The Miami Dolphins entered the 2020 NFL Draft with three first-round selections, they left it a changed franchise.
a cloud of smoke created to conceal military operations.
a ruse designed to disguise someone’s real intentions or activities.
One word can summarize the Miami Dolphins main tactic leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft.
Deployed in a military scenario during engagement, a smokescreen is a simple and effective method of camouflage lasting just an instant.
In the sense of NFL subterfuge, the deception lasts for months and doesn’t stop until the clock starts.
I should just keep my head in the sand. One hour before draft starts you’re liable to hear pretty much everything, not always accurate. My gut feeling has always been Tua. But hopefully this is a situation where Grier, Flores, Ross are holding the cards and others just guessing.
— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) April 23, 2020
The Miami Dolphins held the 5th, 18th, and 26th picks at 8PM EST.
At 8:01 Roger Goodell’s basement was the unlikely backdrop in a draft like we have never seen – and may never see again.
What are the odds of Roger Goodell being booed by his family in his basement when he is introduced at the opening of the draft.
— Frank Caliendo (@FrankCaliendo) April 23, 2020
In the end, we had no idea what the hell was going to happen.
Miami gave us all the smoke, and we inhaled.
When it cleared, we stood looking through the haze where we belonged from the start.
Cincinnati and Washington were expected to stand pat with their top two selections.
The worst kept secret of the draft – Cincinnati’s intentions.
Bengals president Mike Brown officially welcomed LSU QB Joe Burrow to Cincinnati on Wednesday, one day before the Draft. Brown sent Burrow a letter that said, amongst other things, that he looks forward “to building championship football teams with you for many years to come.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 23, 2020
With the second pick the Washington Redskins selected DE Chase Young, another heavily predicted scenario.
The 2020 NFL Draft really began with the Detroit Lions and the third selection.
From NFL Draft Kickoff: The #Lions and #Dolphins have been discussing a potential trade up for Miami to go to No. 3, but the #Jaguars have been in touch with Detroit, as well (possibly for a top left tackle). pic.twitter.com/3mw2RnSUsf
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 23, 2020
Lions GM Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia have New England roots like Brian Flores and Chris Grier.
Those connections did not lead to any last minute deals and the Lions took the top cornerback in the draft, Jeff Okudah.
So far so good for the Dolphins as all the top offensive tackles and both Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert were in play.
The New York Giants went on the clock with pick four and the anticipation heightened.
Daniel Jones is the future for now under center in New York, so they were not linked to either quarterback.
Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman had never traded down in the NFL Draft.
Jones got his protector in Andrew Thomas and the first key offensive tackle was off the board.
Is it happening?
Miami is on the clock.
Tua is there.
We didn’t tank, and didn’t have to move up.
The moment that many Miami Dolphins fans spoke into existence actually happened.
Incredible. Just incredible. Four and a half years since I was told about this kid. He’s so special. So, so thrilled. And Miami kept every pick. Great job. Thrilled.
— Simon Clancy (@SiClancy) April 24, 2020
Roger Goodell walked up to his, um, podium and quite possibly altered the trajectory of the Dolphins.
He may have butchered Tagovailoa just a bit, forgive him as he lacks the practice we have here in our network.
The selection of Tua Tagovailoa shows an investment in the one position that stirs the drink.
A commitment by the Miami Dolphins to build a true winner by taking an educated risk.
It felt like a giant weight was lifted when Goodell announced the pick.
“With The Fifth Pick In The 2020 NFL Draft, The Miami Dolphins Select Tua Tagovailoa” is our new favorite song 😁
📺 Watch the Draft on NFLN/ESPN/ABC pic.twitter.com/MSqzdYJ9TK
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 24, 2020
Something so widely hoped for, predicted, and mocked actually came to fruition.
While the Dolphins “tank” had ammunition left with two more first-round picks in the chamber.
Oh what a glorious night.
The virtual draft lacked the flash and technical nuance of the standard yearly affair.
Which under these circumstances seemed to galvanize a connection between the fans and the players.
Everyone in their living rooms (or basement) instead of green rooms and ballrooms.
A reminder we are still in unusual and scary times, but have hopes and dreams and that life will go on.
Board Takes Shape
Miami’s next selection was scheduled for 18 and the board began to reveal some surprises.
No. 6 Chargers – QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
No. 7 Panthers- DT Derrick Brown, Auburn
No. 8 Cardinals- LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
No. 9 Jaguars – CB C.J. Henderson, Florida
The run on defense left Cleveland with their choice of top tier tackles and they leapt at the opportunity.
No. 10 Browns – OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama
Simmons falling to the Cardinals at eight and the Jaguars taking Henderson at nine were both mild surprises.
No. 11 Jets – OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
No. 12 Radiers – WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabam
Becton did not take a fall despite his pre-draft issues, while Ruggs being the first receiver off the board was unexpected.
The draft seemed to hum along peacefully, with no trades through the first 10 picks for the first time since 2015.
That trend would stop at pick 13 as the 49ers traded that selection to Tampa Bay.
The first bit of bad news for the Dolphins as the Bucs would grab the third tackle in four picks.
No. 13 Buccaneers – OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
With the Wirfs pick, the consensus first round tackles were all off the board. Now with a significant drop off at that position, the options began to narrow for the Dolphins as their next pick approached.
No. 14 49ers – DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
No. 15 Broncos – WR Jerry Jeudy, Auburn
No. 16 Falcons – CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson
No. 17 Cowboys – WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
The run on offensive tackles and wide receivers was complete for the moment.
With Miami back on the board at 18 players such OLB K’Lavon Chaisson and S Xavier McKinney were on the board.
Along with all the top running backs…well every running back.
Reaching into the second tier of offensive tackles at 18 seemed like poor value.
Trading down seemed like a logical play with Jordan Love still on the board.
Miami would hold tight and add another piece to the offensive line, albeit not one that was widely predicted.
No. 18 – Dolphins OT Austin Jackson, USC
Position of need, yes.
Player of need at this spot?
Not in the eyes of most observers.
Jackson at 18 was a stretch, but his upside is something to hold out hope for.
He was not graded as a first rounder by most analysts and has had a unique journey to the NFL via USC.
Jackson donated bone marrow to his sister in 2019 and missed the entire offseason program, hurting his draft stock.
Obviously this speaks to his character and at age 20 Jackson has plenty of time to grow and develop into an NFL player.
And the Dolphins get their OT. Austin Jackson has really nice potential to grow into a long time starter. So far, this formula has gone to plan for Miami. A really good plan.
— Will Manso (@WillManso) April 24, 2020
That being said, he would have likely been there at 26 or beyond if Miami decided to trade down.
With Tua taking a redshirt next year, perhaps the Dolphins can do the same with Jackson.
Miami picked him for his potential and his ceiling, his quickness and body type are prototypical modern NFL tackle mold.
NEW: Two national analysts say new Dolphins LT Austin Jackson has chance “to be an All Pro:” Feedback on the No. 18 pick: https://t.co/hytfKNi8YM
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) April 24, 2020
No. 19 Raiders – CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State
No. 20 Jaguars – EDGE K’Lavon Chiasson, LSU
No. 21 – Eagles – WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
No. 22 Vikings – WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
No. 23 Chargers – ILB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
No. 24 Saints – C Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
No. 25 49ers – WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
No. 26 Packers (from Miami) QB Jordan Love, Utah State
The Dolphins swapped pick 26 for Green Bay’s first rounder at 30, while picking up No. 117 in the fourth round.
No. 27 Seahawks – OLB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
No. 28 Ravens – ILB Patrick Queen, LSU
No. 29 Titans – OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
No. 30 Dolphins (from Packers) CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn
In a pick that was forecasted by few, the Dolphins pick up a high upside cornerback in Igbinoghene who slots as a nickel corner at the next level.
Both of his parents ran track for the Nigerian Olympic team and Noah inherited a lot of that athleticism and speed.
Igbinoghene is a former wide receiver and has natural instincts in terms of positioning and body control, with the ability to close quickly in space.
Despite being listed at just 5-foot-10 and a shade under 200 pounds, Igbinoghene isn’t afraid to stick his nose in there and tackle.
With Xavien Howard and Byron Jones on the outside, Igbinoghene fits perfectly with the needs of the Miami secondary.
Safeties Xavier McKinney and Antoine Winfield were both still on the board, however Miami went with another sticky cover man in Igbinoghene. Look for the safety spot to be a target in Round 2, Miami has the 39th and 56th selections going into Friday night.
No. 31 Vikings – CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
No. 32 Chiefs – RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU
In a mild surprise, only one running back was taken in round one. Edwards-Helaire has the skillset of a new age NFL running back and could have been a target for Miami on Day 2. With how the board shook out in Round 1, there are still the majority of the top backs still on the board.
J.K. Dobbins, D’Andre Swift, and Jonathan Taylor could all be Round 2 targets for the Dolphins, along with Cam Akers a little further down the board.
Winfield is intriguing as well, it is unlikely that McKinney could be had without a trade up from 39. Safety Ashtyn Davis is another strong candidate for the second round.
It was a wild night for the Miami Dolphins and their fans, under unusual circumstances the escape was much needed for a lot of people.
Fans should be pleased that the Dolphins drafted Tagovailoa, finally taking a shot at a transcendent quarterback prospect for the first time in decades.
With plenty of capital remaining, the next two chapters of the 2020 NFL Draft should hold plenty more in store for the Miami Dolphins.
Make sure to check out our live draft coverage Friday night: