The staff here at Pro Football Network recently released the composite Top 100 NFL Players of 2020, and two members of the Miami Dolphins made the cut. The Dolphins were a surprisingly competitive team in 2019 and could be one of the better young teams out of the AFC in 2020 behind an improved offensive line and an underrated defense.
I will discuss those Miami players selected by the staff and others on this list in comparison. While the Dolphins did not have many players picked, that should not indicate the direction of the team heading into the 2020 season. Miami has a very talented group, and these two players are only the tip of the iceberg for Brian Flores and an ever-improving Dolphins roster.
Dolphins that made PFN’s Top 100 players of 2020
80th Overall: Byron Jones, CB
I’ve spoken about Miami’s high-priced free agent acquisition before, and a spot on this list proves precisely why the Dolphins paid a king’s ransom to secure his services this offseason. Jones is an extremely versatile player that has bounced between safety and cornerback during his young career and has settled nicely on the boundary recently.
The Dolphins will have one of the top cornerback groups in football this season between Jones and fellow star CB Xavien Howard. Miami also returns promising second-year pro, Nik Needham, who became a surprisingly impactful player as an undrafted free agent signee in 2019.
The Top 100 piece states that “Jones’ athleticism has transitioned into a weapon of versatility in the NFL.” For that reason, Jones could be moved around the defense this season to take advantage of his elite athletic ability and high football IQ.
He was selected higher than the 49ers’ Richard Sherman, Chargers’ Casey Hayward, and Baltimore cover man Marlon Humphrey, which is extremely high praise and an indication of the type of impact we expect of Jones in Miami this coming season.
75th Overall: Xavien Howard, CB
As I mentioned earlier, the Dolphins now have a duo of exciting lockdown cornerback prospects, including the talented Howard. Despite some early career injury concerns, Howard has displayed some elite ball skills and shadow coverage early on in his career. He snagged seven interceptions in 2018, despite only starting 12 games.
That injury bug popped up again for Howard in 2019, as he missed all but five games and managed only one interception. He will need to stay healthy in 2020 if the Dolphins hope to take their defense to the next level. In addition to the high interception totals, Howard has also amassed 29 passes defensed the past three seasons.
The fact that Howard’s name came up after his counterpart Jones and Green Bay youngster Jaire Alexander shows the impact he maintains for this Miami football team. In a division that features other top CBs like Buffalo’s Tre’Davious White (17th overall) and New England’s Stephon Gilmore (fourth overall), Howard certainly holds his own. He has a chance to cement his name amongst the tops at the position with a steady and productive fifth season in the NFL.
Other Dolphins worthy of consideration
Despite the strength of the Miami secondary, this team has done well to improve on a host of other position groups heading into 2020. The Dolphins are a team on the rise with other timely free agent signings such as Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson, and Ted Karras along with top draft picks like Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, and Robert Hunt.
Van Noy is also deserving of a spot on this list, as he’s amassed 221 combined tackles, 15 and a half sacks, 34 quarterback hits, and four forced fumbles the past three seasons as a two-time Super Bowl champion and starter for the New England Patriots. He brings veteran leadership and a much-needed pass-rushing prowess to Miami. At 29 years old, he should be a real impact player for this team going forward.
The most prominent omission from this list is wide receiver DeVante Parker. After dealing with a multitude of injuries the past few seasons, Parker enjoyed a breakout season in 2019 as a 14-game starter. He caught 72 passes for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns.
Parker also managed a dominant performance in a Week 16 showing against Gilmore in New England. In that game, Parker had eight catches for 137 yards in a win for the Dolphins over their hated rival. He is a top 10 receiver in this league and belongs as a permanent fixture on the Top 100 list.
This team is only getting started
A representation of only two players on this list does not showcase the amount of promise and ability that coach Flores and general manager Chris Grier assembled over the last two offseasons. It is fair to assume the team will be more relevant and better represented as the next batch of rankings are released.
2020 will be an eye-opening and exciting season for Dolphins fans and players alike as they take that next step as a proud franchise.
Scott Gorman is a lead writer for PFN covering the Miami Dolphins. You can follow him @sgormanPFN on Twitter.