Barry Jackson

Here are Dolphins’ early impressions of Wisconsin LB Van Ginkel. And an ex-Cane impressing

Dolphins GM Chris Grier agrees this needs to be a ‘great draft’

Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier agrees the 2019 NFL Draft needs to be a "great draft" for their rebuilding effort, April 17, 2019.
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Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier agrees the 2019 NFL Draft needs to be a "great draft" for their rebuilding effort, April 17, 2019.

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Thursday:

During Wednesday’s OTA session, the only practice open to reporters this week, it was encouraging to see rookie linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel drop back into coverage and make a nice play in the end zone to keep a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass from being completed.

The Dolphins are hopeful that Van Ginkel will be a productive pass rusher, considering he had 12 sacks in two years at Wisconsin. But they also believe he can do other things. At Wisconsin, he had four forced fumbles and two interceptions.

“He has done a nice job,” coach Brian Flores said. “Good speed, instinctive. He has a playmaking knack we liked. Hopefully, that translates.”

Van Ginkel — selected in the fifth round, 151st overall in April’s draft — said he’s learning three linebacker positions, while also working a bit with the team’s defensive line coach. He said he has spent some time with the starters, as part of a rotation of several edge rushers.

A natural SAM linebacker, Van Ginkel said coaches are “testing and seeing where I fit in best in this defense. Coach is having me learn it all, all three positions. He focuses big on knowing the concepts so we’re all interchangeable. I’m trying to take in as much information whether it’s on the d-line or linebacker because if you get the concepts down, you can basically do it all.”

He said he has spent time with defensive line coach Marion Hobby and “he’s been helping me on different [pass rush] moves. That’s someone I can learn a great deal from.”

But Van Ginkel, who played some defensive end at South Dakota before transferring to Iowa Western Community College and then to Wisconsin, said the Dolphins haven’t told him if he will play any defensive end here. At 6-4, 236 pounds, he would need to bulk up to do that.

But he’s a natural fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

“Wisconsin did a great job of preparing me because in that defense you have to rush, you have to go inside, outside and drop back into coverage,” he said. “It really has benefited me.”

Draft analysts agree he has a high motor, very good college production and NFL athleticism (“incredible Combine numbers,” Pro Football Focus noted) but concerns have been raised about his physicality against the run.

“He will need a lot more strength and toughness to hold up as a run defender,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said.

The Dolphins might not get a gauge on that until August.

“I think he’s going to be pretty good [in general],” linebacker Raekwon McMillan said Wednesday. “He’s a good young cat. Listens very well, understands what we’re trying to get done as a defense.”

Van Ginkel hopes cross-training will give him a leg up. “Coaches are going to keep guys around that can play all different positions,” he said. “I’m going to try to earn a starting spot no matter where I’m at.”

Former UM running back Mark Walton has impressed as a receiver during OTA sessions, making at least two very difficult catches in the three practices open to reporters.

Walton has a real chance to beat out seventh-rounder Myles Gaskin for the No. 3 running back job.

The quarterback play in the three sessions open to reporters has been, well, simply OK.

We have seen Josh Rosen throw three interceptions and Ryan Fitzpatrick two. Both of them have made some very good throws and some that either sailed or weren’t well placed. For instance, Fitzpatrick (barely) overthrow DeVante Parker on Wednesday when Parker had a step on Eric Rowe. Rosen was off, more than a little, on a couple of throws.

But not all is on the quarterbacks. Parker couldn’t haul in a catchable deep ball from Fitzpatrick on Wednesday. Durham Symthe dropped a pass he should have caught. There has been a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks, and Rosen escaped that pressure for what would have been two significant gains Thursday.

Fitzpatrick offered a thorough assessment of Colorado State undrafted receiver Preston Williams, who has made an impression in OTAs but still has a ways to go:

“Preston’s doing a nice job. He’ll make some ‘wow’ plays and he’ll make some plays that remind you that he’s a young guy. Consistency is going to be a big thing with him. In terms of some of the physical features and the way that he can go get the ball and those type of things, he’s been very impressive. Again, he’s working his tail off and it shows and you can tell out here, but there’s also a lot of work that still needs to be put in for him to be able to be trusted and be out there.

“He’s definitely a guy that, as a quarterback, you take notice at some of the plays that he’s making. Like I said, great plays and boneheaded plays. We have to find a consistency there, but he certainly has enough talent to do it.”

Right tackle Jordan Mills has come on in the past week and the job is clearly his to lose. Zach Sterup got a long look there earlier in May.... Though Williams has made quite an impression, don’t overlook Isaiah Ford, who made several catches Wednesday.... Linebacker Sam Eguavoen now has more interceptions off Josh Rosen in practice (two) than in three years and 38 games for the CFL’s Saskatchan Roughriders.

Flores said transitioning from coaching one side of the ball to an entire team has “been good. I enjoy what I’m doing. I love coaching. I’m passionate about it. It’s just a bigger group I get to impact or try to impact. Messaging is important. Challenging them is important to me and being demanding is important. I think that’s how you bring out the best in people. I love being in front of a big group. It gives me an opportunity to impact more people.”

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