5 new Miami Dolphins players who will be upgrades this season

5 new Miami Dolphins players who will be upgrades this season

The Miami Dolphins lost five impact starters after the 2023 season. Some of the losses obviously hurt more than the others, including guard Robert Hunt leaving South Florida for a massive contract with the Carolina Panthers.

 

However, on both sides of the ball, general manager Chris Grier worked around the clock to bring in some new faces. These five additions in particular were quite head-turning and we think they’ll be able to improve Miami overall in 2024:

 

 

5. Kendall Fuller over Xavien Howard

When the Dolphins decided to move on from Xavien Howard, it was based on the salary cap, but the truth is, Howard wasn’t the player he used to be. Kendall Fuller has been more consistent over the last two seasons and he will be cheaper.

 

Howard’s release on June 1 will save the Dolphins $18 million in cap space. While Howard remained a fan favorite, his production was starting to deteriorate on the field. This happens as players get older, and even the best eventually crash back to Earth.

 

 

Both players were drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft, with Howard being taken in Round 2 and Fuller in Round 3. Fuller has 17 more games played than Howard, 117-110, but Howard is far more impressive with his 29 interceptions to Fuller’s 16. Fuller, however, has 366 tackles compared to Howard’s 258. Howard has four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro selections. Fuller has none, but does come with a Super Bowl ring from his two years with Kansas City.

 

Since 2016, both players have taken over 82 percent of their defensive snaps. Fuller has been targeted 501 times, according to ProFootballReference.com, and has given up 328 receptions. Comparatively speaking, Howard has been targeted 429 times with 240 receptions. Howard has done much better in that department than Fuller. The problem, however, is throughout the last couple of seasons.

 

Statistically, Howard is slightly better, but many of his stats are high due to his two phenomenal years. Fuller will make the Dolphins better because he hasn’t started his decline yet. Given the money Miami had tied into Howard and the visible coverage issues the past two seasons, Fuller can step in and should provide more of an impact or, at the very least, have the same impact Howard has had the last two campaigns.

 

 

 

4. Jordyn Brooks over Jerome Baker

Jerome Baker gave everything he had to the Dolphins, but his production on the field wasn’t equal to his salary. When Anthony Weaver became the defensive coordinator, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Baker.

 

Baker was good, but lacked the physicality to become elite at times. Jordyn Brooks isn’t elite, but he has the physicality to become that. Baker has been in the NFL since the 2018 draft, while Brooks was taken in the 2020 draft. Brooks made an impression with the Seahawks, and the Dolphins got him relatively easily.

 

Brooks will give Weaver a starting middle linebacker with the mental awareness to go with his athleticism. In their comparative careers, Baker is better statistically. More sacks, 22.5 – 6.5, 382 solo tackles compared to 309. Brooks has 23 tackles for loss, only eight less than Baker in two fewer seasons.

 

Weaver wants his linebackers to be instinctive and attack the ball carriers at the line of scrimmage. Baker was solid, but his reactions started slow. Brooks is quick to discern between a pass and a run and reacts quickly. The speed Brooks plays at will help improve the Dolphins’ linebacker unit.

 

3. Jordan Poyer over Brandon Jones

The Dolphins still have work to do at the safety position and will likely have to comb through the free-agent market once the Howard money clears in early June. The decision to sign Jordan Poyer was smart, considering the Dolphins lost both DeShon Elliott and Brandon Jones this offseason.

 

Of the two, Poyer will make a much bigger impact than Jones was able to make during his time in Miami. Poyer has a long history of success in the NFL. He has spent the last seven seasons with the Bills after stops with the Eagles and Browns to start his career.

 

Poyer isn’t surprised by much anymore, and he remains a physical hitter who tackles well at the point of contact. Overall, there is no comparison to Jones, but is he better than Elliott was last season? Elliott looked good with Miami last year, and fans were surprised that Miami didn’t make a bigger attempt to re-sign him. Regardless of the reason, Poyer should provide options in Weaver’s defense. Poyer plays smart, tough and instinctive, and he should pair well with Jevon Holland.

Gideon Canice

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