Jevon Holland may be the missing piece in the Miami Dolphins defensive puzzle.
When the second round of the NFL draft started, this particular Miami Dolphins fan wanted two things, a running back, and a center. The cookie definitely didn’t crumble this way at all, a trade by the Broncos to leapfrog the Dolphins saw the best running back go off the board, one pick before them (deja vu from 2020 and JK Dobbins), and then later in the second round, the Dolphins traded up (using a 3rd rounder from next year) to take a tackle.
It took me a while to figure out what all draft gurus thought, the best pure safety, Trevon Moehrig was still available, the Dolphins were fast to the podium and selected Jevon Holland.
I did some preliminary research on all safeties before the draft and I knew of Jevon, I thought he would go into the 3rd or 4th round, but I didn’t see him being selected in the top 50. It was a surprise selection, considering the Dolphins had two veteran starters already locked in as a starter role. Additionally, Landon Dickerson (who went next to Philly) and Creed Humphries were still available to answer the weakest link on the Dolphins offensive line. But the saying goes – time heals all.
That time healing helped when the Dolphins cut Bobby McCain, their starting Free Safety last year, clearing up over 8MM in cap space and more importantly, a position that is now up for grabs. Then more time passed and the Dolphins signed former Patriots Jason McCourty which Coach Flores believed will help in the leadership and mentoring program he has instilled. Now with training camp just around the corner, you get a better feel on what Jevon could potentially bring to this team.
First, you can’t really assess Jevon’s skillset from last year, as he “opted out” due to Covid-19. His 2019 tape was ok and reviewing a few of his games, you can see a dynamic player that plays multiple positions for the Oregon Ducks. Looking at this even closer, I can’t help see the similarities between Jevon and Minkah Fitzpatrick, with a rather slight difference, that Minkah was a better prospect. Minkah, remember, was traded for Austin Jackson, and at this current snapshot, the Pittsburgh Steelers have won the trade outright.
Oct 26, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks safety Jevon Holland (8) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass for a touchdown during the first half against the Washington State Cougars at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
One thing that is interesting to watch and something that Minkah could not handle during his tenure in Miami is that Jevon wasn’t just a Free Safety. He played outside corner, strong safety, and even nickel back. There were times the Ducks lined up in 3-5-3, and Jevon was playing weakside linebacker. Everyone knows that versatility is a key characteristic that Coach Flores loves, which is starting to make sense why the Dolphins rushed to the podium to make this selection.
Scouting Jevon is actually fun to do, based on his size, his jam at the line of scrimmage will remind Dolphins fans of Sean Smith. His fluidity is exactly what Smith uses to bring and his hip movements are reactionary which is exactly what you are looking for. On the backend, Jevon has played a mix of both Robber (Box 1 Safety) and Zebra ( Two safety High), his ball skills are close to matching what we saw with Brock Marion. If the Dolphins have found a combination player of Sean Smith at Cornerback blended in with Brock Marion as a Free Safety, then selecting Jevon is an absolute steal. Let’s not paint a perfect picture, Jevon does have some growing pains that he needs to address. He gets caught watching Wide Receivers eyes and not their hips, meaning he gets dusted once in a while. His anticipation needs work as well, as he tries to jump routes, in college no problem, he has the speed to make up for it, but in the NFL speed kills and that would be a quick 6 against him.
Taking all this into consideration, those characteristics are teachable, and when your Head Coach is a former defensive back, trust me, Jevon got drafted by the team that can best foster his ability. Jevon’s father was a former CFL champion, and his dad trained him every day to become the player he is now. Enter Coach Flores who is known as a father figure to many of the players he has brought in or selected. Jevon has the opportunity to be molded into a player that Coach Flores envisioned, which is something that Minkah never bought into, which is why he is no longer a Miami Dolphins.
Chris Grier and Brian Flores are building something special in their secondary, a lockdown unit that will remind the Dolphins of Patrick Surtain (Xavien Howard), Sam Madison (Bryon Jones), Sammy Knight (Eric Rowe), and Brock Marion (Jevon Holland). Is Jevon the missing piece – can’t wait to find out.