As we continue to wait for the start of training camp and the NFL regular season, there is much dead space to be filled. Fortunately, many of you are still hungry for Miami Dolphins news and analysis, which is evidenced by the many questions that our readers have submitted for this week’s mailbag.
In our first Dolphins Mailbag, I answered questions related to the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, including the wide receiver the Dolphins were targeting at 26, their true thoughts on Tua Tagovailoa vs. Jordan Love, and plenty more.
This week, I’ll answer questions regarding the 2020 Miami Dolphins second-round draft picks, which include OG Robert Hunt and DT Raekwon Davis. I also throw in a bonus question regarding first-round selection OT Austin Jackson.
PFN’s Miami Dolphins Mailbag: Miami Dolphins Second Round Review
With the 39th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Dolphins selected OG Robert Hunt from Louisiana. Should we expect him to compete for a starting position this season?
Robert Hunt, who played tackle at Louisiana, is an interesting prospect because he is projected as a guard in the NFL. That said, I expect to compete for a starting position during training camp.
It’s interesting because some say he may have been drafted a little too high. However, he was rated as the second-best guard in the draft by PFN Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline and was also the second-best guard in the PFN Consensus Rankings.
So, what gives? Hunt has been a starter since he stepped on the field in Lousiana after being redshirted his freshman season. In year one, he started 13 games at left tackle. The following year, he started nine games at left guard and two at left tackle. In year three, he started all 14 games and then his senior season, he played in seven games before suffering a groin injury.
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In regard to his play on the field, we know that Hunt – who comes in at 6-foot-5 and 323 pounds – is a powerful athlete, is versatile, and a mauler. He also is instinctive and can move on his feet.
He’s explosive off the snap and knows how to attack opposing defenders. However, he isn’t always able to push the linebackers into the next level so his running back can have room to run. He’ll need to learn how to block with consistent leverage and pad level so he can improve this part of the game.
In pass protection – which head coach Brian Flores and his staff seem to put a higher emphasis vs. run blocking – he can effectively pick up stunts and blitzes. He even has good movement across the line to block in motion if needed.
However, as Pauline noted, he has limitations in space, which is why he is projected to play guard for the Dolphins. That said, he’ll have every chance to win the starting job over the second-year player Michael Deiter. This will be an interesting battle to watch, especially since some are down on Deiter after an up-and-down season his rookie year.
Matt, you have mentioned that you love the Raekwon Davis selection. But the reviews seem to be mixed. Did the Dolphins get a steal in the second round at 56th overall?
Yes, I did love this pick and if Raekwon Davis can become more consistent and can get back to the type of form he had in his sophomore season, he will be a steal for the Dolphins.
The problem with Davis is this – in 2017, as a sophomore, he looked like a first-round prospect. But the following year, he didn’t improve in many areas. In fact, he regressed. But like Austin Jackson, there is tremendous potential.
That’s because, for a defensive tackle his size, Davis has power and quickness who can easily beat opponents. He has a quick burst off the line and will need to learn how to consistently use his power and leverage to push back opposing linemen into the backfield.
The Dolphins probably aren’t looking for him to rack up double-digit sacks each season. Instead, they’ll look for him to clog the middle of the line and take up more than one blocker so the other guys can do their work.
I am still a bit confused as to why the Dolphins drafted Austin Jackson at 18th overall. By all accounts, he is a raw prospect and there are some concerns about him at the next level. Can you help me understand this?
You’re not wrong to be confused. While USC tackle Austin Jackson was always considered a late first-round draft prospect, there were concerns about how quickly he would be able to transition to the NFL. Mainly, that’s because he can be inconsistent at times and needs to improve his run blocking.
But, there is also a tremendous upside. According to Kent Platte’s Relative Athletic Scores, Jackson was one of the more athletic players in the 2020 NFL Draft, coming in with a RAS score of 9.47 out of 10.
As we can see from Jackson’s RAS, he’s an athletic specimen at the position. But how does that translate into the product we see on the field from the Dolphins new left tackle?
Helping you understand the data card, his metrics show that he excels in pass protection. More importantly, he is quite efficient at it. He has tremendous burst numbers, which means he is quick to get off the ball and get into his stance. Further, he also has the speed necessary to adjust to a defender who is flying in on a blitz.
The Dolphins are banking on Jackson’s athleticism and his ability to excel in pass protection. That is going to pay dividends for whichever quarterback is under center this season, whether it be Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tua.