The Dolphins have high expectations for their 11 drafted rookies, 10 undrafted rookies, 12 free agents, and the 1 player acquired in a trade.  Expectations should be equally high for the Dolphins second-year players returning to the team in 2020.  The 2019 draft class has, so far, been an underwhelming group.  One of the 2019 draft class, Isaiah Prince, has already left the team.  It would be fair to say that Miami got better production out of their undrafted free agents in 2019 than they did from the players taken in rounds 1-7.  I’m going to look at what we should realistically expect from these players in 2020.


Christian Wilkins

Wilkins was solid in 2019 but did not play up to the heady expectations of the 13th player selected in the draft.  Wilkins is a great character and brings good leadership, but will need to improve against the run and create more pressure on opposing QBs in 2020.  It’s possible that Wilkins was over-drafted after being part of a formidable Clemson defense that may have made him look like a better prospect than he actually was.  Wilkins may not have a high ceiling in his development, but I fully expect improvement.  As fun as it was, Wilkins should forget about impacting on offense and refocus on the skills that got him drafted in RD1.


Michael Dieter

I was not a fan of Michael Dieter before the 2019 draft and I was sure I didn’t want Miami to draft Dieter after I saw him struggle at the Senior Bowl in one-on-one drills.  That said, Dieter played about as well as we could have expected in 2019 given the situation he was thrown into.  It couldn’t be said that Dieter played well in 2019, but there were times when he was our best lineman.  With Ereck Flowers likely to man Left Guard in 2020, Dieter could be in for a move to Center.  The RD3 selection will have to battle Ted Karras for the start at Center and it’s likely he will be pushed to a reserve role.  The future outlook for Dieter is one of a versatile back-up who could perform at a reasonably high level in spot starts.


Andrew Van Ginkel

I want to have high hopes for Van Ginkel, but I don’t think I do.  What I do hope is that Van Ginkel isn’t discarded before he has time to improve.  The former Wisconsin Badger had an injury disrupted 2019, but did return in week 12 and performed well thereafter.  It’s possible Van Ginkel gets lost in the mix of Linebackers on the roster; he’ll undoubtedly lose snaps to Van Noy, Lawson, Roberts, and Grugier-Hill.  He needs to establish himself as either a Pass-rusher or Coverage LB, he can’t afford to be average at both.  Van Ginkel is a good special teamer so he should make the final roster.  Unfortunately, Van Ginkel is what he is, a RD5 draft pick.


Chandler Cox

A lot of fans welcomed the return of a Fullback based offensive scheme.  Cox managed 83 snaps in 2019 and did not make enough of an impact to suggest that his snap count will increase in 2020.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Fins move away from a Fullback entirely and Cox will be on the bubble when it comes to the final roster.  It is also possible that Cox is deemed surplus to requirements if Elandon Roberts could be used as a lead blocker, as he was occasionally in New England, or if Christian Wilkins will be used as a big body in goal-line situations.  Cox could be very useful on special teams, but I suspect he might not be around in September.


Myles Gaskin

Gaskin saw some late-season action in 2019 due to the ineffectiveness of the other rushers on the roster.  Gaskin totaled 184 yards on 36 runs and 7 catches.  I liked what I saw from Gaskin in limited snaps and his production in college would suggest that he is a player worth persevering with.  Patrick Laird looks likely to make the team as a run/catch option, so a roster spot for Gaskin will come down to whether Miami wants to keep Kalen Ballage around or not.  Even if he does make the final roster, Gaskin will be no more than a 3rd-string option at RB.


Patrick Laird

Laird makes for a nice story and he’s the sort of player who’s easy to root for.  The UDFA had some nice moments in late 2019 and should get a chance to push for a roster spot again in 2020.  Laird appears to be the kind of guy that will do everything possible to get on the team, but he’s a long way from being a bankable player.  Laird will improve through his willingness to learn and I expect him to see some action on 3rd downs as a receiving option.  Like others on this list, he’ll also need to contribute on special teams to stick with the team.


Preston Williams

No second-year player has higher expectations of him than Preston Williams.  As the Fins didn’t draft a WR in 2020, the fan’s expectations seem to be mirrored by Chris Grier and the coaching staff.  An injury-shortened rookie season saw Williams post a 32-428-3 stat line.  Williams has the look of an elite WR talent and it was clear in training camp last year that he could make a significant impact.  We need to temper our expectations slightly but, with a rejuvenated DeVante Parker on the other side, we could have one of the best tandems in the league (so much for tempering expectations.)


Deion Calhoun

Calhoun was thrown into action too early in 2019 and then was in and out of the starting line-up too often as the season progressed.  Ideally, Calhoun should have spent 2019 on the practice squad.  The Fins will have to hope that Calhoun isn’t permanently damaged by the impossible job he was given last year.  If Calhoun stops hearing ghosts, he could eventually make a serviceable starter at Guard.  I predict Calhoun starting the season on the practice squad as I’m hoping he’s not cut entirely.  In time, Calhoun could be a valuable asset.


Samuel Eguavoen

Eguavoen, fresh from the Canadian league, racked up 621 snaps in 2019.  The Linebacker presents a difficult evaluation as he started the season well and then dropped off later on as the team improved.  Like Van Ginkel, Eguavoen will need to forge out a role in an overcrowded LB room.  The problem is, Eguavoen doesn’t excel in one area.  I’m a fan of Eguavoen, so I’d love for him to be part of the team going forward.  Unfortunately, fans should not expect Eguavoen to be the next Ray Lewis or Lawrence Taylor.


Nik Needham

Needham was a pleasant surprise in 2019 and should definitely make the 2020 team.  Needham didn’t see the field until week 6 but then rarely left the field as the Fins struggled with defensive injuries.  There were times when Needham looked lost, but that’s no surprise for an UDFA unexpectedly thrown into action.  Needham is our clear #4 CB as we head into the 2020 season and I have full confidence in his ability to step in should Xavien Howard have his annual injury.  A great find and a player I hope stays on the team for many years.