Miami Dolphins’ Davon Godchaux is what Jordan Phillips was supposed to be

Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (56) leaps to tackle Baltimore Ravens running back Terrance West (28) at Hard Rock Stadium. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

MIAMI GARDENS — It says something about Davon Godchaux that the day he came home from basketball practice and found his home riddled with bullets, he still could find a positive.

“I saw that, I said, ‘Man, it’s crazy. God blessed me not to be here,’ ” Godchaux said.

Being home that day would have been the classic case of wrong place, wrong time, which brings us to the right place and the right time of Davon Godchaux’s story.

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Miami is the place, and even though Godchaux is just a rookie on the Dolphins — selected on the last day of the draft — now is the right time.

More and more, it’s looking like Godchaux will win a starting job next to Ndamukong Suh at defensive tackle.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Godchaux was the 178th pick, a fifth-rounder. The player he’s on target to beat out is Jordan Phillips, a second-rounder in 2015.

Their career arcs couldn’t be more opposite. By his own admission, Phillips has run hot and cold, living up to the rap he carried from college.

Godchaux? Reminded of the attention he has received this preseason, including another good performance in Thursday’s 31-7 preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens, he sounded like the anti-Phillips.

“Every day is an evaluation,” Godchaux said. “So the day I don’t work, that’s the day I get benched.”

Meanwhile, Phillips continues his mantra of “ask the coaches” whenever the subject of his performances and lack of significant minutes comes up. It’s as if those things are completely out of his control. As if, after all this time, he still hasn’t figured out the answers himself.

Godchaux? If you’re him, you’re looking at it the way you must. If you’re anyone else, you have to recognize the impact he’s on track to make in Year 1.

Jermon Bushrod, the Dolphins’ veteran guard, said Godchaux’s hands are a load for offensive linemen. In the game of hand-checking that goes on in the trenches, the first guy who gets his hands on the other gains controlling position, Bushrod said. Often, that man is Godchaux.

“And he’s got some mass,” said Bushrod, who at 318 pounds has just a 13-pound advantage against the rookie.

Early in the second quarter, the Ravens got a taste of that mass. They sent Terrance West up the middle on a first-down play. He was met by Godchaux and fellow rookie Charles Harris. And he went backward 2 yards.

“I consider my job stopping the run,” Godchaux said. “We were 31st last year in run defense. We can’t be 31st this year. In order for us to be a great defense, we have to stop the run.”

The Dolphins actually were 30th last year, but might as well let Godchaux go with No. 31. More motivation, even if he doesn’t need it.

Godchaux figured he’d be taken by the third round, maybe to a team like Green Bay, but that’s OK.

“You know, fifth round, everything works out,” he said. “God does everything for a reason. He drafted me in the fifth round to the Miami Dolphins, a great organization. Really care about their players on and off the field, day in and day out. So I’m happy to be a Miami Dolphin.”

Happy to be healthy, he might have added, since that dark day growing up in Louisiana when perpetrators drove by his house and sprayed it with bullets while aiming for one of his brothers.

“I was pretty upset because I got home and I saw caution tape around my house,” he said. “That’s not a good feeling, seeing your house with caution tape and you can’t even go in there. It was like one of the worst feelings.”

That is, until he took a moment to realize how things could have turned out.

The fifth round wasn’t a good feeling, but that turned out, too.

“Now I have a great opportunity to show it on this level,” he said.

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Five instant takeaways: Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens

Jay Cutler made his Dolphins debut tonight. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

MIAMI GARDENS—The ugly preseason didn’t get much better for the Dolphins in Thursday night’s 31-7 loss to Baltimore.

The upside for Miami is there are no significant injuries to report and it was important for the team to finally get Jay Cutler on the field for full-speed action. Other than that, it was a dull evening for the Dolphins’ starters.

[RELATED: Photos from Dolphins-Ravens preseason game]

Here are five instant takeaways from the game:

1. The most important part of Cutler’s night: showing awareness.
Cutler wasn’t particularly good or bad in his two series, and it didn’t help that the makeshift offensive line struggled to protect him. However, he did well under the circumstances. His most impressive play of the night came when the pocket was collapsing and he stepped up and fired a 31-yarder to DeVante Parker down the right sideline (it was called back because of a holding penalty). Cutler finished 3 of 6 for 24 yards.

“He had a couple really nice moves in the pocket, pushing up and making a couple guys miss,” coach Adam Gase said. “We had penalties on the (Parker) play, so it was negated; but he felt good.”

2. Evidence continues to mount in favor of Parker having a breakout year.
Miami’s still waiting for Parker to live up to being the No. 14 overall pick in 2015, and in Year 3 it looks like that time has arrived. Not only has he been very good throughout training camp and the preseason, including the nullified 31-yarder and a 16-yard catch against the Ravens, but he’s stayed healthy. Parker has been on the field every day thus far and there’s never even been a whisper of an injury with him. People have often said that’s the only thing holding him back, and it’s not anymore.

3. The Dolphins’ offensive line is terrifying
Miami’s adjusted starting five on the o-line—factoring in Ted Larsen’s extended absence—might not take the field together prior to opening day. Jake Brendel, who probably will end up as the third-string center, started against Baltimore in place of Mike Pouncey, Sam Young filled in for injured right tackle Ja’Wuan James and Jesse Davis worked at left guard. Young committed two holds, Jay Ajayi had one carry for minus-two yards and the offense managed 61 yards on 20 plays in the first quarter.

4. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips remains on the wrong track.
The Dolphins’ handling of Phillips this preseason has gone past the point of merely trying to motivate him. After two underwhelming seasons, Phillips called himself out as inconsistent this offseason and vowed to change, but it’s the same story. The Dolphins feel that way, too, evidenced by leaving him in with camp invitees into the fourth quarter. Fifth-round pick Davon Godchaux started ahead of him for the second straight game and is playing well enough to keep the job. He had two tackles and got good push on the line in the first half.

5. The main goal at this point is to escape healthy.
Every practice or game that doesn’t result in a major Dolphins injury is a victory at this point. Consider tonight a win in that regard. Ajayi took a big hit, Cutler got one as well, new starting middle linebacker Mike Hull played into the second quarter, and all of them survived intact. Miami was wise to get its starters out before the field deteriorated, too.

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Young Miami Dolphins defenders quickly earning Ndamukong Suh’s respect

Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (56) fights off blockers during pre-season game at Hard Rock Stadium. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Raekwon McMillan is out but the season still is on. So when Ndamukong Suh looks around the meeting room, he looks for players who can help the Dolphins’ defense be far better than it was last year.

And a few young players are earning his respect.

Start with defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, the fifth-round pick out of LSU who has had a strong camp.

[RELATED: What Adam Gase said after Sunday’s practice]

“We’ve been in constant communication,” Suh said. “He’s just a willing learner, which is what I love most about him.” Suh said whenever Godchaux is taught something, “He just soaks it up.”

Godchaux appears to have zipped past third-year enigma Jordan Phillips, who has worked with Suh the past two offseasons.

“He’s a kid who’s very aggressive, gets off the ball,” Suh said of Godchaux. “He’s what our defense is primarily is built around, getting off the ball, being attack-style. I think he started to do a good job of that.”

First-round pick Charles Harris, a defensive end, also has been a focal point of camp, drawing positive reviews for his burst off the ball.

“The special thing about this league is being able to finish,” Suh said. “You see the great pass rushers, those guys have that instantaneous step to get to the quarterback and get him back. It’s not about getting close to him and getting him out of the pocket. It’s about getting him down and I think Charles has that. I think over time it’ll become easier and faster.”

Godchaux and Harris are rookies. Linebacker Mike Hull isn’t. He’s entering his third season but potentially his first in a starting role with McMillan having injured his knee.

And Suh is bullish on Hull.

“Mike Hull is a great talent, obviously somebody who’s underrated but in my opinion plays a very, very high level, knows what he needs to get done, is going to play a hundred miles an hour, if not more,” Suh said. “Somebody that I respect and I expect a lot out of him coming into this year, especially after what he did last year.”

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Miami Dolphins: Davon Godchaux’s first NFL start a success

Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (56) fights off blockers during pre-season game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on August 10, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

MIAMI GARDENS — Davon Godchaux is 22 years old and a fifth-round draft pick and at some point in the near future it will be possible to mention Godchaux without reference to his age or draft status.

Because Godchaux, the Miami Dolphins rookie, is exhibiting more talent and maturity than expected.

“I want to be somebody they can trust at the end of the day,” Godchaux said of his teammates and coaches, after he made an effective NFL debut in a preseason defeat of Atlanta Thursday night.

And with that, Godchaux showed he is ahead of the curve.

Godchaux started ahead of former second-rounder Jordan Phillips because coaches like what he’s shown in practice. Effort. Aggressiveness. Consistency.

“I was in a violent place today,” Godchaux said. “I was being very disruptive. I want to be a good run-stopper. Be disruptive. Feed off guys like (Ndamukong) Suh. You know you’ve got guys like (Andre) Branch and (Cam) Wake to get the sacks, but I want to do all the dirty work.”

Godchaux, whose name is pronounced Duh-VAHN GOD-chaw, seems to say and do the right things.

He’s also shown that he has excellent strength. He can push interior offensive linemen back and really, that’s the most important thing he can do in the eyes of his coaches.

Godchaux said to an extent his first game was a blur.

After the game, he was asked if the rookies had finally been allowed to wear Dolphins stickers on their helmets in practice.

“I don’t even know,” Godchaux said. “I’m so into the game I don’t even know. I think they were on there tonight. I’m all into the game. I don’t even know. You’ve got to earn that Dolphin.”

Yes, Godchaux’s helmet featured a logo on Thursday night.

Godchaux said if he makes a mistake, he wants it to be at full speed.

Godchaux said the maligned Phillips has actually been helping him and “being a great teammate.”

Godchaux said he shouldn’t have been a fifth-rounder, but he’s over it.

The Dolphins may have found a gem on draft day, it seems.

Godchaux has been providing consistent effort. He plays with power and confidence and he seems to be fitting in well on a very experienced, veteran defensive line.

“I got a guy like Suh depending on me, Cam Wake depending on me, Branch is depending on me to set the edge in the three technique,” Godchaux said. “So I’ve got to do my job. I can’t let those guys down because those guys have been in the league several years and are trying to get a Super Bowl.”

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2017 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins sign DT Davon Godchaux

Davon Godchaux (57) signed his rookie contract today. (Getty Images)

Another formality is out of the way for the Dolphins after signing draft pick Davon Godchaux to his rookie deal today. They now have six of their seven draftees under contract.

Godchaux, a fifth-round defensive tackle, is expected to compete with fellow rookie Vincent Taylor and third-year player Jordan Phillips for a starting job this offseason.

The only draft pick unsigned at this point is first rounder Charles Harris, who said he’s not concerned about practicing without a contract. Rookie deals are automatically slotted within a predetermined range, so his deal should be done soon.

Raekwon McMillan, Cordrea Tankersley, Isaac Asiata, Vincent and Isaiah Ford signed their contracts the week after being drafted.

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NFL.com point system ranks Miami Dolphins’ draft 10th in league

Some believe Davon Godchaux was a steal in the fifth round. (Getty Images)

It’s hard to land top talent in the NFL Draft without many high picks, but NFL.com’s ratings suggest that the Dolphins pulled it off.

Using its ranking of the best college players available, the site gave a point value to each of the top 150 prospects. Miami got 402 points, landing 10th in the league. Here are the top 10:
Continue reading “NFL.com point system ranks Miami Dolphins’ draft 10th in league”

2017 NFL Draft: Dolphins comfortable with Davon Godchaux’s character

Davon Godchaux (57) was one of the top talents in the country, but there was a major off-field red flag. (Getty Images)

DAVIE—None of the Dolphins’ 2017 NFL Draft picks came with a bigger off-field red flag than fifth-round pick Davon Godchaux.

Godchaux, a defensive tackle from LSU, was briefly kicked off the team in September after being arrested on charges of domestic abuse battery with child endangerment and false imprisonment. His girlfriend, the alleged victim, was also arrested.
Continue reading “2017 NFL Draft: Dolphins comfortable with Davon Godchaux’s character”