Miami Dolphins Offseason Additions Most Likely to Contribute Week 1
In one of the most anticipated off-seasons in recent memory, the Miami Dolphins brought in numerous players they hope will help them reclaim the AFC East in the post-Tom Brady era. But one of the biggest questions that remain entering next season is, which of these offseason additions can help the Dolphins win now in a division filled with question marks?
5. Robert Hunt RG/RT Louisiana State
(Tyler Kaufman/Associated Press)
While the Dolphins had their fair share of struggles last season there was one group that clearly needed to be revamped heading into the offseason- the offensive line. There is no secret that the Dolphins run game was horrendous last year (Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team in rushing yards with a mere 243 rushing yards), and while they didn’t have the luxury of a feature back last season; it wouldn’t have mattered with their almost turnstile offensive line. It was clear that Grier and crew recognized this issue as they made sure to address the line by taking Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt (pictured above), and Solomon Kindley in the first four rounds.
Out of the three, one thing seems to stand out about Hunt: he is an absolute mauler. As soon as the ball is snapped the first thing on Hunt’s mind is to put someone into the dirt (or turf) and that is a quality in a lineman that cannot be undervalued. Although, that may not be what gives Hunt a chance to contribute early on, with his ability to play both guard and right tackle he is already making it hard to find a reason to keep him off the field. If his aggressiveness leads to more pancakes than mistakes, Hunt can surely have a huge impact on an offensive line that was ranked dead last by Pro Football Focus last season.
4. Shaq Lawson- DE Buffalo Bills
(AP Photo/John Munson)
In one of the more underrated acquisitions of the offseason, Shaq Lawson’s impact on the team may be felt as soon as the team arrives for training camp. The Dolphins pass-rush was anything but effective last season; finishing last in the league with 23 sacks. In an offseason where the Dolphins parted with their team leader in sacks (Taco Charlton with 5.5), Lawson will be expected to add life to a defensive line that has struggled for years now.
Despite not starting a game for Buffalo last season Lawson had arguably the best season of his young career; putting up career highs in sacks (6.5), tackles for loss (13), and QB hits (18). On a team that finished last in sacks last season and has struggled against the run for years: Lawson’s presence in the trenches should be felt immediately.
3. Ereck Flowers G Washington Redskins
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)
Ereck Flowers? The tackle that the Giants saw as a bust and moved on from? Well since then Flowers has changed the trajectory of his NFL career dramatically. After struggling at tackle in New York, Flowers made the transition to guard after joining Washington and flourished at the position. The former number 9 overall pick struggled to keep up with NFL edge rushers while at tackle, but at the guard position his size and speed have allowed him to play the position at a much higher level. And while there are still some things Flowers can improve on as guard, his trajectory and career path is what makes him such a nice fit with the Dolphins.
Having been humbled at tackle, Flowers embraced the transition to guard and progressed the most he has as an NFL player. If he continues to trend up he could prove to be a key addition to an offensive line that struggled in every facet of the game in 2019.
2. Kyle Van Noy LB New England Patriots
(USA Today Images)
An intricate part of the New England Patriots defense over the past three seasons; Kyle Van Noy will be expected to have a similar impact in Miami. In his time with the Pats Van Noy proved to be one of the more versatile players in football; totaling 16.5 sacks, 221 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 35 QB hits, 5 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. Now Van Noy will be reunited with his defensive coordinator from the 2018 season; a season where Brian Flores displayed Van Noy’s versatility tremendously. In his lone season with Flores, Van Noy racked up 92 tackles, with 3.5 sacks, and an INT to top things off. It can be expected that Flores will have Van Noy play a similar role in Miami, allowing Jerome Baker to move out of this role and back to his natural position of weakside linebacker.
Van Noy’s impact will be felt on more than just the field, Van Noy (29) is the second eldest statesman after Ryan Fitzpatrick, so look to him to be a leader in the locker room and as a key mentor to the young players on the team as Flores and crew look to build their own version of the “Patriot Way” in South Beach.
1. Byron Jones CB Dallas Cowboys
(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
As one of biggest names on the free agent market this past offseason, Byron Jones will definitely have an immediate impact on the Dolphins. Without Xavien Howard for the majority of the season, the Dolphins defensive backfield struggled: giving up a league high 39 passing touchdowns and the seventh most passing yards. While the team did find a potential gem in UDFA cornerback Nik Needham, Byron Jones presence is what will make all the difference in the world for the Dolphins defense next season.
On paper, it is hard to argue that there is a cornerback duo in the NFL that can rival the duo of Jones and Howard, but given Howard’s injury tendencies: Jones provides them with a shutdown corner that can be expected to suit up almost every Sunday (Jones only having missed 1 game in his 5 year career). Jones also has quite the resume; in his time with the Cowboys, Jones was tasked with covering the opposing team’s best receiver and he proved to be effective at doing so. In two games against Michael Thomas he allowed a mere 21 yards on 2 receptions and against Julio Jones he allowed just 1 reception for 19 yards. Against arguably the two best receivers in football; Byron Jones was able to cover them better than some of the league’s premier corners. By bringing together Jones and Howard the Dolphins front office may be envisioning a repeat of the Sam Madison and Pat Surtain duo that proved to be effective.
Byron Jones stacked the following dubs the last 2 years (rec/yards):
Michael Thomas: 2/21
Alshon Jeffery: 0/0
Stefon Diggs: 1/11
John Brown: 1/6
O’Dell Beckham 0/0 (5 total NYG targets, 1 reception).
Julio Jones: 1/19
Michael Thomas: 0/0
T.Y. Hilton, 2019: 1/23
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) March 19, 2020
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