How Ryan Tannehill has already dazzled these new Dolphins

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill at OTA’s. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Josh Sitton played eight seasons with Aaron Rodgers, so he knows what good quarterback play looks like.

Sitton, the Pro Bowl guard in his first season with the Dolphins, is already impressed by Ryan Tannehill. In particular, Sitton said he’s been taken back by how accurately Tannehill throws on the move.

“I’ve seen him make a few throws, especially on the run,” Sitton said Wednesday. “He rolled out (Wednesday) after a play-action and threw a dime piece running to the left. I was like, ‘Damn, that was pretty impressive.’”

Tannehill completed a career-best 67.1 percent of his passes in his first season under Adam Gase, 2016. Sitton has also been impressed by Tannehill’s leadership style and demeanor.

“He seems like a great leader,” Sitton said. “He always takes command of the huddle. He takes command of the meetings, so from that aspect, everything has been positive.”

Tannehill and his new center, Daniel Kilgore, have quickly forged a personal relationship, as have their wives. Kilgore snapped to a rising star in Jimmy Garoppolo last season and he likes what he’s seen so far from Tannehill.

“He’s a leader, obviously, in and out of the huddle,” Kilgore said. “His ability to move in the pocket and throw the deep ball, it’s been great. (His) knowledge of the game is what you would want of a starting quarterback, and getting to know him and his wife and their little boy off the field has been great as well. Nothing but first class with Ryan Tannehill.”

Receiver Albert Wilson likes that Tannehill throws a catchable ball.

“I love his ball,” Wilson said. “He’s definitely good with the timing. He puts it to where you can make a play on the ball. It’s a great thing.”

But perhaps even more importantly, Wilson senses a great mindset from Tannehill, who is returning from a season-ending knee injury.

“I think he’s in the right place, especially after what happened to him this past season,” Wilson said. “I feel like he’s trusting himself, trusting all of the hard work he put in in the offseason, and I think he’s going to pick up where he left off.”

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Ranking every Miami Dolphins offseason addition, 1-25

Defensive end Robert Quinn of the Los Angeles Rams lunges at quarterback Carson Palmer in a game at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images).

Since last season ended, the Miami Dolphins have acquired at least 14 players through free agency, 3 players via trade and 8 players in the draft.

The Dolphins finished 6-10 last season and dumped Pro Bowlers Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and Mike Pouncey.

So the Dolphins need many of these players to come through, and quickly.

Taking into consideration price, value and skill, here is my ranking of Miami’s offseason acquisitions. Keep in mind, this is not a ranking of these players from best-to-worst, but a ranking of the value and quality of the acquisition.

  1. (TRADE) DE Robert Quinn from L.A. Rams for fourth round pick. He’s 27 years old with reasonable two years left on contract.
  2. (SIGNED) G Josh Sitton. Miami adds PFF’s #5 ranked guard, addressing a long-standing need.
  3. (DRAFTED) S Minkah Fitzpatrick. Not a glaring need, but one of the NFL’s best first-round draft values.
  4. (SIGNED) RB Frank Gore. Ranked even with Kenyan Drake in ’17 by PFF, a well-priced mentor for the youngster.
  5. (TRADE) DT Akeem Spence. For a seventh rounder, a reasonably-priced veteran ranked higher than Miami’s returning DT’s by PFF.
  6. (TRADE) C Daniel Kilgore. This is tough because it resulted in Mike Pouncey’s cut. But acquired for mere seventh round slide.
  7. (DRAFTED) TE Mike Gesicki. This feels like a home run or a strike out. But Miami needed an athletic dynamo at the position.
  8. (SIGNED) DL William Hayes. If healthy, an important under-the-radar signing.
  9. (SIGNED) WR Danny Amendola. They’re paying him for one year about what NE paid for three; but he should help.
  10. (SIGNED) WR Albert Wilson. This is a projection/upside signing, but we trust Adam Gase’s WR evaluation.
  11. (DRAFTED) RB Kalen Ballage. The Daily Dolphin heavily endorses this choice, made with Jay Ajayi pick.
  12. (SIGNED) OT Sam Young. Proved highly capable in reserve role last season.
  13. (SIGNED) DB Walt Aikens. With Michael Thomas moving on, securing special teams ace Aikens was important.
  14. (DRAFTED) LB Jerome Baker. In a specialized coverage role, has athleticism to contribute.
  15. (DRAFTED) TE Durham Smythe. If he emulates Anthony Fasano’s strengths, good pick.
  16. (SIGNED) LB Terence Garvin. Can be a valuable cog on special teams.
  17. (SIGNED) LS John Denney. More John Denney is like more Cowbell. It rocks.
  18. (SIGNED) QB David Fales. Adam Gase wanted him back. And he may be Miami’s backup.
  19. (SIGNED) OT Roubbens Joseph. Worthwhile flier on a behemoth.
  20. (SIGNED) TE Gavin Escobar. Worthwhile flier on a former second rounder.
  21. (DRAFTED) LB Quentin Poling. Potential special teamer and reserve.
  22. (DRAFTED) DB Cornell Armstrong. Says he tries to play like Brent Grimes.
  23. (SIGNED) QB Bryce Petty. Worth a look in training camp.
  24. (DRAFTED) K Jason Sanders. If Darren Rizzi says he can kick, I think he can kick.
  25. (SIGNED) QB Brock Osweiler. We’ll see.

 

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Miami Dolphins: Why Cordrea Tankersley plans to play Sunday

Miami Dolphins rookie cornerback Cordrea Tankersley has potential. (Andres Leiva/The Post)

DAVIE — It was nearly a month ago that Miami Dolphins rookie Cordrea Tankersley injured two body parts on back-to-back plays.

“The first play my shoulder and my arm went completely gone,” Tankersley said this week. “I had a bruised rotator cuff. I tried to stick it out. I go back in and the next play, I go in for the tackle and get rolled up by C.J. Anderson, who is a pretty big dude. That was it from there. I still tried to go and took some x-rays. But it was very painful.”

Tankersley, who had started 10 consecutive games at cornerback after the release of Byron Maxwell, has missed the last three, mostly due to the ankle injury.

“It was a major high sprain,” Tankersley said. “It was very serious.”

This week, Tankersley is not listed on Miami’s injury report. But even when he was injured, Tankersley kept trying to test his ankle in limited practice participation.

“That’s just my mentality,” Tankersley said. “If it ain’t broke. I just want to go out and help my teammates however I can. We were fighting for the playoffs. I wanted to be a part of that. Sitting on the sidelines, you really can’t help from there. It was too bad. I had to rest. But I’m going to try to get better for this week and rest in the offseason.”

Which brings us to Sunday’s season finale against the Bills at Hard Rock Stadium. It would seem to make some sense to shut it down and focus on next season. But Tankersley is determined to finish his first NFL season on the field.

“I probably will (play),” Tankersley said. “That’s just my mindset. I’ve been wanting to play since the Broncos game, but my legs just won’t let me. I’m able to walk, run and go almost full speed. So I feel like I can play this weekend.”

Tankersley slightly exceeded expectations as a third-round pick out of Clemson. He does not lack confidence or a willingness to tackle and play a physical style. But there are things he’d like to work on.

“Just learning leverage,” he said. “That’s really the only thing I need to learn. Knowing leverage and understanding where my help is. Instead of just being all in on certain things.”

The Dolphins have a youthful, promising group of cornerbacks. Tankersley, Xavien Howard and Bobby McCain are all 24 and Tony Lippett is 25.

“We have to put the work in each and every day,” Tankersley said. “We have a chance to be a complete secondary next year. A lot of growth and maturity is going to be added.”

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The Tape Don’t Lie: Miami Dolphins vs. Denver Broncos, a review

Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian is chased out of the pocket by Cameron Wake at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

A resounding, dominating, complete 35-9 victory. It felt so good to be a Miami Dolphin, for this past Sunday, anyway.

Kenyan Drake, Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh, Cam Wake, Xavien Howard, Matt Haack — offense, defense, special teams — they all took turns. They all shined. A total team victory.

So, it came against the hapless Denver Broncos. They all count. And it gave Miami a week to feel good before the Patriots come again.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase says, “The Tape Don’t Lie.” Each week I give the game tape a closer look. Here are some things I noticed:

  1. Kenyan Drake has been an upgrade over Jay Ajayi. This is not a knock on all Ajayi did for the Dolphins last season, when his powerful running style sparked Miami’s turnaround and run to the playoffs. But Ajayi did not look as good this season as he did last season, when he was a Pro Bowler. Many shuddered at the Dolphins giving up Ajayi for just a fourth-round pick. But part of the decision was to clear the way for Drake, a more dynamic, explosive, shifty, big-play threat. Drake is faster, a better receiver, has superior vision and is stronger than the typical slashing back. On 138 carries early in the season, Ajayi averaged 3.4 yards per carry. On 65 carries this season, Drake is averaging 4.9, which would be tied for seventh in the NFL if he had enough carries. If he keeps toting it 20 times a game, Drake may qualify by season’s end. The last five games of this season are in large part about discovering if Drake can be a lead back, and on Sunday, he took a step toward that, flashing even when long runs were called back on holding calls. In the first quarter, a holding call on Mike Pouncey negated a 17-yard run. Although it didn’t count, it was an excellent example of how Drake is stronger than advertised. He may not be a bull like Ajayi, but he can break tackles. Drake was all but dropped for a two-yard loss. But he kept his balance, touched one hand to the ground and kept the play alive. A defender had his hand around Drake’s ankle, but Drake escapes and darted toward the left sideline, with great acceleration and burst. In the third quarter, Drake navigated through the middle for a key 42-yard gain. On the play, Drake showed off his ability to hop around in small spaces, to make defenders miss, to find seams and creases with vision and a feel for his surroundings. Those qualities are as valuable if not more than his blazing straight-ahead speed. And Drake is no one-trick pony. Not only did he go for 42, he also had runs of: 11, 9, 8, 8, 7, 7, 6, 5 and 5 on Sunday. That’s the type of consistency Miami craves. Even when it’s not blocked up perfectly, Drake can turn a profit.

    Kenyan Drake looks down here. But he’s not. Tough enough? Yeah. Tough enough.
  2. Xavien Howard and Miami’s secondary was outstanding. The Dolphins were facing Trevor Siemian, and no, John Elway wasn’t walking out of that Hard Rock Stadium visitors locker door. But Howard locked down Demaryius Thomas. Howard broke up five passes which is pretty much how many he’s broken up as a Dolphin. OK, so that’s an exaggeration. But this is the Howard Miami saw in the spring and summer. This is the Howard Miami thought could emerge as a number one corner, or, at worst, a very high number two corner.  Not only did Howard have two interceptions, including a pick 6, but he aggressively broke up several other passes toward Thomas. On one memorable play in the second quarter, Howard showed off his innate instincts and the capability to close quickly, breaking up a 3rd-and-5 in Miami’s red zone (see below). Bobby McCain deserves kudos here, as well. What a job McCain has done all season, after there were some questions entering the season about if his starting status was in jeopardy. McCain played as well as any slot corner in the NFL on Sunday. T.J. McDonald picked up an interception and is gaining traction with more games played. Miami’s secondary bounced back in fine fashion after a terrible game against the Patriots last week. There is a wonderful opportunity for redemption on Monday night, against the Patriots. Oh, boy. This game is on national TV? Miami hasn’t done so well on national TV. But, hey, at least Gronk isn’t playing!

    Xavien Howard did everything right Sunday. Tight coverage. Aggressive. Forced turnovers.
  3. Sign Jarvis Landry. Sign Jarvis Landry. Sign Jarvis Landry. Last year we banged the bongos for a Reshad Jones extension, and it came, and it was warranted. This season has shown, more than ever, that Landry cannot be allowed to get away. While DeVante Parker has disappointed in his lack of ability to attack the ball, that’s exactly what Landry does. It’s what he’s always done. The ball is his. He plays without fear. He turns into a running back after the catch. He makes the extra yards. He knows how to reach the first-down marker. As outlined in a post-game column on Sunday, pay Landry. Pay him about $13 million a season, which is about what Alshon Jeffery and T.Y. Hilton make, and sort it out. Make it work. Keep Landry in place because he represents everything you want Adam Gase’s Dolphins to be. Landry really compliments speedster Kenny Stills well. And we can all look forward to 2018, when Ryan Tannehill triumphantly returns to target Stills and Landry (we think) once again. Landry breaks tackles (see below). Landry may not be Julio Jones, A.J. Green or Dez Bryant, but he’s a irreplaceable player who brings a championship mentality. He is a competitor who produces and who brings the type of energy, passion and emotion that endears him to most every Dolphins fan, as well as his coaches and teammates.

    See that first-down marker? Yeah, Jarvis Landry does, too. See that DB? Move, Bronc, Get out the way.
  4. Miami’s special teams was dominant. Terrence Fede blocked a punt. Chase Allen forced a fumble after a punt that resulted in a safety. Cody Parkey made a field goal and four extra points. And punter Matt Haack set a team record with seven punts placed into the Broncos’ 20-yard line. Haack is second in the AFC with 26 punts inside the opponents’ 20. Haack punted nine times and allowed a total of -3 return yards. That’s incredible. Parkey had four kickoffs result in touchbacks and one returned only to the 15. No kicker has forced opponents to start in worse field position after kickoffs than Parkey. Even punt returner Jakeem Grant did a nice job, returning punts (15.3 average, including a 27-yarder) and kickoffs (18.5 average) with a ton of confidence. What a day for special teams coach Darren Rizzi and his unit. Oh, and one more point on Haack. He’s no longer a rookie. It went mostly unnoticed, but with about three minutes left in the game, John Denney uncharacteristically skipped a snap to Haack, who calmly picked it up, stepped left and booted the ball 52 yards with his left foot. No longer a rookie. Not a rookie move at all. A veteran move. A very nice play.

    Terrence Fede blocks this punt. Miami’s special teams came through Sunday.
  5. EXTRA POINTS. The Dolphins used two- and three-tight end formations with some success. Adam Gase rolled out a Jumbo package, with Sam Young, Zach Sterup, Anthony Fasano and MarQuies Gray all lined up right on a 3rd-and-1… Cam Wake and Jordan Phillips deserve all credit for forcing a bad snap and forced safety on Siemian and the Broncos in the first quarter… DeVante Parker — ugh. How important is winning the ball to you? What’s more important to you, when the ball is in the air, headed toward you, then giving maximum effort to make sure you give your quarterback and your team every possible chance to win the play?… Conversely, Kenny Stills has good concentration and doesn’t give up on any plays. If he has to turn into a defensive back, he does, willingly… When Miami running backs have a nice day, Anthony Fasano and MarQuies Gray are typically heavily involved… Jordan Phillips, man or monster? In the third quarter, Phillips shed a block and threw down Jamaal Charles for a four-yard loss. He then stomped around in celebration. Later in the quarter, Phillips bull-rushed and overpowered the right guard and threw Siemian down for a sack. Good Jordan Phillips is oh, so, good… What a great play-call by Adam Gase in the third quarter.  Jay Cutler ran all the way to his right and threw deep left to Fasano, who was wide open. Fasano started on the right end of the line of scrimmage, pretended briefly to block down and then took off for an open portion of the field.

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How Miami Dolphins rookie Davon Godchaux is approaching NFL debut

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

OXNARD, Calif. — Davon Godchaux either doesn’t know or wasn’t saying if he’s starting at defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s season opener at the Los Angeles Chargers.

But either way, the youngest member of Miami’s projected starting defense is going to play a lot.

Godchaux, a 22-year-old rookie from LSU, knows what his first, second and third responsibilities will be.

“Melvin Gordon,” Godchaux (pronounced GOD-chaw) said after Friday’s practice. “He’s a physical back. He likes to run between the tackles. (The Chargers) like to run the ball. Last year we had a problem stopping the run. So this game we really want to come out and show we can stop the run.”

Godchaux has been first-team defensive tackle opposite Ndamukong Suh for most of the preseason, but Jordan Phillips has closed the gap a bit lately.

“We’re going to play the best guys for that week for those matchups,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said this week. “Tackle particularly, I mean they’re all going to play. We wave guys in there. We want to keep guys fresh. We feel good about the progress that Jordan (Phillips) and (Davon) Godchaux have made. I mean those guys are all going to play up front and like I said, we’ll just work our matchups in situations that we feel good about where we’re playing those guys. I have some clarity.”

Godchaux has proven to be a relentless worker with a commitment to fulfilling his potential.

“Just grind,” Godchaux said. “There are going to be tough times and adversity, but you have to overcome those obstacles. Just go after each and every moment that you’re in there. Whatever works for the defense. I’m here to do first team or second team. Whatever. I’m going to go in there and play my heart out. First or second team, it really doesn’t matter to me.”

In the preseason, Godchaux had seven tackles. Phillips had two tackles and one interception.

“I’m very ready,” Godchaux said. “I waited through a hurricane. So now we actually get to play. I want to see how it is. I want to play. I want to play fast. I want to get out there with Jordan Phillips, Ndamukong Suh, Cam Wake, William Hayes, Andre Branch, to get out there with those guys. I want to play fast. I want to enjoy it.”

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NFL Draft 2017: Top 10 Miami Dolphins 3rd Round Options

Dorian Johnson of the Pittsburgh Panthers in action during the game against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Heinz Field. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

The Miami Dolphins hold the 97th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, a supplemental pick in the third round.

In an ideal situation, the Dolphins would add one defensive end, one linebacker and one guard, cornerback, safety, defensive tackle or center with their first three picks.

In 2013, the Dolphins traded up for the 93rd overall pick in the third round and selected Will Davis, a defensive back from Utah State. Davis played 15 games over two Miami seasons, with no starts and has been a Ravens reserve.

With a fourth-round pick obtained in that trade, the Packers selected offensive tackle David Bakhtiari of Colorado, who is now a Pro Bowler.

In 2012, with the 97th overall pick in the fourth round, the Dolphins selected Lamar Miller, a running back from Miami. Miller was an excellent pick, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and topping 1,000 yards in 2014.

The Dolphins let Miller go in free agency prior to the 2016 season and thus were awarded a compensatory pick in this year’s draft.

The Dolphins haven’t historically had too many picks in the 90’s in the NFL Draft. But in 1971, Miami made an interesting selection with the 99th overall pick in the fourth round:

Quarterback Joe Theismann of Notre Dame.

The Dolphins failed to sign Theismann and he instead went to Canada to play for the Toronto Argonauts. In 1974, Miami dealt Theismann’s rights to the Redskins for a first-round choice (linebacker Larry Gordon, a six-year Miami starter).

There is a cool story from the New York Times in 1983 about Theismann and Miami and Toronto.

The Dolphins traded up into the third round to draft wide receiver Leonte Carroo of Rutgers last season. Carroo has potential, but he had only three catches in 14 games as a rookie.

Here are 10 excellent possible draft choices for the Dolphins with their supplemental pick at the end of the third round, choosing among players ranked only 90-100 overall by ESPN, Bleacher Report and CBS.

  1. Dorian Johnson, G, Pittsburgh
  2. Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State
  3. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
  4. Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova
  5. Ethan Pocic, C, LSU
  6. Montravious Adams, DT, Auburn
  7. Tarrell Basham, DE, Ohio
  8. Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee
  9. Damontee Kazee , CB, San Diego State
  10. Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida

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