After a long, dreadful offseason, we are finally back to football! As with every year, this is the DolphinsTalk.com training camp preview. We will be using PFF grades for each player (in parentheses), and an opinion on how the camp battles will play out. It will be broken down in 4 parts. Offense, Offensive Line/ST and Defense. In part 4, I will give you my prediction for the final 53 with opening day depth chart prediction.
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I hope you enjoy this year’s version. With that being said, let’s start with the offense.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (84.4)
Josh Rosen (49.1)
Jake Rudock (N/A)
I find it incredible the Dolphins are going into camp with 3 quarterbacks on the roster. Depending on how things start off, that could change. Would hope they will have a 4th available, in case one will have to sit for a time during camp. This camp battle going between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen as we all know. The familiarity of Jim Caldwell with Jake Rudock makes sense that he is here even with Caldwell now away on a leave of absence.
As fans, we have a good idea about who Ryan Fitzpatrick is. Going into his 15th season and his 8th team, Fitzpatrick brings a strong arm and he is consistently inconsistent. He finished last year with 17 TDs and 12 INTs with the Bucs, before being benched for Jameis Winston. Below is an idea what Fitzpatrick can bring to the offense:
Josh Rosen had a tumultuous first season of his career. Beginning the season as a backup, Rosen was thrusted into a starting role with the Cardinals in week 4. It was well documented about his exit with Arizona and the draft night trade to land Josh Rosen in Miami. He finished the season with 11 TDs and 14 INTs. The numbers may not look good, but Rosen has a ton of upside. And with a fresh start, he will look to make the Dolphins brass think twice about drafting a QB number one. Time will tell, but Rosen does have capability, in which our previous quarterbacks did not:
Jake Rudock has an opportunity to be the 3rd quarterback on this roster, if the thinking of the coaching staff and front office is to carry 3 quarterbacks.
Camp Battle: Rosen vs Fitzpatrick will most likely carry all the way to the finish of the 3rd preseason game. While many see it as an open competition, I look at this as an open and shut case. The Dolphins are in a rebuild. To have a 37-year-old quarterback at the helm of the offense in week 1, puts the Dolphins another game behind their rebuild. Rosen was traded here for a reason: To win this quarterback job and show the front office what he can bring to the table. This entire season will predicate what the Dolphins will do in the 2020 offseason and draft. But, first let’s enjoy this camp battle, one we haven’t seen in a long, long time.
Kenyan Drake (65.8)
Kalen Ballage (57.4)
Mark Walton (51.3)
Myles Gaskin (R)
Kenneth Farrow (R)
Patrick Laird (R)
Chandler Cox (R, FB)
This unit is young with Kenyan Drake bringing in the most experience (3 years). As we know with the Patriots under Josh McDaniels and new Dolphins offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea, there will be a platoon of running backs. What can we expect from this group?
Improved blocking. The Dolphins running backs have struggled in this category. Last year was no exception. With Ballage carrying a grade of 25.3 per PFF and Drake with a grade of 36.5, the Dolphins brought in Mark Walton, who was graded at a 60.1. Chad O’Shea will need to focus on this area of improvement to help keep the QB’s upright. So, what about the ground game itself?
Drake came into the 2018 season with high expectations. After coming off a phenomenal finish to the 2017 season, Drake was set to become the bell cow for the Dolphins. However, that didn’t happen. Drake became an after thought with Adam Gase, as he used Frank Gore primarily as the bell cow back. Drake did rack up 9 touchdowns, none more jaw dropping than this one:
Ballage in his rookie campaign, managed 36 carries for 191 yards and a touchdown. He is expected to have an expanded role heading into camp. Mark Walton has talent. He also has off field issues, one that could lead to him getting suspended at the beginning of the season. Myles Gaskin, Kenneth Farrow and Patrick Laird are all looking to find a role, whether on offense or special teams. Chandler Cox, who was drafted in the 7th round, is the only FB on the roster. With early results out of OTA’s, Cox has looked sharp and is in line to potentially be the FB in O’Shea’s system.
Camp Battle: This may be one of the biggest battles in camp. Should we expect Chad O’Shea to use the same type of running back platoon as New England? Hard to say. But what we can expect is a battle with Drake, Ballage, Walton and Gaskins to see who the guy at the top of the depth chart will be. It should be a wide-open battle, and one that will have fans guessing how the platoon of backs will be used in the 2019 season.
Kenny Stills (64.7)
Devante Parker (62.9)
Albert Wilson (83.0)
Jakeem Grant (70.0)
Brice Butler (56.9)
Isaiah Ford (54.8)
Preston Williams (R)
Reece Horn (R)
Trenton Irwin (R)
This group is one of the deepest on the team. The top 4 (Stills, Parker, Grant and Wilson) all have a unique skill set. The struggle with this unit recently has been the QB play of course.
Stills is Miami’s best and most consistent receiver as he has shown since his arrival to south Florida. He was second on the team in yards (553) and led the team in TDs with 6. Stills was banged up for the most part but he is one of the more experienced players in the locker room. He is looking to have a bounce back year, and many know what he is capable of:
Parker is the WR room version of Tannehill. After 4 unimpressive seasons after being selected in the first round of 2015, fans are still looking for his “breakout” year. Instead of letting him go, the Dolphins resigned him to a 2yr/10M dollar contract with an out in 2020 if he under-performs. Chad O’shea will have the dubious task of trying to build confidence in his abilities. He is a match up nightmare with his size and speed, it just needs to be put together. Parker was the second most used WR in run plays, he has a decent grade of 65.5 on his blocks, per PFF.
Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant are both coming off major injuries. When healthy, both proved to be weapons. No greater way to see that is the Raiders game in week 3 last year. How will they be used in a new system? Will both see the field more? Wilson and Grant saw 54% and 47% of all snaps last season respectively. What is more mind boggling? The Raiders game saw Wilson on the field for only 10 offensive snaps, and Grant with 9. A change at the head of the offense should see an uptick from both these players.
Brice Butler rounds out this group. He came on late with the Dolphins due to injuries and had a couple of bright spots. He will look to try and use his experience to crack into the line up.
This is going to be a battle. Not sure if the Dolphins will look to keep 5 or 6 WR’s on the 53, but the top 4 are all but secured in (Stills, Parker, Wilson and Grant). Who will get that final spot(s)? Butler has the upper hand due to his experience in the league. The Dolphins are running out a platoon of young receivers. With Isaiah Ford, who had the most flash in last years camp and just missed out on the 53. The Dolphins added Reece Horn and Trenton Irwin as UDFA and both have had some flashes during OTA’s and rookie camp. But the man who will be challenging to beat is Preston Williams. He and Xavien Howard fought it out during OTA’s and the battles were fun to watch:
I need to see more Preston Williams vs Xavien Howard please. pic.twitter.com/NbwN3jLmtI
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) May 21, 2019
If the Dolphins choose to keep 5, there will be a 6-man battle for one spot. When it is all said and done, whoever gets the final 1, or 2 spots on the depth chart will have had earned it.
Dwayne Allen (50.8)
Mike Gesicki (50.7)
Nick O’Leary (63.1)
Durham Smythe (56.5)
Clive Walford (57.6)– 2 snaps total
Chris Myarick (R)
This is a group with a ton to prove. Now last year is behind them, the tight end room has a different look. One of the most frustrating things about this group from last year was usage rate for pass plays. Gesicki, O’Leary and Smythe played a combined 949 snaps last year, 575 of those snaps were blocking plays (pass and run), which equates to 61% blocking usage.
We start with Mike Gesicki, who was drafted in the second-round last year. He was not known for his blocking but his ridiculous catch radius and good speed for the position. He finished with 22 catches for 202 yards. While many will blame Adam Gase (we are one of them), he struggles mightily in blocking and that was something the staff tried to get him better at last year. I would expect a heavy dose of him lined up on the outside or in the slot, off the line of scrimmage.
Dwayne Allen was brought in as a locker room and experience presence. He was primarily used as a blocker in NE last year, as his stats only were 3 rec, 27 yards. Miami may find more use for him as he 19 TDs in his first 5 years prior to going to the Patriots. He isn’t going to be a game changer tight end, but will help mentor the younger TE’s and also provide good blocking on run plays, as he had a grade of 61.8 last season on 257 run snaps.
Nick O’Leary was clearly the Dolphins best TE last season and came on in week 6 against the Bears that showcased his ability. Clive Walford and Chris Myarick will have an uphill battle to make this roster, but provide good depth through camp as well as in preseason games.
The coaching staff will have to figure out the best way to use these guys. Allen seems like a lock for run downs and play action early downs. Gesicki will need to continue improving on his blocking, but we believe this staff knows he is better with his hands on the ball. The biggest battle will be between last years 4th round pick in Durham Smythe and Nick O’Leary. Smythe will have to contend with the fact the Dolphins just resigned O’Leary to a short-term deal. Both excel at blocking, but O’Leary can be used more in the passing game. So keep your eye on those two.