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The Dolphins in 2020: What Does the Season Hold – The D-Line (Part Two)

By Kevin Hood

Welcome to Party two. We will be Continuing in the trenches, let’s take a look at the Defensive line.

The Dolphins ran a hybrid defensive front last year, running both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts. I expect that trend to continue this year but lean more toward a primarily 3-4 due to the addition of better edge defenders via free agency and late-round draft picks.

The Defensive holdovers on the line are last year’s 1st round pick Christian Wilkins, 2017 5th round over achiever Davon Godchaux, and late-season waiver claim gem Zach Sieler.

With the lack of production from the Dolphins secondary in 2019, it is hard to put much weight in the stat line for our holdovers. I fully expect these numbers to improve with the injection of talent over the offseason in Byron Jones and returning Xavien Howard. At the same time, Bobby McCain gets another offseason to adjust to safety.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Davon Godchaux:  

713 SNAPS, 445 4-3 DT, 162 3-4 NT, 95 3-4 END

64.1 OVR GRADE, 67.5 RUN GRADE, 54.2 PASS RUSH GRADE

2 SCK, 5 QB HITS, 11 HURRIES, 1 BAT, 52 TKL, 15 AST, 9 MISS TKL,

Davon Godchaux, like all Dolphins down linemen, moved around to keep the offense guessing. He played more snaps at the 3-4 NT position than his Dolphins teammates, and I expect that trend to continue. He led all DT in tackles for 2019, and with the addition of Raekwon Davis to the team, I believe the sky’s the limit for his 2020 campaign.

I would hate to predict a lock to start the year, but it would be a crime to bench someone with that kind of production and leadership. That said, The nine missed tackles leave plenty of room for improvement.

Christian Wilkins:

729 SNAPS, 457 4-3 DT, 81 3-4 NT, 141 3-4 END

64.4 OVR GRADE, 66.6 RUN GRADE, 58.6 PASS RUSH GRADE

2 SCK, 2 QB HIT, 26 HURRIES, 1 BAT, 35 TKL, 21 AST, 2 MISS TKL,

29 STOPS

Christian Wilkins also moved around the line. Unlike Godchaux, his limited snaps at NT suggest the Dolphins see him more as a gap penetrator than double team space eater. The selection of Raekwon Davis in round 2 of the draft this year does point to the coaching staff wanting their defensive linemen to be interchangeable, so nothing is definite.

I expect big things from Wilkins this year. The improved secondary and edge defenders should also improve his pass rush; his 26 hurries suggest he is capable of more than two sacks. I expect Wilkins to compete and ultimately win a starting job this season.

Zach Sieler:

79 SNAPS, 74 4-3 DT, 15 3-4 NT, 24 3-4 END

74.7 OVR GRADE, 75.3 RUN GRADE, 69.8 PASS RUSH GRADE

1 SCK, 0 QB HIT, 3 HURRIES, 2 BAT, 5 TKL, 1 AST, 0 MISS TKL, 6 STOPS

As a late waiver claim from Baltimore, Zach Sieler made an impact on the last three games of the season. His best game of the season was against Cincinnati, where he logged his lone sack and two hurries. Also logging some time at NT, he showed he is versatile enough to play in the Dolphins scheme. I expect Sieler to be given every opportunity to earn snaps this year. He should be a rotational player who should give starters a good breather.

Raekwon Davis (2019, Ala.):

83.2 OVERALL GRADE, 87.9 RUN GRADE, 71.2 PASS RUSH GRADE

1 SCK, 4 QB HIT, 21 HURRIES, 0 BAT, 47 TKL, 29 AST, 20 STOPS

Raekwon Davis, Miami’s 2nd round pick from Alabama, is run a stuffer. His three years of elite run grade suggests he will excel in the NFL stopping the run. At 6’6″ 313 LBS, he is a towering figure on any defensive line. That said, don’t be surprised if this coaching staff can get Davis to improve his pass rush, as Davis did log 8.5 sacks his sophomore year at Alabama in 2017. With John Jenkins now a member of the Bears, I believe Davis will be given every chance to cover the 478 snaps John Jenkins logged for the Dolphins in 2019.

Benito Jones (2019, Ole Miss):

68.2 OVER GRADE, 64.1 RUN GRADE, 71.6 PASS

RUSH GRADE, 5 SCK, 4 QB HIT, 19 HURRIES, 0 BAT, 30 TKL, 11 AST,

16 STOPS

Jones was an Undrafted Free Agent in 2020. His five sacks and 16 stops at Ole Miss in 2019 make him an intriguing player to watch this camp. With the right combination of coaching and conditioning, Jones could be a key contributor as a rotational lineman.

Ray Lima (2019, Iowa State):

 .5 SCK, 28 TKL, 19 AST

Lima is another Undrafted lineman for 2020. I expect him to come in to compete for a reserve role or a practice squad spot.

In closing, This year’s defensive line should be much improved. Better backfield play, along with continued growth, should make any Dolphins fan giddy. The growth of Sieler and addition on Jones and Davis will more than cover the loss of John Jenkins. This line can carry the expectation that all Dolphins fans feel in the now Bradyless AFC East.


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One Response to “The Dolphins in 2020: What Does the Season Hold – The D-Line (Part Two)”

  1. Matthew Shishkoff says:

    Great breakdown on the D-Line for Miami. I agree that they will for sure be better compared to last season and have some great talent that are likely to flourish this season. Overall, I think its hard to compare last season with this upcoming season because of the arguable “tanking for Tua”. I just read on this most valuable intel article that maybe Miami didn’t lose games on purpose, but their plan to rebuild and put a less talented team on the field every week worked to perfection and culminated in them landing their franchise guy https://prosportsoutlook.com/most-valuable-intel-from-each-teams-nfl-draft-class/. No matter what fans may think to be true about last season, this season should show some major improvements and prove what the Dolphins are really capable of.

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