The Dolphins pass rush was dealt a significant blow last week when linebacker Vince Biegel was lost for the season with an Achilles rupture. The former Wisconsin Badger was one of the top performers on an anemic unit in 2019. With Biegel now on injured reserve, it’s another former Badger who is poised to step up. What can the Dolphins expect from Andrew Van Ginkel in 2020? His athletic profile belies a lot of potential.

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What Miami loses with Biegel’s injury

The Dolphins defense — much like the team at large — struggled mightily in 2019. Miami gave up the third-most yards in the league last season, averaging a shade under 400 yards per game. At the forefront of those defensive struggles were the Dolphins’ inability to affect the opposing quarterback. Miami averaged just 1.4 sacks per game in 2019, a number that ranked them dead last in the league by 0.4 sacks per game.

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One of the few bright spots in the Dolphins struggling pass rush was Biegel. Not exactly heralded for his pass-rush abilities, Biegel was a key contributor in that facet in 2019. Though he only managed 2.5 sacks on the season, Biegel led the entire team in getting to the quarterback. Biegel finished the 2019 season with 13 quarterback hits. 

Miami is going to have to find a way to replace that pass-rush prowess from the linebacker spot, and fellow Badger Andrew Van Ginkel has the athletic profile to be that “next man up”.

Andrew Van Ginkel’s athletic profile

One look at Van Ginkel’s athletic profile shows a player with a ton of potential. Tapping into that potential is going to be critical for Van Ginkel in the 2020 season. Only a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Van Ginkel scored very well in the areas that comprise a RAS, or Relative Athletic Score, at the NFL Combine. While working out as a defensive end, Van Ginkel put together a performance that notched a 9.26 RAS, with his only non-elite areas being size.

Andrew Van Ginkel LB RAS
Andrew Van Ginkel LB RAS

When you adjust Van Ginkel’s position to linebacker, the position he plays for the Dolphins, his already impressive profile looks even better. His overall RAS score jumps from the 9.26 he scored as a defensive end up to a 9.79 as a linebacker. This “Elite” RAS grade is highlighted by his performance in the 20-yard split. Van Ginkel clocked a 2.52 split, a time which ranks him in the top five all-time (since 1987) out of 1929 players with a recorded time.

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As with his performance as a defensive end, Van Ginkel scores as an “Elite” athlete in both the “Explosion” and “Agility” categories, while coming in as “Great” in the speed category. The only area of concern for Van Ginkel is strength. His bench press numbers were sub-standard, putting up “only” 17 reps of 225. However, with a year under his belt and with a focus on getting stronger, that should not be an area of too much concern going forward.

Reasons for optimism with Van Ginkel in 2020

Van Ginkel saw limited playing time in 2019 but was productive when his number was called. In his rookie season, Van Ginkel only appeared in six games and got only one start. However, he made the most of what little time he did see. Over those six games, Van Ginkel was able to tally one sack, four tackles for loss, and four QB hits, tacking on 15 tackles and a fumble recovery for good measure.

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With an increased role in 2020, along with a much-improved group around him, Van Ginkel should be poised to thrive in 2020. He has the speed, agility, and explosion. He’s flashed the ability to turn his athletic testing into on-the-field production. Now it’s time for Van Ginkel to kick it into high gear and show the Dolphins — and the NFL world — that it’s his turn to shine.

The task at hand is large, but not insurmountable. The pass rush has been a thorn in the Dolphins’ side for years. If Van Ginkel can continue to grow in his second season, and continue to capitalize on his elite athleticism, Miami’s woes may be a thing of the past. He may not be the next Jason Taylor, but he has the athletic profile to be a similarly impactful player. That sort of contribution would be huge for a team desperate for playmakers in the pass rush phase of the defense.