The Miami Dolphins have 3 first round selections in this week’s Draft. One of the main reasons for the massive opportunity currently being presented to GM Chris Grier is the trading of 2018 first round selection Minkah Fitzpatrick. At the time of the deal, the move looked promising for the Dolphins.
It was unfortunate that Miami was put in a position with Fitzpatrick where he felt the direction of the team and specifically his role in it would not mesh with what he was looking for. Seeing the way he had embraced the role as a “positionless” defensive back in Pittsburgh only points to the reality of what occurred last fall, Minkah wanted out of the losing. Or what he perceived to be a bad franchise, he was seemingly mistaken as the Dolphins finished the season strong and could be in a better position than the Steelers in short order.
Regardless, the Dolphins were able to gain some modest return. At the time, Miami received the Steelers 2020 first round pick, a seemingly great bet to take as Mike Tomlin’s crew had lost QB Ben Roethlisberger for the remainder of the season. Despite all this, they had a relatively strong season and Minkah blossomed into one of the best young safeties in the league… something that likely would have happened here had both sides communicated better.
Miami is now in the possession of the 18th overall selection thanks to the wheeling and dealing, and the potential options for positions to address is high. Many suspect the team to look at offensive tackle, however, if the highest graded players are no longer available, and a higher value prospect is staring at the Dolphins in the face, the smartest move would be to pull the trigger and bring his talent to South Beach.
One of the positions which offers high value is at safety. Hilariously enough, the Miami Dolphins fins themselves with a need for a playmaking defender in the back end of the defense. The position of safety is intriguing for the Dolphins as both safeties, free and strong, supplement each other in the run and pass defense rather than having their own identified roles. The team was close to bringing in Devin McCourty from New England had the Patriots not met his demands, but Brian Flores made it clear what the prototype of his safeties can be identified as.
Versatile in pass defense, be able to cover plenty of space but also match up well with various offensive weapons. Additionally, the safety must be a good to great run defender. Being able to come up to the line of scrimmage and stop a 2 yard gain from becoming 5, while also being able to match up with an elusive back in the flat and bring him down.
Despite the names being thrown around, there are 2 defensive backs in this upcoming draft who fit the mold of this player best.
Alabama safety Xavier McKinney, and Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. The latter is a favorite amongst many Dolphins fans as his father, a former great NFL safety in his own right and also Brian Flores’ favorite defender.
Winfield is a smart player, it is clear he has been around football and understands coverages and roles to a much more advanced degree than other candidates in the Draft. This makes him playable far sooner than a player such as Kyle Dugger or Ashtyn Davis. Not only, his fit would be solid with the Dolphins and his ability to cover the back end as well as tackle makes him enticing for Miami. His one major issue is size and potential durability. As a player, Winfield is excellent, but his frame of 5’9 and 205 pounds may break down against the physical freaks of the NFL.
A player who has shown higher consistency, and against much better talent is Alabama’s Xavier McKinney. Although the fact that the Dolphins would be swapping one Alabama great for another at the exact same position is amusing, the fit could not be better.
McKinney is the best tackler at the position in this class. Not only is his form excellent, he clearly enjoys contact making him far more formidable in the secondary. He matches up better with NFL tight ends and running backs, and his experience at Alabama playing against some of the best QB’s college football has to offer offers hope at a good transition.
Regardless, Miami may very likely use on of their early selections at the position. Whether that be at 18, 39, or in between as 26, the prospect of bringing an immediate impact defender along with a potential Quarterback has to appeal to the Phins.
What do you think? Should Miami invest in a safety high up in the Daft or do you feel other positions should be addressed first? Which player is your favorite and who would you like to see the Dolphins bring in? Let us know in the comments below!