Just before the draft, I thought I’d look at what the analytics say about our current projected starters for the 2020 season.  The grades mentioned are from PFF and are the overall grades gained by the players in 2019 (shown in parentheses after their name).  Whatever you think about analytics, it’s certainly a useful tool here for judging which positional groups need to be upgraded in the draft.


QB – Ryan Fitzpatrick (76.5)

Fitzmagic can be rightly pleased with his work in 2019 and especially how he improved as the season went on.  76.5 represents his second highest career grade after his 84.4 a season earlier whilst with the Buccaneers.  Fitzpatrick might be disappointed with the 60.5 grade he got for running given that he was the team’s leading rusher.  For context, Josh Rosen achieved a 46 grade in 2019.

RB1 – Jordan Howard (69)

This is a decent overall grade for Howard, but not as good as the 73.8 he achieved in 2016.  Howard’s receiving grade of 51 isn’t so impressive.  The former Bears and Eagles Runner only managed 280 snaps in 2019, but he’ll definitely improve Miami’s power running game and brings more pass-blocking ability to the team (75.6 pass-blocking grade).

RB2 – Patrick Laird (52.4)

Laird makes this list on the basis that he is the pass-catching RB option on the current roster.  I liked what I saw from Laird from an effort point of view, but the grade isn’t so kind.  Laird may only be a bit part player in Miami’s offense in 2020 and his receiving grade of 66.4 bodes well for his impact in the short passing game.

FB – Chandler Cox (47.3)

I’m not sure how you grade a FB in the modern NFL.  I’m also not sure whether Cox will be used much in 2020.  The grade looks poor on paper, but I think PFF expect more production from their fullbacks in terms of rushing and receiving.  Cox only played on 83 snaps in his rookie year.  It’s worrying that Cox’s receiving grade (51.6) is actually higher than his run-blocking grade (50.2)

TE1 – Mike Gesicki (60.5)

Our eyes will tell us that Mike Gesicki took a big leap forward in 2019.  The analytics back that up as Gesicki saw a 10.3 jump in grade from his rookie season.  60.5 though isn’t a particularly flattering grade, so let’s hope we see a similar improvement, at least, in 2020.  Gesicki’s pass-blocking grade (66.6) was decent, but his run-blocking grade was well below average (48.3).

TE2 – Durham Smythe (52.7)

I’m a big fan of Durham Smythe, but he’s never going to be a factor as a pass-catcher.  Smythe’s overall grade is low because of his receiving grade (42.9).  For a supposed ‘bit part player’ it was interesting to see that Smythe racked up 487 snaps in 2019.  Assuming Miami don’t add any further competition at Tight End, Smythe should continue to see plenty of snaps, as the main in-line TE, in 2020.

WR1 – DeVante Parker (79.2)

DeVante Parker’s grade mirrors the improvement, and occasional dominance, we saw from the wideout in 2019.  Parker managed 905 snaps which is easily a career high to match his career high grade.  It would be nice to see further improvement as Parker continues to establish himself as the team’s #1 receiver.

WR2 – Preston Williams (67.7)

Preston Williams impressed immensely in his rookie season, but the grade is a measure of the fact that there is still clear room for improvement.  Williams was shut down after week 9, but we’re all expecting Williams to be a big part of the offense come September.  With a fully and healthy season, Williams should see his overall grade improve in 2020.

WR3 – Albert Wilson (62.3)

Injuries are the major factor in how we evaluate Albert Wilson’s season.  Wilson only managed 439 snaps across 13 games.  A late season rally saved the overall grade, but Wilson is significantly down on the grade achieved in 2018 (82.5).  As with Preston Williams, a full, healthy season should see an improvement in grade in 2020.


LT – Julie’n Davenport (56.5)

The Dolphins should be upgrading at Left Tackle within the next week.  Davenport didn’t excel in either run-blocking or pass blocking, but the run-blocking grade of 41.3 is well below average.  Davenport might get another shot in 2020, but there’s been nothing to show improvement in his 3 seasons so far.  2019’s grade is actually Davenport’s highest so far.

LG – Ereck Flowers (64.2)

Ereck Flowers was a surprising signing early in free agency.  He’ll have to improve on the 64.2 grade to justify $10m per year.  The move to guard in 2019 was necessary, but he actually had his lowest PFF grade in the last 4 seasons.  Flowers should ultimately improve a struggling offensive line, but an improvement on his grading should also be expected.

C – Ted Karras (66.5)

Former Patriot, Ted Karras, arrives with a good grade that points to an ascending talent.  Karras was a consistent performer on the Pats depleted offensive line.  Interestingly, Daniel Kilgore graded as 66.3.  Karras graded far better than Kilgore in run-blocking, but Kilgore was far better in pass-blocking.  An improvement in pass-blocking is a must in 2020.

RG – Michael Dieter (42.5)

Michael Dieter had a rough first season, but it’s not unusual to see offensive linemen struggle so heavily in their rookie year.  Dieter will have to show more consistency going forward.  If we don’t add any more Guards through the draft, Dieter could move to RG and cement his starting spot there.  Despite the poor grade, there was enough encouragement from Dieter in 2019 to warrant another shot.

RT – Jesse Davis (58.9)

What to do with Jesse Davis?  Davis has been our most reliable offensive lineman for the last few seasons, but the grade mirrors a poor system for the big Tackle.  Davis has never graded well with PFF and may just be one of those players that never will.  A move back to OG could be on the cards as long as Miami can find a replacement RT in the draft.

DE1 – Shaq Lawson (67.9)

Shaq Lawson has posted good gradings in the last 3 seasons so it may be a surprise that the Bills let him walk.  Buffalo’s loss could be Miami’s gain and Lawson should improve a faltering pass rush.  Lawson’s scheme versatility will suit the Fins.  Despite a respectable coverage grade (62.8) we should hope that Lawson is tasked, primarily, to pin his ears back and get after the QB.

DE2 – Emmanuel Ogbah (70.1)

Ogbah fits more as an End in a base 3-4 scheme.  2019 was the first time that Ogbah had achieved an overall grade over 70.  Ogbah grades reasonably well in all facets of an Edge Rushers grading, but a run defense grade of 67.4 could still be improved.  Ogbah only managed 410 snaps in 2019 for the Superbowl winning Chiefs.

NT – Davon Godchaux (64.1)

Godchaux is the closest thing we have to a NT in our 3-4 hybrid scheme.  The big defender doesn’t offer much in pass rush (54.2) but his run defense grade is decent (67.5).  Godchaux’s best graded season so far was in 2018 when he achieved 73.2.  I think we all expected more from him last year, but another year in Flores’ system should see a recapture of form.

UT – Christian Wilkins (64.4)

64.4 represents a decent first season for the first rounder.  From 2020, we should expect to see a leap in Wilkins’ pass rush scores to match what we saw when he was at Clemson.  Wilkins figures to be an integral part of the defense for years to come, but I suspect his grade with PFF will never be up there with the Aaron Donalds of this world.

OLB – Vince Biegel (69.8)

Fan Favorite, Vince Biegel, would like to prove that 2019 was not a fluke.  His overall grade isn’t particularly high, but he can’t be faulted for effort and ultimately playing above his assumed talent.  Biegel’s coverage grade of 75.8 is surprisingly high and may hint at the kind of role he could be employed in more in 2020 and beyond.

MLB – Raekwon McMillan (63.9)

I liked the way the Fins used McMillan at times during the season, but let’s not forget he’s an early-down thumper first and foremost.  McMillan’s run defense grade of 76.9 is really good and in clear relation to his skillset.  The coverage grade of 43.4 is horrible and more proof that McMillan needs to be off the field in obvious passing situations.  McMillan’s 516 snaps in 2019 could be cut further by the arrival of Van Noy, Roberts, and Grugier-Hill.

WLB – Jerome Baker (46.1)

The actual performance may be better than the grade, but 46.1 is a reflection of a disappointing season for Bake.  The problem is, Baker doesn’t excel in one area and that will affect the way he is graded in the analytics world.  I’m rooting for a comeback season for Baker, but Flores needs to work out how best to use one of his more vocal leaders.

SLB – Kyle Van Noy (84.2)

Van Noy easily has the best grade of any projected starter for the Fins.  A possibly anomaly with Van Noy’s grade is that he’s primarily graded as an Edge Rusher.  Rushing the passer is undoubtedly one of Van Noy’s strengths, but he’s so much more.  Van Noy’s 2019 grade is far above anything he’s achieved before and was helped in a big way by his 83.7 run defense score.

CB1 – Byron Jones (76.1)

We’re all expecting big things from new addition, Byron Jones.  Jones has achieved grades of higher than 76 in his last two seasons with the Cowboys, so we should be expecting the same in 2020.  Jones coverage grade last year was excellent as you might expect, but he also achieved a run defense grade of 75.1; truly a do-it-all type DB.

CB2 – Xavien Howard (56.5)

Howard’s grade is low, but his season never really got started and was all over following a brief return in week 8.  The grade was comfortably Howard’s lowest since entering the league in 2016.  Durability is Howard’s biggest concern, however, and given a return to fitness he should see a grade similar to that achieved in 2018 (77.3) this year.

NB – Jomal Wiltz (43.7)

A poor grade for Wiltz who really deserved more for sheer effort.  Wiltz was thrown into action and tallied 600 snaps across the season.  Wiltz may never be a plus starter, but he provides useful depth and should definitely see an improved grade with more playing time.  The 41.3 coverage grade must improve if he’s to stick on the roster long term.

FS – Bobby McCain (61.9)

Bobby McCain had another injury shortened season in 2019 only managing 540 snaps across 9 games before landing on I.R.  McCain’s move to Free Safety wasn’t seamless and the grade would concur.  McCain may benefit from a move back to Nickel Corner.  Interestingly, Steven Parker achieved a grade of 71 on 339 snaps.


SS – Eric Rowe (58.9)

Eric Rowe’s grade does not tell the story of his season.  Rowe played far better than a 58.9 grade would suggest.  A mid-season change of role will tell most of the story, but a 60.2 coverage grade isn’t great under any circumstances.  Rowe, however, was a reliable player for Brian Flores all year and tallied 1072 snaps.  If fully committed to playing Strong Safety in 2020, we could see a sharp spike in Rowe’s final grade.