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The Miami Dolphins are finally getting a chance to do things differently. For much of the first decade of the Stephen Ross era of owning the Miami Dolphins, the team was constantly chasing their own tail. Decision makers and ownership viewed the team as close to competing for the postseason — and thus their entire decision-making process was dictated by the urgency of finding that one or two missing pieces. But as it turns out, Miami was much further away than anyone wanted to admit and the end result was a toxic blend of underachieving, expensive contracts and a lack of organizational stability from the top down.
So when Ross embraced general manager Chris Grier’s vision of a full rebuild for the team and granted the Dolphins a long-term opportunity to “build it right”, it marked a huge sign of progress for the franchise. Sure enough, Year 2 of the Dolphins rebuild netted the team 10 wins and Miami is one of the youngest rosters in football — they have just two players under contract that are 30-years old or older. Neither, DL John Jenkins and OL D.J. Fluker, was on the roster at the start of the league calendar year.
One of the biggest benefits to this organizational stability? Drafting developmental players. The Dolphins have typically been a team that couldn’t afford to wait to reap the benefits of highly skilled but underdeveloped prospects: the threat of being fired before they ever realized their potential served as a major deterrent.
But that’s now how Grier views the outlook of developmental players and rookies in general entering into the 2021 draft. He sounds ready to attack, even if said players don’t necessarily go on to make the biggest Year 1 impact.
“At the end of the day, some of these players, yeah, they will be starters and impact players; but again, you’ve heard Brian (Flores) say this and I love this statement, that when they’re coming in, no one is a starter in April. Guys have to – and these rookies have to come in and there’s such a transition for them to learn,” said Grier.
“I think that’s why you always see guys take those huge second-year jumps, like (Andrew) Van Ginkel for us last year. I think ‘Mike G’ (Gesicki) did a few years ago, made a jump after his rookie year when people were unsure of him. I think with all of these guys, you preach patience for them a little bit; but I know because guys are first-round or second-round picks, you’d like them to be impact players right away. And they may be, but it may be subtle to where the coaching staff and the personnel staff, we all feel good about it and you’re just waiting for the public to see it. At the end of the day, they could be starters; but again, the players make their own way and create their own jobs on the team here.”