The Miami Dolphins defense made a resurgence in 2020. Some of its success was due to better play at LB, and no one player benefited from the improvements we made on defense as our own drafted LB #55 Jerome Baker. Baker had his finest season and has become one of the leaders on this defense. His signature season featured 112 tackles, 7 sacks, 7 TFL, 11 QB hits, 3 passes defensed and 2 forced fumbles. Bringing in FA’s Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and also the big guys like Emmanuel Ogbah, Zach Sieler and Shaq Lawson and the emergence of Andrew Van Ginkel allowed Jerome Baker to be what we had hoped he could be, a playmaking LB who made plays in every facet of the defense. One could easily say if we had one more guy like #55, our defense could be elite, and it’s hard to argue. Although our secondary is the first unit you think of when you think of dominance, I feel like our front 7 aren’t far away. By the end of the season, the rotation of Wilkins, Davis, Seiler, Ogbah, and the LB’s Van Noy, Baker, Lawson, Van Ginkel, Roberts were a very solid group. Before the season finale in which we got stampeded by the Bills offense, this was a legitimate defense. Both Elandon Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill were one year contracts, so we have to add a LB or two either in the draft or free agency.
For the 2021 NFL Draft, there are a few LB’s that could help our team right away. The first one hails from Linebacker University (Penn St) and is the top LB prospect in this draft, Micah Parson. Big, 6’3 245 and rangy, and with excellent speed and can run sideline to sideline and cover running backs and tight ends. He really is a talented LB, one that could eventually transform our defense along with Jerome Baker. While Elandon Roberts was a run game thumper, Parsons could be that and do everything Baker can. If you liked Super Bowl linebackers Lavonte David (6’1 233) and Devin White(6’0 237), we could have that with size with Parsons (6’3 245) and Baker (6’2 230).
Another very good prospect is Tulsa LB Zaven Collins. Where Parsons could play any of the LB spots in our defense, Collins is more than likely going to play outside. Collins is big, bigger even than Parsons at 6’4 260. Collins is better in pass coverage than rushing the passer as he has just average burst. He has good speed, but not elite speed. He does have excellent length and can cover tight ends. He would need to improve his pass rush, as many prospects do. He’s a possible target and should be available at our 2nd pick if we stay at #3 and #18.
If we want to draft a LB much like the aforementioned Super Bowl Bucs LB’s Devin White and Lavonte David, that would be Missouri LB Nick Bolton. Bolton is a little smallish, especially when compared to either Parsons or Collins, but he can play. Bolton is 6’0 232, and is very fast and explosive like the two Bucs linebackers. He has the speed to also run sideline to sideline is a reliable tackler. Where Bolton struggles however, is in coverage. The instincts that serve him well in his run defense haven’t yet been developed in pass coverage. Still, he has the athleticism to become a 3 down backer.
If we’re looking for an OLB/Pass rusher, look no further than Texas’ Joseph Ossai. Ossai is a bona fide pass rushing LB. What’s more is that he is a very high effort guy, plays full out all the time. He has the size (6’4 253) and speed to be a perfect fit as a 3-4 OLB. Ossai was able to increase his statistical totals playing in only 9 games in 2020 as compared to 13 games in 2019. He compiled 55 tackles, 15.5 tackles behind the LOS which is 2 more than the previous season in 4 less games. He also topped his 2019 in sacks with 5.5 over his 5 in 2019, again, in 4 less games, also adding 3 FF’s.
There are many prospects that will be interesting but those are the guys that I feel can make an immediate impact. Another undersized player who can play multiple positions including LB and safety is Jeremiah Owusu. He’s 6’1 215 and has legit speed and explosiveness. Another interesting prospect later on is former Florida Gator and UAB transfer Jordan Smith. Smith got caught up in the alleged credit card scandal in Florida and transferred to UAB. He is raw, but shows potential as a pass rusher with great length 6’7 255. He’s also a good for fit for a 3-4 OLB pass rushing LB. He is definitely a project though, and would be probably be 3rd-4th RD pick. Let me know who you guys like, I know y’all have your favorites.
GO DOLPHINS 2021!!!