Who Will Make That 2nd Year Leap?

Miami’s 2020 Miami Dolphins Draft Class:

Last year’s rookie class had mixed reviews, some players had a decent rookie season while others struggled but as is always the case the 2nd year players are more comfortable with being in the NFL and now instead of maybe thinking too much they can settle down and just play.

So, let’s look at the 2020 Miami Dolphins draft class and project what they will/can do in their 2nd year.

Tua Tagovailoa

Tua did not have a bad rookie season at least not as bad as many have made it out to be because he did go 6-3 as the starter and his numbers as a rookie was a little above average. What made his season look so bad was the play of the other two QB taken early in the 2020 NFL draft (Joe Burrrow & Justin Herbert) It was most likely the year that Herbert had that has made Tua’s rookie season look below average. Tua threw for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and 5 INT’s (3 in the last game at Buffalo)

Herbert was drafted just after Tua by the Chargers and due to some very strange circumstances he was thrusted into the starting lineup and he took off and ended up winning rookie of the year honors.

Tua had what I call a pedestrian season but there are signs that point to him having a significant jump in his 2nd season.

Better Talent

Miami have done a great job of adding better talent around Tua and the biggest aid was just adding more speed at the WR position which will allow Tua to not have to throw to many of those 50/50 balls that are risky but was something former starter Ryan Fitzpatrick was exceptionally good at.

The addition of Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle will change the dynamics and defenses will have to account for that speed and at the same time that can open up things for Gesicki, Parker & the other receivers on the roster as well as the run game for Miami.

Last year Tua was hampered with players that were injured and not 100% and a young O-Line that had 3 rookies play significant roles and learn on the fly. The O-line has also been upgraded and now they will be better prepared to improve in their pass pro and run blocking.

Tua’s best game of the year was in the Week 8 road victory against the Arizona Cardinals, where he had a 71.4 completion percentage while throwing for 248 yards and two TD’s, and he moved in the pocket very well. That game convinced me he can play in this league and if he has all his weapons healthy and now that the playbook will be tailored towards him and not Fitzpatrick, I expect big things from Tua as he does not have a lot of time to take that next step up.

All signs point to Tua having a huge jump in his second year as Miami unquestioned starting QB.

Chances: Very Good

Austin Jackson

Austin Jackson was the first of the three Rookie Lineman Miami drafted and played in 2020 and he did well for himself, he only allowed 4 sacks as a rookie and did a good job overall, one can only expect him to improve and really hone in on his craft and become a staple at the LT position for Miami even though Tua is a lefty, and it is the right side that should be of greater concern.

Jackson is a better run blocker than pass pro, but he did improve in his pass protection as the year went along. He only allowed one sack from week 12 on and he was only called once for holding in 2020, he has tremendous discipline.

On the not-so-good side, Jackson allowed 40 quarterback hurries in his 847 snaps played. That put him in the bottom 10 in the NFL. Jackson also missed some time due to Covid-19 and a foot injury so with all that in mind he did a very good job in his rookie season and I can see him taking that next step up and become one of the better young OT in the league being just 21 years old.

Chances: Extremely High

Noah Igbinoghene

Noah by far had the most disappointing rookie season as the last of the three first round picks in the 2020 draft and it all started when Byron Jones went down early in the Buffalo game and Miami for whatever reason put this young 20 year old Rookie in a covid riddled season on the Bills pro bowl WR Stephon Diggs and it did not go well at all.

After that embarrassment they basically shut him down and did not play him much until the end of the season. He sat behind two of the best CBs in the game and the highest paid duo in the league and once again I say it is that draft philosophy of GM Chris Grier that I do not 100% agree with that is behind this kids’ poor rookie season because Miami should have drafted a RB last year at 30 as that was and STILL IS a position of need as that is the weakest link on the offense!

Now that we have Noah, I have high hopes that his redshirt rookie season will pay of and he just might turn things around in 2021 as it can’t get any worse, can it?

This kid was the youngest player in the NFL last year and through growing pains last year he will mature, he is in the best hands as Brian Flores is particularly good at developing defensive players especially CB’s and Safeties so look for Noah to have a very good 2nd season and just might be the biggest surprise of the 2021 season maybe allowing the Dolphins before the trade deadline to possibly move X???

Chances: Very Good

Robert Hunt
  • Round2· Pick 39 Robert Hunt T Louisiana-Lafayette (6′ 5″, 322 pounds)

Robert Hunt is a strong, nasty, mean player and he perfect for the Guard position, he too got his feet wet his rookie season and did an admirable job holding his own. He played as well as one can expect and was able to start Hunt played 68 percent of the offensive snaps and the one thing, he needs to work on is penalties as he had some costly penalties during some games. He only allowed 3 sacks last year and graded out very well.

He can play RT but is better suited for RG and hopefully he can man that position for years to come the only thing to keep in mind is he was 24 years old as a rookie and will be 25 when the season starts.

Chances: Extremely High

Raekwon Davis
  • Round2· Pick 56 Raekwon Davis DT Alabama (6′ 6″, 311 pounds)

He may have had the best season of all the rookies in his class as he developed throughout the season, he proved to be a dominant force. Raekwon Davis did his job better than any rookie defender against the run, as he was the highest-graded rookie defender against the run with a rating of 66.8 (PFF) he was the 4th highest rated defensive rookie of the 2020 season by PFF:


Davis’ clear strength coming out of Alabama was his ability to impact the run game, and he finished the 2020 regular season as the highest-graded rookie interior defender against the run (66.8).

That result carries additional weight, given that Davis spent more time at the nose tackle position in his first year with Miami than he ever did at Alabama. The only player to line up directly over the center as a 0-technique more than Davis did (216 snaps) this season was Poona Ford.

Davis was able to take advantage of several of those matchups against centers as a pass-rusher, as well. He and Christian Wilkins give the Dolphins a pair of young, highly-drafted pieces along the defensive line for Brian Flores to work with moving forward.

Davis is a man-child he is HUGE at 6′-7″ 312LBS he is hard to move and him and Wilkins should finally provide that run stuffing ability needed to shut down our opponents run game and just think he was a rookie last year!

Chances: Excellent

Brandon Jones
  • Round3·Pick 70 Brandon Jones S Texas (5′ 11″, 198 pounds)

Brandon Jones did not disappoint in his rookie season as he was able to fit nicely into Miami defensive scheme even though he did not get as much playing time due to Bobby Jones being the starter and captain of the defense, but with Bobby Jones now gone that will allow for Brandon Jones and newly drafted safety Jevon Holland to get their share playing on defense.

Despite limited time on the field last year Brandon had 62 tackles and a forced fumble and was a play maker whenever he played and expect for him to play more than 37% of the snaps this year as he has been given the green light to get more playing time on the field.

I see the Safety position better manned this year and Brandon will be one of the guys who will step up and deliver.

Chances: Excellent

Solomon Kindley

Kindley was the last of the O-Linemen drafted last year and just like his counterparts he too did not disappoint and contributed to the line play in 2020 making it 3 rookies that cut their teeth and delivered last year in a season that was not even a normal year due to covid. Just like Jackson and Hunt, Kindley played above expectations as these young men pushed each other and did a vey good job last year.

Keeping in mind they were all rookies in a shorten season with no preseason or training camp to speak of. So just imagine what the potential is for a bigger leap in 2021. All three did a good job as rookies and it is only natural to believe with a full offseason and training camp as well as preseason games these young linemen can have a significant leap this upcoming season.

Kindley allowed only 4 sacks and had 5 penalties last season in 748 snaps! That is like both Hunt and Jackson, their overall consistency and development can only lead to one conclusion, if they can remain healthy these three young linemen will form one of the better young offensive lines in the NFL and that bodes well for the rest of the offense.

Chances: Excellent

Jason Strowbridge

Some question Miami playing Strowbridge as a LB because they feel his is a better edge rusher so his poor showing as a rookie might be because he was not utilized like he should have been. I will not question Brian Flores and DC Josh Boyer as I am sure they know what is best for the team so if they can get more out of Strowbridge as an Edge rusher I am sure they will make that adjustment.

He did not have much production at his position last year so we shall see how they employ him in 2021.

Chances: Unknown

Blake Ferguson

Some questioned taking a long snapper with a 6th round pick as many teams would not do that but that is why Miami’s GM Chris Grier is a trailblazer and changing the way many are looking at the draft and why we Dolphins fans can be glad he is on our team.

After the retirement of long-time snapper John Denney Miami took Blake Ferguson and he has been nothing short of amazing and is one of the reasons Miami’s special teams are truly that special, hopefully he will have a long career snapping the ball in Miami.

Chances: Excellent

Malcolm Perry
  • Round7· Pick 246 Malcolm Perry WR Navy (5′ 9″, 186 pounds)

Malcolm Perry is a swiss army knife kind of player who can be used in so many ways and it is up to Miami’s coordinators to find a way to take advantage of his skills, he can run wildcat he was also a QB and he is listed as a WR but he too possess the quickness and speed to make a difference and now that we have moved on for Gailey and Fitzmagic it’s up the our TWO OC’s to find ways to take advantage of not just Parry but all the weapons they have at their disposal. Perry can be a weapon in the right situations!

Chances: Unknown/ Up to the Dolphins!

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