Hopes for 2020
The Miami Dolphins’ off-season play is proving to be just as tense and panic-inducing as their regular season action. Not only are many fans speculating about the upcoming 2020 NFL draft, but they’re also nit-picking about what the NFL franchise needs most to pull themselves from consistently, seemingly endemic, low rankings in the AFC East Division.
Saying the Dolphins need a turnaround is like saying they’re the underdog—neither does the team’s dismal prospects justice. Early in the 2019 season when the Dolphins faced off against the Patriots, the Dolphins became the biggest home-field underdog in 12 NFL seasons with 18 points. For those familiar with American football betting, they will know that this led to 82.9% of the money wagered to be put on the Patriots, and the remaining 27.1% was likely only wagered on the Dolphins in hopes of a massive payout should the underdogs win. They didn’t. They lost 43-0 to the Patriots.
However, in the latest mock draft following the NFL Scouting Combine workouts, the Miami Dolphins continued to live up to fan and pundit expectations, with mock drafters of ESPN, Yahoo Sports, and The Athletic predicting that Tua Tagovailoa will end up as star quarterback for the Miami franchise. But he isn’t the only quarterback prospect worth looking at.
Jordan Love: Mission Impossible
The Dolphins are going to be an important part of the 2020 NFL draft because they hold three first-round selections and two second-round selections. For most teams, this is a dream come true—but, given the Dolphins’ history, this may just be another opportunity for the team to squander opportunities. The Dolphins may have the upper hand in the selection process, but they still need to attract key players.
Highly anticipated is quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. However, after a string of serious injuries, fans question his ability to compete and take the Dolphins where they need to be. Additionally, Taigavailoa is likely asking himself if he can singlehandedly take a team to the top and if, as a young player, he is capable of handling that kind of pressure.
Justin Herbert has also garnered attention, especially after his performance at the NFL Combine. He connected throws and displayed an elevated pace of game while maintaining high accuracy, surprising and impressing those who look at him as a future Dolphins QB should the team play their draft picks well (and get lucky).
However, many Dolphins fans are looking at Utah State Aggie junior Jordan Love as their potential savior. Though he didn’t figure particularly well against Tagovailoa or Herbert pre-Combine, his performance there was enough to gain support amongst Dolphins fans—and, hopefully, Dolphins officials.
Prior to the Combine, many were skeptical of his down-turned performance in 2019 from his 2018 season. In 2019 play, Love made a new Football Bowl Season high of 17 pass interceptions, and his passing yards went from 3,567 yards to 3,402. Additionally, he threw 32 touchdown passes in his 2018 season versus only 20 in his 2019 play.
Needless to say, Love’s decision to leave Utah State his junior year for a chance in the NFL seemed ill-advised, if not outright impulsive. Critics challenged his ability to step back and see plays unfold rather than to simply ‘throw it’. However, others cited staff turnover and a new slew of young players to the Utah State Aggies as potential reasons for Love’s stutter stepping in 2019. In short, the Combine was going to be Love’s make or break moment.
Made it was. Following the week-long workouts, some have claimed that Jordan Love has the potential to become the next Patrick Mahomes, who recently spearheaded the Kansas City Chiefs into a wild comeback during the 2020 Super Bowl. Love’s strengths suddenly began to outweigh his erratic performance in 2019, displaying his natural throwing abilities, patience while scanning the field, tight spirals, and an advanced sense of vision across the open field.
Now, fans and pundits have little qualms about backing Love. The only question that remains is whether or not the Dolphins will choose to use their draft opportunities to bag a QB like Love, or if other teams will beat them to the selection. And, in the end, it isn’t only QBs that the team needs. They’re also in the market for offensive tackles, edge rushers, and other positions that will hopefully catapult the lagging franchise back to its glory days.