3 Miami Dolphins Players Who are Poised for a Breakout

The Miami Dolphins are heading into one of their most crucial seasons in decades, and three players appear poised for a breakout year.

Dolphins safety Jevon Holland is poised to be one of the team's breakout players
Photo Credit: Wilfredo Lee/AP

The Miami Dolphins are entering a pivotal year in their history. Mike McDaniel enters his first season as head coach, and the team arguably has the most talent we’ve seen since the Dan Marino era. However, many players’ fates lie in their production this year.

Namely, this is considered a make-or-break year for Tua Tagovailoa, who has had a divisive first two seasons. If he fails to take the next step, there is a high chance we see him replaced before the 2023 season.

There are several players on the team who appear ready to take the next step. It’s difficult to predict Miami Dolphins breakout players, but the stars seem to be aligning for these three players in particular.

Raekwon Davis

Defensive tackle Raekwon Davis had an up-and-down start to last season. Miami had given up significant yardage on the ground in the first two weeks, but after he went down with a knee injury, the impact he had on the team began to show.

After week one, Miami lost seven straight games, and their run defense was a large part of it. Even though he only missed three games, it was clear that he wasn’t 100 percent. However, as he became closer to full form, Miami’s defense transformed itself. They won significantly more up front. However, it was others who reaped the benefits.

It’s possible, however, that production and numbers align for Davis this year. Emmanuel Ogbah, Jaelan Phillips, and Andrew Van Ginkel have all improved in their time here. Thus, they will all garner more attention from offensive coordinators and O-lines. If they see more double teams, it’s likely Miami’s interior lineman, namely Davis, get free more often, wreaking havoc in the run and pass game.

Jevon Holland and Raekwon Davis are wreaking havoc in OTA’s.

Jevon Holland

Safety Jevon Holland had one of the best rookie seasons Dolphins fans have seen in quite some time. Playing in centerfield, Holland had the middle of the field on lockdown. He showed the ball-hawking ability that he was praised for at Oregon, and even snagged two interceptions. However, there is still room for improvement.

Holland passed the eye test, but his stats were a primary reason that he didn’t gain the attention of the national media. If he is able to turn more of his PBUs into INTs, it’s very possible he’s in the same conversation as All-Pro safeties like Kevin Byard and Jordan Poyer.

Jevon Holland was a shutdown DB last year.

Entering his second year in Miami’s defensive scheme, there will be a new level of comfort for Holland. When you combine that with his supporting cast, it raises the likelihood of a breakout season for one of the Dolphins most promising young players.

Noah Igbinoghene

The dark horse pick of the group, a breakout season for Noah Igbinoghene is likely just wishful thinking. Miami’s cornerbacks are arguably their strongest group, and the first round pick has struggled to see the field. Furthermore, his play, in limited opportunity, hasn’t been promising.

However, the tools with Igbinoghene are all there, and it was known that he would take some time to develop. Over the last two years, the 22 year old has sat under two of the best corners in the league: Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Being able to learn from them without the pressure of stepping in right away allows for a focus on improvement.

Noah Igbinoghene is one of the hardest workers Sam Madison has been around.

Igbinoghene likely won’t see significant snaps outside, but if slated nickel starter Nik Needham struggles, it’s possible they look in the former Auburn Tiger’s direction. He has all of the athletic tools and is one of the youngest players on the team, so a major leap isn’t out of the question.

The Miami Dolphins’ breakout potential is the highest we’ve seen in years, and Igbinoghene, as well as Davis and Holland, show a potential to help this team reach new heights in 2022.

Zach Sieler: The NFL’s Most Underrated Player

Dolphins DL Zach Sieler has been overlooked since entering the league, and it’s time for him to be shown the respect he deserves.

Dolphins DT Zach Sieler is one of the league's most underrated players
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins, winners of seven straight, will participate in the playoffs if they win their next two games. This comes after Miami lost seven in a row in a slew of injuries, disappointments, and lack of chemistry.

Now, as they found their groove, many look for players and units to credit. Tua Tagovailoa has looked much improved from last year, rookies Jaylen Waddle, Jaelan Phillips, and Jevon Holland look like stars in the making, and the defensive backfield looks just as deadly as last year.

Although, a name that needs some recognition is Dolphins defensive tackle Zach Sieler. The fourth- year pro, while only having two sacks, has generated eight pressures, per Pro Football Reference, and has been a stalwart in the run game.

Being in rotation with the likes of Christian Wilkins and Raekwon Davis, Sieler has only appeared in over 50 percent of snaps in five of Miami’s 15 games. Those snaps, however, have been productive. Sieler has excelled at holding his gaps, stopping the run, and making timely hits on opposing quarterbacks, and his all-22 from the last few weeks shows exactly that.

Zach Sieler gets after Ian Book.

Pass Rusher

Although Pro Football Reference only registers eight pressures, Sieler has been impactful and timing on that end. His ability to get off blocks quickly and get after the quarterback has complemented edge rushers Emmanuel Ogbah and Jaelan Phillips nicely. While also having two sacks, he has been able to set up for teammates and make impact plays.

As shown on this play against the Giants, the game appears easy for Sieler at times. His combination of speed and power, as shown here, gets him into the backfield in time to influence the throw.

Zach Sieler forces a near INT on a pressure

By batting the linemen’s hands to the side, he allows himself to use his unusual speed. He is then able to pull away from the guard and pursue his target. His impressive closing speed is enough for Mike Glennon to put up a dangerous throw, which nearly is intercepted by Jevon Holland.

A Simple Move

Although simple, he thrives in his ability to keep offensive linemen from getting their hands on him. With quick slaps, he is able to remain untouched and keep his forward momentum. The perfect combination of these two factors was on display on Monday Night Football against the Saints.

On this play, shown below, Sieler takes an outside route to the quarterback. To avoid contact with the guard, he runs outside of him. With his quick get-off and speed, he’s able to do his quick swat away and leave him in the dust.

Zach Sieler generates a pressure on Ian Book.

Although it doesn’t register as a sack for Sieler, he was able to pressure Book out of the pocket, and into a sack for his teammate. While his big plays don’t always show up on the stat sheet, they leave the same impact.

Run Stopper

Although sacks and pressures are typically more flashy, Zach Sieler makes the Dolphins run defense fun to watch. His combination of speed and power that I referenced earlier show up even more on run plays. His ability to maintain gap integrity while stopping playmakers in the backfield is one not found in many interior defensive linemen.

PFF rates Zach Sieler among the top IDL’s at run stopping.

Sieler’s game against the Carolina Panthers is one that perfectly displays his run defense in action. On this play, his goal would typically be to push McCaffrey out to the edge, while allowing linebackers to come up and make hits on the cutback lanes. What he ends up doing, however, is much more impressive.

Zach Sieler stops Christian McCaffrey.

He starts by getting outside, as he typically does, when he notices McCaffrey cut back in. Without losing his place, he is able to swallow him up for a loss on the play. He does so by throwing the lineman completely out of the play, which shows just how much power he has to disengage.

Counters

Another impressive part of Sieler’s run defense has been his implementation of counters into his game. On film, it is clear that he likes to go outside, which is typically to the left, and he has found a way to use that to his advantage.

On this play from his great performance against the Giants, he sells that he’s going outside, getting the lineman to leave his backside unprotected. In doing so, this allows Sieler to use a swim move to get back inside and stuff the run, potentially preventing a big play.

Zach Sieler uses a swim move to stop the run.

With limited snaps, linemen don’t have much tape to check out on Sieler. Thus, when they find a trend, it becomes much more important to identify and stop it. If not, Sieler will find a way to ensure they’re wrong every time.

High Effort Plays

In a Brian Flores defense, it’s clear that the fundamentals are preached as necessary for playing time. The coach who once dedicated a wall to the phrase “takes no talent” looks for players who show their love for the game on the field. It’s clear through his high motor that no Dolphins player exhibits that more than Zach Sieler.

As a lineman, it’s typically your job to get into the backfield and make stops like the ones I’ve shown thus far. However, Sieler works far outside his responsibilities, such as on this play shown below.

Sieler recognizes that New York is running a screen to Saquon Barkley, and he is able to, from his IDL spot, get over to the back, track him down, and stop him for only a short gain. His speed is on display here and it’s truly fun to watch.

Sieler uses his great motor to get out on the screen.

Sieler typically finds himself around the football, which is a common trait among star defensive players, and a prime example of that is Miami’s game vs. Carolina.

Here, he is able to see that Cam Newton is passing his way, perfectly timing his jump and getting his hands in the air to bat the ball down.

Zach Sieler bats down the pass.

The most impressive part about his timing on this play is that he gets Cam to throw it there and gets his hands up late enough. Although, they still get up in time to make the play.

Knowing Your Responsibility

This last play, which is one of my personal favorites this year, comes against the Jets. After noticing that a reverse is coming, Sieler sees Zach Wilson begin to slip out.

Zach Sieler prevents a TD

Realizing that his responsibility is the quarterback, Sieler disengages and takes off. As the receiver lets the throw go, Sieler is tracking down Wilson to the end zone. With impressive closing speed, he is able to get his hands up and knock the ball down.

Without Sieler’s high football IQ and effort, this play very well may have resulted in a touchdown.

The Bottom Line

Zach Sieler, although not regarded as a top defensive lineman, has far exceeded expectations set by fans and the Dolphins coaching staff.

His ability to defend the pass and run, while always giving 100 percent has been special to watch, and it pops on film every week.

It will be interesting to see how the former seventh-round pick continues to improve, but it’s clear that his story is just beginning to unfold.

Miami Dolphins: Three Keys to Victory vs. New England Patriots

The Miami Dolphins look to start the season with a victory over Mac Jones and the New England Patriots. Here are the keys to victory

Miami Dolphins
Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The NFL season is finally here! Last night, we had a fantastic game as the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Bucs survived a scare against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas left several points on the table against Tom Brady, and that’s not a winning formula. Looking ahead to Sunday, what will the winning formula for the Miami Dolphins be when they take on the New England Patriots? Here are the three keys to victory!

Three Keys to a Miami Dolphins Victory

Make Mac Jones look like a rookie

During the lead-up to the NFL Draft, one of the biggest talking points was former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. Just how high would the former Crimson Tide star be taken? Could he be the third quarterback off the board? Was he even worthy of a first-round pick? Opinions varied wildly on the young quarterback, but ultimately the only one that matters is Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Belichick made Jones a first-round pick in April. Now he has made Jones the starter of the New England Patriots. Jones has some big shoes to fill, and he’s going to get a major test right out of the gates in the Miami Dolphins defense. Miami had one of the better defenses in the league last year, and they’ve arguably gotten better since then.

Head coach Brian Flores is undoubtedly excited about the idea of unleashing this defense on a rookie quarterback. The Dolphins have added pass-rushing prowess with first-round pick Jaelan Phillips. They also added a chess piece in the defensive backfield with safety Jevon Holland. Coupled with the further development of defensive tackle Raekwon Davis and one of the best corner duos in the league, it’s a recipe for disaster for a rookie quarterback.

Miami will need every bit of that if they’re going to walk away with a win and start their season 1-0. Flores is undoubtedly going to make life a nightmare for Jones, with multiple looks and disguises. Will Jones be able to diagnose what he’s seeing? Will Howard be able to force turnovers at the rate he did last season? New England should be in for a long day if Miami can create pressure up front and confuse Jones behind it.

Improved offensive line play

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Miami Dolphins have questions along the offensive line. It feels like a broken record to continue harping on the line, but the fact remains there are still significant questions. Watching the offensive line play in the pre-season did not assuage any fears Dolphins fans had about the performance of this line.

To make matters worse, the Dolphins come into the season opener with both injury and COVID issues along the line. Miami is going to be without starting left tackle Austin Jackson. One of his presumptive replacements — rookie Liam Eichenberg — has been dealing with a lingering “lower-body” issue. Fellow newcomer to the Dolphins, Greg Little, is also dealing with injury issues. It’s going to be a significant point of concern for Miami heading into Sunday’s game. The million-dollar question is going to be, “How well can the offensive line hold up?”

All through training camp, we’ve heard about all the progress that Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has made in his second season — and first full training camp. All of that progress won’t mean much if he can’t put it on display because of a porous offensive line in front of him.

Jesse Davis will likely be thrust into the starting lineup regardless of whether or not Eichenberg is fully healthy. Can his veteran leadership bring the offensive line together? Will they be able to protect Tagovailoa and open up holes for running backs, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed? They’re going to have to if Miami has any hope of starting the season undefeated.

Tua needs to prove his progress

The biggest story line for the Miami Dolphins this off-season has been quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. It has arguably been one of the biggest story lines in the entire league. There’s been talk ad nauseum about what the young quarterback needed to show in year two with the Dolphins.

Pundits and analysts alike have talked until they’re blue in the face about whether or not coach Flores actually believes in Tua. None of that to mention the persistent Deshaun Watson rumors.

All of that — well, maybe not *all* — gets put to rest on Sunday. We saw a bit of his progress in the pre-season, and it was enough to give fans hope that all the talk they’ve heard from camp wasn’t just that. But it’s a much different animal doing those things in the regular season.

If the Dolphins have any hope of walking away from the season opener with a victory, it’s all on Tagovailoa’s shoulders. He needs to show fans — and the Patriots — how much he’s actually progressed in the off-season. He’s finally had an entire off-season to work with the team. He’s been given weapons on the outside with Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller — who will miss this week’s game due to suspension. It’s time for Tagovailoa to make the leap and become a franchise quarterback.

Miami is going to need some explosive plays if they’re to beat the Patriots. Whether that comes from Waddle, tight end Mike Gesicki, or someone else, remains to be seen. But no matter who it comes from, it’s going to start with the arm of Tua. It’s ‘put up or shut up’ time. One way or another, there’s going to be a firestorm of talk after Sunday’s game. If Tua is on his game, and the defense is on theirs, it should be a Victory Monday for Dolphins fans.

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The Dolphins value run defenders, but does it lead to wins?

In the NFL the tradition of stopping the run was a recipe for success; however, does it continue in an era of modern football?

NFL teams still value run defense, and many continue to invest in interior defenders skilled at closing off running lanes. The battle between run blockers on the offensive line and run stoppers on defense defined the NFL for decades.

However, the league has changed into a pass first offense where scoring has become normal. The league that averaged 18.7 points per team game in 1993 morphed into one averaging 24.8 points per team game last season. Last season was an all time record.

Introduction

Teams believe stopping the run is important, or they wouldn’t spend premium picks to acquire players adept at that skill.

What I would like to know is if a good interior run defense contributes to winning football games Does a stout defensive line encourage teams to throw the ball more? Does it impact how many points a team scores?

ESPN analyst Brian Burke came out with a fantastic metric, the run stop win rate. It basically measures an opponent’s effective rushing ability. This usually decreases as a defense’s number of run stops wins on a play increases. It’s based on a defense’s performance. It takes into account the technique played and amount of rush snaps a lineman has faced.

Taking into account of the run stop win rate and the factors included into it the metric is actually called “run stop wins over expected” (RSWOE).

Use Code ATB

Metric by Team

TeamRun Stop Wins over Expected (RSWOE)
NYJ101.2
LAR46.7
LV38.1
KC37.6
MIA33.8
TB30.3
PHI26.2
TENN24.3
BUF23.0
WFT20.0
NE19.9
LAC18.4
BAL15.2
NYG10.6
CIN8.4
PITT8.2
NOLA7.0
GB4.8
DEN2.3
JAX0.7
ARI0.6
CHI0.0
SF-5.4
IND-5.8
CAR-8.9
SEA-9.2
DET-12.3
HOU-17.1
CLE-21.2
DAL-64.9
MINN-93.7
From: ESPN Stats & Information Group

Note: There is no pattern between RSWOE and other measures of defensive performance. No correlation exists either with defensive points allowed or team scoring margin.

Analysis

Being good at stopping the run does not appear to help defenses prevent opposing offenses from scoring, meanwhile being bad at stopping the run does not hurt either, except in critical situations.

Per PFF these were the best teams stopping the run:

Of the top 10 best run defenses, only five made it to the postseason, with the Saints and Rams making runs in the postseason.

Metric Correlation with Wins/Expected
Dropback %.25
EPA/play.08
1st down rush %.08
Points scored.06
Points Allowed.04
Point Margin.02
3rd down conv. %.01
Def. success rate-.17
Rush yards % of offense-.26
From: ESPN Stats & Information Group. Data Populated from 2017-2020

The strongest correlation tested suggests that the more dominant the interior run defense, the more an opponent will drop back to pass — and the less it will try to run.

Diving into the Deep end

In terms of the Dolphins, Miami has invested heavily into the interior defensive line. Brian Flores’ scheme dictates iDLs to eat up space, push into the backfield and apply pressure on the Quarterback— allowing Linebackers to clean up the play and gain box score statistics.

Three of Miami’s top five run defenders are iDLs. Davis, Sieler and Wilkins do not get the same praise as an Xavien Howard or Andrew van Ginkel, they help them get the praise.

Not to mention picking up Adam Butler and John Jenkins this free agency to create depth in the interior defensive line room. Nothing wrong with having fresh legs in crucial moments in-game.

Adam Butlers PFF grade may not be the best, but he has been decent as a rotational DT with the New England Patriots

John Jenkins has consistently performed well as a run defender, which helps the Dolphins depth chart and personnel rotations.

Conclusion

In short, if a defense has a great run defense, an offense will pass more. Today’s era of modern football means a team is efficient passing the ball compared to running it.

While the conclusion might not bode well for those teams who invest in run stuffers along the iDL, the data suggest that teams also need an effective against the pass.

Unless a defense is dominant against the pass and the run, it may make sense to have opposing offenses run the ball more and pass less.

Fortunately, the Dolphins have a top 5 passing defense returning from 2020 that consistently produced turnovers and shutdown aerial attacks, if the Dolphins can get better at stopping the run and continue being a top five passing defense they will be dangerous.

In a league that rewards teams that pass early, often, and successfully, daring an offense to pass can backfire.

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2021 DTs: Speed, Power and Depth

The options at defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins in 2021 are plentiful and it is arguable that it is one of the strongest positions on the roster. A versatile group all with a mixture of speed, solid hands and power, allowing several players to either line up in the middle or at defensive end in either defensive formation.

In the 2015 offseason, the Miami Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh to a record breaking $114 million contract. It was an attempt to solve their issues on the interior defensive line. Unfortunately, it never going to be the answer. The approach taken by Chris Grier and Brian Flores in for digging for diamonds in the rough has proven to be much more sustainable and productive. The options at defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins in 2021 are plentiful and it is arguable that it is one of the strongest positions on the roster. A versatile group all with a mixture of speed, solid hands and power, allowing several players to either line up in the middle, or at defensive end in either defensive formation.

“Collectively, there’s a competitive group up front. I think a lot of that is matchup based and week to week. I think we have a lot of different guys that have a lot of different strengths.”

New defensive line coach Austin Clark speaking to the media.

Christian Wilkins

From the moment he was drafted in 2019, the iconic embrace with Commissioner Roger Goodell, it was clear to fans that the first pick in the Brian Flores era was a character and most importantly a culture setter in Miami.

Throughout his first two seasons with the Dolphins he has been a great leader on the team, and judging him primarily on that fact alone he is a home run of a pick. He describes himself as bringing a spark to camp when everybody is dead and tired, he is the one to get those guys going by making a play or bringing the energy. However, has he fulfilled the potential of the 13th overall pick?

In 2019, Wilkins ranked first among rookie defensive linemen with 56 tackles whilst ranking 5th in the league in tackles among all DTs. In 2020 PFF gave Wilkins a 73.9 run defense grade, ranking him 19th out of 111 defensive linemen with at least 300 snaps. However, where Wilkins does struggle is in the passing game. Despite last season having more interceptions than Jamal Adams, in his first two seasons he has only 7 QB hits, is yet to force a fumble and has failed to record a pass rush grade above 60.0, ranking 88th among 123 DTs. Whilst being on the interior he is susceptible to a lot of the dirty work inside, across 30 career games Wilkins has managed only 3.5 sacks, the same amount managed by Zach Sieler despite only starting 8 games in 2020.

“He’s matured, he’s matured on the field, he’s still a kid at heart. I think everyone sees that. He’s really good at reading backfield sets, he’s always at the next level of trying to learn what combos can I get at this front.”

Zach Sieler meeting with the media on May 26 at the start of voluntary OTAs when asked about Wilkins.

Wilkins can play inside at either defensive formation whether 3-4 or 4-3, but he also has the versatility and speed to be able to set the edge. Whilst his stats do not jump of the page, and whilst others may have had breakthrough seasons in 2020, that is not to label Wilkins as undeserving of the 13th overall pick. Wilkins plays with non-stop energy and enthusiasm playing with urgency on every down. There is no reason not to believe that Wilkins won’t make a further jump coming into his third year. His personality combined with his athleticism and versatility give him all the intangibles that he needs to compete in the NFL.

Raekwon Davis

When Raekwon Davis was drafted 56th overall in the 2020 NFL draft, there was a reason Brian Flores usually a man of little expression was gushing with a smile from ear to ear. Davis was PFF’s 3rd highest graded defensive rookie behind only to Julian Blackmon and Chase Young.

Davis was brilliant in the run game in the second half of the season, he is a mauler who will not be moved and helps fill the gaps. Davis scored a run defense grade of 66.8 and excelled at nose tackle with a 76.7 pass rushing grade. Between weeks 10-17 Davis ranked 17th in the NFL at DT. Regardless of who is the Dolphins starting center, it is likely that Davis will give them serious concerns throughout training camp.

Davis became the first Dolphins DL to be selected to the all rookie team since Kendall Langford in 2008. Also selected was Jason Taylor in 1997

“I think he did a good job of developing throughout the year in terms of his run defense and being able to win one on ones consistently and hold the point on doubles. I think the major focus for him is finishing plays. I think he specifically probably feels like he left some more out there. Just taking the next step like any other guy this year, taking the next step in his second year. I’m looking forward to him. Im really looking forward to everything that he brings to the table. I love him.”

DL coach Austin Clark full of praise of Davis heading into year 2.

Like Coach Clark stated the main focus for Davis this season will be finishing plays. There is no doubt Davis was disruptive in his rookie season but still only managed 40 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 QB hit. There were numerous instances in several games where Davis caused havoc getting into the backfield, most notably against the Jets where he narrowly missed out on the sacks, although did force Darnold into the arms of other Dolphins defenders.

Zach Sieler

Whilst it can be said that Christian Wilkins and Raekwon Davis’ stats do not jump off the page at you, the same cannot be said for everyone’s favorite now former RV living player. Sieler exploded in 2020 with a huge breakout season with 48 tackles, 11 QB hits, 11 TFL and 3.5 sacks. Even in 2019 although only starting one game he still managed 1 TFL and 2 QB hits.

Sieler recently signed a 2 year $7.63m contract extension with $3.8m guaranteed, securing his future as a Miami Dolphin until 2024. Yet another example of the Dolphins looking after their own, a hallmark of a good franchise; rewarding their players who produce week in week out, whilst also acting as an incentive to younger players or players lower down the depth chart to do likewise when they are called upon.

Sieler had an outstanding year in 2020, and is criminally underappreciated for his role in one of the leading defenses in the league. Whilst Xavien Howard, Jerome Baker and Emmanuel Ogbah all took the spotlight throughout the season and rightfully so, Sieler’s production was perhaps the most remarkable given where the position he had been the year prior. Now age 25 coming into his fourth season in the NFL, his emphasis has shifted to improving in the run game, his reactions in play action situations and early down snaps. With the versatility expected within Josh Boyer’s defense, different skill traits are inevitably required. Sieler says his focus in training is centered on both speed and explosion but also power against doubles on the interior.

Adam Butler

It has not taken long for Adam Butler to showcase his abilities and what he can do for this defense. All throughout minicamp Butler’s speed of the ball caused the O-line havoc with reports of would be sacks and QB hits. Butler’s explosiveness in his first step puts even more pressure on the interior of the line to be able to get set.

Having lost Davon Godchaux to New England in free agency, the addition of Adam Butler is the best addition that the Dolphins made in terms of value. Godchaux’s annual salary with the Patriots is $7.5m in comparison with Butler’s average salary of $3.75m. His fast and powerful hands, light feet and agility make him an ideal fit into Josh Boyer’s defense, that last season caused havoc throughout the NFL. When considering both production value and cost, it is clear that Miami came out ahead in the DT switcheroo in free agency.

Godchaux had more snaps despite being inactive since tearing his bicep in the Week 5 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.

An even more impressive stat is that Butler has only missed one game in his first four seasons in the NFL. That game came last season where he was inactive with a slight shoulder injury. Despite only starting 4 games, Butler had 2 passes defended, 34 tackles, 4 sacks and 6 TFL. If Zach Sieler was the biggest surprise to Dolphins fans last season, this is a notice to the fanbase to not be surprised if Butler shines; he is a very important rotational piece within this defense, adding depth to an already stacked defensive tackle position.

John Jenkins

Excellent breakdown by Travis Wingfield on everything that John Jenkins did bring and hopefully will continue to bring to the Dolphins defense in 2021.

A strong veteran presence in an otherwise relatively young group, combine this with familiarity with the organisation, Jenkins is set to hit the ground running as a strong contributor to this defensive line. In his first stint with the team in 2019, Jenkins recorded 34 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL and 1 QB hit. As a traditional nose tackle he will likely be a solid backup to Raekwon Davis. Jenkins is one of three Dolphins players over the age of 30, none of which were on the team last season.

Benito Jones

Throughout the 2020 season Benito Jones was forever to and from the practice squad, never able to fully cement his place on the active roster consistently, only playing 48 snaps on defense resulting in only one tackle. It is likely at this time not knowing what strides he has made this offseason that the 2021 season will be much of the same.

Conclusion

In 2021 the cap hit for Wilkins, Sieler, Davis, Butler, Jenkins and Jones combined amounts to $12,819,169 which is 6.8% of the total cap. To put this number into perspective the Dolphins paid Ndamukong Suh $20,000,000 a year during the three years he was with the team. Now of course this will change into the future, Davis, Wilkins and Sieler will still all be playing on their rookie deals in 2021, whereas Suh had established himself as an elite player. Regardless of the fact, the job that Chris Grier and Brian Flores have done in assembling this group of DTs has to be applauded; young studs complemented by a veteran presence, all possessing speed, power and position versatility. The 2021 DTs are a very stacked group indeed and are by far the best value on the entire roster. Fins Up!

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