AVG is A-OK: Miami Dolphins’ Grier reveals why Miami didn’t spend big on a pass rusher

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Adam H. Beasley
·3 min read
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The most puzzling part of the Miami Dolphins’ free agency was their approach to pass rusher.

There were a bunch of quality edge defenders available, and while the high-end market was steep, some teams did find value.

Jadeveon Clowney and Haason Reddick both signed one-year deals for less than $10 million.

And yet, the Dolphins — who cut Kyle Van Noy and traded Shaq Lawson — were fine only adding depth pieces like Brennan Scarlett and Duke Riley.

On Wednesday, we learned why: Chris Grier and Brian Flores think they have a really good one already in-house.

Andrew Van Ginkel had a bust-out second NFL season, ranking fourth on the team with 5 1/2 sacks.

And based on Miami’s offseason approach, the team expects another big leap in Year 3.

During his pre-draft news conference Wednesday, Grier explained the rationale behind the Dolphins’ offseason moves — why they jettisoned Van Noy after just one year and why they didn’t spend significantly on defensive end or outside linebacker:

“Kyle did a good job for us last year and provided a lot of things. He helped us win 10 games like a lot of our players on this roster that are no longer here. I wish him the best. But for us, we had some young players we were developing that we felt good about and those guys need to get on the field. At the end of the day, it was a decision we made as an organization going into it. We talked about the roster at the end of the season between Brian, myself, the coaches and the scouts. At the end of the day, it was a move we made.

“In terms of the pass rush, we feel good about it. Like everything, we’re always looking to keep upgrading. It’s just such a unique year with the pandemic and so many teams releasing players, players taking one-year deals on cheaper — or below market value I should say — because of the lower salary cap. For us at the end of the day, we’ll continue looking at turning over the roster. We’ll go through the draft here and keep looking at free agents that are on the streets as well.”

Five weeks into the new league year, there aren’t a ton of quality free agents left.

But there are some really intriguing prospects in the draft — particularly in the range of the Dolphins’ second first-round pick (18th overall).

Michigan’s Kwity Paye, Penn State’s Micah Parsons, Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and the University of Miami’s top two prospects — Jaelan Phillips and Greg Rousseau — are all expected to go around that range.

Of that quintet, Parsons and Rousseau elected to opt out of the 2020 season over COVID-19 concerns, but Grier said Wednesday that their respective draft grades were not affected because of it.

“I don’t think we can hold that against these players,” Grier said. “Even some of the guys that played this year only played four or five games because of pandemic rules at their schools. You go back, you watch the 2019 season. I think our scouts and coaches have all done a great job of working through that process and spending time here getting to know these players. It’s a challenging year.

“Every team is dealing with the same level playing field,” he continued. “At the end of the day, you just get as much information as you can and rely on the relationships that scouts and coaches have with the schools to really get to know these players — from coaches. At the end of the day, you really can’t punish these kids because again, every team and every college is so different this year in terms of games played, etc.”