Miami Dolphins have players to build around not named Tannehill

NFL yard marker at HRS - Image by Brian Miller
NFL yard marker at HRS - Image by Brian Miller /

The Miami Dolphins want you to believe that Ryan Tannehill is the face of the franchise and the future they are building around. Not so fast.

Debating the future and the present of Ryan Tannehill is about as much fun as watching a bunch of drunks walk out of a bar. O.k. maybe it’s more fun to watch the drunkards. The reality is that fans want to see big improvement or a new quarterback and the Dolphins want you to eat what they are putting on your plate.

Ryan Tannehill is the face of the team. He has been in every promotion since last season ended and will again be the focus through training camp. If he stays healthy and takes that next big step then the Dolphins media department hit it out of the park but know this, there are more players to build around in Miami.

Miami is a young football team and in this era of the NFL young doesn’t always mean the team is going to be good. About the time most players begin to “get it” their contracts are coming up and salary becomes an issue moving forward. It is because of this that identifying the right players that you build your team around is so important. Here is a look at some players who should be built around and some who shouldn’t.

Cameron Wake

The Dolphins missed their opportunity to build a defense around Cam Wake. They wasted a lot of his years with poor linebacker support and now, it’s simply too late. Wake has another two years in him and while he could play a third, at some point age will come into play. Who knows, 2018 could be his last in Miami but that is another discussion. The reality is that Wake is no longer a long term player you put pieces on the field to support. He is now the support for other pieces.

Reshad Jones

To some degree Jones is a lot like Wake. There was a time you could build around him but again the Dolphins wasted those years and now as Jones enters his 9th season and coming off his 2nd Pro-Bowl, he is, like Wake, a valuable support piece to the younger guys.

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Raekwon McMillan

If McMillan returns from his 2017 injury and plays at the level that Miami saw in camp last year, he could be a major part of the Dolphins future. We are talking Zach Thomas type future. Yes, that is a huge comparison for a guy who has never played a down in the NFL but McMillan is acting like a leader on the field and in the locker room. He is leading by example and if he can show on the field that he can back that up, he is a player that Miami can absolutely build around.

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Like McMillan, Fitzpatrick has not played a single down or participated in a single full contact practice at the NFL level but Fitzpatrick is showing leadership qualities already. It has been reported that Fitzpatrick has spent a lot of his off-season studying film and it has been consistent. Fitzpatrick is using his time to prepare himself for the NFL and did not wait for camp to arrive. Looking at players like Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald, Fitzpatrick could be the player who benefits the most from their tutelage.

Ryan Tannehill

The Dolphins, as stated above, want you to buy into Tannehill but like him or not, support him or not, there is still a lot left to prove and 2018 will be a critical year and could determine his future. Do you build around Tannehill with such uncertainty after the 2018 season? Not really but while the Dolphins are building Tannehill up as the face of the franchise, they are also adding offensive pieces that are interchangeable with whomever is at quarterback. This bodes well for the future which allows Tannehill to be that “franchise” face.


It is hard to build around a single player offensively without that player being a quarterback. Do you build around an offensive lineman? You could but the Dolphins do not have any long-term answers on the line just yet. Consider that Jesse Davis is a player Miami really believes in but do you surround a guard with support talent? What about Daniel Kilgore or Josh Sitton? Laremy Tunsil is a player you can build support around but Tunsil has not shown the consistency yet at left tackle to warrant that. He is more of a support player for someone else.

At running back Kenyan Drake is a player you would think to build around. He is young, has everything you want in a runner but Miami has shown a history of moving on from running backs every few years. Lamar Miller is replaced by Jay Ajayi, Ajayi replaced by Drake, will Kalen Ballage replace Drake in another two years?

You could make a case for Mike Gesicki but understand this, tight-ends are support pieces for the rest of the offense. No team in the NFL has built a team around a tight-end but they have built an offensive system around one. Case in point New England. Even there however, Gronkowski is a support weapon for Brady.

Offensively the only player you can build around is the quarterback but we have established that Tannehill has a lot of questions and the build around his more interchangeable should he go down.

Davon Godchaux

While you won’t build an entire defense around Godchaux you can surely build a defensive line around him. Godchaux had a good season last year and should see increased reps this year as he rotates with Jordan Phillips and Akeem Spence. Godchaux could become the lynchpin defensive tackle that Miami can build support around.

Xavien Howard

The Dolphins have already started to build around Howard. The addition of Tankersley provides a potential tandem in the secondary that could last years. Howard took a huge step forward late last season and with the addition of Fitzpatrick he may find his coverage a bit easier this year. This could become more of a Howard/Fitzpatrick kind of build in the secondary where Tankersley and Bobby McCain are the support pieces for that build for the future.

Nothing guaranteed

One thing we know for certain is that over the last decade Miami has failed to support top free agents or draft picks with players that complimented their styles. Such as Wake and Jones but the pieces seem to be fitting better now and it appears, on paper, that the Dolphins are molding a team around players instead of trying to fit players into a changing and evolving scheme that they were not made for.

Miami has options outside of quarterback and those mentioned above are good places to start and in some ways Miami may have already started to do just that. On paper.