NBA PLAYOFFS

Boston 110 Philadelphia 106

Dallas 135 LA Clippers 133 OT

Toronto 150 Brooklyn 122

Utah 129 Denver 127

WNBA SCOREBOARD

Atlanta 78 Minnesota 75

Los Angeles 84 Dallas 81

Phoenix 88 Washington 87

NHL PLAYOFFS

Boston 3 Tampa Bay 2

Vegas 5 Vancouver 0

MAJOR LEGUE BASEBALL – INTERLEAGUE

Chicago Cubs 2 Chicago White Sox 1

San Diego 5 Houston 3

NY Yankees at NY Mets postponed

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL – AMERICAN LEAGUE

Baltimore 5 Boston 4

Detroit 7 Cleveland 4

Tampa Bay 5 Toronto 4

Minnesota 5 Kansas City 4

Oakland 5 LA Angels 4 (10)

Seattle 4 Texas 1

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL – NATIONAL LEAGUE

Washington 9 Miami 3

Pittsburgh 5 Milwaukee 4

St. Louis 6 Cincinnati 2

LA Dodgers 11 Colorado 3

San Francisco 6 Arizona 1

Philadelphia 5 Atlanta 4

 

TOP HEADLINES

At an eerily empty Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Takuma Sato snatched a second Indianapolis 500 victory in an odd and unsatisfying finish to “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Sato held off Scott Dixon and won under caution after teammate Spencer Pigot crashed with five laps remaining in Sunday’s race, held in front of empty grandstands for the first time in 104 runnings because of the pandemic.

Pigot needed medical attention on the track, the crash scene was a massive debris field and the cleanup time would have been lengthy. There were also just four laps left in the race, not enough time to allow for a proper restart.

If it had been a NASCAR race, a stoppage would have been immediate to set up a final shootout. IndyCar tends to avoid gimmicks and a late red-flag in the 2014 Indy 500 incensed purists.

Dixon, the five-time IndyCar champion who had dominated the race, asked on his radio if IndyCar was going to give the drivers a final shootout.

“Are they going red?” Dixon asked. “They’ve got to go red. There’s no way they can clean that up.”

The answer was no, turning the end of the race into a game of what-ifs.

“It is a little silly to predict what might have happened. The reality is Takuma won,” said winning car owner Bobby Rahal. “This isn’t the first 500 to be flagged under yellow and there was a hell of a mess out there.”

IndyCar said in a statement after the finish “there were too few laps remaining to gather the field behind the pace car, issue a red flag and then restart for a green-flag finish.”

Dixon was visibly disappointed after leading 111 of the 200 laps in pursuit of his own second Indy win.

 

There was no drama in Kevin Harvick’s victory in the Drydene 311 at Dover International Speedway, an old-fashioned thrashing in the back end of a Saturday/Sunday NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader.

There was more than enough suspense, however, in the battle between Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and William Byron for the final position in the Cup Playoffs.

After winning the first stage at the high-banked concrete Monster Mile, Harvick had already clinched the regular-season Cup championship and the 15-playoff-point bonus that goes with it, with next Saturday’s race at Daytona International Speedway still to be run.

Harvick went on to sweep the second stage and the race, crossing the finish line 3.525 seconds ahead of runner-up Martin Truex Jr., who finished second in both legs of the doubleheader after running third in each of the previous five races.

The victory was Harvick’s series-leading seventh of the season, his third at Dover and the 56th of his career, tying him with Kyle Busch for ninth all-time. The win was the 700th in the series for Ford.

“I love the grit of our race team,” said Harvick, who was disappointed with his fourth-place result in Saturday’s opener at Dover, which he accomplished with a broken track bar. “I think that’s what (team owners) Gene Haas and Tony Stewart have built at Stewart-Haas Racing, a team with a lot of grit.

“Sometimes we don’t have the fastest car, but we have guys willing to suck it up, and when we have a weak link that day, someone else will carry the team. I’m really proud of that, and that’s what it’s all about. You’re only as good as the people around you, and we have great people.”

 

Luka Doncic stepped back for a winning 3-pointer – on a tender ankle, no less.

Another installment in the ever-growing legend of Doncic.

Doncic’s deep shot at the buzzer capped a triple-double and the short-handed Dallas Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Clippers 135-133 in overtime Sunday to even the playoff series at two games apiece.

Doncic finished with 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists for his second straight triple-double.

 

The Celtics are moving on, while the 76ers are heading into an uncertain future.

Kemba Walker scored 32 points and Boston pulled away in fourth quarter to complete a first-round series sweep over Philadelphia 110-106 on Sunday.

Jayson Tatum added 28 points and had a playoff career-high 15 rebounds for Boston, which advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals and a meeting with the winner of the first-round matchup between Toronto and Brooklyn.

Boston’s win marks the first sweep in 15 playoff series meetings between the teams. It also is the third straight season that Philadelphia has failed to advance past the second round.

 

Donovan Mitchell added his name to a prestigious list that includes Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain.

The four are the only NBA players to notch two 50 or more point games in a single postseason.

And Mitchell looks to just be getting started.

Mitchell scored 18 of his 51 points in the fourth quarter and the Utah Jazz withstood a 50-point night from Jamal Murray to beat the Denver Nuggets 129-127 on Sunday and take a 3-1 lead in the playoff series.

Mitchell was 15 of 27 from the floor and went 17 of 18 from the free throw line. The 23-year-old Mitchell scored 57 points in Game 1. He’s averaging 39.5 points in the series.

Since the return to action, he’s looked like a different player. For that, he credits a chip on his shoulder.

“I love hearing negative things about me,” Mitchell said. “The knock on me has been inefficient, not a team player. I pride myself on being a team player. … People are going to say what they say. You can’t please everybody. For me, it’s how can I help my team win? Tonight it was scoring 50. Some nights it’s not.

 

Kyle Lowry limped off the floor in the first quarter and the Toronto Raptors will surely need their point guard in the next round.

Not Sunday. Not when they simply unleashed the best bench effort in NBA history.

Norman Powell scored 29 points, fellow reserve Serge Ibaka added 27 points and 15 rebounds and the Raptors steamrolled into the Eastern Conference semifinals by routing the Brooklyn Nets 150-122 to complete a four-game sweep.

The Raptors got 100 points off their bench, most in any game since official starters began being tracked in 1970-71, according to Elias. No bench had scored more than 94 in the regular season or 86 in the postseason.

“I think we just have confidence in each and every one of us that step on the floor and we work on offense,” Powell said. “I don’t think it really matters who’s in the game.”

The Raptors lost Lowry to a foot injury in the first quarter but the defending NBA champions had more than enough depth and power left to wrap up the first sweep in franchise history and set up a series with the Boston Celtics.

Boston, seeded third, ousted Philadelphia in four games. The series will start Thursday.

Pascal Siakam had 20 points and 10 assists for the Raptors. They upped their record to 11-1 in the bubble and made it clear it won’t be easy to knock them off their spot atop the NBA.

 

Yadier Molina had four hits and top prospect Dylan Carlson hit his first career homer, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 on Sunday.

Harrison Bader also connected for St. Louis, which won three of four in the series. Molina, Carlson and Bader each finished with two RBIs.

The Cardinals scored the last six runs after Eugenio Suarez hit a two-run homer in the first inning for the Reds.

Bader went deep for a two-run shot in the second after he also homered during Saturday’s 3-0 win.

“Little tweaks here and there. It’s a game of survivability,” said Bader, who hiked his average to .233 after a slow start this season. “Baseball players can’t be dinosaurs. If you can’t adjust, you’ll become extinct.”

Molina put St. Louis ahead to stay with an RBI single against Tyler Mahle (0-1) in the third.

The Cardinals added three more in the seventh against Nate Jones. Molina singled in Matt Carpenter and scored on Carlson’s drive to right-center.

 

Chicago Cubs ace Yu Darvish is rolling.

Not even the slugging White Sox could take him down.

Darvish struck out 10 in his career-high fifth consecutive victory, and the Cubs beat the White Sox 2-1 on Sunday to stop the South Siders’ seven-game win streak.

“Seeing what he did out there was spectacular,” teammate Kyle Schwarber said.

Schwarber hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning as the Cubs won for just the fourth time in their last 11 games. The NL Central leaders were outscored 17-5 in the first two games of the series.

“What I was trying to do, when I tried to throw a chase pitch – slider, cutter mixed in – that works,” Darvish said. “But when I tried to go fastball in or sinker in, they hit real well.”

Jose Abreu went deep for the White Sox in the second, matching a major league record with a home run in four consecutive at-bats. Abreu connected five times in the first two games against the Cubs, including three homers and four RBIs in Saturday night’s 7-4 win.

 

The Baltimore Ravens have terminated the contract of seven-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas, who got involved in a fight with a teammate Friday and did not attend practice Saturday.

According to a statement released Sunday by the team, Thomas was released “for personal conduct that adversely affected the Baltimore Ravens.”

The action stems from Thomas’ fray with defensive back Chuck Clark at practice after Thomas admittedly blew a coverage assignment. Although the Ravens don’t have someone else with his talent at free safety, keeping Thomas would have created the potential for poor chemistry on a team with aspirations of playing in the Super Bowl.

Coach John Harbaugh had little to say on the matter after Sunday’s practice at Baltimore’s home stadium.

“I think the statement speaks for itself. There’s really not much more to add to that,” he said. “Just planning on leaving it at that at this point.”

 

The NFL revealed Sunday that several positive COVID-19 tests were found a day earlier by one of its testing partners. Among teams reporting false positives, the Minnesota Vikings said they had 12, the New York Jets 10 and the Chicago Bears nine.

The league has asked the New Jersey lab BioReference to investigate the results “while the clubs work to confirm or rule out the positive tests.” The NFL did not identify the teams or say how many tests altogether were positive.

The Jets canceled a walk-through on Saturday night but had a full practice Sunday morning after the previously positive tests came back negative. The Bears moved their practice scheduled for Sunday morning to the afternoon.

The Detroit Lions had a player with a false positive test from the same lab in New Jersey and he was held out of practice Sunday, a league source told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league and team were not disclosing test results.

 

Back-to-back early playoff exits were enough to make the Washington Capitals realize they made a mistake.

In the two years since promoting top assistant Todd Reirden instead of giving Stanley Cup-winning coach Barry Trotz a raise, they’ve been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. On Sunday, the team fired Reirden days after losing a five-game series to Trotz’s New York Islanders and moved toward hiring the seventh coach since Alex Ovechkin entered the NHL.

“There was a continuity that we tried to duplicate with Todd to keep the same structure going forward,” general manager Brian MacLellan told reporters in a video interview. “I think it worked for a while, and as we evolved it started to slip and it wasn’t working. I guess in hindsight you could say we could’ve brought in a more experienced guy, but I thought that was the right decision at the right time for both the players and what we had going on in circumstances.”

Dismissing Reirden is an acknowledgement that the longtime assistant wasn’t able to make the most out of a team built to continue contending for championships with Ovechkin, centers Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, wingers Tom Wilson and T.J. Oshie and defensemen John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov in the prime of their careers.

 

Dustin Johnson looked dominant as he ever as, and nothing could stop him Sunday in The Northern Trust.

Not even the weather.

Johnson played the final two holes in near darkness after a late storm delay and finished with a birdie for an 8-under 63 and an 11-shot victory over Harris English.

It was the 22nd victory of his PGA Tour career, and he never made it look easier. Johnson won his fifth FedEx Cup playoffs event – tied with Rory McIlroy for most – and returned to No. 1 in the world. He finished at 30-under 254.

Staked to a five-shot lead over Harris English going into the final round, Johnson sent a towering 7-iron over the water to a front pin on the par-5 second, the ball settling 8 feet next to the pin for an eagle. Two holes later, his 3-wood was placed perfectly in front of the fourth green for a simple up-and-down for birdie.

It was like that all day. It was like that all week.

He led by five and went out in 30, stretching his lead to seven shots at the turn. On the 500-yard 12th hole, where on Saturday he hit a tight draw with a 6-iron to a foot, this time he hit a slight fade with a 6-iron to 3 feet for another birdie.

The only drama was whether he could set two PGA Tour scoring records – 31-under par by Ernie Els at Kapalua in 2003, and the 253 by Justin Thomas at the Sony Open in 2017.

 

Beating a drum, his Bayern Munich jersey replaced by a “Champions of Europe” T-shirt, Joshua Kimmich wanted to savor the scene of glory.

Ninety minutes after setting up the goal that won Bayern’s sixth European Cup, Kimmich returned to the confetti-covered pitch where Paris Saint-Germain had been beaten 1-0 on Sunday night.

Soon he was joined, sitting in the center circle, by Bayern teammates David Alaba and Serge Gnabry. Before long the lights went out on the Stadium of Light.

In the darkness of the Lisbon stadium, the players remained in celebration and contemplation. On a continent where more than 200,000 have died from the coronavirus, the longest and most disrupted of peacetime men’s European football seasons ended in emptiness and near silence.

“When you win a title like this with brothers on the pitch,” Kimmich said shortly after the full time whistle, “that’s the maximum you can ask for.”

 

 

NFL PREVIEW: MIAMI DOLPHINS

After the 2018 season, the Miami Dolphins clearly entered rebuilding mode. We are just starting to see the fruits of that labor, with Miami adding three first-round picks — including quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft — along with the best free-agent cornerback on the market in Byron Jones. While there is still work to do, the Dolphins are improving in key areas on both sides of the ball and are headed in the right direction. Given the uncertainty in the AFC East, it’s a wide-open race — and it’s not crazy to consider the Dolphins as an outside contender if they get strong quarterback play. However, this season is about taking one more step toward being a perennial contender rather than just a one-year wonder, so the development of the team’s young talent is paramount in 2020.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS

Additions/players brought back:

G Ereck Flowers (signed for three years, $30 million, $19.95 million guaranteed)

CB Byron Jones (signed for five years, $82 million, $54 million guaranteed)

RB Jordan Howard (signed for two years, $10 million)

EDGE Shaq Lawson (signed for three years, $30 million)

C Ted Karras (signed for one year, $4 million)

EDGE Kyle Van Noy (signed for four years, $51 million, $30 million guaranteed)

EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah (signed for two years, $15 million, $7.5 million guaranteed)

S Adrian Colbert (signed for one year, $1.775 million)

Losses:

S Reshad Jones

QUARTERBACK

With the Dolphins spending the fifth overall pick on Tua Tagovailoa, expect him to start as soon as possible. However, given the short offseason and solid performance by incumbent starter Ryan Fitzpatrick over the past two years, don’t be surprised if he gets the nod on opening day. Here’s what I said about Fitzpatrick at the end of the 2019 season:

“Given his supporting cast, Fitzpatrick had one of the most impressive seasons of any quarterback this year. He elevated Miami’s offense despite facing the fourth-highest pressure rate, and his downfield aggressiveness led to the Dolphins turning into a pesky, competitive team down the stretch. This is now the best two-year stretch of Fitzpatrick’s career, as he finished as a borderline top-10 quarterback for the Buccaneers in 2018 and ranked in the top 15 in 2019. It’s also the second straight year that Fitzpatrick ranked among the league’s leaders in positively graded throws, showing that he can put his playmakers in position to make plays. He has an intriguing skill set for teams with playoff aspirations but are in ‘bridge quarterback’ territory.”

If the Dolphins are looking to immediately compete in the AFC East, Fitzpatrick’s aggressive, volatile style gives them the ceiling to do so. However, the long-term plan is obviously built around Tagovailoa, a polished passer with good accuracy to all levels of the field. Tagovailoa is the only quarterback in the draft class with 90.0-plus grades over the past two years, and his top-end potential is immense.

RUNNING BACK

The Dolphins have had the worst team run-blocking grade in four of the past five years, so it’s no surprise to see the lack of rushing production in recent seasons. Last year, Mark Walton led Miami running backs with just 201 yards. The Dolphins got just 829 yards from their running backs, the lowest total in the league, leading to the offseason additions of Jordan Howard and Matt Breida to revamp the run game.

Howard is one of the league’s better zone runners, and he’s created a solid 2.8 yards after contact per attempt in his career. Howard does not add much as a receiver, but he should be an effective early-down runner. Breida adds a big-play element, as he’s averaged 4.9 yards per carry in his three NFL seasons. The one caveat is that Breida averaged 2.4 yards before contact during that time, the second-best mark among 70 qualifiers. Kalen Ballage is also competing for carries, though he’s graded in the 50.0s in both of his NFL seasons.

Rookie seventh-rounder Malcolm Perry was one of the best option quarterbacks in college football, and he’ll make the transition to running back in the NFL. While Miami is still in the bottom tier of running back units, it has a unique group of skillsets that should help increase rushing production this season.

WIDE RECEIVER

DeVante Parker broke out in 2019 and showed off the skills that made him a 2015 first-rounder. Parker finished with career-highs in nearly every major category, including receiving grade (79.8) — ranking 17th in the NFL. He had the eighth-best receiving grade against single coverage, and Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s aggressive nature gave him the opportunity to make plays down the field.

Albert Wilson was unable to replicate his excellent first season with the Dolphins in 2018 that saw him average a ridiculous 13.3 yards after the catch per reception, but that’s where he’s at his best. Preston Williams had a fine rookie season with 32 catches and 428 yards, good for a 69.4 receiving grade that ranked eighth among rookies. He will cycle through spectacular catch and head-scratching drop, but the high-end play makes him an intriguing potential No. 2 option. Allen Hurns is also in the mix, but we’re a few years removed from his 2015 season that had him looking like a future No. 2 receiver with his 78.8 overall grade and 1,031 receiving yards. Hurns has been unable to get back to that point, but he’s worth having around for another season to add depth.

Beyond that, Mack Hollins is another big receiver who could be a late bloomer. He has a potential role in this offense if he’s used along the vertical route tree. Jakeem Grant has shown flashes of being a jet sweep/space option, but he has just 53 catches and nine rushes in his four NFL seasons. This receiving corps ranks near the bottom of the league, and there’s some volatility to this group given how much it relied on winning contested catches a year ago.

TIGHT END

After a slow start to his career, Mike Gesicki came on strong in several games during the second half of 2019. There’s still room for Gesicki to improve after his 60.5 receiving grade ranked 32nd among tight ends last season, but his long frame, 4.54 speed and ball skills led to the 11th-most yards on 10-plus yard passes. The top backup is Durham Smythe, who has graded in the 50.0s in his two years in the league.

Chandler Cox, Michael Roberts and Chris Myarick round out the depth chart, and only Roberts has an NFL reception to his name. He showed some promise with a 71.2 grade on 222 snaps as a rookie in 2017, though he hasn’t matched that level of play. While Gesicki’s development could elevate this group, there are questions marks regarding both the No. 2 tight end and the unit’s overall depth.

OFFENSIVE LINE

There wasn’t much debate about the worst offensive line in the league last year, as Miami ranked last in both team pass- and run-blocking grade and only one of the seven linemen with at least 330 snaps graded above 60.0. We could see as many as four new starters this season, but question marks still abound. At left tackle, Julie’n Davenport was the starter last season after coming over from the Houston Texans, and his struggles continued. His 53.7 overall grade over the past three years ranks 76th out of 81 tackles.

The Dolphins used one of their three first-round picks on USC’s Austin Jackson, who has work to do to become a viable starter. Jackson has the footwork of a starting left tackle, but his hands need work in pass protection and he’s below average in the run game. Right tackle Jesse Davis could be the lone returning starter, but he has yet to grade higher than last year’s 58.9 overall mark that ranked 67th among tackles. On the interior, Ted Karras was signed in free agency to start at center after posting a solid 66.5 grade in his first year as a starter.

Ereck Flowers comes over from Washington, where he turned in a solid performance as a first-year guard in 2019, grading at 64.2 (33rd). Michael Deiter spent his rookie season at left guard last year and finished with the fifth-worst grade in the league (42.5). Dieter will be in the mix at right guard, but second-round pick Robert Hunt may be first in line for the job. Hunt is a powerful run blocker who will kick inside to guard after playing right tackle at Louisiana. His 87.1 overall grade ranked ninth in the draft class among tackles last season.

Fourth-round guard Solomon Kindley looks like a project, but he adds depth on the interior. A lot must go right for the Dolphins to rank above the bottom 10 lines in the league, but they’ve invested with veterans and youth — and the hope is that they’re at least moving in the right direction in 2020.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Last season, the Dolphins had the lowest pass-rush grade among their edge rushers and interior defensive linemen (57.6). This offseason, they added Kyle Van Noy to the mix, a player who rejuvenated his career as a classic Patriots hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker. Van Noy set career-highs in pass-rush snaps (464), pressures (60) and pass-rush grade (72.1) last season while also dwarfing his career-best with an 83.7 grade against the run — the fourth-best mark among edge defenders. The Dolphins will insert him into a similar role, and they need him to replicate that production.

Miami also added Shaq Lawson, who set a career-high with a 68.7 pass-rush grade to go with 40 pressures last season. Lawson is more of a base defensive end who has done his best work in the run game throughout his career. Emmanuel Ogbah adds depth on the edge after he posted the best grade of his career, a 70.1 overall mark last season with the Kansas City Chiefs. Other hybrid pass rush/outside linebackers on the roster include Vince Biegel, who led the team with 34 pressures a year ago and Curtis Weaver, a fifth-round pick with first-round tape out of Boise State.

Inside, the Dolphins used their first-round pick on Christian Wilkins, who ranked seventh among rookie interior defensive linemen with a 64.4 overall grade. He carried over his college profile of being better against the run than he is rushing the passer, and he must improve his 58.6 pass-rush grade to justify the No. 13 overall selection. Davon Godchaux is also slated to start inside after three up-and-down seasons, and second-round pick Raekwon Davis should add yet another strong run defender into the mix as a rookie. The Dolphins have plenty of question marks remaining regarding their pass rush, though they’ve accumulated a strong group of run stoppers up front.

LINEBACKER

If there was a bright spot on Miami’s defense last season, it was second-year linebacker Raekwon McMillan‘s performance against the run — where he produced an 11th-best 77.0 mark. McMillan is living up to his college projection as a strong run defender who had work to do in coverage, and that’s still prevalent; his 43.4 coverage grade ranked just 86th at the position. Jerome Baker posted the fifth-worst run defense grade (39.1) in 2019, a huge step back from his 77.3 mark as a rookie in 2018. Baker also has room to provide in coverage, where he graded at 58.9. Miami desperately needs him to progress in that area, as he’s supposed to be the chase-and-run athlete of the linebacking corps.

The Dolphins brought in former Patriot Elandon Roberts, who established himself as more of a run-stopping thumper in his four years in New England. Kamu Grugier-Hill adds depth, though he’s played more special teams snaps (1,092) than defensive snaps (737) in his four-year career. The Dolphins’ linebacking corps looks like a bottom-tier unit, but a strong year of progression from McMillan and Baker could change that in a hurry.

SECONDARY

Miami has invested heavily at cornerback, and the unit looks like one of the most well-rounded groups in the league. The Dolphins signed Byron Jones — the top free agent option — this offseason, and he has the size, movement skills and production to play the No. 1 role in their man-heavy scheme. He produced an 83.3 coverage grade over the past two years, the ninth-best mark in the league, and he’s broken up 19.3% of his targets — good for sixth-best.

He’ll pair with Xavien Howard, whose play tends to fluctuate between All-Pro level and low-end starter; he has a 69.9 coverage grade since 2017, good for 59th among corners. Howard has Richard Sherman-like games in which his size and ball skills look elite, but he also has posted coverage grades under 60.0 in 14 of his past 33 games. Miami used its third first-round pick on Noah Igbinoghene, an athletic corner with man coverage skills that fit in the slot. Igbinoghene has work to do to polish his game, as his 70.2 coverage grade last season doesn’t scream “first-rounder,” but he can mirror shifty receivers and fits well with what Miami wants to do defensively.

Cordrea Tankersley and Nik Needham round out the depth chart on the outside, though neither player has graded above 62.0 in a season in their respective short careers. The Dolphins have three starters who fit their scheme and respective roles, and the team’s ceiling is high, as all three players have shown off the necessary skills to produce in the coming years.

At safety, the Dolphins have two former corners slotted to start in Bobby McCain and Eric Rowe, giving them plenty of flexibility when matching up against opposing offenses. McCain has one year of grading above 62.0 in his five years in Miami and played 446 snaps at free safety last year, where his 67.7 coverage grade ranked in the bottom third of the league.

Rowe played all over the field in 2019, including 445 snaps in the box, 226 in the slot and 254 on the outside. He finished with a 58.9 overall grade and eight penalties. Rowe did his best work when playing in the box, and that could be his best fit moving forward. Third-round pick Brandon Jones is also a player to watch. He works well around the line of scrimmage and has the size and physicality to match up with tight ends.

The Patriots’ coaching tree loves to play matchups, and head coach Brian Flores is no different. Jones could be charged with a simple, yet difficult, task of covering opposing tight ends in man coverage as he acclimates to the NFL. The Dolphins don’t have a great safety group on paper, but they’ve built a versatile unit that should increase its defensive flexibility.

DEVELOPMENT NEEDED: CHRISTIAN WILKINS

The Dolphins defensive line must do a better job of getting after the quarterback this season, and Wilkins’ development is crucial given the lack of proven pass-rushers on the interior. Wilkins was a versatile run defender in college, as he lined up all over the defensive front, but he had only one strong year rushing the passer. He needs to take a leap forward this season to quell those concerns.

DRAFT CLASS REVIEW

The best thing the Dolphins did was sitting at No. 5 overall to take Tagovailoa, keeping their high-volume draft class intact. They filled needs in the draft, from offensive line to slot corner to interior run stopper, but some of those picks could have been used in other areas. Still, this class comes down to whether Tagovailoa is the future in Miami, and there’s enough depth in the rest of the group tho make this a game-changer for the Dolphins.

 

DRAFT GRADE

The Miami Dolphins added 11 prospects during the 2020 NFL Draft, starting with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth-overall pick. They continued with another two picks in the first round, adding offensive tackle Austin Jackson and, following a trade back, cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, followed by two more picks in the second round, offensive tackle/guard Robert Hunt and defensive tackle Raekwon Davis.

In the third round, Miami picked up safety Brandon Jones. The fourth round saw Miami use their two late picks in the round to move into the middle of the round to select guard Solomon Kindley. Miami entered the fifth round with three picks, using the first to trade for running back Matt Breida from the San Franicsco 49ers before using the other two picks to add defensive lineman Jason Strowbridge and edge rusher Curtis Weaver. In the sixth round, Miami picked long snapper Blake Ferguson. The seventh round originally featured three picks for the Dolphins, but they used one as part of the trade up in the fifth round for Weaver and they used their last pick to acquire a 2021 sixth-round pick from the Seattle Seahawks. In between those two traded picks, Miami added Navy wide receiver/running back Malcolm Perry.

It was a busy three days for the Dolphins, who started with a league-high 14 picks, then added one in the first-round trade to get to 15 picks, then used those picks to make 11 selections and acquire Breida. The Dolphins did really well with this Draft, addressing needs and building the foundation of the roster, a performance that is reflected in the Draft grades around the web.

BEST BET

One of the biggest questions associated with AFC East teams is what the Dolphins are going to do at the quarterback position. The expectation is that we see Tua Tagovailoa at some point in 2020, but when and to what extent Ryan Fitzpatrick relinquishes the starting quarterback role remains to be seen. Despite Tua being priced at better-than-expected odds to win offensive rookie of the year, it is no guarantee that he sees the field enough to cash this bet.

The talent exists throughout this team to make noise in what should be an underwhelming division. Current betting markets have an implied probability of 10.7% that the Dolphins come away with the AFC East. Their playoff chances are doubled by the betting market expectation, but our simulation still finds value on both bets. Our simulation sees the Dolphins squeezing into the playoffs on 36.7% of simulations, which is a worthwhile opportunity to take a shot at their current +410 odds.

Yes on the Dolphins to squeeze into the playoffs is a worthwhile bet at the current price given the makeup and potential of this team. It helps that they also play in what should be widely regarded as the worst division in the NFL.