The Miami Dolphins heavily invested in their defensive unit this offseason. With multiple upgrades in the Dolphins secondary and front seven, is there a possibility that the Dolphins defense becomes a top ten defense in the NFL?
Starting with the linebacking corps, the focus has to be on Jerome Baker, Raekwon Mcmillan, and Kyle Van Noy. Baker and Mcmillan, both former Ohio State products, have blossomed into an underrated, yet powerful linebacking duo. Baker is not only one of the Dolphins best defensive players, but is a leader in the Dolphins locker room. His counterpart, Raekwon Mcmillan has had a combined 170 tackles in the past two seasons, showcasing his knack at getting to the football.
In the offseason, the Dolphins added former Patriots standout linebacker Kyle Van Noy on a four year 51 million dollar contract who has already performed well in Brian Flores’ defense when Flores was in New England. Van Noy brings his ability to get to the quarterback, as well as provides an athletic, versatile asset to the Dolphins defense.
Moving onto the secondary, the Dolphins added Byron Jones in free agency on a big time five year 82.5 million dollar deal. Jones is one of the premier man coverage corners in the entire NFL. His skillset really fits the man heavy defense that Brian Flores runs in South Beach. Adding him to Xavien Howard, who is two years removed from his seven interception season in 2018 gives the Dolphins two of the best lockdown corners in the NFL.
On top of that, first round pick Noah Igbinoghene, from Auburn, gives Miami a potentially elite slot cornerback that has good ball skills. Although Igbinoghene is a little raw, his track background will allow him to transition to the NFL well, due to his ability to recover well in coverage.
Plus, don’t forget about Nik Needham who flashed at times last year for the depleted Dolphins secondary. At safety, the Dolphins have Bobby Mccain and Eric Rowe, two veterans who have 10 years of combined experience in the NFL.
Meanwhile, 3rd round pick Brandon Jones from Texas will definitely get some playing time in the secondary. Although some NFL fans may not believe the Dolphins secondary has potential to be a top unit, having Byron Jones and Xavien Howard, as well as all the depth available with guys like Nik Needham, gives the Dolphins a balanced mix of superstar power and feistiness that will help catapult the Dolphins defense in 2020.
Up front the Dolphins splashed the cash on Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson in free agency. Ogbah after having 5.5 sacks in 10 games a season ago was signed on a 2 year 15 million dollar contract to come to South Florida. If Ogbah keeps his level of production up, and manages to stay healthy, a 10 sack season from him is not completely out of the picture.
Lawson, who came over from Buffalo on a 3 year 30 million dollar deal, has improved as a pass rusher each year he has been in the league. Also, with increased playing time in Miami, Lawson’s production will see growth.
Additionally, don’t forget about the two pass rushers the Dolphins picked up in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Jason Strowbridge and Curtis Weaver. Not only do they add depth to the Dolphins front seven, but Weaver has been one of college football’s best pass rushers in recent history racking up 13.5 sacks last season, the 5th most in all of college football.
Furthermore, Christian Wilkins, last year’s first round pick flashed at times in 2019, and with Davon Godchaux next to him, the Dolphins have two playmaking defensive tackles that can wreak havoc in the running and passing game.
On top of that, second round pick Raekwon Davis from Alabama adds a player with a championship mentality to the Dolphins roster that helps the Dolphins culture move in the right direction.
With that said, the Dolphins have a high powered defense led by an elite secondary with dynamic corners and rock solid safeties,
as well as an explosive front seven that includes star studded linebackers and defensive lineman willing to do the dirty work. With all the potential talent on the defensive side of the football down in Miami, it is not out of the question that the Dolphins could surprise the NFL and have a top 10 defense next season.
To check out my Youtube video where I go a little bit more in depth about the Dolphins defense (3:41-6:05) please click the video below: