Tua Tagovailoa has to be excited to be the fifth overall pick of the Miami Dolphins in the 2020 NFL Draft. He’ll get the sunshine and palm trees of South Broward County and Hard Rock Stadium, and he’ll be the face of a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game this century. To call Dol-fans forlorn the past two decades is generous, as they’ve suffered through Everglades lows intermixed with bouts of fleeting mediocrity.
Although last year’s 5-11 team actually greatly outperformed expectations, part of the strategy was to be bad before being good. The trades that made them intentionally bad helped produced three first-round draft picks, which last night converted into tackle Austin Jackson from USC and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene from Auburn. And with 12 more picks to be made over the next two days, there’s still plenty of opportunity for the Fish to get better.
But as of now — who is going to, you know, catch and run the football for the Dolphins?
Devante Parker was outstanding last season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns. That was mostly from Ryan Fitzpatrick, a model of manic play at the position in his 15-year journeyman career.
But who else on this team can make a play? Second-year tight end Mike Gesicki was the team’s second leading receiver from the tight end position, with just 570 yards. No other Dolphin, from the rookie trying to make their way (Preston Williams before ACL surgery) to guys with plenty of NFL mileage if not impact (Allen Hurns), broke 500 yards receiving.
Who is your shiny-penny new rookie quarterback, whose best trait in the pocket is pinpoint deep-ball accuracy, going to throw the ball to in 2020 and beyond?
But wait, it gets worse! No running back rushed for more than 201 yards last season (Mark Walton). The team ran for 1,156 yards for the entire season on a 3.3 yards per carry average. The Dolphins on the gridiron were more penned in than their compatriots at the Miami Seaquarium.
Some might argue his skill position players were better overall at Alabama than in Miami.
The addition of Jackson should help in both the run and pass game, and the defense is for sure improved with free agents Byron Jones, Shaq Lawson, Emanuel Ogbah, and Kyle Van Noy. But this a very one-sided team right now, and there’s only about $12 million in cap room left to do anything about it this offseason.
It’s why the Dolphins picks over the next two days are absolutely crucial to their success for 2020. The future seems bright if Tua can stay healthy, as getting an elite quarterback on the cheap is a great way to win a Super Bowl (Russell Wilson, Pat Mahomes, Carson Wentz).
But they’ve got to have some other people that can do something with the ball in their hands, too.