Tempering the expectations is Pro Football Focus, the analytical site which evaluates every player after every game, as they’ve been releasing their positional rankings to preview the 2016 NFL season.
Out of the six team positional rankings released so far, Miami’s highest rated group is the secondary — at 17th. Below is the full scoop with snippets from PFF for each along with whether we think the ranking is too high, too low, or just right.
PFF: “At one point, it looked like Ryan Tannehill could rival any QB from his draft class—a class that included Andrew Luck—but he has regressed since then, and last season was distinctly mediocre (at best).”
Our view: Too low — There are certainly not 20 quarterbacks I’d take over Ryan Tannehill going into next season. While he regressed last year, he still has upside in an offense with more freedom. Id still have him in the 14-18 range and backup Matt Moore is among the best second-stringers in football.
PFF: “This is little more than a situation of lack of information. Jay Ajayi could be a great starting running back, it’s just impossible to tell after 49 carries as a rookie.”
Our take: Just right — Despite adding Arian Foster yesterday (this ranking was published before the addition), Miami’s backs aren’t an impressive lot, largely because they’re unproven with both Ajayi and Foster having serious durability issues.
PFF: “The Dolphins’ wide receiver and tight end group has a lot of potential, it’s just that, outside of Jarvis Landry, we’ve yet to see it fulfilled.”
Our take: Too low — Landry is among the best slot men in football and DeVante Parker appears ready to become one of the league’s top 10 to 15 wideouts on the outside. If you prorate his final six games of his rookie campaign over the course of a 16-game season, it’d equate to 1,187 yards and eight touchdowns on a dynamic 19-yards-per-catch. They also added a rookie with sticky hands in Leonte Carroo.
PFF: “While this unit should be capable of producing adequate protection in 2016, thinks could very easily go downhill given the current roster, and the Dolphins may find themselves near the bottom of the O-line rankings once more.”
Our take: Just right — Yes, Miami added some new names on the interior that includes Laremy Tunsil but until he proves his worth at the next level, there are still major question marks at both guard spots. The stink of Dallas Thomas still lurks.
PFF: “A healthy Cameron Wake answers many questions off the edge, but will there be support from Mario Williams shaking off a sluggish 2015 in Buffalo? Will Dion Jordan be reinstated to add a wildcard to this mix?”
Out take: Just right — Similar to last season, this group features many big names on paper up front but there are too many ifs to put them among the league’s elite. They lost one of their best edge rushers in Olivier Vernon and Williams is coming off a pitiful year in Buffalo.
PFF: “Maxwell’s time with the Eagles did not go well, allowing a career-high 100.7 passer rating into his coverage last season. He will again need to prove that he can perform outside of the Seattle system. Rookie Xavien Howard (Baylor) has plenty of upside, and should push Lippett for the starting corner position opposite Maxwell.”
Our take: Just right — Reshad Jones is a star but the other three spots are more question marks. Corner could be the weakest point of Miami’s defense this season if Maxwell doesn’t bounce back and Howard doesn’t translate.
In combining all six position groups ranked, Miami has an average ranking of 22nd. Clearly there are too many unproven players at the top of Miami’s depth chart for Pro Football Focus’ liking.
Barring a sudden surge in Tannehill’s development, this team has mediocre talent level on the whole and should elate its fan base with another 6-to-8 win season.
One positive? They ranked Jarvis Landry as the league’s No. 10 gamebreaker.