Miami Dolphins

Brian Flores’ fingerprints might be all over the Dolphins’ first-round draft pick

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is living the dream

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores says he's living the dream as he speaks to the media before the start of a three-day voluntary minicamp at Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.
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Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores says he's living the dream as he speaks to the media before the start of a three-day voluntary minicamp at Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.

Smart, plugged-in people are convinced the Dolphins will draft a front-seven player early this weekend, perhaps as early as 13th.

And that makes sense, given what makes Chris Grier tick.

Grier survived the great purge of 2019 because Stephen Ross viewed him as part of the solution in Miami, not part of the problem. Mike Tannenbaum and Adam Gase are gone. So are Ryan Tannehill and most of his ex-teammates.

But as Grier enters his first draft with Brian Flores, his hand-picked coach, it’s useful to understand how he operated in the past to project how he will moving forward.

Grier insisted that he had final say the last three years in the draft room, and then added a crucial caveat:

“It was a collaboration, as you know. You know me, as we talked about, I’m not going to force a coach to take a player, because that doesn’t work. If the coach doesn’t want a player and I say, ‘No, we’re taking him,’ and then it works out one way or the other, good; but if it doesn’t, it creates that animosity and then the distrust and it’s not worth it, because you’ve been around here long enough and you’ve seen a lot of that happen. I’m not going to force any player on anyone.”

Translation: Flores, a keen defensive mind who probably values front seven play as much as any head coach in the league, has a big say in whom the Dolphins take not just at 13, but with their six other picks.

And like basically every other aspect of his life the past three months, it’s a new dynamic for the Dolphins’ first-time coach.

“Chris and I are in constant communication whether it’s on the phone, whether he’s in my office, I’m in his office,” Flores said. “We’re in constant communication about players, the draft, free agency, AAF players. He and I have a really good relationship. We’re aligned in a lot of the things we’re looking for in players.”

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And what do Flores and Grier look for in players?

Tough. Smart. Football loving. Team-first.

He spelled them out when he first arrived on the scene, and there’s no reason to believe that Flores’ core beliefs have chanced in the weeks since.

“I think it’s a combination of things — production, height, weight, speed, intangibles, fit. There’s a myriad of things there so to say there’s just one thing that’s important, they’re all important. Is one more important than the other? I would say no. It’s the total fit of the player and really how we feel like they fit with our team.”

Many of those characteristics show up on tape.

Some, however, do not.

Which is why Flores took an active role in the screening process, beginning in earnest at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“You try to get to know the person,” Flores said. “I think that’s a big part of this. I think a lot of times people see players as just players but you want to know about their mom, their dad, an important person in their life, what kind of adversity they’ve faced before. You’re trying to get to know the person.

“And does that person fit your style as a coach?” Flores continued. “Do they fit your locker room? Do they fit the culture you’re trying to build as each individual team and obviously our team? When you sit down with a player or really when you sit down with anyone, you’re just trying to get to know them.”

Who has he gotten to know?

More than a few during the NFL Scouting Combine, no doubt.

But dozens more in the weeks since, when players have paraded through team HQ on official visits.

The Dolphins, like all NFL teams, were allowed to invite 30 non-local prospects to their training facility.

Of those 30, at least 14 were front-seven defenders, including potential first-rounder Jeffery Simmons, a defensive tackle out of Mississippi State.

And the Dolphins have done their homework on the rest that could be available at 13, like Clemson’s Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence, Michigan’s Devin Bush and Rashan Gary and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat.

And the dream scenario is one of the top defenders — like Ed Oliver out of Houston — makes an unexpected slide.

But whomever the Dolphins take Thursday, one thing is certain:

Flores will have signed off on the pick.

“Chris and I, we definitely work well together,” Flores said last week. “He and I both kind of — I don’t want to say speak the same language — but when we say collaborative effort, I think we both really mean that.

He continued: “I think the both of us have had and we will have discussions about players, situations, scenarios and we’ll make a decision together that we think is best for the Miami Dolphins.”

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