There is certainly no shortage in the talent pool for the 2017 Miami Dolphins. However, there is no point in talking about the talent if the players can’t put it all together. Let’s check out which players have the fans buzzing already due to their enormous potential.
5. Cordrea Tankersley
The Dolphins spent a 3rd round pick on Tankersley and for good reason. The 6’1” cornerback from Clemson has tremendous size for a corner, something the Dolphins have lacked overall as a defense since the departure of Sean Smith. With Tony Lippett’s season-ending Achilles injury, Tankersley figures to find himself competing for time in the nickel corner position along with Bobby McCain and Alterruan Verner. Tankersley’s appeal can be attributed mainly to his top-end speed (4.40 40 yard dash), above average size (6’1”), and championship pedigree coming from his time spent at Clemson. Therefore, Tankersley’s physical tools and big-game experience figure to cement him as an exciting cornerback prospect for the Dolphins in 2017.
4. Davon Godchaux
Another player coming from a blue-chip college football program, Godchaux has shown this preseason how an apprenticeship under All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh can pay dividends. Godchaux has been the darling of the preseason and rightfully so. Having passed 2015 2nd round pick Jordan Phillips, Godchaux deserves the attention this preseason. A three-year impact starter at NCAA power LSU, Godchaux was a leading disruptive force among a conference stacked with NFL offensive lineman prospects. The excitement with Godchaux is the coaches’ early confidence in him. As a guy who fell into the 5th round, the Dolphins may have struck gold in the form of a 6’3” 305 lbs. defensive stalwart. Expect Godchaux to benefit from increased attention to Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake and really impress in his rookie campaign.
3. Xavien Howard
Xavien Howard has all the physical tools to be an incredible talent. However, he is looking to redeem himself and live up to expectations following an injury-plagued rookie season. While Tankersley looks to occupy a nickel corner roster spot, Howard is poised to step up and assert himself as a solid cornerback on the outside. Howard struggled in his rookie year, but has adjusted well in year two as seen in his preseason improvements in ball skills. At 6’0” 200 pounds, Howard has the ability to play the role of a physical cornerback, which paired with Tankersley can pose matchup nightmares for opposing offenses. Having said that, Howard is due for an exciting 2017 season if he can carry his preseason momentum into a 16-game slate.
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2. Jay Cutler
Sure, this one’s an obvious one, but the 2017 season lies fairly heavily on the play of Jay Cutler. Jay Cutler’s situation is unique as the Miami front office is looking to capitalize on a window of roster talent fresh off a playoff berth in 2016.
Cutler brings something that has long been missing from the head of the Dolphins offense, and that’s a fearless leader who plays with passion and has their play marked with instincts inside and outside of the pocket. Cutler will make mistakes, but not due to hesitancy or inexperience, which is an appreciated change of pace.
If you think that’s far from true, ask Vikings fans how much Brett Favre was appreciated following years of quarterback purgatory in the form of AARP eligible Brad Johnson and the permanently incompetent Tarvaris Jackson.
The best part about Cutler stepping into the lead role in Miami is the embarrassment of riches Cutler has at his disposal. Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Julius Thomas combine to form a star-studded group of pass-catchers. Jay Ajayi provides Cutler with his security blanket in the form of a workhorse running back who will shoulder the load for this 2017 Dolphins offense. Thus, with these tools at hand and under the familiar tutelage of Adam Gase, Cutler’s 2017 campaign ought to be highly anticipated for Dolphins fans
1. DeVante Parker
Parker is the crown jewel of the Dolphins offense in the eyes of Jay Cutler. Parker’s physical tools merit nightmares by any defensive player in the NFL and Cutler looks to take full advantage of them. Receivers such as Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey have had multiple monster years with Cutler at the helm. Luckily for Dolphins fans, DeVante Parker is nearly a mirror image of the two. Parker, like Jeffrey, stands at 6’3” with both weighing 210+. While Marshall boasts a 6’5” stature, the three play as strong, jump-ball catching wide-outs who pose serious threats with big play potential.
Cutler has shown an early comfort when throwing to Parker, which indicates the two will only develop a stronger bond as the season goes on. Cutler’s aggressiveness and gunslinger mentality will bode well for Parker as more deep shots and 50/50 balls will come his way, playing into Parker’s strengths. Also, similar to how every tight situation yielded Ryan Tannehill searching for Jarvis Landry, Cutler’s early rapport will likely mean Parker will be his go-to man in tight situations. Having said that, Parker could be poised to see the amount of targets this year that have allowed Landry to set NFL reception records when Tannehill was finding him for 8-10 targets per game.