Miami Dolphins starting center Daniel Kilgore has only respect for former Fin’s center Mike Pouncey
A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Tuesday night:
▪ The Dolphins decided replacing center Mike Pouncey with Daniel Kilgore last year would be a virtual wash, that they would be getting a similar player who would be cheaper and less injury-prone.
It didn’t work out that way. While Pouncey played generally effectively in all 16 games for the Chargers, Kilgore tore his triceps in the fourth game, missing the rest of the season.
Kilgore was made available to reporters on Tuesday for the first time since last September and said he’s fully healthy but that the Dolphins have not conveyed to him whether he will be on the team (it appears very likely he will be) or if he’s part of the plan moving forward.
“I don’t own that locker,” he said. “Nobody owns their locker, not even the coaches. You just rent your spot, so you never know.”
The Dolphins need to give Kilgore another a year because, frankly, they have nobody else. But an NFL official who spoke to the Dolphins said Miami is taking a wait-and-see approach with Kilgore, as far as whether he’s good enough to be here beyond 2019.
“I’m going on my ninth season; this is my sixth head coach, sixth offense,” he said. “I approach every year, when there is a change, the same way. You have to win these guys over. That was my goal last March when I got traded here [from the 49ers]. For me, it’s always been the same story. You have to fight your [butt] off. You have to show them that you’re wanting to play and just do your job.”
At 31, Kilgore is actually two years older than Pouncey. In terms of sticking on the roster, it helps that he’s a cheap, serviceable starter.
Kilgore has two years left on his contract, with a $2.2 million base salary in 2019 and a $3.0 million salary in 2020.
Pro Football Focus gave Kilgore a 52.9 grade for his four games last season, which would have ranked 31st of 38 centers if Kilgore had enough snaps to qualify. PFF gave Pouncey a 56.9 grade, which was 25th.
For all the concerns about Pouncey’s health, he has now played in all 16 games two consecutive seasons. And the Dolphins didn’t urgently need the cap room when they released him.
Kilgore said his injury was healed enough for him to have played in December if needed. But he couldn’t, because the Dolphins had placed him on injured reserve.
“I would say if I was needed at the end of last season, I probably could’ve fought through it, but no reason to risk it,” he said. “I feel good. No limitations now. Everything is full-go.”
Kilgore is fortunate in that unlike Miami’s other lineman who was injured - Josh Sitton - he wasn’t released. But Sitton was more expensive than Kilgore. Sitton recently retired after Miami cut him.
▪ Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, who’s 6-3 and 315 pounds, revealed the team has him working at nose tackle when Miami plays a 3-4 defense. But the Dolphins would like to add a natural 3-4 nose tackle in the draft process and recently brought Wisconsin’s 346-pound Olive Sagapola to team headquarters.
The Dolphins’ biggest defensive linemen are 325-pound Durval Queiroz Neto (a Brazilian player who will be an 11th player on Miami’s practice squad this season) and 323-pound Joey Mbu (a journeyman and former Alliance of American Football player).
Every AFC East team has been allocated one player as part of the expansion of the International Player Pathway program. They are ineligible to play in 2019.
Coach Brian Flores said of Neto: “ I talked to him yesterday and I said ‘This is a great time for you to be here.’ He’ll be working hand placement and footwork. I’m excited to have him. He’s a good-looking young kid. He seems like he’s eager to learn, he’s eager to put in a lot of effort and we’ll try to maximize his potential, which I think there is something there.”
▪ The Dolphins have taken a liking to Southern Cal 6-1 cornerback Iman Marshall, a projected mid-round pick who also can play safety. He’s had private contact with Miami recently, a league source confirmed.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said of Marshall: “Physical four-year starter at cornerback who might need to prepare for a move to safety due to a lack of functional long speed and athleticism. Marshall’s size and play strength made life challenging on Pac-12 receivers, but he lacks the foot quickness and technique to stay connected to more refined NFL targets. While he could be in consideration for Cover-2 defenses, his ability to cover tight ends and handle run-support duties make him a natural candidate for a transition to safety.”
▪ We’ve broken and/or confirmed 21 of the Dolphins’ maximum permitted 30 pre-draft visits – which are never announced by the team - and two others have been reported elsewhere that haven’t been confirmed: Stanford receiver Trenton Irwin and Oregon defensive end/linebacker Jalen Jelks.
Jelks, who’s 6-5 and 256 pounds, moved from defensive end to linebacker in 2018 and his sack numbers fell from 7.0 to 3.5.
“You thought would go maybe a little higher when the season began but to me he didn’t produce the kind of year expected, ESPN’s Mel Kiper said. “You look at numbers and when you’re 6-5-and-a-half and you have the length he does, to me there’s an opportunity there to be a disruptor off the edge.
“I think of all the (Oregon) guys he’s still to me the most intriguing because I thought going into the year he could maybe end up being a second-round type of player. I think all will end up – Jelks because of the length and the wingspan and the disruptive force he may be able to be once he’s at the pro level may be the guy that comes off the board maybe ahead of some of the other guys.”
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein projects him as a sixth-rounder: “Long-limbed edge worker who might be best suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker unless he can add much needed strength and mass. Some teams will struggle with where he fits from a position standpoint, but he could challenge for reps early in his career as a designated pass rusher along the interior in sub-packages.”
▪ The Dolphins last week called Wisconsin’s Micah Kapoi, who’s appealing to them because he can play every position on the offensive line. At 6-4 and 310 pounds, he played 48 games at Wisconsin, with starts at left guard and right guard.
▪ We hear Wyoming’s Niko Evans is among the running backs on Miami’s radar. He emerged as a prospect last year, averaging 6.5 per carry and rushing for 1325 yards, which was second in the Mountain West Conference.
Here’s my other Dolphins post from Tuesday’s first practice under Flores, with notes on Xavien Howard, Laremy Tunsil, injuries and more.