[Updated March 15, 2018 after compensatory picks were awarded and trades involving Jarvis Landry, Robert Quinn and Daniel Kilgore]
As the Dolphins ramp up their preparation for the 2018 draft with the Senior Bowl coming up this month, they currently have eight picks.
Miami has its own pick in each round except for the fifth, which it sent to the Saints in September in exchange for linebacker Stephone Anthony. In addition to its six base selections, the team has a fourth rounder from the Jay Ajayi traded and an extra pick in the seventh from Tampa Bay.
When the Dolphins shipped Ajayi to the Eagles this season, they got a fourth-round pick that Philadelphia had previously acquired from the Vikings. The first 20 draft slots in each round are determined by regular-season record, and the remaining 12 are filled based on how far those teams go in the playoffs.
The seventh-round pick from the Buccaneers came from a trade last year when the teams swapped spots in the seventh round, with the Dolphins moving down from No. 223 to No. 237.
These selections can change if the team makes any trades between now and the draft, which is April 26-28. As of now, here is the Dolphins’ stock of 2018 draft picks:
First round: No. 11 overall Second round: No. 42 overall Third round: No. 73 overall Fourth round: No. 123 overall, No. 131 Fifth round: No selection (traded to New Orleans for Stephone Anthony) Sixth round: No. 209 overall Seventh round: No. 227 overall, No. 229 overall
MIAMI GARDENS—In a season of embarrassing off-field snafus, the Dolphins ran into another one Saturday morning with the arrest of linebacker Rey Maualuga on a battery charge.
Maualuga, who the team signed in August after losing second-round pick Raekwon McMillan, was taken into custody shortly before Miami players were expected to arrive at the facility for a walk-through, and the team wasted no time cutting him.
“That was the decision we came to,” coach Adam Gase said after today’s 30-20 loss to Tampa Bay. “Wasn’t very hard.”
Maualuga was a starter, but played only about 40 percent of the defensive snaps the past two weeks because Miami didn’t use him when it was in nickel defense. He had 23 tackles in six games.
Undrafted rookie Chase Allen replaced him in the starting lineup against the Buccaneers.
As a ninth-year veteran, Maualuga was thought to be one of the more stable elements of the Dolphins’ locker room. He was a solid player and was very popular with his teammates.
“It’s sad, man,” safety Michael Thomas said. “That’s my guy. I hate to see that happen to anyone. I’ve reached out to him just trying to make sure he’s alright and I’m waiting for a response.
“He’s a likable guy, great teammate, great in the locker room, worked hard on the field. There wasn’t too much not to like about him. That’s tough.”
Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake also expressed disappointment over Maualuga’s situation, but declined to say much about his departure.
“I don’t know the whole situation, the whole story,” Suh said. “I’ve heard bits and pieces of it. I think Rey is a great guy. I’ve known him since 2004. I think he’s smart. Unfortunately, some people make mistakes, but I don’t know the whole situation so I can’t really comment on it.
MIAMI GARDENS—The Dolphins have been battered left and right since they started training camp, and their season finally collapsed today against Tampa Bay.
Any realistic hope of Miami clawing into the playoff field was crushed by a 30-20 loss to the Buccaneers that looked a lot like the way the entire year has gone. The offense and defense took turns displaying total incompetence, there were penalties galore and Jay Cutler was a disaster before Matt Moore came in for him.
The Dolphins are now 4-6 with a trip to New England up next. Here are five takeaways from their thudding disappointment at Hard Rock Stadium:
1. The Dolphins have spiraled from aspiring contender to laughingstock this season.
Remember when Miami ran its record to 10-6, punched its ticket to the playoffs and gave people reason to hope things might be even better in 2017? Neither does anybody else. Now the Dolphins are a punchline after turning to Cutler to save them, enduring a string of off-field embarrassments and scrapping just to compete with a bad Tampa Bay team at home. They’ve fully proven they need a large-scale rebuild in the upcoming offseason.
2. Smokin’ Jay’s gotta go.
There’s been nothing fun about Cutler’s time with Miami. Not for anyone. He’s been bad most of the year, and there’s far more enthusiasm with Matt Moore on the field. Moore’s not actually any better than Cutler—they’re about the same—but at least everybody’s enjoying the experience a lot more with Moore. By the way, what’s Cutler gotten out of this beyond the $10 million payday? He’s got a concussion, he has two fractured ribs and he’s the fanbase’s least favorite player. He had a 60.8 passer rating before leaving at halftime with the concussion.
3. Damien Williams is just as much of a big-play threat as Kenyan Drake.
Since trading Jay Ajayi and going to a shared backfield of Williams and Drake, the Dolphins got two big runs from Drake and a paltry 2.1 yards per carry average from Williams. Williams has always had big-play capability, though, and showed it on a 69-yard run down the right side of the field in the first quarter. There’s no thought of waiting for one of them to take over the job full-time; Miami’s best course is using them together.
4. The Dolphins are every opposing quarterback’s favorite team.
Here’s how fun it is playing quarterback against Miami: Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was a disaster against the Jets last week, hit the Dolphins with one of the best games of his career. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 275 yards and had two touchdowns with no turnovers, continuing a long line opposing passers who have looked fantastic against Miami. Coming into the game, the defense had allowed a 104.8 passer rating and a 68.7 completion percentage—both second-worst in the league.
5. The penalties are out of control.
It’s one thing to get outplayed by better personnel, but the Dolphins are unnecessarily adding incompetency to the equation. Sometimes penalties are irrelevant—the Seahawks and Steelers are among the most flagged teams in the NFL–but these guys aren’t good enough to afford them. Miami gave away 123 yards on 17 penalties (one flag shy of the franchise record) against the Buccaneers, a figure that doesn’t account for the 49-yard pass from Cutler to Jarvis Landry that was wiped out by Jermon Bushrod’s holding penalty.
DAVIE—The Dolphins might have bailed on cornerback Brent Grimes a little too early, and he’s one of the main problems they’ll deal with on Tampa Bay’s defense Sunday.
Grimes, who turned 34 before the season started, has had a solid two years with the Buccaneers since Miami released him. The four-time Pro Bowler has two interceptions, six passes defensed and 27 tackles in six starts for Tampa Bay this season. Pro Football Focus ranks him the No. 60 corner in the NFL, and the only Dolphin ahead of him is Bobby McCain at 54th.
“He does a good job and makes it really, really tough on the quarterback,” coach Adam Gase said. “The thing he does best is he makes quarterbacks feel like somebody is open. That’s why you see guys throw the ball at him and all of a sudden he has the ball.
“It happened last game (against the Jets)… I’m pretty sure almost every quarterback would’ve thrown that ball… He does that consistently. He makes it tough because you think a guy is open.”
Grimes has made an excellent career for himself after going undrafted out of Shippensburg University in 2006. The Dolphins gambled on him after he tore his Achilles in 2012, and he rewarded them with three Pro Bowl seasons.
From 2013 through ’15, Grimes played 47 of a possible 48 games and totaled 13 interceptions, two touchdowns, 43 pass breakups, a forced fumble and 142 tackles.
“A guy like that who made so any great plays for us when he was here, yeah, it was a little tough to see a guy like that leave the building,” safety Reshad Jones said this week. “Man, he’s 34 but he still plays like he’s 18. He’s still got a lot of ball left in him, and I’m glad to see he’s still doing well.”
Grimes’ run with the Dolphins is remembered as much for controversies as it was for his stellar play, however. His wife, Miko, shredded quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Twitter and was arrested for disorderly conduct at a game (charges were dropped). She also made remarks about team executives that were widely criticized for being anti-Semitic.
She told Sports Illustrated this year her goal was to get her husband cut in 2016. That worked, and Grimes went on to sign a two-year deal with Tampa Bay worth up to $16 million prior to last season.
These terms were all used to describe the Miami Dolphins defense in the team’s Monday night loss in Carolina. And those were the kinder words we could actually publish.
Not only did Matt Burke’s unit give up 45 points to Cam Newton and company, but they allowed the Panthers to convert an astounding 79 percent of their third downs, allowed 548 yards of total offense (second-most in the league this season, a total that included 294 rushing yards) and allowed five straight touchdown drives at one point.
Pretty embarrassing for a defense that includes names like Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, Lawrence Timmons and Rey Maualuga.
“Five hundred plus? That’s a damn lot,” Maualuga said Sunday night after being told about the Panthers’ yardage numbers. “That’s a lot. You see the guys that’s on this defense and there’s no way we should give up 350, let alone 400, let alone whatever you said it was.”
Fantasy football players would agree. And the keenest fantasy football players would take note.
“Why?” you ask.
You should care because it’s not a bad idea to consider picking up and starting opposing players set to face Miami’s porous defense.
It’s one of those unwritten axioms of fantasy football, like handcuffing (picking up a big-time running back’s backup in case the starter gets injured), never drafting a kicker until the final round or never owning anyone from the Cleveland Browns.
Paying attention to your fantasy players’ opponents can be vitally important, whether you’re trying to decide which player to start in a given week — e.g., player A and player B are equally good, but you can only start one; so start the one who’s playing a weaker opponent — or you’re taking a flier on a waiver-wire pick-up to help as an injury replacement or during a bye week.
Say you had Aaron Rodgers as your starting quarterback. He goes down injured, so you pick up local guy Jacoby Brissett of the Colts. Indianapolis is on a bye this week, so you’re left with a bunch of rough-looking options on the waiver wire.
You’re trying to decide between, say, Brett Hundley of the Packers and Fitzpatrick, who is starting for Tampa Bay in place of Jameis Winston. Hundley has been OK in recent weeks, but he’s facing the Ravens, who (according to Yahoo) have given up the second fewest total of fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick is going against the Fins, who, let’s not forget, gave up approximately 7,000 yards and 18 touchdowns to the Panthers on Monday.
Yes, the Harvard alum — did you know Fitzpatrick went to Harvard?!?! — is just a long-time backup and is owned in just nine percent of Yahoo leagues, but pit him against Miami and all of a sudden he’s looking like a halfway decent play on Sunday.
The old “Start them against the Dolphins!” trick isn’t likely to be in play for other Buccaneers skill players, as running back Doug Martin, wide receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson and even tight end Cameron Brate are already claimed in most leagues.
But Fitzpatrick has some major weapons at his disposal, and he will get ample opportunity to air it out Sunday at Hard Rock. He’s no Aaron Rodgers, but late in a season chock full of season-altering injuries, he could put up solid numbers against the Dolphins.
So could plenty of other opposing players in subsequent weeks.
DAVIE—The Dolphins are under .500 for the first time in more than a year and can get back to even with a win against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Coming off the Monday night debacle at Carolina, the team’s had a truncated workweek to prepare for the Buccaneers. The biggest concern heading into the weekend is wide receiver Kenny Stills, who hurt his back in practice Thursday and remained out today.
Here are coach Adam Gase’s updates after today’s practice:
–The Dolphins aren’t sure whether Stills will be able to play, but Gase said he’s feeling better today so there’s some cause for optimism.
–Gase is very encouraged by the growth he’s seen from running back Kenyan Drake, who he once said drove him nuts. “The mistakes are way way down,” he said. “I see a guy in meetings paying very good attention to detail. He’s always taking notes, asking good questions. Sometimes you get thrust into that role, you learn what to do real fast.”
–Ndamukong Suh is still battling a knee injury. He worked through it Monday, and Gase didn’t notice any dropoff in his level of play. “I always see a really tough guy to block,” he said. “You rarely see one guy trying to block him.”
How do the Miami Dolphins (4-5) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) match up for Sunday’s NFL Week 11 tilt at Hard Rock Stadium?
When the Dolphins have the ball…
Miami total offense (31stin NFL) vs. Tampa Bay total defense (27th in NFL) Miami scoring offense (32nd) vs. Tampa Bay scoring defense (19th)
Miami passing offense (29th) vs. Tampa Bay pass defense (29th)
The Dolphins’ passing offense continued its unimpressive run Monday night, with Jay Cutler throwing for a pedestrian 213 yards, a total aided by garbage-time yardage in a blowout loss in Carolina. After a bad start to the 2017 season, the Bucs’ pass defense has strung together several respectable performances. In the last three weeks, against Drew Brees and the Saints, Cam Newton and the Panthers and Josh McCown and the Jets, Tampa Bay has surrendered a total of 629 passing offense yards, an average of just over 206 yards per game. Cutler’s Dolphins aren’t as good as any of those previous three opponents. Edge: Buccaneers
Miami rushing offense (30th) vs. Tampa Bay rush defense (14th)
If you throw out Kenyan Drake’s electric 66-yard touchdown run, the Dolphins ran for just 35 yards on 15 carries in Carolina. That’s an average of 2.3 yards per carry. The Dolphins’ lack of consistency on the ground won’t match up well against a Tampa Bay front that has limited teams to 3.9 yards per carry this season, 10th best in the league. The Bucs have, however, allowed eight rushing touchdowns this season, a stat that will be interesting to follow given that the Dolphins picked up just their first rushing touchdown of the year Monday night in Week 10. Ouch. Edge: Buccaneers
When the Buccaneers have the ball…
Tampa Bay total offense (14th in NFL) vs. Miami total defense (17th in NFL) Tampa Bay scoring offense (22nd) vs. Miami scoring defense (25th)
Tampa Bay passing offense (3rd) vs Miami pass defense (15th)
The Buccaneers have been picking up huge chunks of yards through the air, but the loss of quarterback Jameis Winston could slow their offensive output considerably. After topping 300 yards passing in five of their first six games, the Bucs have failed to eclipse the 200-yard mark in each of their last three contests. In his first start for the injured Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 187 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The Dolphins’ pass defense has only three interceptions this season, but Fitzpatrick should give them an opportunity for some takeaways. Miami doesn’t give up a ton of big plays — they’ve allowed just one pass of over 45 yards all season long — but Tampa Bay’s propensity for getting the ball down the field will be a major test of the Fins secondary. Edge: Buccaneers
Tampa Bay rushing offense (28th) vs Miami rush defense (20th)
The Miami run defense had been one of the few bright spots of the season until it was steam-rolled by Carolina on Monday night. The Dolphins gave up 294 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries as Jonathan Stewart (110 yards), Cam Newton (95) and Cameron Artis-Payne (68) all found success on the ground. Tampa Bay, though, ranks 27th in the NFL in yards per carry at just 3.6 yards a tote. Leading rusher Doug Martin is averaging 3.3 yards a run, while Jacquizz Rodgers is averaging 3.6 on 51 attempts. The Bucs don’t have the same weapons on the ground as Carolina, meaning the Dolphins should have at least a fair shot at keeping them in check. Edge: Dolphins
Tampa Bay’s field-goal kicking has been an issue all year, with Nick Folk and Patrick Murray combining to make only 13 of their 19 attempts. The consistency of Dolphins Cody Parkey and Matt Haack — even in limited opportunities for Parkey — gives Miami a minor edge. Edge: Dolphins
DAVIE–The Dolphins‘ offense is actually on the upswing lately. Jay Cutler has had a decent run in his last four games, and the team has put up 27 points or more in three of the last four games (Baltimore was a disaster).
The problem, though, is that Miami’s defense has trended downward during that stretch. If both sides can get in sync, that’s the biggest reason for optimism as the Dolphins navigate the back half of their schedule. With a home game coming up against Tampa Bay on Sunday, here are offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen’s thoughts:
–Running back Kenyan Drake has long runs in each of his first two games since the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi. “It’s no surprise,” Christensen said. “He probably has the highest touch-to-big-play ratio on the offense since he’s been here.”
–Christensen said they don’t intend to “change the formula” when it comes to carries for Drake and Damien Williams. In the two games post-Ajayi, they each have 16 carries. Drake has 151 yards and a touchdown; Williams has 33 yards and no scores.
–Utility offensive lineman Jesse Davis played well starting at right tackle in Ja’Wuan James’ spot, according to Christensen. It was a big plus that he didn’t allow any sacks.
–The Dolphins want to get DeVante Parker back to how “hungry” he was coming out of training camp. Christensen still believes he can be a monster this season, and the biggest problem for him has been his ankle injury. “He can still make this into a heck of a season,” Christensen said.
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—It’s looking bleak for the Dolphins after three straight losses, two of which were utter humiliations, and their season is slipping away from them. After Monday’s 45-21 loss to Carolina, there’s little belief from the outside world that they have any shot at cracking the playoff field.
In the locker room, though, it’s a different story. As bad as it’s been lately, there’s no sense of players being demoralized or thinking to sleepwalk through the rest of the schedule.
“I look in every eye, and these guys, I know what they’re about,” cornerback Bobby McCain said. “I know what they’re about throughout the week. I know what the guy to my right and the guy to my left are about. We play for each other.
“I don’t care if we was 9-0 or 0-9, I’m still gonna play for the man next to me and I’m still gonna play (vigorously) and do what I gotta do. There’s no hanging heads. Next game. We’ve got Tampa Bay at home and we’re gonna prepare our tails off.”
He continued, “It’s very frustrating, not even as a team or an individual, but as a human. I don’t care if you’re a school teacher—if someone’s not learning what you’re putting out there, then you feel like you let them down and let yourself down. It’s frustrating. We know we’ve gotta keep putting the work in and keep chopping, keep chopping, keep chopping.”
The next obstacle in their path is a home game Sunday against Tampa Bay, which presents a prime opportunity to regain some confidence. The Buccaneers are 3-6 and are playing with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick instead of Jameis Winston.
Miami rode out a lot of adversity at the beginning of the season with injuries and scheduling strains to get to 4-2. Three straight losses put the team at 4-5 with a minus-87 point differential, fourth-worst in the NFL. For context, the 1-9 San Francisco 49ers are one point better at minus-86.
With tie breakers taken into account, the Dolphins now sit ninth in the AFC standings. That in itself isn’t so dire, especially with No. 6 Buffalo merely one game better at 5-4, but the remaining schedule is brutal on Miami with two games against the Patriots, two against the Bills and a Christmas Eve game at Kansas City.
“We’re good,” center Mike Pouncey said when asked how he felt about the team slipping below .500 for the first time since last October. “We’re gonna regroup. We still control our own destiny… In the second half of the season, we can’t lose these football games. We just put ourselves in a deeper hole. We’re gonna continue to work hard and try to get a win next week.”
They’ve seesawed throughout the year with the offense and defense taking turns letting them down.
When Jay Cutler and the offense managed three touchdowns in the first four games, Miami stayed afloat by holding opponents to an average of 16.8 points.
That side of the ball seems to have figured some things out lately—just in time for the defense to spiral. Cutler has thrown nine touchdown passes in his last 12 quarters, and the Dolphins put up 24 points—not an overwhelming total by any means, but certainly viable—in their home loss to Oakland.
Their defense has allowed 98 points (does not include the two Ravens’ pick-sixes) and 1,222 yards over the last three games. It bottomed out Monday with the Panthers racking up 548 yards, the second-most by an NFL team this season.
“We’ll get it fixed,” linebacker Rey Maualuga said. “Just another frustrating night. It’s something I’m sure the coaches will get fixed and us players will make it a priority to fix the things we need to fix.”
Many of the starters on this team were with Miami last year when it went 10-6 and made the playoffs, and new guys like Lawrence Timmons, Maualuga and T.J. McDonald are proven veterans.
That’s the most frustrating element of this slide for the players, who refuse to concede that they’re overmatched personnel-wise. It’s also their greatest hope for reclaiming a season that’s on the brink of crumbling.
“We know we can,” safety Michael Thomas said. “The same guys that are here now have done it before. They’ve played good football before. They’ve made the plays before. We know we all can do it. Let’s figure it out.”
DAVIE–The NFL announced today the Dolphins’ season opener against Tampa Bay will be moved or rescheduled.
The teams, the NFL and government agencies have been deliberating this week whether to relocate or reschedule the game. It had been slotted for 1 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium, but if the storm reaches South Florida, the brunt of it is expected to hit Saturday night or Sunday morning.
The league said the game will be played at an alternate venue or held in South Florida later in the season.
“In the interest of public safety in light of the current state of emergency, the NFL, in consultation with state and local officials as well as both clubs, has decided that playing an NFL game in South Florida this week is not appropriate,” the league said in a statement.
One option is to match the teams up on their shared bye week, a convenient coincidence, which comes the weekend of Nov. 19. The Dolphins would be coming off a Monday night game at Carolina, and the Bucs are home against the Jets on Nov. 12.
This is the second time in recent history a Dolphins season opener has been changed because of weather. In September 2004, the opener was shifted from Sunday to Saturday because of concerns about Hurricane Ivan.
There was concern about a home game last October when Hurricane Matthew threatened South Florida before turning north and hitting closer to Jacksonville. The Dolphins closed their facility for one day, but were able to host Tennessee as scheduled.
Incidentally, the Dolphins came into the week planning to do the majority of their Tampa Bay practices Monday through Wednesday. Gase said the team would essentially be as prepared as usual even if the game was changed.
The next concern for the Dolphins, football-wise, is their Week 2 game at the Chargers. The team is scheduled to fly to the Los Angeles Sept. 14, but now might need to rearrange those plans.
While the football season is not the most important thing in a situation like this, the Dolphins will proceed and almost certainly play the Chargers as scheduled. If Irma wrecks their practice field in Davie, they’d need to find a new location to prepare for that game.
Join our reporters for a special evening as they talk NFL with Dolphins Pro Bowl Guard Jermon Bushrod, two-time Super Bowl champion Bob Kuechenberg and former Dolphins Pro Bowl linebacker Kim Bokamper on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Bokamper’s Fort Lauderdale. The event is free to the first 100 people and will include raffles, light bites and drinks.