Dolphins Q&A: Is Miami’s linebacker depth concerning?

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Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·3 min read
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Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers Safid Deen and Omar Kelly answer questions from readers.

Q: Does our linebacker depth make you queasy as much as it does me? - @Jer_Lincoln

A: The one position I felt the Dolphins would address in the draft because of the depth at the position, and avoid in free agency was linebacker.

But it turns out the Dolphins went the opposite route to address that unit, hitting it hard in free agency to alleviate the need to address it in the draft.

Miami re-signed Vince Biegel and Elandon Roberts, who both suffered season-ending injuries and face a lengthy rehab process, and gave Calvin Munson his exclusive rights tender.

Miami traded Shaq Lawson to get Benardrick McKinney, a former Pro Bowl talent who has a reputation for being a forceful run stuffer.

Then the Dolphins signed two journeymen and special teams contributors — Brennan Scarlett, Duke Riley — adding them to a stable of linebackers that includes Andrew Van Ginkel, Jerome Baker, Sam Equavoen and Kylan Johnson, a second-year player Miami developed last season on the practice squad.

All but Johnson have experience as a starter.

The way I envision the linebacker unit is McKinney and Baker handling the inside linebacker roles, with Roberts getting sprinkled in when healthy, and Van Ginkel and Biegel manning the outside linebacker roles because of their versatility.

I liked what Van Ginkel and Biegel showed in 2019 and 2020, and I think they fit well into the hybrid scheme Miami wants to run.

With Baker continuing his role as a tailback coverage specialist and an occasional blitzer and McKinney sealing off gaps in running lanes, I can envision this unit producing a better output than last year’s linebacker unit.

My only concern would be the group’s edge-setting ability because if Biegel and Van Ginkel can’t set the edge firmly, this defense’s back will be broken regularly.

That is where the draft comes in because the Dolphins need to add one more piece, one edge player who can play opposite Emmanuel Ogbah on passing downs, and set the edge on first and second downs in Miami’s 4-3 package while Biegel and Van Ginkel handle the 3-4 package.

TCU’s Zaven Collins is the best linebacker in this draft class, and I’d give him serious consideration if he’s still there when Miami makes their selection at No. 18. Collins would be a seamless replacement for Baker, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal and hopes to receive a lucrative contract in the near future.

All three University of Miami pass rushers — Greg Rousseau, Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche — fit into the Dolphins’ scheme. Not necessarily as linebackers, but as edge players. Rousseau and Phillips will likely be taken in the draft’s first 50 selections.

Michigan’s Kwity Paye might be the best edge setter in the draft, and the Dolphins would likely have to use the No. 18 pick on him if he’s the intended target. In my opinion, he’s the best fit for what the Dolphins need.

Penn State’s Micah Parsons certainly fits the mold of what the Dolphins want from a skill set standpoint, but I have concerns about his personality and character, and whether he’d be a good fit in Miami playing for Brian Flores.

Then there’s Georgia pass rusher Azeez Ojulari, who is the best quarterback hunter in this draft, and Texas’ Joseph Ossai, whose speed and agility hints he’d be a great fit in Miami’s scheme.

Both will likely be taken in the draft’s first two rounds, and that’s likely where the Dolphins must address the edge player, adding a linebacker/defensive end who fits into Miami’s defense.

Have a question?

Email Safid Deen, or tag @OmarKelly or @Safid_Deen on Twitter.

Previously answered:

What did recent tight end deals do for Mike Gesicki’s asking price?

Could Chris Grier, Brian Flores trade down — again — in the 2021 NFL draft?

How many wide receivers is too many for Miami?

What are the Dolphins’ top free-agent needs?

What could cause the Dolphins defense to regress in 2021?

Shouldn’t stacking more young talent be the Dolphins’ focus this offseason?

Why is this offseason so crazy regarding QB movement?

Are the Dolphins done spending big in free agency?

What would be the perfect offseason for Miami?

How close are the Dolphins to having another ‘Unicorn’ offensive line?

Which QB could come to Miami to be Tua’s backup?

Why are the Dolphins always used as pawns by agents?

Is the return of Davon Godchaux and Vince Biegel enough to improve Miami’s defense?

What should Miami’s approach be to improve the run game?

Which Dolphins player had the best rookie season?