Dolphins’ defensive rookies emerge

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 14: Raekwon McMillan
CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 14: Raekwon McMillan /

The Dolphins drafted 5 defensive players out of their 7 picks this year. Some of these Dolphins’ rookies are having impressive camps and will contribute right away. Three of those players will receive significant playing time this season.

The most impressive Dolphins’ rookie in camp has been Raekwon McMillan. He is the starting middle linebacker and getting high praise from the coaches and players. Additionally, he’s calling plays and continually improving. McMillian is only 20 years old and a potential starting linebacker for the Dolphins for many years to come.

Another rookie who is a potential starter for the 2017 season is Davon Godchaux. He was drafted in the 5th round with the 178th overall pick out of LSU. The expectation was he would add depth to the defensive tackle position and rotate into the game as the third or fourth defensive tackle. However, he has impressed the coaches and has been on the first team defense this past week leapfrogging Jordan Phillips.

The Dolphins already have two potential starters in McMillian and Godchaux at the beginning of the season. Any draft that allows for a team to have two rookie starters season one [game one] is a successful draft to get contributors immediately.

Plus, the Dolphins have first round pick, Charles Harris, who is expected to play as a situational pass rusher throughout the season. He excelled in OTAs, but hasn’t been as disruptive in training camp yet. He will get backup snaps this year with the expectation of him becoming a starter in the near future. Harris could have the biggest impact late in games getting pressure on the quarterback, even though he might not be a starter.

On the other hand, Cordrea Tankersley is at the bottom of the depth chart for cornerbacks and is listed on the fourth team. He is struggling to adapt to the heat of south Florida and became dehydrated one of the first practices at training camp. He will use his rookie season to develop and play on special teams. Tankersley will only see significant playing time in 2017, if injuries occur in the secondary.

Lastly, Vincent Taylor is working with the second and third team defenses. He will be a rotational defensive tackle this year.

The Dolphins may have selected three defensive starters with McMillian, Harris and Godchaux in the 2017 draft. Coupled with young cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Tony Lippett from previous drafts progressing toward playmakers on the back-end. And the Dolphins have a young core to build upon on the defensive side of the ball.