Sometimes, football is an easy game to figure out.
The Dolphins did not prioritize edge rushers or right tackles early in the draft, despite glaring needs at both positions.
So, the chattering class surmised, the Dolphins would surely address the positions early in Phase 2 of free agency.
And they did, adding Jordan Mills and Nate Orchard in span of a week.
“After the draft, we re-evaluated what else was out there,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “We saw Jordan and obviously I know him and this organization knows him from playing against him in Buffalo. We just saw an opportunity to add a veteran player who has some experience and thought it was a good move for our team.”
Is either Mills or Orchard a top-10, or even 20 player at his position?
But roster building is as much about value identification as it is talent acquisition, and the two players are expected to cost the Dolphins less than $5 million combined in 2019.
If one becomes a starter, that’s a good deal. If both play meaningful snaps, it’s a steal.
Orchard, the ex-Browns outside linebacker, signed with the team Thursday, so we will have to wait until next week to hear why he believes his career can get on track with the Dolphins — his fourth team in eight months. (He was one of three free agents added to the roster Thursday; center Tony Adams and guard Kyle Fuller were the others.)
But Mills, the durable-but-inconsistent lineman who is on his fifth team since entering the league in 2013, spoke with reporters this week. And his opinion of the team’s 2019 chances are far higher than in most quarters.
“It’s a great team, great young team, new coaching staff,” Mills said. “[We’re] coming out here to build a championship, playoff-caliber type team and get an opportunity to play for this great organization with a great history. It’s a true blessing and I’m glad to be here.”
While Mills is expected to start, it’s not a given. He needs to beat out Zach Sterup for the job, and for now, he’s no better than No. 2 on the depth chart. Mills, who has logged more than 1,000 snaps in each of the past three seasons, had a rough first season in Buffalo, allowing 57 pressures in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus. But his pass blocking has improved noticeably since, allowing just 66 total pressures the past two seasons.
“I’m just coming in to add my savvy, my experience and just come out here and compete and work hard every day,” he said. “That’s the task at hand right now, to come in and help this team get better each day.”
Mills said the Dolphins were one of several teams to reach out to him during his long free agency, but Miami was the best fit.
“They are a tough team,” Mills said. “They bring it every time. When they are playing in Hard Rock Stadium or when they come up to Buffalo, they bring it every time. They never give up. They have a toughness about themselves that nobody has. Not everybody practices in this heat. Not many teams can say that. The way we grind and the way we push, we are pushing towards something great, but we’ve got to take it one day at a time.”