vincent Taylor DT - Another great tackle selection for the Dolphins. Taylor had a shot to go much sooner in the draft if he had more natural pass rushing ability. However, he is a good run stopper and space eater who should create a good one-two punch with Godchaux in the future. Taylor does need to work on his pad level and stamina however to be better than just rotational talent.
7 (19) - Isaiah Ford WR - This was a shocking slide to me since I saw Ford as a high mid-round pick just due to his speed and talent. His size worried teams and if he can handle being pressed at the line. I do think he will be at the very least a dynamic slot receiver due to his long arms and speed. Expanding his route tree and developing crisper routes will also help him to see the field faster.
2018 Off Season:
With Tannehill coming off knee surgery I think one big thing the Dolphins need to do is upgrade this offensive line immensely. I also, think they would be smart to let Landry walk. He is demanding a ridiculous contract for a player who has over inflated stats because he is the only solid receiver on the team. If Parker steps up I would be even more confident letting Landry walk and solving the issue in the draft. I also would like to see them maybe upgrade their secondary and linebackers again since they have a lot of question marks in that back seven. In the end, this to me is going to be a lost season due to Tannehill's injury. I also loved their drafting in recent seasons and expect this team to be on the upswing as their players mature. Just in time too since the Patriots may be on the down turn if Brady's age actually starts to effect him and he decides to retire along with Belichick. That may be a pipe dream for Miami fans, but hey it could happen.
My 2018 Mock Draft:
1 (6) - Arden Key DE LSU
2 (5) - Orlando Brown OT Oklahoma