October 26, 2020
The bye week is in the rearview mirror and, before we focus our attention on the Los Angeles Rams, we've got one more day of reflection. Before the season, and even before the acquisition period of the offseason, the Dolphins were always going to have a handful of new faces and even more young players contributing in a significant manner.
Only one team – Minnesota -- made more picks than the 11 draft selections from the Miami Dolphins. On this special edition of The Blitz, we'll recap the first six weeks for the rookie class in what has been a productive year so far for first-year players in Miami
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa
Head Coach Brian Flores announced last week that Tagovailoa will make his first NFL start Sunday against the Rams. The rookie southpaw played five snaps in the shutout victory over the Jets, completing both of his pass attempts for nine yards and a Miami Dolphins first down.
College football's all-time leader in career passer rating (199.4, min. 325 completions) drew some praise for his propensity to seek knowledge from the veteran defenders.
"He asks for advice on what can he work on, what can he see, whatever it is that he can get better," Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker said. "I think that was the one thing that really stuck to me. He just truly wants to get better, he just truly wants to help us win."
Offensive Tackle Austin Jackson
Jackson was added to injured reserve after the Week 4 game against the Seahawks. Through his first four games as a pro, he has not been credited with a sack allowed, per Pro Football Focus.
Offensive Line Coach Steve Marshall talked about Jackson and the growth of all the rookies up front.
"Every practice is a highly fierce, competitive practice," Marshall said. "And that's where they're learning every day a little bit better, as far as handling that kind of pressure or competitiveness. They're talented young guys. They've learned a lot in a very, very, very short period of time and they've gotten better every day."
Cornerback Noah Igbinoghene
Pressed into duty after the injury to Byron Jones, Miami's third first-round selection has logged 246 snaps on the young season. He has 10 tackles and has forced nine incompletions on 25 pass targets in his direction.
Jones spoke about Igbinoghene's diligent work habits and how impressed he's been by the NFL's youngest player (20-years old).
"He's probably one of the most impressive young guys I've seen in a very long time," Jones said of Igbinoghene. "The way he approaches the game, this kid is here early. He's here early with the coach looking at film. He's there late. The way he practices and the way he really approaches practice is really impressive for a young guy to understand that."
Offensive Tackle Robert Hunt
Serving as the sixth offensive lineman in heavy packages through the first four games of his career, Hunt was elevated to starter in the San Francisco and New York Jets games. On the year, Hunt has surrendered just six quarterback pressures, per PFF, all of which are of the hurry variety (no hits on the QB).
Defensive Tackle Raekwon Davis
Miami's second second-round pick, Davis has played 118 snaps through six games. He's posted three quarterback pressures, per PFF, seven total tackles and two run stops (tackles within two yards of the line of scrimmage). Davis started last Sunday, the second game started of his career, in place of Davon Godchaux, who was put on injured reserve last week.
"I think he's getting closer and closer and getting better and better each week," Dolphins Defensive Line Coach Marion Hobby said of Davis. "This is a long season. Everybody in that room is counted on. I think he's going to keep getting better as the season goes along."
Safety Brandon Jones
Jones' versatility is already on display in his rookie campaign. He's played 235 snaps at five defensive positions and as a member of four special teams units. He's tied for fifth on the team in total tackles with 21. His tackle for loss on a third-and-2 in the Jets game helped preserve the NFL's only shutout of the season. Jones also has a pass breakup and six run stops.
Offensive Guard Solomon Kindley
The starter at right guard since opening day, Kindley has missed only one snap all year and he's been productive in his 392 snaps. He's been credited with just eight pressures allowed through six games on 239 pass-blocking snaps. Kindley surrenders a QB pressure just 3.3 percent of his pass blocking snaps, or every 29.3 snaps.
"Great men that want to do the right things that are eager to learn and, I guess, 'ego-less' and trying to get better," Dolphins center Ted Karras said of the three Miami rookie offensive linemen. "Obviously a very, very talented group – all highly drafted – and guys that came in and just want to listen and work and do the right thing and help the team win in any way they can."
Defensive End Jason Strowbridge
Jason Strowbridge hasn't appeared in a game to this point, but Dolphins Defensive Line Coach Marion Hobby is optimistic for his future contributions.
"I think Strowbridge has done a really good job," Hobby said in September. "He had a really good camp. He's a young player. He's done better than the last time we talked. He keeps getting better and better every day. I think he's got a role on this team. It's a long season. I think we're going to need him."
Long Snapper Blake Ferguson
Selected in the sixth round, Blake Ferguson has been part of a specialist unit that has yet to miss a field goal (15-for-15) or point after (13-for-13) and the 10th-most punts downed inside the 20-yard-line (120).
Wide Receiver/Running Back Malcolm Perry
Malcolm Perry hasn't yet made his NFL debut. Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey had this to say about Miami's seventh-round draft choice recently.
"Malcolm is converting to wide receiver, so he has a lot of things to learn yet about the game," Gailey said. "I think he has a chance to be a good player."
Wide Receiver Lynn Bowden Jr.
Arriving in a September trade from Las Vegas, Bowden has carried the football four times including one for a Dolphins first down.
"He has some natural route-running ability," Gailey said of Bowden. "He has some natural athletic talent. He's just still in the process of learning everything, the nuances of playing at this level. It's not the athletic talent. It's just learning the nuances of being able to compete."
We're going to hear from Head Coach Brian Flores and some Dolphins players today at their Monday media availability. Plus, we'll take a look at Miami's league rankings on Inside the Numbers and recap the day on Top News and Drive Time with Travis Wingfield.