Three Wisconsin Badgers heard their names called in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft a couple of weekends ago. Two were linebackers, and eight picks after the New York Giants drafted Ryan Connelly, the Miami Dolphins selected Andrew Van Ginkel 151st overall.
Van Ginkel joins offensive lineman Michael Deiter as former Badgers to be drafted by the storied franchise, and the playmaking ‘backer will receive the opportunity to make the active roster.
Maybe a more general question here, but I used to play high school football down in Florida, so I know about the heat and humidity. How much of a transition is it for players (maybe those who played in schools to the north) to practice in that type of consistent environment? Is it a moot point nowadays as all football players should acclimate to the climate?
Oh, it is definitely still a thing. We will definitely hear from the rookies this summer about how surprised they are by the heat and someone will have issues with it at some point in late July. The good thing for the players is the lack of two-a-days like Don Shula use to be able to hold and the Dolphins have, at least for the last several years, primarily practiced at around 8 a.m., so it is not as crushing as it used to be, but, yes, it will be an issue early in training camp.
Regarding Van Ginkel, who put up some fantastic numbers at the NFL Combine and Wisconsin’s pro day, did you expect Miami to target a linebacker in the draft?
Not really, because the starting linebackers seem set with Kiko Alonso, Raekwon McMillan, and Jerome Baker. That said, the Dolphins could be looking to add Van Ginkel primarily as a blitz/rush linebacker, which they need. There is just not enough pass rush on the roster, and Van Ginkel may be added to that role.
What defensive scheme(s) do the Dolphins run, and how is Van Ginkel a fit?
They are a 4-3 base head into this year, but they seem to be putting together the pieces— minus a true nose tackle right now—for a 3-4 base system. Brian Flores, coming in as head coach, is expected to run a hybrid of the two systems, so a 3-4 rush linebacker makes a ton of sense for Van Ginkel and could lead to him picking up plenty of playing time.
Who will be above Van Ginkel initially on the depth chart, and who will he have to beat out to earn a spot on the active roster?
Alonso, McMillan, and Baker in a 4-3 will be the starters. In a 3-4, you probably have to add defensive end Charles Harris as a rush linebacker, a role that could help him after two years of limited productivity. Chase Allen is probably the fourth linebacker in a 4-3 set, with Mike Hull a depth factor as well. Jayrone Elliott, who led the short-lived AAF in sacks, will be an interesting watch this year, especially if he is also in that 3-4 rush linebacker role.
How do you see Van Ginkel making Miami’s final 53-man roster?
I think he makes it, especially as a pass-rushing linebacker. Miami need to find a way to generate pressure, so there cannot be enough options for that role on the roster. I think the Dolphins probably have Alonso, McMillan, Baker, Allen, Elliott, Van Ginkel as the primary linebackers and depth options, with Harris rotating into the group as well.