This new mailbag features your questions and my answers on a 2021 draft-day trade over/under, the best candidates for a Year 2 jump, and much more.
So here we go:
From Greg Creese (@GregCreese):
What do the Dolphins see/need to see in Strowbridge to suggest he makes it through another round of preseason cuts this year?
The 2020 fifth-round pick from North Carolina appeared in eight games and played 55 defensive snaps on defense as a rookie, which obviously is not what you'd like much of an impact. The Dolphins need to be assured that Strowbridge will hold up in the running game before they trust him with more playing time and based on what players they add between now and September, it's absolutely fair to suggest his roster spot is not guaranteed — though he'll be given every opportunity to succeed before the Dolphins move away from a recent draft pick.
From Craig M (@Dolfan2334):
How many trades do you think the Dolphins make in this draft? Over/under is 2. Will Grier look to use future picks to move around or add more picks?
The biggest indicator here is the fact that number of prospects who signed with agents this year is something like a third of what it normally is (because so many decided to go back to college football in 2021), and that means the talent pool won't be nearly as deep when you get to the later rounds. So it absolutely would make more sense to see the Dolphins look for additional picks next year as opposed to getting more this year. That said, the Dolphins made five trades during the draft in 2020, so I definitely would take the over here.
From Chris Roney (@ChrisRoney0):
Which of these players makes the biggest year 2 jump and contributes the most in 2021?
A. Noah Igbinoghene
B. Austin Jackson
C. Brandon Jones
D. Robert Hunt
E. Someone Else not named Tua
Based on what happened last year, the one with the biggest difference between his rookie season and his potential easily is Igbinoghene, who was exposed when he was forced to come into the game against Buffalo in Week 2 after Byron Jones was injured. So he's an obvious choice there, and also would be the best answer for the Dolphins (after Tua, of course), given that he was a first-round pick. The one player among the four you mentioned who I think has the best chance to become an upper-echelon player is Hunt — and that's whether he stays at tackle or moves inside to guard. I saw enough in terms of athletic ability, mobility for somebody his size last year to become convinced he's going to become a really good player.
From E-Rod (@phinfan2003):
What would be a bigger disappointment next week: missing out on one of the top 3 RB or not getting an edge in the first 2 rounds?
That's a great question. And I think my answer might be influenced a bit by what happened last year when I really was disappointed they didn't take one of the six premier running back prospects — any of whom would be the clear starter right now. And there's a delicate balance to strike here for me because I don't like the idea of taking an RB at 2, but if you're telling me I can have either one of the top three RBs in the first two rounds or an edge defender, I'll take one of the running backs and look for that edge defense starting in the third round.
From Pineapple Dong (@DongPineapple):
If the O-line is underwhelming again, after all of the resources put into it, is it now finally time to full-court-press Bill Callahan from the Browns to sort it out?
I absolutely, totally would be on board with that because there's little question Callahan is a great O-line coach — the latest example coming from Cleveland last year. That said, it's not quite as simple as calling him, and I also don't know if he's got any sort of connection with Brian Flores, if he'd even be interested in coming to Miami at some point or if the Browns would ever let him go. So I wouldn't hold my breath on that happening, but Bill Callahan absolutely would be a great addition to the coaching staff. Oh, and lastly, let's go new O-line coach Lemuel Jeanpierre a shot to see what he can deliver.
From Reza Hariri (@Therealrezpect1):
Any free agents Miami can target after draft? Any players Miami may release after draft? I am guessing WR and possibly OL.
There's little doubt the Dolphins will revisit their wide receiver corps after the draft depending on what they do because they do have a surplus at that position. And the names to watch would seem to start with Jakeem Grant and the two 2020 opt-out players, Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns. I'm not so sure I'd say the same about the offensive line, though. As for free agents, the one glaring need that could be addressed in free agency is an edge rusher, and there are a lot of big names still out there: Melvin Ingram, Ryan Kerrigan, Justin Houston, Everson Griffen, Bruce Irvin, Ziggy Ansah and former Dolphins starter Olivier Vernon (though he's coming off an Achilles injury). This has become a buyer's market at that position, so the Dolphins could get a high-profile veteran at a reasonable price if they chose to go that route.
From Dan Giunta (@Dan_B_Phin_Phan):
Is Tua a product of the system in Alabama similar to Mac Jones success or can he be the Dolphins' long-term solution at QB given the right weapons to do so?
That is the big question, isn't it? Let's be honest and say playing quarterback at Alabama in recent years comes with a tremendous advantage because of the insane amount of talent on offense. In the past two drafts, the Alabama offense produced the following first-round picks: RB Josh Jacobs, T Jonah Williams, T Jedrick Wills, WR Henry Ruggs III and WR Jerry Jeudy, and this year we'll probably add RB Najee Harris, WR DeVonta Smith and WR Jaylen Waddle. And tackle Alex Leatherwood and center Landon Dickerson both are possible or probable second-round picks. Think about that for a second. That's just nuts. So, for me, it's more about the surrounding talent than it is about the system. And, yes, it's absolutely fair to wonder whether either Tua or Mac Jones can achieve the level of success they did at Alabama because they no longer will be playing on an offense that was so much better than practically every defense it faced. And before anybody throws out Joe Burrow and the 2019 LSU offense as a comparison, let's just stop it right there. Yes, Burrow had a great skill position players around him, but no LSU offensive lineman has been drafted before the third round since 2017 and it's not expected to happen this year either.