A Dolphins six-pack on a Friday:
▪ The Dolphins had been operating under the belief that they would own four picks on the second day of next April’s NFL Draft, when the second and third rounds are conducted.
But they will need Broncos right tackle Ja’Wuan James to return soon from his knee injury, and then stay healthy, for that not to be at risk.
The Dolphins and others who monitor such things have projected that the team will receive a third-round compensatory pick as a result of losing James in free agency.
But overthecap.com’s Nick Korte, who’s well-informed on the topic of compensatory picks, is now projecting that pick will be a fourth-rounder instead because James is out with a knee injury sustained in the Broncos’ opener.
Korte, in his occasional compensatory pick projections, has lowered the pick from a third to a fourth-rounder.
“My forecasting suggests that missing six games — of which James has done half of so far — could be enough to keep his contract valued in the fourth round,” Korte said.
James has practiced on a limited basis this week, and longtime Broncos reporter Mike Klis said it would be a surprise if he plays in Sunday’s game against the Chargers. If he misses Sunday’s game, that would be his fourth game missed this season.
The NFL uses several factors in its compensatory pick allocation decisions but has always declined to release specifics, though it does acknowledge that compensatory picks are determined “by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors.”
Korte projects Miami will get a fifth-round compensatory pick for losing Cam Wake in free agency to Tennessee. But that pick could fall to the sixth because Wake has been used just 73 snaps in four games — by far the least playing time of his career.
“Wake is closer to the fifth/sixth cutoff than I thought,” Korte told me. “I ran some snap count simulations just now, and the program is telling me that as long as Wake stays above around a quarter of the snaps [he’s at 28.8 percent at the moment] now, his contract will stay as a fifth. So I suppose that the Dolphins and their fans will want both him and Ja’Wuan James to get and stay healthy to keep their comp picks higher.”
The Dolphins have three picks in the first round and two picks in the second round of April’s draft. They also have their own third-round pick and remain hopeful that they will have a second third-rounder as a result of losing James.
▪ In an ESPN.com Dolphins tanking piece, Bill Barnwell offered historical perspective on what the Dolphins can expect if they go 1-15 or 0-16.
From Barnwell’s piece: “Twelve teams in NFL history have lost 15 or more games in a season. Two of those teams were the 2016-2017 Cleveland Browns, whose future still remains unknown….
“The track record of the other 10 teams suggests the Dolphins could be in for a wait. Those teams took an average of 3.7 years before they returned to the postseason…. On the other hand, three teams -- the 1989 Cowboys, 1996 Jets and 2001 Panthers -- won a playoff game just two years after their 1-15 seasons.”
The Dolphins went from 1-15 to 10-6 in 2008 but lost a playoff game.
▪ In an SI.com Dolphins tanking piece, Jenny Vrentas offers this interesting stat which suggests how much turnover we’re likely to see on the Dolphins roster over the next two seasons:
From the Browns’ 1-15 team in 2016, 24 of the 53 players on that opening-day roster are no longer in the NFL, including six of the 22 offensive and defensive starters.
“Nor,” Vrentas said, “are the head coach, Hue Jackson, and the GM, Sashi Brown. Only five players from that season’s Week 1 roster are still in Cleveland.”
She quoted offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler, who joined the Browns for an 0-16 season in 2017 and traded to the Giants earlier this year, as saying this: “No matter what, the players that year, that’s your résumé — you were part of the 0–16 team. Whatever part of your career you are in, you are not going to be looked at the same, simple fact.”
▪ The Dolphins coaching staff, unhappy with its own work, says it’s re-evaluating everything, from second-half play-calling to things as elementary as what to do if they win the coin toss and the drills used for receivers to catch passes. Kalen Ballage’s three drops are third-most in the league, and their top three healthy receivers have all dropped two.
“We’re going to go and closely evaluate what we do in all areas of the second half — the approach, the scheme we use, defensively study what they’ve done against us in the second half,” offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea said this week. “I think it’s a combination of factors that we’re really going to look closely at and determine what’s best for us moving forward.”
Defensively, at least one change is planned: “Blitzing more is something that we need to do or we can do,” defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. “That’s something we’ll go about trying to get done.”
▪ Jerome Baker’s middling sophomore season continues, and that’s both puzzling and disappointing.
PFF rates him 76th of 79 qualifying linebackers. Against the Chargers, Baker allowed all four passes to be thrown against him to be caught, for 61 yards. He doesn’t have a sack or interception. And none of his 28 tackles have been behind the line of scrimmage.
“If you’re around the ball, play-in and play-out, the big plays will come,” linebackers coach Rob Leonard said. “My job is to get him closer to the football to make those plays. We’ve got to continue to develop the consistency with Bake. He’s doing great as a leader.”
▪ The Dolphins hadn’t planned to use Isaiah Prince early this season, but after injury issues caused them to start him at right tackle last week, they now say they might want to see more of him in games after his solid debut.
Chargers star Joey Bosa, his former Ohio State teammate, promised after the game to send him a text message with ideas about ways he can improve.
“I always thought I could play, but the relief was that I did well,” Prince said.