The Miami Dolphins logically should compete for a playoff berth in 2021 after knocking on the door last season, but how do they stack up with the AFC contenders when it comes to personnel?
Based on the fact that cornerback Xavien Howard was the only player on the team selected to the Pro Bowl in 2020 despite the team’s impressive 10-6 record, it seems there’s somewhat of a lack of respect for the Dolphins roster.
And it appears nothing has changed since the end of last season.
The list included a single Dolphins player, the aforementioned Xavien Howard, who came in at number 24 after finishing third in the voting for NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2020.
The only other teams without at least two representatives on Prisco’s list were New England, Houston, Jacksonville, Las Vegas and Detroit with one apiece, and the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles without a single Top 100 player.
This is where we need to point out that none of those seven teams finished with a winning record.
It’s even worse when you add Prisco’s list of 40 players who just missed the cut because the Dolphins were shut out in that department, and if you take his top 140 players, the Dolphins ended up as one of five teams with only one representative.
Miami had Howard; New England had Stephon Gilmore; Houston had Deshaun Watson; Jacksonville had Myles Jack; and Detroit had center Frank Ragnow.
Again, this isn’t about just Prisco because it’s the same story when it comes to other analysts because invariably it seems as though Howard is the only player on the Miami roster who is viewed as elite — unless you count All-Pro kicker Jason Sanders, who doesn’t often get mentioned because of his position.
But the Dolphins didn’t get to 10-6 last season without having strong performances, and Emmanuel Ogbah, Jerome Baker, Eric Rowe and Mike Gesicki, among others, certainly had productive seasons.
So is it a case of the Dolphins have a lot of good players but nobody elite other than Howard? Was the 10-6 record a product of brilliant coaching?
Was it something in between?
To be sure, the Dolphins have their share of good players; it’s just that they’re not considered elite.
Along with the previously mentioned players, we certainly could add DeVante Parker, newcomer Will Fuller V, Byron Jones and Jakeem Grant as a returner.
When it comes to the lack of recognition heading into 2021, there’s another factor at play, and that’s the youth of some of the Dolphins’ key players moving forward.
That list, of course, includes quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who couldn’t be included in a top 100 list based off his rookie season but hopefully earns that kind of status sooner rather than later. Maybe Jaylen Waddle will get there at some point, but Prisco’s list didn’t include a single rookie, so it’s too soon for that. And then what about the three 2020 draft picks who started on the offensive line last year and hopefully will become the foundation for the O-line.
For those keeping score, Tampa Bay and Green Bay tied for most players on Prisco’s Top 100 list with seven, followed by Kansas City and Minnesota with six.
As with everything else, though, the recognition follows the results on the field, so if the Dolphins can improve on their 2020 results, maybe we won’t be talking about a lack of respect for their roster anymore.