football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium trash lock simple-trash simple-pencil eye cart
NFL Draft

3 Defensive Free Agents Dolphins Should Target

  • The Draft Network
  • March 1, 2021
  • Share

The Miami Dolphins were rampant free agent spenders on defense in the 2020 offseason. They outbid the entire market for Byron Jones, poured money into EDGE defenders in Kyle Van Noy (who has been released since this article came out), Emmanuel Ogbah, and Shaq Lawson, and bolstered their linebacker room with Elandon Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill. The mission from defensive-minded head coach Brian Flores was clear: the Dolphins needed to improve on defense.

And they did. The Dolphins were ranked 11th in defensive DVOA and project to be even better this year as young players like Noah Igbinoghene, Raekwon Davis, and Brandon Jones secure bigger roles to kick off this year. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean the job is done. The Dolphins still have substantial cap space with which to work. With $28 million in 2021 cap available, the Dolphins can aggressively finish their linebacker room or add veteran depth to ensure they’re protected from injury—something they largely avoided on defense last year.

Besides one obvious high-priced fit, I went for mid-tier depth targets who can start if necessary.

K.J. Wright, LB, Seattle Seahawks

What a stud K.J. Wright is. After a decade playing off-ball linebacker for the Seahawks, the rising free agent needed to take on an on-ball role after the injury to Bruce Irvin early in the season, and did so with aplomb. Wright now hits free agency after his dominant and impressive year, but the Seahawks don’t have a ton of cap space, they drafted a linebacker in the first round of last year’s draft, and Wright has made it clear he won’t take a discount for Seattle’s sake

Wright is a perfect fit for Miami, and they should throw the bag at him—on a shorter deal, because he will turn 32 this summer, but a bag nonetheless. Wright can return to his off-ball role next to Jerome Baker, bolstering the biggest weakness on the Dolphins’ defensive depth chart—stack linebacker—while also providing the on-ball versatility necessary for outside linebackers in Brian Flores’ defense. Even after leaving Seattle, Wright remains a key piece for a competitor.

Tyus Bowser, EDGE, Baltimore Ravens

Structurally, the Baltimore defense wanted to do many of the same things that the Miami defense wanted to do this past season. Both look to generate pressure by adding players to the line of scrimmage, threatening rushers with different body types from different angles, and playing aggressive man coverage behind it.

As such, the Ravens drafted a tricky positional fit in Tyus Bowser out of Houston in 2017 in the second round. The top-50 pick didn’t have the easiest time finding a role early, but was a majority snap-getter this past season, even in a rotation that added Yannick Ngakoue midseason. Bowser’s best trait is his versatility, as he has outside edge rush skills and comfort dropping into coverage.

That’s exactly what the Dolphins need along the EDGE. They have big, heavy-handed ends for base downs who rush B-gaps on passing downs—Emmanuel Ogbah, Shaq Lawson—and need to add to their outside linebacker room behind Van Noy. Bowser brings that ability to the table, and while he’s due for a decent contract, his low career snap counts may keep his price tag manageable.

Jalen Mills, S, Philadelphia Eagles

The only market I can realistically see the Dolphins in on is that linebacker/EDGE market, to add to their rush packages—I think their safety depth is good enough, and I think they have solid nickel coverage options in Nik Needham, Eric Rowe, and last year’s first-round pick, Igbinoghene. But if they want additional depth at both spots, Jalen Mills is a great option.

Mills has struggled to hold down one job in Philadelphia, moving from outside corner to slot safety last season with some success. I’m not sure Mills will be viewed as a starter on the open market—the Eagles returned him on a one-year, $4M deal in last year’s free agency—but he provides depth pretty much across the board.

When the Dolphins do face spread teams who deploy tons of wideouts, he has the veteran experience to play in nickel and dime packages—ideally as a safety, as he’s better in zone coverages than as a true man cover defender at the line of scrimmage.

Filed In

Related Articles

Written By

The Draft Network