Miami Dolphins should draft BYU safety Austin Lee

This column was written by Marcos Chisholm. Follow him on Twitter @marcosgchisholm.

In possession of the 18th and 26th picks in the first round of the NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins are expected to pursue an offensive lineman and a safety. But if they instead opt to target secondary talent after day one of the draft, BYU safety Austin Lee can emerge as a highly effective, under-the-radar pickup.

“I always dreamed and felt that I could play in the NFL,” Lee said. “It felt more a reality as I got to my senior year and my second game in versus Tennessee was a big-time game which I played well in. It was then I realized I’m getting closer to my dreams.”

Even in a talented draft class where Alabama’s Xavier McKinney and LSU’s Grant Delpit rank among the best safeties, Lee’s resume and skill set afford him credibility and indicate he could very well add to the chemistry in Miami’s hybrid defense.

The defensive standout’s clutch performance in an overtime victory against the Volunteers last September served as a turning point in his collegiate career. Lee was recently ranked 86th on PFF’s 101 Best College Football Players of 2019 list after finishing among the top twenty FBS safeties in categories such as overall grade (15th), coverage grade (16th), and yards allowed (7th). Most notably, Lee allowed zero touchdowns throughout last year, a rare feat for players on the field for more than 300 snaps in a single season. The Cougars only allowed 46 plays of 20 yards or more with Lee’s help last season.

While BYU’s system can potentially limit the duties of defensive backs by dropping eight players into coverage, Lee’s self-awareness and efficient movements help him make up for a lack of explosiveness that higher-ranked draft prospects tout. He becomes unpredictable on the field because his high football IQ does not require him to solely commit to either playing the run or deep passes.

“I feel like I have my own game. But I model a lot of what I do through seeing Eric Weddle and Jamal Adams. I love the instincts, toughness, IQ, and physicality that those guys play with,” Lee said. “They both are just competitors and play with such tenacity.”

Lee’s modern-day football role models play with strikingly different styles at the safety position. However, he takes the best from both worlds in a way that suits Miami’s positionless defensive scheme. Hybrid systems demand dynamic players, and his ability to teeter between the traditional roles of free and strong safeties as the game evolves can make him an invaluable asset.

Yet there’s no certainty of what changes to the Dolphins’ defensive scheme will come next season. Patrick Graham, Miami’s defensive coordinator in 2019, officially joined the New York Giants as an assistant coach last month. Former Dolphins cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer was internally promoted to Graham’s previous role, and safeties coach Tony Oden was fired from Brian Flores’ staff in January before being replaced by Curt Kuntz.

And Lee — who has never adhered to the traditional roles of a two-man safety dynamic — has strategically modeled his game for the 2020s and beyond. In spite of his mediocre athleticism, his focus on fluidity and adaptability have allowed him to fit into every scheme he has played for. But considering Dolphins safeties Rashad Jones and Bobby McCain already have uncertain futures in Miami, scouts and draft analysts may question what Lee would bring different to the table.

Ultimately, it’s his life off-the-field that encapsulates why he can bring value to many NFL teams. After initially signing to play for BYU rival Utah in 2012, Lee went on a multimonth LDS mission to Oklahoma that forced him to miss an entire season. He then fell in love with his wife, Kortnie, and married her in 2015. And in between transferring schools and playing Division I football, the couple parent their two kids, Ledger and Romee.

The selfless approach that comes from starting a family is the same one that fuels his ability to be a leader for his teammates. “I feel like my leadership capability can be high,” Lee said. “I lead through example and when something needs to be said I say something. The best teams are player-led and leadership is huge.”

Above all else, Miami has lacked leadership on defense that can help build a new culture under Brian Flores. When considering Miami’s off-the-field issues in the last decade, it will be imperative that the Dolphins draft talent for reasons beyond a prospect’s athleticism and playmaking abilities. Not only can Lee’s proven habits foster the growth of a locker room that lacks a dependable player voice — but they have an opportunity to provide him the chance to last longer than the average NFL player.

Fresh Perspective: Building the 2020 Miami Dolphins – Draft 2.0

Once again, after the initial free agency burst, the focus becomes the NFL draft. If by some miracle, the Dolphins manage to follow the offseason plan, a lot of money will be spent. Some contracts may need to be creatively structured to make sure there’s enough room for everyone. Also, this bears repeating. This plan is merely what I would do to ensure a speedy rise to the top. This is not a prediction of what the Dolphins will do. I suspect my vision what Miami will do and what I want them to do are vastly different.

Nevertheless, I hope GM Chris Grier sees the vast talent available in this year’s free agent class and does everything he can to bring some of the high profile signings to the Dolphins.

But now is the time for a new mock draft, and Miami still has a lot of picks to use. The previous plan had a lot of unrealistic choices made, that’s plainly obvious. So this time, I took to you, the readers, to tell me what you felt was the best way to go about it.

So with those results in mind, I decided to switch to TheDraftNetwork’s mock draft machine instead of defaulting back to Fanspeak. It was challenging to make up my mind on certain picks, but what I’ve come up with will hopefully put the Dolphins in a strong position to contend both now and in the future.

Regardless of whether they get all the free agents or not.

Without further ado, here are the results.

2020 Miami Dolphins Draft

Round 1, 5th Overall – Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa

Here we are again. In a bizarre twist of fate, the Dolphins don’t need the first overall pick to get their hands on Tua Tagovailoa. They aren’t even going to need to trade up from their draft position at fifth overall. Unfortunately, the entire reason behind this is his severely injured hip.

Regardless of how the medicals eventually come out, it’s understood that Tua is going to have to sit for a year. His rookie season will be spent on the bench. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Depends on your point of view. Folks who want the instant excitement of a rookie quarterback will be sorely disappointed. Those that remember how Patrick Mahomes sat for a year before entering the league will be more open to the concept. Even Tua himself seems to love the idea of playing for the Dolphins.

Make no mistake, the only question mark regarding Tua is his durability. Everything else about him screams elite NFL QB. His poise, his pocket presence, his accuracy. To draw a parallel, Miami is getting a second chance at Drew Brees. The Dolphins doctors decided to choose Daunte Culpepper over Brees back during the brief Nick Saban era on account of medical concerns. That’s burned them for nearly two decades.

This time, it’s Tua’s hip that’s the issue. There’s speculation regarding whether Tua will ever be able to play football again. Even if he does, will he be the same player he was before his hip injury? The doctors will undoubtedly have their say.

This time, however, if Miami is smart, they will learn from past mistakes. Sometimes, it’s best to throw caution to the wind and make a bold decision. Tua may not play up to his full potential due to injury…but if he does, the Dolphins will find themselves set for the next decade.

And just to go ahead and mention this, there won’t be another QB taken in this draft. Miami already has a developmental QB on the roster. His name is Josh Rosen.

So Miami’s opening day QBs are as follows:

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick
  • Josh Rosen
  • Tua Tagovailoa

Sounds like an impressive lineup.

Round 1, 18th Overall – LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson

While Chaisson is no Chase Young when it comes to dominating offensive linemen, Chaisson does have some very promising aspects of his game. His burst off the edge is remarkable, making him a potent speed rusher that if anyone gets caught looking, they’re gonna get beat. On top of that, Chaisson is surprisingly effective in setting the edge. Any concerns about him not fitting the scheme go away in that instance.

The biggest knock on Chaisson is his lack of numeric production. Compared to other pass rushers in this draft class (see Chase Young), his numbers don’t exactly scream game-changer. He only had 6.5 sacks in 2019, and his tackle numbers really aren’t even worth mentioning. However, this is where watching film is crucial.

Where Chaisson’s numbers lack, his film makes up for it in spades. He can function with his hand in the dirt, he can also attack standing up. Chaisson even has some ability in coverage, making his versatility a huge boon for whoever drafts him. In all seriousness, his potential to do it all actually reminds me of Dion Jordan…without the downsides.

The only knock on Chaisson as far as his game goes is that he’s still got room to grow technique-wise. Every aspect of his game relies more on his natural athleticism than actual skill. But this is not a bad thing right now. Remember what the Dolphins are all about now. They’re focusing on teaching and developing players. Chaisson is pliable, ready to be molded into a superstar.

Pair him with Yannick Ngakoue (hopefully) and Miami should have a very strong pass rush very soon. It just won’t be quite as instantaneous as if they were able to pick Chase Young. Patience will be crucial.

  • Yannick Ngakoue
  • K’Lavon Chaisson
  • Taco Charlton
  • Charles Harris

Round 1, 26th Overall – Georgia RB D’Andre Swift

Since Miami likely won’t be able to afford Derrick Henry after spending plenty on OL and key defensive cornerstones, the draft becomes crucial to find a new running back. After the awful season by Kalen Ballage, and the unforgivable actions by Mark Walton that sent him packing, all hope currently sits on the backs of Myles Gaskin and Patrick Laird.

To be clear, this is not a knock on either of those players. Gaskin was consistently productive at Washington, and Laird quietly had one heck of a season in his limited playing time. In fact, it didn’t take long for fans to clamor for more of Laird and much, much less of Ballage. Once Laird did play, the difference was easy to see.

But Laird lacks any elite physical qualities that make him a truly capable starting running back in the NFL. He’s good, but his ceiling is low. The Dolphins need someone who can put defenses on their heels with his physical ability. And that’s where Swift comes into play.

There is one concern that needs to be taken into account. Swift is very aggressive and he’s willing to put his body on the line on every down. Normally, that’s a plus. But that stops being a plus once the player actually gets injured, which Swift did in 2019. He suffered a shoulder injury that limited his playing time, and he’ll need to learn to protect himself more at the NFL level. He can only contribute if he’s healthy.

But his playmaking potential is too much to pass up for the Dolphins. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller compares his skillset to Alvin Kamara. That’s a serious comparison to make, considering what kind of a player Kamara is. He’s decent at pass protection, he makes defenders miss, he can pretty much do it all.

Hopefully this time, Miami will keep their future star RB rather than letting him walk.

  • D’Andre Swift
  • Patrick Laird
  • Kalen Ballage
  • Myles Gaskin
  • Chandler Cox

Round 2, 39th Overall – Houston OT Josh Jones

It’s hard to tell whether Josh Jones at 39 is realistic or not. His Senior Bowl performance captured a lot of attention. But the board fell to the point he’s available for the Dolphins to select with their first 2nd round draft pick. Jones is a raw prospect with the length to play left tackle and light on his feet.

The issue with Jones is not his speed, his strength, or his size. It’s his overall technique. Every evaluator who watches Jones play essentially says the same thing. He’s got all the potential in the world, but he needs some time to cook before he’s ready to take over for a team at left tackle. He has to learn how to use his hands and work on his awareness. He’s very much a work-in-progress that needs serious polishing.

This is precisely why the need for a stopgap at left tackle is so necessary. Jones needs time to sit with the offensive line coach and learn the techniques that he hasn’t yet. Jones has all the physical tools in the world. But this is why Anthony Castonzo is signed to a two-year contract. The first year is to make sure Miami can compete while Jones sits behind him. The second year is just in case Jones isn’t ready quite yet. But with any luck, Castonzo can be released after just one year, save some money, and Jones will become the Dolphins’ franchise left tackle.

  • Anthony Castonzo
  • Josh Jones
  • Jack Conklin
  • Jesse Davis (G/T)

Round 2, 56th Overall – Auburn OT Prince Tega Wanogho

And now is when doubling up is important. It’s called hedging bets. Prince Tega Wanogho is another player that requires a certain amount of development before he’s truly ready for the NFL. However, he also has a crazy high ceiling. He’s new to playing football, as he’s only been playing organized football since high school. So just like Jones, he’s a project.

But he’s a very intriguing prospect.

Ironically enough, he actually had some strong reps against K’Lavon Chaisson during their matchup. Chaisson, of course, was drafted in the first round by Miami. Depending on how you look at this, it either proves Wanogho has potential to be a stud left tackle (or perhaps even right tackle), or Chaisson isn’t all he’s hyped up to be.

For Miami’s sake, it better be the former. This is the risk that comes with the draft. Either players are going to be awesome, or they’re going to bust. This is where the Dolphins have to prove that their ability to develop players wasn’t just a fluke. They took undrafted free agent Nik Needham and turned him into a solid reserve/spot starter type cornerback. They dragged Mike Gesicki and DeVante Parker out of bustdom.

Now, they have two high ceiling offensive linemen to teach how to play the position. Ideally, Jones will become the starter at left tackle after one year of Castonzo, and Wanogho can spend a couple years developing behind Conklin if they sign him. If they don’t, then Jesse Davis will either start, or Wanogho might find himself thrown into the fire.

  • Anthony Castonzo
  • Josh Jones
  • Jack Conklin
  • Jesse Davis (G/T)
  • Prince Tega Wanogho

Round 3, 70th Overall – Washington G/C Nick Harris

Time to part ways with veteran center Daniel Kilgore, which saves the Dolphins about $4 million dollars. That saved money will help them sign their free agents and draft picks. To replace Kilgore, Miami drafts interior offensive lineman Nick Harris.

Harris is a perfect fit for a zone blocking scheme. He’s versatile, he’s excellent at getting to the second level and blocking in space, which makes him a valuable asset in the running game. He’s not exactly physically imposing, but he knows where to be and when to be there. Considering the Dolphins couldn’t run the ball to save their lives last season, Harris should help D’Andre Swift ignite the running game.

Originally, I planned to draft Tyler Biadasz out of Wisconsin and give Michael Deiter his old center from his college days. With any luck, that would have jumpstarted his game. But considering Biadasz regressed in nearly every facet of his game this past season, I elected to draft a player who’s trending up, not down. Deiter will benefit more from having a good player rather than an old teammate.

  • Brandon Scherff
  • Nick Harris
  • Michael Deiter
  • Shaq Calhoun
  • Jesse Davis (G/T)

Round 5, 135th Overall – Wake Forest CB Essang Bassey

The Dolphins signing Byron Jones helps a lot with the cornerback position, especially since Xavien Howard – should he remain with the team after his domestic violence incident – will undoubtedly be suspended by the NFL. Thankfully, Miami developed Nik Needham into a spot starter caliber player, and there’s still room to grow for him.

But that’s not enough to hold them over. Signing Aqib Talib is not likely to happen (though I would do it if the price is right), and there’s no way to know if Cordrea Tankersley will stay on the team over some of Flores’ hand-picked youngsters like Ken Webster or Steven Parker. Either way, the dropoff is significant after Needham.

This is where Wake Forest’s Essang Bassey comes into play.

Now quite frankly, I don’t expect Bassey to make a huge impact right away. His best projection right now is as a slot cornerback, so he’d compete with Jomal Wiltz, unless McCain moves back to the slot. Bassey’s undersized – listed as 5’9″ and 191 pounds – and is best known for his ball skills. He’s a hawk who has a nose for the ball and can read and jump routes. He’s got fluid hips, and can turn into coverage smoothly. Ironically enough, the player that he reminds me of?

Brent Grimes.

His strengths and weaknesses are almost an exact parallel to Grimes. He has incredible ball-tracking skills and his size is a weakness that must be overcome. Agility, off-man coverage skills, footwork, not overly physical. That’s Brent Grimes in a nutshell. Do I expect Bassey to become Grimes? Not at all. Then again, no one expected Grimes to become who he ultimately became. If Bassey gets close to Grimes, without the extracurriculars that came with him, he could easily be the steal of the draft.

  • Byron Jones
  • Nik Needham
  • Essang Bassey
  • Jomal Wiltz
  • Steven Parker
  • Eric Rowe (CB/S)
  • Bobby McCain (CB/S)
  • *Xavien Howard

Round 5, 144th Overall – Minnesota WR Tyler Johnson

This is going to be one of those best player available situations. Truthfully, Miami doesn’t need anymore wide receivers. There are already so many bodies at that position – good ones – that adding more just seems wasteful. However, when BPA becomes the goal, you take talent no matter what position they play.

Enter Tyler Johnson out of Minnesota. He’s not a physical stud, but he doesn’t need to be. Preston Williams, DeVante Parker and – to some extent – Mike Gesicki are the big-bodied wide receivers. What Johnson brings to the table is ridiculous footwork, route-running, releases, hands, and a little speed to boot.

Johnson’s lack of physicality is his one main weakness. But if corners can’t stay with you, then that makes up for it somewhat. Truly, he’s the type of wide receiver that accurate, anticipatory quarterbacks will love.

Sound like anyone?

Now, Johnson will have a battle to make the roster. Wide receiver is the deepest position Miami has by far. His best chance is to beat out Isaiah Ford, who came on strong after injuries to the WR corps made his presence necessary. I believe that Johnson will ultimately end up on the practice squad, so he doesn’t make the 53-man roster list. But if something happens, and Albert Wilson gets released or someone gets hurt, Johnson will get first dibs.

  • DeVante Parker
  • Preston Williams
  • Albert Wilson
  • Jakeem Grant
  • Allen Hurns
  • Isaiah Ford

Round 5, 147th Overall – Maryland Safety Antoine Brooks Jr.

True, there’s a logjam at safety already with Eric Rowe’s emergence and Bobby McCain’s position transition. But that doesn’t mean it’s a wise idea to just stand pat and not look for some potential elsewhere. Antoine Brooks Jr. is most effective in the box and making plays in the backfield. Essentially, he does what Reshad Jones does best.

It’s unlikely Brooks will make an immediate impact on defense. Again, Rowe and the (hopefully) returning Walt Aikens will be called upon first in case of an injury. But one thing that he will absolutely do is be a special teams star.

What Brooks is not good at is defending against deep routes, which limits him somewhat. He is an attacking safety/nickel package player through and through. But if there’s any truth to the idea that Reshad Jones will be on his way out – next season if nothing else – then it’s crucial that the Dolphins find someone who can potentially mimic his skillset. Brooks will get his chance, but more likely on the practice squad.

  • Reshad Jones
  • Walt Aikens
  • Bobby McCain (CB/S)
  • Eric Rowe (CB/S) (35 players)

Round 6, 165th Overall – Miami EDGE Jonathan Garvin

It’s only fitting that at least one Miami Hurricane makes it in here. Jonathan Garvin has a lot of length who can essentially play the role that William Hayes did during his brief Dolphins tenure. He doesn’t possess an incredible pass-rushing burst the way that K’Lavon Chaisson does, but he can set the edge and stop the run like nobody’s business.

That type of ability is precisely what the coaching staff wants in their edge players. What makes him intriguing is that there’s also still room for him to grow as a pass rusher. He has the potential to become an incredibly balanced, all-around player on defense.

Of course, by this point in the draft, every player is a project player. Garvin has potential to be drawn out, but he needs a lot of coaching. And he’ll have competition for a spot on the roster, especially from more established players like Taco Charlton. He does have the advantage of being able to stop the run, but there are other young players also looking to make the team.

Special teams performance will play a role in Garvin’s chances to make the roster, and ultimately I believe he’ll make it over the likes of Avery Moss or Jonathan Ledbetter. But if he doesn’t, then there’s a nice warm spot on the practice squad waiting for him to make the team. That is, of course, assuming he doesn’t get snagged by another team first.

  • Yannick Ngakoue
  • K’Lavon Chaisson
  • Taco Charlton
  • Charles Harris
  • Jonathan Garvin

Round 6, 177th Overall – Appalachian State RB Darrynton Evans

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Darrynton Evans is just how productive he’s been throughout his college career. Similar to Myles Gaskin a year prior, his abilities aren’t wow worthy but he’s been consistently good at racking up numbers.

He was one of the most explosive running backs in college football in 2019, and has a certain amount of balance to his game that allows him to do a little of everything. Once again, versatility is a big deal for the Dolphins, so that’s a point in Evans’ favor.

He’ll have a tough time making the roster unless he really hits the ground running during the offseason. Special teams will be his best bet to make it since Swift will firmly hold the starting job with Laird, Ballage and Gaskin having seniority on him. It’s all about adding competition this late in the draft.

  • D’Andre Swift
  • Patrick Laird
  • Kalen Ballage
  • Myles Gaskin
  • Chandler Cox

Round 7, 223rd Overall – Baylor EDGE James Lynch

And here we have Mr. Irrelevant, the final pick of the entire draft goes to the Dolphins. It’s yet another edge rusher as Miami continues searching for a way to generate a pass rush after their worst season doing it in recent memory. Lynch is Baylor’s all-time leader in sacks with 22, which makes it somewhat surprising he lasted this long. Matt Miller has Lynch going to the Cowboys as early as the second round in his mock draft.

Lynch has a high motor and he seems to have a knack for blocking kicks. That’s a big play that’s been missed since Vincent Taylor was released. Perhaps Lynch will bring that back considering how often he did it in college.

The biggest issue with Lynch is that his physical qualities don’t make you say wow anywhere across the board. Average length, average athleticism, average everything. He needs to be developed by a strong coaching staff if he’s going to find success in the NFL. Effort alone helped him find the success he did have at Baylor.

Who knows? Maybe that effort will be enough to make him shine in training camp. But more than likely, he’ll land on the practice squad.

  • Yannick Ngakoue
  • K’Lavon Chaisson
  • Taco Charlton
  • Charles Harris
  • Jonathan Garvin

And that concludes the second version of my Miami Dolphins offseason plan. Not listed here are the members of the defensive tackle and tight end units, but those will simply have everyone you’re used to, with the exception of Gerald Willis getting the call up to the 53-man roster and joining the DT rotation.

Obviously, there will be acorns found after the draft is over. Only the Dolphins know who they really have their eye on. But follow the plan I’ve laid out, and they’ll be competing in the playoffs in no time. At least, one can only hope that’s the case.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for six years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Houtz Special: Is Tua Tagovailoa ‘Tanking’ for Miami?

Miami’s interest in Tua Tagovialoa is no secret. But now, it seems just as evident that Tua has an interest in Miami. 

The narrative surrounding the 2019 Miami Dolphins was straightforward; collect as much draft ammunition as possible to land Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa and do whatever it takes to make that dream a reality. Unfortunately, this plan left many fans feeling unsettled.

On the one hand, fans wanted to see new HC Brian Flores and his group of misfits succeed and be competitive throughout the season. On the other hand, however, they wanted to lose as many games as possible to assure themselves an opportunity to get the QB they had their sights set on.

As the college season progressed, Joe Burrow slowly started to creep up from out of nowhere. And after a season, unlike anything we’ve ever witness, he is now cemented into the #1 spot in April’s draft. We all know what happened to Tagovailoa. A 300-pound defensive lineman came crashing down unexpectedly onto his right hip, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season.

Hindsight, this may have been a blessing in disguise.

Before the injury, Tagovailoa was in the running for the Heisman trophy, and the Alabama Crimson Tide were likely on their way to another College Playoff. But that all changed when Tagovailoa went down. And for a player that many believed to be a lock at the top of the draft order, everything changed.

So, Miami continued to battle throughout the regular season. Winning five games unexpectedly and losing any chance of landing the once-in-a-generation QB. Or did they? The injury that Tagovailoa suffered not only put his football career on hold, it meant that the Dolphins were now very much in play for the talented passer.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve all seen the progress from Tua. And for those of you lucky enough to be a part of Super Bowl LIV in Miami, you were given a front-row seat to The Left Arm of God and were able to learn a lot about what his future might entail.

Let’s take a look at TuaMania and what we learned from his wild week in Miami.

First, the greatest QB of All-Time had nothing but praise for the young passer. Marino, went on record to say that Tua Tagovailoa was a ‘much better college QB than I ever was.” Which not only got Dolphins’ fans excited but left a lasting impression on Tagovailoa.

When shown Marino’s comments, Tagovailoa had nothing but praise for the Hall of Fame QB.

Plenty of NFL teams are going to be concerned about Tua’s hip and injury history. But he had the perfect answer when asked by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio what he would tell teams that may be concerned.

Tua’s agent Leigh Steinberg was asked whether or not his client wanted to go No.1-overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. I’d say the answer is no.

Miami + Tagovailoas = match made in Heaven.

He wasn’t shy about posting stuff like this on his Instagram feed.

Veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick already said he would be returning in 2020. And he would have no problem mentoring Tua Tagovailoa if the Dolphins decide to go that route.

‘US’? Did Tua refer to the Dolphins as ‘US’!?!?!

Welcome to Miami, Bienvenidos a Miami.

Many were uncertain whether or not Tagovailoa would ever be able to play the game of football again. Here he is throwing passes during a Super Bowl event.


With the NFL season finally over, we are now headed into the most critical offseason in the history of the Miami Dolphins. An offseason where the Dolphins will have close to $120-million in cap space and 13 draft picks to continue to build a winning roster. We don’t know whether or not Chris Grier and Miami’s front office will get things right, but we will have you covered all offseason long right here on Five Reasons Sports.

Check out the latest 3 Yards Per Carry Podcast, HERE

Josh Houtz wrote this article (@houtz). He’s a fan of Tua Tagovailoa and wants nothing more than for him to be drafted to Miami.



Fresh Perspective: Building the 2020 Miami Dolphins – Free Agency 2.0

Back in late September. I put together an offseason plan that would revamp the 2020 Miami Dolphins. First, I looked at how they should tackle free agency. I gave Miami some stud defensive players and finally (hopefully) fixed the offensive line. Then, I immediately dove in and addressed the 2020 NFL draft, such as it was at the time. Naturally, some picks were deemed unrealistic. The idea that Miami would be able to snag both Tua Tagovailoa and Chase Young in the same draft is ridiculous now. Undoubtedly, Fanspeak has addressed this in their mock drafts. The plan also hinged on the Dolphins having the #1 overall pick. This is no longer the case, as Brian Flores refused to quit and dragged his players to a remarkable five wins.

Whether you agree with Flores or even support Flores in that effort, the undeniable fact is those wins had an impact on Miami’s draft position. Now, they pick fifth overall instead of first overall. Also, we are now aware of who has declared for the draft and who has decided to go back to school for another season. This will change how things play out. So now that things are pretty much set in stone, the time has come to redo this plan.

Same as before, focus will be placed on free agency first. Who should Miami give large contracts to? Who should be moved on from? This plan will also assume that things go unchanged regarding the expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement, and cap will still carry over into the next season. If it turns out this will not be the case, simply rework the contracts to be heavily front-loaded. So without further ado, let’s get started with a brand new offseason plan.


Once again, the draft portion of this offseason plan is where the vast majority of this discussion will be had. But there is one massive difference between this plan and the previous one. Previously, Ryan Fitzpatrick was listed as being an offseason cut. But now he’s not only going to stick around, he’s actually going to start the 2020 season.

There was hope that Josh Rosen would turn out to be a viable starter with a year of seasoning. But after three starts, it was clear that Rosen didn’t really grasp what was going on. His throws were errant, he looked distinctly uncomfortable, and the team simply wasn’t rallying around him. True, Fitzpatrick wasn’t making a good case for himself when the season started, but that all changed as soon as Rosen was benched and he came back in.

Bizarrely enough, the Dolphins rode that wave all the way to five wins in a season where the expectation was an easy 0-16. Did it ruin their tanking efforts? That assumes they were ever tanking in the first place. All signs point to Fitzpatrick returning to play in 2020, and he will not only start, he will have the duty of mentoring not one, but two young quarterbacks.

Make no mistake, Miami will draft a quarterback at some point in this upcoming draft. But that doesn’t mean they’re about to cut ties with Josh Rosen. Even entering his third season in the NFL, he’s still younger than consensus top pick Joe Burrow. To give up on Rosen already would be very foolish. He’ll compete for the starting job all over again this season. That makes the 2020 QB lineup: Fitzpatrick, Rosen, Rookie QB.

Running back

As it turns out, Kenyan Drake got traded before the season could end, and immediately he made an impact with his new team. In eight games with the Arizona Cardinals, Drake ran the ball 123 times for 643 yards, and eight touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards a carry. He also added 28 receptions for 171 yards. Clearly, the Cardinals found use for him whereas the Dolphins were unwilling to give him the ball for some unknown reason. If nothing else, Miami is likely to get a fifth round pick thanks to Drake’s success, but it’s still disappointing they never tried to make him the star he could be.

So what should the Dolphins do now? In a perfect world, they would sign impending free agent Derrick Henry to a big contract. But the world is not perfect. Miami doesn’t project to be big spenders, but it’s going to be hard to resist that temptation with all the elite talent shaking loose this offseason. Henry would give instant smashmouth football potential, but as the league’s leading rusher, he’s got a lot of tread on his wheels and he’ll command a huge contract.

Under normal circumstances, I would forgo conventional wisdom and write this as if I were the Dolphins GM. But given there’s essentially zero chance Miami splurges on Henry, or Chargers RB Melvin Gordon, I will make an exception in this case. The Dolphins won’t be spending on running back in free agency unless it’s a cheap role player. Look to the draft for a running back recharge.

Wide Receiver

In the previous offseason plan, Miami parted ways with DeVante Parker to save an extra $5 million in cap space. But after seeing what he did in 2019 with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB and Brian Flores at head coach, that’s no longer the plan. In fact, Parker is now the focal point of the plan. He shattered the preconceived notion fans had of him. He put together a Pro Bowl worthy season. And he made Stephon Gilmore look like a fool.

His reward? A brand new four-year, $30.5 million dollar deal that will keep him in Miami through 2023.

With that done, there’s no need to make Amari Cooper the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. Let the Dallas Cowboys figure out how to sort out their salary issues. Instead, the Dolphins can potentially stand pat with the receivers they already have. Currently, that’s Parker, Preston Williams, Jakeem Grant, Albert Wilson, and Isaiah Ford.

Williams has the potential to be an excellent wide receiver, if he can just work on his hands. Drops plagued him during his rookie season, similar to Grant who also struggled making catches. As for Wilson, Miami can still save a lot by releasing him. But by the end of the season, Wilson was starting to look like his old self. The better option may actually be to stand pat and let him play out his contract.

This WR corps is the strongest part of the team by far. The only reason Miami would need to spend money at this position is if someone gets hurt midseason. Even then, it’s more likely other options will be available via practice squad or the draft.

Tight End

The emergence of Mike Gesicki has made the tight end position much less of a priority than it was at the time of the previous plan. That said, it’s clear Nick O’Leary will not return to the team. So that once again leaves the Dolphins with only Gesicki and Durham Smythe under contract at tight end for 2020. They do have Chris Myarick on the practice squad, but it remains to be seen how much of a role he can play.

Miami can still use a blocking tight end, however, and maybe they’ll be content to stick with Smythe. However, if they’re looking for someone to step in and act as a veteran voice, Marcedes Lewis may be a cheap option. He’ll be 36 in May, and he has some ability as a dual threat TE even at his age. For the past two seasons, Lewis has signed one-year, $2.1 million dollar deals to remain in Green Bay, and reports indicate he plans to play again in 2020.

As much as he says he loves Green Bay, the promise of a little extra cash in his pocket might be enough to lure him back into a warmer climate. Give the man a one-year, $4 million dollar deal and let him mentor the young guys in the locker room. As much as Gesicki has improved under Flores, there’s no reason to be content with it. Maybe Lewis can help Gesicki reach a whole new level.

They’re going to need bodies at tight end anyway, might as well make it one proven to be productive. Sure, he’s old. But he’s not being brought in to be a band-aid or a stopgap. Merely depth and a mentor. That’s worth spending a little extra.

Offensive Line

Virtually nothing changes from the previous plan to this one. The Miami Dolphins still need an offensive line, an elite one preferably. And with all the talented players shaking loose in free agency, this is where it’s time to spend big. Once again, if anyone will remain on the line from last year to this year, it’ll be Jesse Davis and Michael Deiter.

However, there’s a twist. Instead of remaining the starting right tackle, Davis will now be retained as a versatile backup. This means the Dolphins should dip into the free agent pool for that as well. Who do they pursue?

Jack Conklin.

After an excellent year as a part of the Tennessee Titans offensive line, there will be teams looking to pay Conklin a hefty sum. Naturally, the Titans will be looking to keep their offensive line intact as best as they can. Their cohesiveness had a lot to do with their playoff run, giving Derrick Henry room to become the league’s leading rusher. But after Tennessee declined Conklin’s fifth-year option, they now have to bid for him.

In all fairness, Conklin has said he wants to be back with the Titans. So maybe if they give him a fair contract offer, he’ll accept it. But it’s highly unlikely that he won’t at least see what he can get on the open market. Spotrac speculates that Conklin’s market value will be around $15 million a year annually. So, Miami should offer around $17 million annually and see what he says. He would immediately make a massive impact in the run game, which is big since the Dolphins couldn’t run the ball to save their lives in 2019.

After that? Things remain largely the same as the previous plan.

In speaking with Five Reasons’ own Chris Kouffman, the idea that the Dolphins could (and should) spend to sign Patriots free agent Joe Thuney to play left guard is running rampant. I can understand the appeal. Thuney is easily a top five guard in the NFL. His presence would fix the left guard position for years to come. However, I still believe that the best course of action is to sign Brandon Scherff to play right guard instead.

There’s no doubt that Scherff and Thuney are going to be watching each other’s contract negotiations closely. They’re both going to want to be the NFL’s highest paid interior lineman, and whoever signs first will set the baseline. The same contract details as the previous offseason plan should suffice. Give him a 5-year, $82.5 million dollar deal and put him next to Conklin. Running backs will run free for years to come.

Now, the reason Scherff is pursued over Thuney is because Miami already has a left guard they’re trying to develop in Michael Deiter. He struggled mightily in his rookie season, but signing Thuney implies they’re already giving up on their third-round pick. What the Dolphins should do, once again, is sign Anthony Castanzo for two years at $10 million a piece. He’ll be older, but he’s consistently good. He will be able to support Deiter on the left side as he continues his development. That is, until Miami drafts or develops a new left tackle.

The line isn’t complete just yet, but stay tuned.

Defensive Line

2019 made one thing abundantly clear. The Dolphins need a stud pass rusher. Getting pressure on the quarterback was a pipe dream. It speaks volumes that Taco Charlton, a waiver wire pickup who was later benched for unknown reasons, was the team’s sack leader.

He had five sacks.

Playing defense is nearly impossible with that level of QB pressure. So it’s time for Miami to spend on one.

All signs point to Yannick Ngakoue wanting to test the free agent market. After racking up eight sacks in 2019 (tied for his worst total since his rookie season) and forcing four fumbles, who can blame him? He’s entering the prime of his career, looking for a massive pay day. Given the Dolphins’ need for an elite pass rusher, Ngakoue fits the bill. Just like the previous plan, give him six years and $132 million dollars. That will be the highest total in the NFL for pass rushers. One side taken care of.

Charles Harris isn’t going anywhere, for better or worse. Taco Charlton’s future is up in the air, but at worst he’s on the same level as Andre Branch, so hopefully Miami will keep him. After that, the Dolphins will likely comb waiver wires and the draft for more pass rushing. More on that later.

As for the interior, Christian Wilkins didn’t wow fans with his flashy plays. Some even considered him a rookie bust. But Wilkins quietly proved to be someone who can easily contribute. At Clemson, his job was to open the way for other players to make plays. That’s mostly what he did in his rookie season as well. While other draftees were making flashy plays that showed up on highlight reels, Wilkins was doing dirty work.

That is what makes finding dynamic pass rushers even more imperative. Wilkins won’t be appreciated until there’s someone who can take advantage of the work he puts in. As for Davon Godchaux, he’s proving to be one of the bigger steals of the draft. Again, he’s by no means a superstar, but he’s consistently good and is a viable starter. No need to spend big in free agency at DT.

However, it is worth mentioning that a nose tackle should still be looked into. Previously, I suggested Danny Shelton. Now, however, I would simply bring back John Jenkins. Between him and young linebacker Raekwon McMillan, Miami’s run defense looked the best it has in years. The numbers won’t reflect that, but watching the games shows how they made a good team.

So bring back Jenkins, sign Ngakoue, draft another pass rusher, the defensive line should be good to go.


What really needs to be done here? Surely the combination of Jerome Baker, Raekwon McMillan and Sam Egauvoen is good enough of a trio, right? Well, yes and no. While Eguavoen looked impressive in camp and preseason, the regular season saw a significant drop off. Was he bad? Not really. But he wasn’t good either. His greatest skill is in coverage. In talking with Chris Kouffman, I agree with his assessment that Eguavoen is best suited as a situational coverage linebacker.

But that means the Dolphins still need another all around linebacker. One who can do it all, and do it well. This is where Kyle Van Noy comes in. The New England Patriots linebacker is looking for a brand new contract, and the Patriots are notorious for not paying big contracts. Van Noy recently stated in an interview that he would love to remain a Patriot for the rest of his career. But he also stated in the same breath that he knows it’s a business and his play has been consistent.

That’s the truth.

Van Noy loves Boston, but a lowball offer from New England won’t be enough to satiate him. If Miami pays him money, he’d probably be willing to head south. Instantly, the linebacker corps goes from good to potentially great with Van Noy. Making the Dolphins even more attractive is Brian Flores. He and Van Noy obviously have history.

So sign him, make Eguavoen a coverage specialist, and then re-sign Vince Biegel. He’s a restricted free agent, and flashed numerous times throughout the season. Trading Kiko Alonso for him turned out to be a win for both sides. Of course, Andrew Van Ginkel is still there, and with Mike Hull likely to come off the PUP list finally, the LB depth is set.


By this time, all signs point to Xavien Howard staying with the Dolphins after his domestic violence incident. He’ll likely get suspended for a certain length of time, but barring any other issues, he’s staying. This means we’re right back to looking for a number two cornerback who can also be a number one while Howard serves his suspension.

Once again, the answer is Byron Jones.

With all the money the Cowboys have tied into their offensive line, they have a serious problem. They need to pay Amari Cooper a big contract, which I originally had Miami giving him. But assuming he’s going to stay in Dallas, that means they need to pay Cooper, and of course their franchise QB Dak Prescott. That contract is going to be utterly massive.

That leaves the door wide open for Jones to test the free agent market, and the Dolphins can bring him in to create the cornerback duo that fans have been craving since Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison’s time. Maybe Jones wants to be paid as the league’s top cornerback, and that’s fine. Jones ranked as the 12th best corner according to ProFootballFocus grades in 2019. He deserves a lot of money.

The team’s third corner without a doubt is Nik Needham. That development is something no one saw coming. No one except for the coaching staff, that is. After the miserable preseason Needham had, fans were ready for him to hit the road. Yet, the team decided to let him stay. Boy were we wrong on him. Throughout the season, Needham showed staggering development at cornerback. Is he starter potential? That remains to be seen. But if he can come off the bench for dime and quarters packages? That’s the best case scenario.

Now there is something else to consider. The Dolphins essentially traded cap space to the Los Angeles Rams for a fifth round pick and veteran cornerback Aqib Talib. That trade deadline deal put the injured Talib right onto the injured reserve list, and he never suited up in a Miami uniform. But if anyone knows what Talib offers a team in the locker room, it’s Brian Flores. They worked together during their New England tenures. At nearly 34 years old, Talib may not be lockdown caliber anymore, but he can definitely still contribute, as a mentor if nothing else. Give him $6 million to hang around and show the league what he still has to offer.

Imagine this cornerback group:

Xavien Howard.

Byron Jones.

Aqib Talib.

Nik Needham.

Jomal Wiltz (Nickel).

Could definitely be worse. Wiltz showed flashes throughout the season as well. On top of all that, Cordrea Tankersley should be coming off the PUP list after all this time. Flores will get an opportunity to see what the Clemson standout is made of. Add any young undrafted free agents Flores wants to try and nurture, and Miami’s corners should be set.


Finally we end with the safety position once more. This time, things are getting interesting. With all the injuries in the secondary, Flores needed to improvise. One of those improvisations was to move CB Eric Rowe over to safety. Ironically, Rowe thrived at the position, and he was rewarded with a contract extension through 2022. But now what is Rowe’s role in the defense? Both Reshad Jones and Bobby McCain are still under contract, and both contracts are hard to escape right now.

Plus, according to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, the current plan is to keep McCain at safety, rather than move him back to slot corner where he made a name for himself. But if that’s the plan, is there room for all three of them?

Cutting Reshad Jones now costs Miami about $8 million in dead cap space, with only $7.5 in savings. That’s a net loss the Dolphins shouldn’t even think about. Jones is a solid safety. When he’s healthy, he’s more than solid. But he is getting older, and no teams seem interested in taking on his contract. Barring Miami deciding to bite the bullet, he’s likely staying for another year.

As for McCain, his contract is even harder to swallow. Cutting him saves only about $1 million in cap space while killing about $5 million. That’s just hard to come to terms with.

So assuming all three players stay on the roster, there are a few options to choose from. The first is that the Dolphins bite the bullet and move on from either Jones or McCain regardless of their contract situation. The likely candidate in that case is Jones as he’s getting older and hasn’t played a full season since 2017.

Option two is Miami uses a three safety scheme that features Jones, McCain and Rowe on the field at the same time. They did that some in 2019, but more would be required. Jones is best suited as an in-the-box safety, staying near the line of scrimmage and disrupting offenses with his playmaking ability. That leaves McCain and Rowe to cover tight ends and provide backup to the corners.

The third option (and arguably best, in my opinion) is to simply change the thought process and move McCain back to slot cornerback. That may not be the current plan, but maybe it should be. McCain became one of the highest paid slot corners in the NFL because of his performance at that position. Him making the move to safety was met with a lot of skepticism. His performance at safety seemed to justify that. McCain didn’t display the speed or the physicality necessary to be a top end safety. He lost several matchups and even looked confused at times regarding where he was supposed to be.

To make a long segment short, there’s no longer a need to sign Devin McCourty as a free agent. The Dolphins already have a logjam that could become worse if they find a young player worth developing. It’s a good problem to have, but it still needs some form of resolution. Miami shouldn’t spend money at safety if they already don’t have enough space for who’s there.

As far as depth goes, the Dolphins need to bring Walt Aikens back. As a special teams ace, he’s invaluable. He’s also becoming a fan favorite, and a positive personality in the locker room. Even when things were down, Aikens was there to keep everyone smiling. That kind of influence has a bigger impact than anyone realizes.

So that’s it for the new offseason plan in free agency. But Miami is nowhere near finished. Now, it’s time for the draft.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for six years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Former Dolphins Damien Williams scores the clinching touchdown for the Chiefs in Super Bowl 54. (Craig Davis for Five Reasons Sports)

Pressure Point: Chiefs’ Mahomes, Williams show how to stage magical ending

Five Reasons Sports Network at Super Bowl 54


Rarely does a Super Bowl present such a study of contrasts as the No. LIV edition did Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.

The AFC champion Chiefs with the thrill-a-minute pass-happy offense; the NFC champion 49ers with more of an old-school approach with a punishing running game and stout defense.

Which style would prevail?

More to the point, if you’re the Miami Dolphins in the early stages of rebuilding, which is the style to emulate?

The verdict: Defense and a robust running game are still solid building blocks. But the Chiefs’ 31-20 win confirmed that a quarterback with magic in his hands is the difference-maker in today’s NFL.

Chiefs orchestrate comeback win over 49ers

Like Patrick Mahomes did in willing the Chiefs from a 10-point deficit to seize the title with a Super Bowl-record 21-point fourth quarter.

“It’s magic Mahomes, it’s Showtime Mahomes,” said tight end Travis Kelce, who caught the touchdown pass that gave the comeback momentum. “He’s going to be himself no matter what the scenario, and you know what? I love him. He willed this team back into the game, had a lot of make plays.”

Another one that got away

It underscored what the Dolphins desperately need to do this offseason: get the next Damien Williams.

No, wait, they had Williams, the undrafted running back who they discarded after four seasons and is now a Super Bowl champion with Kansas City. Williams made a strong case for the MVP trophy that went to Mahomes by scoring two of the fourth-quarter touchdowns.

As soon as the Lombardi Trophy was presented to coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs, the offseason was underway and the Cincinnati Bengals were on the clock to make the first pick in the draft on April 23. And the Dolphins have to decide how to play their hand with the No. 5 pick and two more later in the first round.

There can be no doubt that quarterback has to be Priority 1 if the Dolphins are to generate the kind of excitement at Hard Rock Stadium that resounded there Sunday.

Chiefs fans had staked their claim to Miami’s home well before kickoff. When a field announcer asked for a showing of allegiance to each team, the K.C contingent rocked the place.

And each time Mahomes was shown on the giant video boards during pregame they made it clear he was the designated star attraction.

Unexpectedly, 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo outplayed his high-profile counterpart for the first three quarters, completing 17-of-20 and registering a 100.6 passer rating.

Slow start for Mahomes

Mahomes had only 145 yards passing to that point, no touchdowns and uncharacteristically two interceptions, both in the third quarter.

“I just tried to fight, and obviously the third quarter didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I tried to force some things and had some turnovers,” said Mahomes, who brought the Chiefs back from deficits of 10 points or more in all three games this postseason. “I just had that same mindset, just to compete and compete.”

Curiously, the turning point came soon after Mahomes threw the second interception. San Francisco, with a 20-10 lead and 12 minutes to kill, managed only one first down and handed the ball back to Mahomes with 9 minutes remaining.

It took the Chiefs only 2:44 to go 83 yards and cut the deficit to three on the 1-yard pass to Kelce. Along the way Mahomes pulled off the play of the game on third-and-15 when he found Tyreek Hill open deep for a 44-yard completion to the 49ers’ 21.

After the 49ers went three-and-out, Mahomes took Kansas City 65 yards in seven plays for the lead on a 5-yard pass to Williams, who barely got the ball into the end zone before being shoved out of bounds.

Williams added the clincher with a 38-yard touchdown run, finishing with 104 yards rushing on 6.1 yards per carry.

“Damien Williams! Feed that man,” Kelce said. “Super Bowl champ, Damien Williams. Enough said.”

Williams returns a champion

The Dolphins didn’t feed Williams enough, and he became the latest in a long line of players to leave Miami and find glory elsewhere. Though, in this case, he found it here, where he started.

While making the point repeatedly that he plays with a chip on his shoulder as a player who came into the league as an undrafted free agent, Williams was charitable in recalling his time with the Dolphins.

“I built a lot of relationships here and still have a lot of relationships here,” he said. “When you get into the league, you think about the Super Bowl, you think about what you would do in it, and for it to be where I started my career at, undrafted, it means a lot.”

Recalling the last time the Super Bowl was staged in South Florida, in 2010, the setting was very different, then a stadium in decline. That’s why it has taken a decade for the big game to return. Incidentally, the MVP of that New Orleans Saints win was Drew Brees, a quarterback the Dolphins had passed on.

Owner Steve Ross did a commendable job in investing three-quarters of a billion dollars to reconstruct the facility that Joe Robbie originally built and the Dolphins once shared with the Florida Marlins, who won two World Series titles there.

The stadium that has had more names than a con man never looked better for football than it did Sunday. It never shook its booty with the energetic frenzy that Shakira and J-Lo provided in the halftime show.

Rebuilt the stadium, now the team?

And it’s never rocked with more impassioned joy than Chiefs followers in celebrating Mahomes’ magical comeback masterpiece.

Yes, Mr. Ross, you’ve built a venue worthy of staging America’s premier sporting event, and the NFL will likely return again soon for another round.

It’s way past time the Dolphins owner built a team worthy of it.

Perhaps coach Brian Flores and GM Chris Grier, beginning their second year together, can finally get it done. They are aided by assistant GM Marvin Allen, who was director of college scouting for the Chiefs when they drafted Mahomes, Hill and other members of the new champions.

They need to get Ross his long-elusive quarterback, one with a special touch and surround him with a worthy supporting cast. Perhaps then his stadium will finally be filled regularly with the sort of high-decibel excitement that is common in Kansas City, New England, Green Bay and other places where winning is a habit.

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns

More from Five Reasons Sports at Super Bowl 54:

49ers turnaround a model for Dolphins

Technology offers Dolphins a blueprint

Hurricanes Football: Restoring Expectations a Good Start

Miami Hurricanes football is once again setting high expectations in the offseason, will it carry over to the regular season?

With Super Bowl 54 in their home stadium. the Miami Hurricanes have managed to grab some headlines of their own.

Miami legend Ed Reed joining the team as an advisor is the latest move by the program to rejuvenate the fan base.

If you wrote an offseason checklist for the Hurricanes, your script already has a Hollywood ending.


Don’t forget about the kicking woes which may be in the past with the arrival of Jose Borregales via FIU.

Manny Diaz heard you loud and clear Canes fans.

The Hurricanes quickly made people forget about the Independence Bowl.

Hope is for now renewed in Coral Gables, with seven months to fuel the hype flame.

D’Eriq King brings a dynamic resume to the quarterback room that needed a hierarchy.


He is the alpha without a doubt this season and will have carry the weight accordingly.

Rhett Lashlee and his 21st century offense look to breath life into a predictable and stagnant Miami attack.

The relationship between King and Lashlee will be one to watch as Spring approaches.

While on the other side of the ball, Quincy Roche adds a second elite pass rusher to bookend Gregory Rousseau.

Roche makes a team strength even stronger, and with many changes on offense the defense will set the tone.

Diaz made a splash in the offseason much to the delight of the Hurricanes faithful.

A lot of new faces will look to mesh with the holdovers, that cohesion takes time.

Fortunately the early season schedule seems favorable on paper.

We hope.

Time will tell if the offseason good fortune will translate into wins on the field.

For now, the arrow is up.

As long as we beat Temple.

49ers DE Nick Bosa is the sort of dominant puss rusher the Dolphins desperately need. (Craig Davis for Five Reasons Sports Network)

Pressure Point: Bosa’s impact illuminates Dolphins’ need for pass rusher


Five Reasons Sports Network at Super Bowl 54

The flip side of the Miami Dolphins’ obvious need at quarterback is the void they have to fill on defense for a pass rusher.

Someone like Nick Bosa, the South Florida native who will play in his hometown Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday in Super Bowl 54 for the San Francisco 49ers.

“I definitely could have dreamed it, but it is happening and it’s pretty awesome,” Bosa, who starred in high school at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, said this week.

“It’s awesome, just being in my hometown where I grew up, where all my friends and family live. I couldn’t pick a better place to be for my first Super Bowl.”

49ers turnaround a model for Miami Dolphins to emulate

Rookie force on 49ers pass rush

The 6-4, 266-pound defensive end is a big reason the 49ers are here and ready to face the Kansas City Chiefs. Selected second overall out of Ohio State in 2019, the rookie defensive end was the last major piece in a three-year rebuilding project that the Dolphins will attempt to emulate.

Bosa didn’t disappoint, registering nine sacks, 25 quarterback hits and 47 tackles in the regular season, then added three sacks in two playoff victories. He is the overwhelming favorite to be named Defensive Rookie of the Year at Saturday’s NFL Honors show at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami — he picked up the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year award on Thursday.

The boost Bosa provided to the 49ers pass rush is credited as a key reason they ranked No. 1 in passing defense (169.2 yard per game) this season. They were fifth in sacks with 48, coincidentally nine more than they had the previous season without Bosa.

Contrast that to the Dolphins’ inability to pressure quarterbacks this past season. They ranked last with only 23 sacks.

Consequently, the Dolphins are expected pick an edge rusher in the first round up the upcoming draft when they have three selections.

Technology offers Dolphins a blueprint to build

First-round edge rush options for Dolphins

Another dominant pass rusher from Ohio State, Chase Young, is projected to be taken as the No. 2 pick by Washington. The Dolphins, with the No. 5 pick, are expected to address their quarterback need first.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr.’s latest mock draft agrees with the consensus that has Miami taking Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. That is assuming the medical assessment of Tua’s recovery from hip surgery is convincingly positive and that it isn’t necessary to trade up to prevent another team from grabbing him first.

Dolphins’ mission: Find the next Patrick Mahomes

The Dolphins also have the 18th and 26th picks in the first round. Kiper predicts they will use the former for edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson from national champion LSU.

Chaisson, who profiles as a linebacker in a 3-4 alignment, is rated as the third- or fourth-best pass rusher in the draft by most analysts. Young is unquestioned as the best of the lot, a future All-Pro.

Others, such as Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa and Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos, figure to be gone before the 18th pick.

Chaisson is known for quick burst off the ball. But his college sack totals aren’t impressive — his 4 ½ sacks this past season was a career best. He was known for consistently applying pressure and flushing quarterbacks out of the pocket.

Another rusher who may interest Miami is Boise State defensive end Curtis Weaver, who had 34 sacks in three seasons, including 13.5 in 2019. He is a different type than Chaisson — bigger body, quick and powerful — who was Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference.

St. Thomas Aquinas launched Bosa brothers

The Dolphins, of course, once had their own Bosa — the wrong one.

Nick’s father John Bosa was Miami’s first-round pick (No. 16) in 1987. He never performed to expectations and was out of the league after three seasons with seven career sacks in 31 games.

John Bosa’s NFL legacy is the two sons who quickly blossomed into defensive stars. Nick’s older brother Joey preceded him at St. Thomas and Ohio State and was drafted third overall in 2016 by the Los Angeles Chargers. He was Defensive Rookie of the Year and earned his second Pro Bowl selection in 2019.

Maybe the St. Thomas Aquinas connection had something to do with the Bosa brothers’ success.

“I moved up to Fort Lauderdale from North Miami solely to go to St. Thomas, that’s how good of a program it is. [Athletic director and former football coach] George Smith runs everything over there. He’s a legend,” Nick Bosa said.

“I honestly became a man during the time at St. Thomas.”

Impressive force from Day 1

That was never in question from the time Bosa joined the 49ers, as six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley explained this week.

“I will say this, the only time I’ve ever thought ‘Oh, shoot, do I have it anymore?’ was like the first week of training camp going against Nick Bosa,” Staley said. “Honestly, that guy’s so good. And then I saw him go against everyone else in the NFL and was like, ‘Oh, he’s just a really good player. I’ve still got it.’”

That’s the type of young pass rusher the Dolphins need to build a quality defense. It is an objective every bit as important as getting the right quarterback.

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns

More on the Super Bowl from Five Reasons Sports Network:

Houtz Special: Who’s better QB, Marino or Mahomes?

Former Dolphin Damien Williams’ journey goes full circle

CK’s Take: Technology Offers Miami Dolphins a Blueprint

While admiring the sheer size of the Miami Beach Convention Center, the central hub for Super Bowl LIV, I came across a back room in a relatively un-trafficked part of the Convention Center. Peeking into the room, the presentation slides on the screens bracketing the dais said, “Zebra Technologies”. I decided to attend the scheduled conference.

Considering how out of the way the room was, literally as far from the infamous and chaotic ‘Radio Row’ as possible while still being in the same building, it should have been unsurprising how few members of the media showed up for the presentation. They largely ignored this little room, preferring to see staged shouting matches between UFC fighters, or to rub elbows with Jim Rome, Peter King, etc.

Their loss.

Some of the most fascinating and revealing information about the matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs featured in that secluded room. The benevolent geeks (it’s OK for me to call them that since I count myself among them) at Zebra Technologies and the NFL’s Next Gen Stats platform were kind enough to share the sweet nectar of analytics with the three or four of us who found our way in.

First, a little bit about Zebra Technologies. They implant radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips in every set of pads and every football used by NFL teams on game day. They have a complex network of sensors in every NFL stadium which tracks all locations and movements of these chips throughout the games. Using the data, the NFL and Zebra are able to model and recreate every movement that happens on every play in the game, measuring distances and speeds along the way.

(Side Note: The Miami Dolphins happen to be one of about ten or so teams in the league that have also contracted with Zebra independently to have the same chips and sensors installed in their practice facilities, adding to the library of data they are able to analyse for everything from training to scouting.)

The NFL puts out analytics derived off this data through its Next Gen Stats platform.

During the presentation, we learned a number of conspicuous factoids about the cream of the conferences. The overarching theme, the primary takeaway if you’re a Miami Dolphins fan and you want to know how to get to the Super Bowl?


Did you know that the #1 and #2 fastest ball carrying teams in the NFL ended up facing one another in the Super Bowl this year? Kansas City ball carriers (including receivers after the catch) averaged a speed of 13.36 miles per hour during the 2019 season. San Francisco ball carriers averaged 13.35 miles per hour.

One team did it with receivers like Mecole Hardman (21.9 miles per hour and 21.7 miles per hour) and Sammy Watkins (21.3 miles per hour), the two together having recorded 3 of the top 20 speeds measured on a player carrying the ball in the 2019-20 season.

The other team did it with a set of running backs like Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert, who reached at least 15 miles per hour on 29% of their carries this year, trailing only Dalvin Cook’s 30% figure.

The 49ers and Chiefs also recorded 7 of the top 12 speeds achieved in the NFL playoffs.

The speed leads to separation, as the Chiefs led all NFL teams in average separation of receivers (3.7 yards), while the not-too-shabby 49ers ranked 6th (3.2 yards). The separation helped the teams rank 3rd and 5th, respectively, in pass plays of 15+ yards.

The 49ers added the wrinkle of a speedy ground attack which ranked 2nd in the NFL in run plays of 10+ yards. This achievement was all the more impressive since the data show that all three of San Francisco’s running backs (Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert) were among the most likely in the NFL to be running against an 8-man box on any given run play.

Speaking of speed, the 49ers pass rush deserves mention, particularly when Dee Ford is healthy and participating. Ford, we learned, is the 3rd quickest pass rusher in the NFL when it comes to time it takes to cross the line of scrimmage after the snap. When he was in the game this season, the 49ers pass rush was able to pressure the quarterback on 34% of pass plays. When he was out, that number dipped into the mid-20’s. Easy to see why the 49ers seemed to get a boost in performance as Ford came back for the playoffs.

The matchup with Kansas City could put this increased pass rush efficiency even more in the spotlight, as Patrick Mahomes proved to be the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL this season when allowed 2.5 seconds or longer to throw the football. He averaged 10.1 yards per attempt on such plays.

The 49ers are able to generate nearly identical pass rush efficiency with just four pass rushers as they are when they rush five or more. That should be convenient for San Francisco, since Mahomes had a 116.5 passer rating versus the blitz this season. The guess is that San Francisco will sit back and allow their four-man front to harass Mahomes, if they can get away with it.

On the back end, the most effective deep passing game in the NFL, led by Patrick Mahomes and those speedy receivers, will face off with far and away the stingiest deep pass defenders in the NFL. While Mahomes has led the NFL in deep pass completions and touchdowns since 2018, the 49ers defense only allowed a total of NINE deep completions during the entire 2019-20 season. That is astounding, and was the best number in the NFL by a margin.

The data on these two teams, the speed they share in common, is fascinating because of how differently they’re constructed. While it’s easy to imagine how the Chiefs are able to produce these speed and separation measurements with explicitly fast players like Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Sammy Watkins, the 49ers are not staffed the same way. They have been able to achieve speed figures through misdirection, spacing, decisiveness, and run after catch skills.

While the Dolphins may have multiple roads they can take to get there, the goal should remain the same. For the Miami Dolphins to take the next step, they must learn to play faster than the competition. If they can do that, perhaps the next secret nerd meeting at a Super Bowl convention will feature slides on Devante Parker, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, … and Tua Tagovailoa?

Kyle Shanahan sought players with high football character in building the 49ers' Super Bowl team. (Craig Davis for Five Reasons Sports Network)

Pressure Point: 49ers’ turnaround a model for Dolphins’ rebuild

Five Reasons Sports at Super Bowl 54 in Miami

Miami Dolphins fans are relegated to watching wistfully as Super Bowl 54 is contested on their team’s home field on Feb. 2.

They can find hope, though, in knowing that one of the teams vying for the championship was in much the same situation in 2017 as the Dolphins were this past season, beginning a rebuilding process led by a novice head coach and general manager combo.

Like the Dolphins, on the field those San Francisco 49ers were losing. A lot: They started 0-9 in that first season under coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch.

As first-timers in their roles in the NFL, there was reason to question whether Shanahan and Lynch were up to the task.

Dolphins need to find the next Patrick Mahomes

Duo with much to prove

Not unlike the Dolphins leadership tandem of coach Brian Flores and GM Chris Grier, now entering a crucial offseason in the rebuilding process.

The work of Shanahan and Lynch can offer a model for the Dolphins to emulate.

Through deft drafting, augmented by some savvy trades and signings of established players, they pulled off one of the most successful three-year turnarounds in NFL history.

Flores and Grier, beginning their second season as co-leaders of football operations in Miami, have a tough act to follow. Shanahan and Lynch haven’t missed much in an uncanny run of decision-making.

The Dolphins have ample resources to follow a similar path with 14 picks in the 2020 draft and nearly $100 million in cap space, the most in the league. Projecting further, they have stockpiled 10 picks for 2021, including two each in the first and second rounds.

The 49ers drafted 21 of the 53 players on their active roster. Of those, 16 came in the past three drafts (seven others from those drafts remain with the team on injured reserve).

Last year’s draft produced defensive difference-makers Nick Bosa, the second overall pick, and linebacker Dre Greenlaw, their second-leading tackler who was taken in the fifth round.

The turning point in the 49ers’ rebuild came when they traded a second-round draft pick for New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo during the 2017 season.

Check out Super Bowl Experience on Miami Beach

More than one way to win

The revelation of this postseason has been a deviation from recent belief that it takes a dominant do-everything quarterback to win a championship in the pass-happy NFL of the 21st Century.

The Kansas City Chiefs, the other Super Bowl finalist, have that in Patrick Mahomes. But, the 49ers beat the Packers and future Hall-of-Fame QB Aaron Rodgers via an old-school formula of stout defense and a punishing running game.

Which path will the Dolphins follow?

Grier, in media interviews last week at the Senior Bowl, made it clear that drafting a quarterback to lead the Dolphins turnaround is a top priority of the organization. And indicated he would utilize some of the extra draft picks the team has amassed if needed to trade into position to select the player he wants.

“You see how important it is around the league,” Grier said. “We think it’s important that we find the right guy who could be the quarterback here for a long time.”

While the 49ers chose a different route in trading for their quarterback, it was just one piece of the puzzle, as it must be for Miami.

The key that shaped the 49ers into a team on the brink of a championship is the attention Lynch paid to building strength on the offensive and defensive lines. That provided the impetus for the NFL’s second-ranked rushing attack in 2019 and second-ranked total defense (No. 1 against the pass).

Contrast that to the Dolphins who couldn’t generate the push up front to run the ball effectively at all or muster any semblance of a pass rush and it is obvious where the focus must be beyond obtaining a quarterback.

2017 draft started 49ers turnaround

The process that led to the 49ers turnaround began with the 2017 draft, which notably netted George Kittle, who was endorsed as the current top tight end in the league this week by no less of an expert than Rob Gronkowski, one of the best to play the position.

“When I got [to San Francisco] there were probably 80 percent rookies on the team,” Garoppolo said Tuesday. “So it was a pretty young team. But you could definitely see pieces were there [but] there were parts of it that were missing. But Kyle and John did a great job ever since I got there of bringing in the right people, good people, and it’s transferred onto the field.”

There are a few significant contributors to this run to the Super Bowl who were with the team when Shanahan and Lynch arrived, including 13-year veteran left tackle Joe Staley and running back Raheem Mostert, who had been cut by six teams including the Dolphins.

Three defensive starters were first-round picks in the 2014-16 drafts: safety Jimmie Ward (2014)  and d-linemen Arik Armstead (2015) and DeForest Buckner (2016).

But 46 members of the 53-man roster were acquired by the Shanahan/Lynch regime (See the list of personnel moves below.) They have had considerable success with third-day draft picks, which will be vital to the Dolphins restocking a stripped-down roster. Miami will have six picks in rounds five through seven in this draft.

The other area the 49ers have excelled is in their choice of veterans to add as free agents or via trades, including cornerback Richard Sherman, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, linebacker Kwon Alexander , defensive end Dee Ford and fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

Chance on Sherman pays off

One of the boldest moves that paid off was the 2018 signing of three-time All-Pro Sherman, coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon, to a three-year, $39 million contract.

“He’s creative and he’s always evolving,” Sherman said of Lynch, who had no previous experience as an NFL executive.

“You’ve got the obvious moves like [drafting] Bosa, but you’ve got keeping Arik Armstead, you’ve got paying  Jimmy Garoppolo early, which a lot of people questioned. Those are the things that have made him a great GM is having the foresight and the thought to go against what everybody else thinks.”

The 49ers went 6-10 and 4-12 in the first two years before the 13-3 breakthrough this season followed by the dominating playoff run to the Super Bowl.

Sherman said he was convinced from the time he arrived that the rebuild would lead to this level of success.

“I thought we’d be a little closer last year, but thank God we weren’t because we got Nick [Bosa] out of it,” he said. “We got banged up last year and it ended up being a blessing in disguise.”

There has been a lot of talk this week about team chemistry and the positive vibe in the 49ers locker room — similarly with the Chiefs.

Group of selfless players

That, of course, is easier to maintain when you’re winning. But in this case it was partly by design of the process.

“The one thing I keep coming back to is everybody is very selfless,” Staley said. “It’s a team that really doesn’t care about individual accolades. It’s all about the team, and I think that was built with the people that we’ve brought in here who we’ve drafted.”

Shanahan said: “I always believed culture just has to do with an accumulation of good people. We wanted to get people who really cared about football, people who worked hard.

“We always described it as high football character. When you do that and you make most of your decisions based off of that, usually the culture takes care of itself. You never know if it will work out that way exactly. You hope you are getting the right guys.”

That’s the thing about the rebuilding process, there are no guarantees stockpiling draft picks will pay off. Look at the Cleveland Browns, who can never get it right.

The 49ers, playing Sunday on the Dolphins’ home field, are the poster child for how to turn a team around, and quickly.

Crucial offseason for Dolphins

That’s the gauntlet the Dolphins will attempt to run through beginning this offseason with a boatload of draft picks and cap space.

There were some positive signs in the first season of the Flores/Grier pairing as the Dolphins finished 5-4 following the dreadful 0-7 start. They maintained unity despite the early losing and constant churning of the roster.

But now the real work begins on a team with so many needs: quarterback, pass rush, o-line, running back, corner cover, linebacker — name it, Miami needs it.

Consequently, Super Bowl 54 is just a diversion for Dolfans. Once these teams get off their field Sunday, the important game they care about can begin leading to free agent signings and the NFL draft.

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns

More on Super Bowl 54 from Five Reasons Sports:

The better QB: Marino or Mahomes?


Here are the personnel moves by Lynch and Shanahan to acquire players since 2017, according to


DL Solomon Thomas, 2017, first round
CB Ahkello Witherspoon, 2017, third round
CB C.J. Beathard, 2017, third round
TE George Kittle, 2017, fifth round
QB Nick Mullens, 2017, rookie free agent
RB Matt Breida, 2017, rookie free agent
WR Kendrick Bourne, 2017, rookie free agent
K Robbie Gould, 2017, veteran free agent
DB K’Waun Williams, 2017, veteran free agent
FB Kyle Juszczyk, 2017, veteran free agent
LB Elijah Lee, 2017, veteran free agent
LB Mark Nzeocha, 2017, veteran free agent
DT Sheldon Day, 2017, waiver claim from Jacksonville
LG Laken Tomlinson, 2017, trade from Detroit
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 2017, trade from New England


RT Mike McGlinchey, 2018, first round
WR Dante Pettis, 2018, second round
LB Fred Warner, 2018, third round
DB Tarvarius Moore, 2018, third round
DB D.J. Reed, 2018, fifth round
S Marcell Harris, 2018, sixth round
WR Richie James, 2018, seventh round
RB Jeff Wilson, 2018, rookie free agent
TE Ross Dwelley, 2018, rookie free agent
CB Emmanuel Moseley, 2018, rookie free agent
CB Richard Sherman, 2018, veteran free agent
RG Mike Person, 2018, veteran free agent


DE Nick Bosa, 2019, first round
WR Deebo Samuel, 2019, second round
P Mitch Wishnowsky, 2019, fourth round
LB Dre Greenlaw, 2019, fifth round
OT Justin Skule, 2019, sixth round
LB Azeez Al-Shaair, 2019, rookie free agent
DL Kevin Givens, 2019, rookie free agent
LB Kwon Alexander, 2019, veteran free agent
RB Tevin Coleman, 2019, veteran free agent
OL Ben Garland, 2019, veteran free agent
OL Daniel Brunskill, 2019, veteran free agent
TE Levine Toilolo, 2019, veteran free agent
CB Dontae Johnson, 2019, veteran free agent
WR Jordan Matthews, 2019, veteran free agent
DL Anthony Zettel, 2019, veteran free agent
DT Earl Mitchell, 2019, veteran free agent
TE Daniel Helm, 2019, waiver claim from L.A. Chargers
DE Dee Ford, 2019, trade from Kansas City
WR Emmanuel Sanders, 2019, trade from Denver

TE Garrett Celek, 2012, rookie free agent
DE Ronald Blair, 2016, fifth-round draft pick
WR Trent Taylor, 2017, fifth-round draft pick
NT D.J. Jones, 2017, sixth-round draft pick
WR Marquise Goodwin, 2017, veteran free agent
DL Kentavius Street, 2018, fourth-round draft pick
DL Jullian Taylor, 2018, seventh-round draft pick
RB Jerick McKinnon, 2018, veteran free agent
C Weston Richburg, 2018, veteran free agent
T Shon Coleman, 2018, trade from Cleveland
WR Jalen Hurd, 2019, third-round draft pick
CB Tim Harris, 2019, sixth-round draft pick
WR Shawn Poindexter, 2019, rookie free agent
OL Andrew Lauderdale, 2019, veteran fee agent
DL Damontre Moore, 2019, veteran free agent
CB Jason Verrett, 2019, veteran free agent

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes at the opening night event for Super Bowl 54. (Craig Davis for Five Reasons Sports Network)

Pressure Point: Dolphins need to find the next Patrick Mahomes


Miami Dolphins fans have been dreaming about a franchise quarterback for two decades now.

The quest has gone unrequited since Dan Marino retired. So many have tried and been found wanting that you wonder if anyone in Miami would recognize a franchise quarterback when they saw one.

Well, it’s not that tough, folks. One was on display Monday night in Dolphins country in a Miami stadium.

Unfortunately, Patrick Mahomes is in town to play for the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54 against the San Francisco 49ers. Watching him at the podium at the opening night event of Super Bowl week at Marlins Park it was evident, this is what you want.

This is what Miami needs. Someone like Mahomes.

Who is the better QB: Mahomes or Marino?

Trade up if necessary

The Chiefs recognized the potential when Mahomes was coming out of Texas Tech and traded two first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Buffalo Bills to select him 10th overall in 2017.

That is what the Dolphins must do to break out of the quarterback doldrums.

Maybe it is Tua Tagovailoa, provided he aces his medical exams. Or perhaps someone like Utah State’s Jordan Love, who drew the interest of NFL talent evaluators last week at the Senior Bowl, including Dolphins officials.

If they identify that elusive quarterback of the future anywhere in this draft crop, GM Chris Grier must do whatever it takes to get him, even if that requires dealing valuable draft capital to move up from Miami’s current No. 5 spot in April’s draft.

Notably, Love has elicited comparisons to Mahomes, and doesn’t shy away from it.

“We’ve both got strong arms. [Mahomes] obviously makes ridiculous throws off schedule and stuff like that, some I’ve seen and tried to model my game to make throws like that,” Love said at the Senior Bowl. “I hope to be on the same platform as him.”

Not easy to get back to Super Bowl

Right now Mahomes has the grandest platform, the one every player aspires to.

Watching him close up Monday for nearly an hour fielding all sorts of questions, serious and whimsical, the first thing that stands out is how young he looks. Younger than his 24 years, though he has already accomplished so much.

“I want to be back here, I want to play in multiple Super Bowls. But every opportunity you get here you know how hard it is. So I just want to maximize that,” he said.

One can’t help recalling that Marino was also a fresh-faced kid with curly hair when he came to Miami and set the league on fire in the early ’80s. Danny Boy got to the Super Bowl in his second season and never got back.

The Dolphins are still looking for another quarterback to get them back to this platform, as Miami hosts the big game for a record 11th time.

Someone like Mahomes, whose rocket arm and electric ability may command the NFL’s first $200 million contract.

Ghosts of Dolphins dreams

Mahomes was as comfortable and patient in the spotlight Monday as he is in the pocket dodging pass rushers and improvising. He deftly handled every surprise thrown his way — Do you believe in ghosts? Yes he does, though he hasn’t seen one.

He should have known, the ghosts of Dolphins broken dreams are everywhere around here.

“I want to be known as a great football player, but I also want people to know me as a great person,” Mahomes said.

Exactly what Miami has been searching for all of these years.

Keep in mind, franchise quarterbacks come in different forms. The 49ers have one in Jimmy Garoppolo, though they haven’t relied on him to carry the team on his back like the Chiefs do with Mahomes.

Don’t underestimate Garoppolo

But Garoppolo showed he can do that after the in-season trade with the Patriots in 2017, going 5-0 in five starts with a team that was 1-10 when he arrived.

Don’t be surprised if Garoppolo ends up being the difference in Super Bowl 54 when the Chiefs gear up to stop the 49ers’ vaunted running game and coach Kyle Shanahan calls on Garoppolo to counter it with  play-action. He’s got the arm and talented receivers to do so.

Garoppolo’s 1,250 yards in his first four starts with the 49ers in 2017 was a record. It was enough to earn a five-year, $137.5 million contract the next offseason.

“That’s a huge commitment and it’s hard to make a judgment on people over a six-week time when you’re committing that type of money,” Shanahan said Monday night.

“He came in for six weeks, he won our team, he won me over; I think he won our town over. All anyone has to do is watch the games he played in and after six weeks the decision was very easy.”

That’s all Dolfans have been asking: Wow us. Win us over.

Like Marino did. Like Mahomes has done in Kansas City while breaking some of Marino’s most cherished records.

We can’t be sure what the Dolphins braintrust is thinking about the quarterbacks available. Even they can’t be sure about Tua’s recovery from hip surgery, though that should become clearer by the Combine and before draft day.

All we know is the prototype is in Miami right now, the son of a former major-league journeyman pitcher. He belongs to Kansas City.

That’s your mission, Dolphins. Identify the next Patrick Mahomes and do whatever it takes to bring him to Miami.

Simple as that? Hell, yes!

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns