Barry Jackson

Dolphins love Tunsil, expect growth from young veterans

Miami Dolphins Laremy Tunsil (67) gestures as he walks off the field during Dolphins mini-camp at Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Thurs., June 16, 2016
Miami Dolphins Laremy Tunsil (67) gestures as he walks off the field during Dolphins mini-camp at Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Thurs., June 16, 2016

Adam Gase on Tuesday made clear how important the draft is for a team that is no longer looking to bid mega dollars for free agents from other teams.

And several of the Dolphins’ recent draft picks will be under the proverbial microscope this season.

Among them:

• Laremy Tunsil: Gase said it’s clear that Tunsil is ready to handle the move to his natural position, left tackle - which is why Miami traded Branden Albert to Jacksonville for a 2018 seventh-round pick.

“We drafted him in the first round because we felt like he’s an elite left tackle,” Gase said at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona. “We felt like we have a special player there. When we watch him practice at left tackle, it looks different. You watch him: A guy his size, he moves so smooth. His confidence when he goes to left tackle, it changes. You can tell he knows that’s where he belongs. BA did a great job for us was a great leader for us. But it was time for us to get Laremy out to that left tackle spot.”

Gase believes one year playing left guard helped him because “he understands what goes on between the guard and the tackle and it makes him understand the whole picture instead of just one guy’s job. That will benefit him down the road.”

• Jordan Phillips. With Earl Mitchell gone and no replacement yet acquired, Phillips’ snaps are expected to rise. The Dolphins would love to see him become a reliable starter.

“We have to do things to make sure [Ndamukong] Suh isn’t doubled the entire game,” Gase said. “Whoever is playing opposite him, he has to make plays. We are going to put a lot of pressure on Jordan this year. We feel like the talent is there. We feel he’s doing things the right way. We felt at the end of the year he was doing things the right way.

“He was aware it wasn’t necessarily about him just making a play. It was about him [knowing] I have to do my job because my job affects the guy next to me and behind me. Suh is such a rare player when he makes that decision that he may go outside the scheme, he makes the play. He rarely goes outside the scheme..... Jordan is starting to realize it’s not only about me trying to make a play. I have to understand the guy next to me, the guy behind me. That’s what defensive tackles do; they allow other guys to make play. That’s why they’re almost the forgotton soldiers on the field.”

• Xavien Howard: The cornerback was limited to six games last season because of a knee injury and he allowed a 104 passer rating in his coverage area. The Dolphins expect growth.

“X did a good job on the things we asked him to do,” Gase said. “One thing you’re never really sure with corners is whether they can tackle. We were able to check that box very quickly. We know he can play man to man coverage, which in this league is a premium, especially on third down. There are things we need to get better with him. His overall knowledge of football. When you come from the conference he came from, they’re so spread out. It’s a wide open passing game. When you get in the NFL all of sudden you start to get stacks and bunches and teams are doing all of these types of concepts and some of these things you haven’t seen before.

“Him not really having a training camp and then missing a ton of time during the season, that probably hurt him because he was learning on the fly week to week. We have some development to do there. This spring is going to be big for him and training camp. The longer he plays, the better he’s going to be.”

• Kenyan Drake: The Dolphins like his big play potential and Gase has said his role is expected to increase.

Gase cracked Tuesday that “occasionally, I wanted to possibly hurt Drake every once in a while, but he’s my guy. He does so many good thing but he always does one thing whether it be on or off the field where he will test me every once in a while, I kind of like it. ... There is a high trust level for me” with that group of running backs.

• Leonte Carroo: He played only 103 offensive snaps last season and remains stuck behind Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. Armando explained here some of Miami’s thoughts, and Gase expanded on that today.

“I do think we can [get him right],” Gase said. “He did a lot of good things early in the season. As the year went on, when DeVante came back, he was less involved. Sometimes, you lose track sometimes when a guy is your fourth/fifth receiver. The reason they’re in that spot is they’re behind really good players and probably little more limited than what you want to do. You are always thinking they should be able to do everything. That’s not fair to him.

“We need to lean on his strengths more which I don’t think I did a very good job at last year. I have a good idea of how we want to use him this year. We feel we have a good idea what those strengths are. When you’ve got a guy that’s smart, an extremely hard worker; he does have a desire to be a guy that ends up starting for us at some point in his career. That’s a tough lineup to crack. The fact that’s his mindset, we have a great opportunity to get him better this year. I threw too much at our guys and tried to get them to do a little too much last year. That was part of our poor start. We kind of scaled back when we hit that Pittsburgh game.... They perfected it and we had a better result.”

Please click here for everything Gase had to say today about the Dolphins’ new veteran additions.

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