It’s not often a team with an 11-5 record completely overturns their roster in the offseason. But the 2019 Miami Dolphins were not your ordinary #2 seed in the AFC conference. Coach Bobby Bones took a roster built to tank to the top of the AFC East, proving a system built around fundamental defense and a quick passing offense can overcome lack of talent. In 2020, the Dolphins are betting on Coach Bones’s system getting better with new talent over roster continuity. Let’s meet the new look 2020 Dolphins after their splashy off-season that seemed straight out of a “Madden” video game, this time the defense:
LE: Matthew Judon: Judon was a surprise offseason acquisition by Miami, as he took less money to join the Phins on a 1-year flyer over the defending AFC champion Colts’s long term commitment. Judon figures to be a primary rusher in the Dolphins 3-4 defense, but may not see time in other pass-defense packages over his younger teammates. Last season’s starter, the leading sack man for the Phins last season, Robert Nkemdiche was not even re-signed.
RE: Christian Wilkins: No change here as last year’s first round pick out of Clemson should only get better, especially with more overall talent in the front seven to give Wilkins more one-on-one attacking opportunities.
DT: Derrick Brown: Miami may have hit a home-run with their 18th overall pick with the kid from Auburn. A massive individual with superhuman strength to boot, Brown figures to the foundation of a Dolphins defense re-tooling their run defense to adjust to PML offense designed around their superstar running backs.
Depth behind Brown are Davon Godchaux and veteran Tyrone Crawford, both of whom may not see many snaps. Godchaux is rumored to be on the trading block.
LOLB: Vic Beasley: The Falcons never seemed to grasp whether Beasley was better fit as a defensive end or outside backer. The Dolphins look to take advantage of his speed outside. Beasley supplants last year’s admirable starter Andrew Van Ginkel, who serve as the backup.
ROLB: Malik Harrison: The Dolphins used their 36th overall pick on Harrison in hopes to improve their disappointing pass rush last season. Harrison is expected to start Week 1. The Ohio State product may not produce immediately, but the Dolphins are hoping he can develop into a potential superstar rusher. Last year’s starter Charles Harris is relegated to backup.
MLB: Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan: McMillan enters a big contract year looking to play up to his star potential. Baker and McMillan are expected to retain their roles from last season and continue to be apart of the organization for years to come.
CB1: Xavian Howard
CB2: Bryce Hall
CB3: Jason Verrett –
The Dolphins are looking to play more man coverage this season, and in order to do so needed to pair “X” up with more reliable teammates than last season. Jason Verrett is yet another Dolphin on a 1-year fyler from free agency. Bryce Hall on the other hand, is expected to the future starter next to “X” for awhile. Hall was the highest of Miami’s many 2020 draft picks, taken with the 14th overall pick (acquired from Houston in the Tunsil trade). Hall will not a lot of pressure entering his rookie year, with Howard expected to be the true lockdown corner. This should allow Hall to develop fluidly, and maybe even reach and surpass Howard’s level one day.
FS: Eric Berry – Berry was one of the few free agents entering the 2020 offseason the Dolphins actually retained, as Berry’s veteran presence is highly valued by Miami’s front office. Berry looks to continue protecting deep passes for Coach Bones. Keep your eye on 7th round draft pick Brad Stewart Jr. If Stewart turns out to be a gem, he may be the heir to the throne.
SS: Minkah Fitzpatrick: Don’t expect this to change…ever. Miami’s leader in both tackles and interceptions last season is expected to continue to be the anchor of one of the top defensive units last seaosn.
So there you have it, 13 new starters in total for last season’s AFC East champions. This season is expected to be a developmental season for Miami. Their young talent will dictate whether the Dolphins will return to the postseason in 2020, or take a step back with an eye on the future. But with Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins can compete with any team in the league (except maybe the Bears, they’re scary)!