Miami Dolphins outside linebacker position review

Miami Dolphins Jaelan Phillips (15) prepares for practice drills at Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

Miami Dolphins Jaelan Phillips (15) prepares for practice drills at Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

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One of the Dolphins’ top draft picks in 2021 had one of the best seasons for a rookie passing thrower in franchise history. Now the team is hoping for a big leap forward in Season 2, along with continued contributions from an underrated veteran. In the eighth in a series of positional reviews, the Miami Herald examines the situation of the team’s outside linebacker. Then it’s the cornerbacks.

2021 IN REVIEW

The Dolphins decided to leave Kyle Van Noy after one season, leaving a void in pass production and veteran leadership. The team made sure to fill the need by drafting Jaelan Phillips with the No. 18 pick overall. Phillips had a slow start to his rookie season, but picked up his pace as the season progressed. Meanwhile, Andrew Van Ginkel was a key cog in the defense, setting career numbers in tackles and quarterback hits.

DEPTH CHART

André Van Ginkel

Skinny: Van Ginkel didn’t match his 5.5 sack season in 2020 — he had four in 2021 — but was a more productive passing thrower. His 20 quarterback hits were a career high and doubled his total from 2020.

Contract: Van Ginkel, 26, is entering the final year of a four-year rookie contract. It has a cap hit of $2,617,991.

Jaelan Phillips

Skinny: Phillips was one of the best rookie passing throwers in the league. His 8.5 sacks set a Dolphins rookie record and his 16 quarterback hits ranked third on the team.

Contract: Phillips, 22, is entering the second year of a five-year rookie contract, with a team option for the fifth season. It has a cap hit of $3,185,956.

Brennan Scarlett

Skinny: In his first season with the team, Scarlett played 13 games with four starts – he missed four games on the injured list with a knee injury. He recorded 19 tackles and one pass deflection.

Contract: Scarlett, 28, is headed for unrestricted free will.

Darius Hodge

Skinny: The Dolphins demanded waivers from Hodge midway through the season. Hodge did not appear in any games and was suspended for two games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Contract: Hodge, 23, is entering the second year of a three-year contract. He has an $825,000 cap, but the Dolphins can get him back with no dead money if they cut or trade Hodge.

OFF-SEASON MATTERS

1. What does Phillips’ encore performance look like?

Phillips had a year that put his name to Dolphins great Jason Taylor, but Phillips acknowledges he has a long way to go to be considered one of the best point guards in the league. The first step towards could be to improve something that has nothing to do with his passing arsenal. His snap count often dropped when the Dolphins faced good running teams and he ranked 99th among 107 leading rushers in running defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Phillps said his goal for next season is to “solidify myself as a reliable person on the first downs.”

2. Is a new contract in preparation for Van Ginkel?

Van Ginkel has been an unsung but valuable part of the Dolphins defense that has been one of the best units in the league for the past two seasons. He is reliable in run defense and gives good production as a pass thrower despite not racking up showy sack numbers. Van Ginkel is eligible for a contract extension, and while there are more pressing concerns for the team facing this offseason, it wouldn’t hurt to lock in a player who has been a good contributor over the past few years. last two seasons.

3. What impact does new position coach Tyrone McKenzie have?

McKenzie replaces Rob Leonard as the Dolphins’ new outside linebackers coach after stints with the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans. Over the years he has been recognized for having a very practical approach with his teaching methods; a video on social media has surfaced of his players attacking him in drills to replicate a game situation. Rounding up his staff, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel emphasized coaches who are good communicators , and McKenzie aligns with that. His work with Phillips as he enters his second season will be one to watch.

POTENTIAL ADDITIONS

The Dolphins have a very good tandem of bookend linebackers, especially if Phillips can improve his run defense. However, adding another capable pass thrower would fill out the team’s depth, especially if the team loses Emmanuel Ogbah in free agency. The Dolphins moved Phillips as a passing thrower, and he has the ability to rush from a three-point position (one hand on the ground), as well as stand up.

Veterans such as Justin Houston and Melvin Ingram won’t demand huge free agency contracts, but could contribute as quality passers in a rotation. In the draft, the Dolphins likely won’t be looking for an outside linebacker/defensive player until Day 2 at the earliest unless they need to replace Ogbah. If so, Minnesota’s Boye Mafe had a strong showing in the Senior Bowl and is a 29th overall option.

DOLPHIN POSITION ADVISORY

ILB: A new inside linebacker running mate for Jérôme Baker?

DL: Big decisions to be made regarding the best defensive linemen?

TE: Will Miami be able to keep their free agent tight ends?

OL: Will Miami splurge on the offensive line in free agency?

WR: Which wide receiver will complement Jaylen Waddle in 2022?

RB: Will Miami finally use a high draft pick on a running back?

QB: The dolphins appear all-in on Tagovailoa but who joins the QB room?

Daniel Oyefusi covers the Dolphins for the Miami Herald. A native of Towson, Maryland, he graduated from the University of Maryland: College Park. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.

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