2018 draft class revisited

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2018 draft class revisited

Post by JMP on Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:48 am

Now that the season is over, here's a look back at the 2018 Phins' draft picks, and how I'd grade them after one season...

Minkah Fitzpatrick - Grade C+
Minkah played out of position for most of the season, lining up at slot corner and boundary corner much more often than his preferred free safety spot. He was pretty good as a slot, and pretty awful on the boundary. Overall, Minkah had a solid rookie season and should take a leap forward if he ever gets to play FS. But - I think he's already at or near his ceiling, and a much better saftey (Derwin James) was drafted 6 spots after him. Minkah was an easy, safe pick that required no real thought by the Phins, and he should be a good player for a long time...but he's not the impact player many had hoped and I doubt he ever will be. I would have been much happier with a LB at this pick - Leighton Vander Esch or Tremaine Edmunds, both of whom look like absolute studs.

Mike Gesicki - Grade F
I loved the Gesicki pick at the time, and thought he could transform the offense. I was wrong. Gesicki's rookie season was an epic fail. I'm still not sure why the Phins tried to make him a blocker, but that decision completely derailed his season...just a terrible coaching decision by Gase and his staff. Gesicki absolutely sucked as a blocker and showed no signs that he'll ever improve in that area. Unfortunately, he didn't fare much better as a receiver. He has excellent hands, but his route running is poor and he is surprisingly slow and awkward for a guy that appeared to be so athletic at the Combine. Gesicki plays very soft and looks lost on the field. I'm not sure he's ever going to amount to anything. Meanwhile, other rookie TEs picked after Gesicki like Dallas Goedert and Mark Andrews are both way ahead of schedule in their development and look like future stars.

Jerome Baker - Grade C+
Baker displayed good speed and looks like he could be a very effective blitzer if we ever get a defensive coordinator that knows how to blitz. Unfortunately, he looked completely lost at times and missed a ton of tackles with poor angles and overall technique. He also wasn't nearly as good as advertised in coverage. I think Baker could be a soild starter for a long time with continued development, but I just don't see anything special in his game. My guess is he'd be a better fit at weakside LB, if the Phins get smart and dump Kiko Alonso.

Durham Smythe - Grade C+
Smythe was an effective blocker and showed better hands than expected. Not a star-in-the-making by any means, but he's a keeper and should see his role increase moving forward. Smythe is the best TE we drafted in 2018.

Kalen Ballage - Grade C+
Ballage was hardly used at all on offense until Frank Gore got injured. Ballage had a couple of big runs, but also got stuffed at the line far too often. He seems like a pure straight-line runner with very little "wiggle", not at all a fit for the Dolphin offense that really relies on an elusive cutback runner (Drake is the only Dolphin runner that fits the bill, and he hardly got any carries.) I expected Ballage to make more of an impact as a receiver, but hopefully that will come in time. The Phins wasted his skillset by using him primarily as a wildcat QB for reasons known only to Adam 'Guru' Gase, but I think the new staff will find better ways to exploit his abilities. Once he learns to block, he could be an effective third-down back IMO - and maybe more, depending on the type of offense we run. He's also very good on special teams.

Cornell Armstrong - Grade F
Armstrong played a fair amount due to injuries in the secondary, and quite frankly he sucked - as I expected. He's got terrible technique and doesn't seem to be particularly good at anything. He's an easy target for opposing QBs.

Quentin Poling - Grade F
A wasted pick, as I said when he was drafted. He spent the season on the practice squad, and will likely be out of the league sooner rather than later.

Jason Sanders - Grade A
I hated the Sanders pick at the time, but as it turns out he was Miami's best pick in this class. He converted 90% of his FGs and missed just one extra point. Most of his kickoffs were touchbacks. I'd like to see him get more chances from 50+ yards to see what he's really made of, and the crappy Gase-led Phins' offense rarely even attempt FGs (just 20 tries for Sanders in 2018, and 23 by Cody Parkey in 2017), but overall Sanders looks like the real deal.


Overall, we got two solid starters from this class (Fitzpatrick and Baker), a couple of nice role players (Smythe and Ballage) and a good kicker (Sanders). While not even close to a home run draft class, it's better than what we usually get and at least helped to stock the cupboard. Gesicki really gives this group a black eye, though...so much was expected of him, and he really did nothing of note. I hate to use the "B" word after just one season, but Gesicki is well on his way to earning the "BUST" label.

Anyway, let's hope Grier is able to find more impact players in the 2019 draft. He's the man in charge now, so let's all hope he does better without the stench of Tannenbaum and Gase corrupting him. We'll see...

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Re: 2018 draft class revisited

Post by white1 on Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:20 pm

Agree with your analysis here.

The 2016 draft where we took Tunsil, Howard, Drake and Grant is looking like a solid draft also.

2017 is a lowlight. Only McMillan, Godchaux and Taylor look serviceable, and none of them are stars nor do they play the elite positions. Missing on Harris hurt us a lot, we STILL need defensive ends and he should have been a building block. Instead he's a total bust.

Overall, we've had two pretty good drafts over the past 3 years, and I'm hoping the 2017 draft was a result of Gase and his power trip after going to the playoffs in year 1. Those don't look like "Grier" picks to me. I think we reached for both Harris and McMillan, and overall drafted players to plug holes rather than draft for value which is always the smart move. It really feels to me like those are head-coach biased picks, with "win now" behind the thought process.


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Re: 2018 draft class revisited

Post by JMP on Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:54 pm

Yeah, 2016 was as close to a home run as we've gotten in many, many years.  And if the next coach knows how to use Drake, that class will look even better.

Grier is a Parcells guy, so that tells me we can expect bigger, stronger, more physical players now that he's in charge...at least, that's my hope.


Last edited by JMP on Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:01 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: 2018 draft class revisited

Post by white1 on Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:51 pm

ANd if the next coach knows how to use Drake, that class will look even better.

He's put enough on tape as long as we have a competent OC they will carve out a nice role for him.

Probably a bit too small to play as a featured back, but most teams that don't have one of the elites use a running back committee approach. We may already have a good complement in house with Ballage, who is big enough to take the beating, and we can bring in Drake for approx 50% of the snaps. Possible you could see them both in the backfield at the same time.



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Re: 2018 draft class revisited

Post by JMP on Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:15 pm

white1 wrote:
ANd if the next coach knows how to use Drake, that class will look even better.

He's put enough on tape as long as we have a competent OC they will carve out a nice role for him.

Probably a bit too small to play as a featured back, but most teams that don't have one of the elites use a running back committee approach.  We may already have a good complement in house with Ballage, who is big enough to take the beating, and we can bring in Drake for approx 50% of the snaps.  Possible you could see them both in the backfield at the same time.


I'm all for a Drake/Ballage backfield, with Drake as the lead dog. Both players need to get better at pass pro for sure, but then so do most RBs. Good coaches can help minimize that with scheming.

No reason why Drake can't get 250+ carries a season. He only had 120 this season. Hell, Tarik Cohen had 99 carries, and he's only 5'6", 180...Drake is 6'1", 210.


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