15 highest-graded Miami Dolphins over the last 15 seasons

R9GKPE Miami Gardens FL, USA. 23rd Dec, 2018. Cameron Wake #91 of Miami is introduced before the NFL football game between the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens FL. The Jaguars defeated the Dolphins 17-7. Credit: csm/Alamy Live News

  • Cameron Wake dominates the list: The underrated pass-rusher had five different seasons land on this list.
  • Tyreek Hill takes the top spot: The speedster's 2022 season (92.1 grade) was the highest-graded season of any Miami Dolphins player over the last 15 years.
  • Could Jaelan Phillips follow in Wake's footsteps?: The talented pass-rusher's 2022 season was the best by a Dolphins edge defender since Wake in 2012, but will Phillips be able to compile as many great seasons as the retired Dolphins great?
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The Miami Dolphins enter the 2023 season with their most complete roster in the last two decades. Second-year head coach Mike McDaniel and company appear poised to end their 22-year drought without a postseason victory (second only to the Detroit Lions in that span). 

Miami’s last division title was 15 years ago (2008), an 11-5 season that was sparked by the wildcat offense that debuted in New England that September. Despite the lack of team success over the years, there has been no shortage of star power on the rosters. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the top-15 individual Dolphin seasons over the last 15 years:

1. WR Tyreek Hill, 2022 (92.1 overall)

Any concerns about how Hill would perform out of Kansas City were quickly put to rest in his first season with the Dolphins. Hill set career-highs in receptions, yards and yards per route run (YPRR) despite playing with second and even third-string quarterbacks at times. His 92.1 overall grade was tops among all wide receivers and was the highest of his seven-year career.

Top performance: Week 9 at CHI – Seven receptions (seven targets), 143 yards, one TD, 93.3 overall grade

2. S Reshad Jones, 2012 (91.0 overall)

One of the better Dolphin draft picks in the last 15 years was Jones with the 163rd (fifth round) overall pick in the 2010 draft. In his prime, Jones was arguably the best safety in the league when it came to playing in the box and defending the run. While not known for his coverage, Jones earned a career-high 91.0 coverage grade in 2012, highlighted by eight combined interceptions and pass breakups to go along with a 38.0 passer rating when targeted.

Top performance: Week 13 vs. NE – Seven tackles (three stops), sack, INT, 91.8 overall grade

3. EDGE Cameron Wake, 2012 (90.9 overall)

Wake is in a tier of his own when it comes to Dolphin players in the last 15 years. Wake was on the shortlist for most dominant pass-rushers during his time in Miami. In 2012, the former Penn State Nittany Lion set career-highs in pressures (86) and sacks (17) while earning NFL First-team All-Pro honors. 

Top performance: Week 3 @ ARZ – 13 total pressures, six sacks, 92.7 overall grade

4. EDGE Jaelan Phillips, 2022 (88.8 overall)

Expectations were high when the Dolphins selected the local University of Miami star with the 18th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Phillips struggled mightily during his rookie year, particularly against the run, where he was among the league’s worst at his position. However, in 2022, Phillips made a one-year jump not seen too often in the NFL, as his 77 total pressures nearly doubled that of his rookie year (39) while his overall grade jumped from 53.7 to 88.8. 

Top performance:  Week 4 @ CIN – Five pressures, one sack, two defensive stops, 89.8 overall grade

5. CB Brent Grimes, 2013 (88.7 overall)

It’s hard to believe a player could have a career year just one season removed from tearing their Achilles, but that’s exactly what Grimes did in 2013. Grimes played a career-high 1,110 snaps, recording four interceptions and 14 pass-breakups and remarkably did not allow a touchdown all season. Not bad for a player who signed a one-year “prove it deal” that off-season.

Top performance: Week 2 @ IND – One INT, three PBU, one defensive stop, 91.5 overall grade

6. T Jake Long, 2008 (88.4 overall)

The Dolphins selected Long with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and immediately slotted him in as their starting left tackle. Long was in the conversation for best offensive tackles in the league from the day he stepped on the field as a rookie. Unfortunately, injuries derailed the once promising career for Long, but his elite level of play in the first few years showed how special of a talent he truly was.

Top performance: Week 5 @ SD – 71 snaps, two pressures allowed, zero penalties, 86.7 overall grade

7. WR Jarvis Landry, 2015 (87.8 overall)

Landry was a model of consistency during his four years with the Dolphins from 2014-2017, never grading lower than 78.0 overall in that time. Statistically, Landry’s 2015 and 2016 seasons were fairly similar in terms of receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. However, the 2015 campaign gets the slight nod when considering his rushing contributions and the fact that he didn’t have a single fumble that season.

Top performance: Week 7 vs. HST – Five receptions (Five targets), 83 yards, two touchdowns, 95.4 overall grade on just 10 receiving snaps for the game

8. CB Xavien Howard, 2020 (87.3 overall)

At his best, Howard has shown the ability to play the cornerback position better than anyone in the NFL. Although Howard has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play at times, his 2020 season was something special. “X” recorded an incredible 10 interceptions that season, including a stretch where he picked off a pass in five straight games from Weeks 10-14. Howard’s efforts earned him First-team All-Pro honors and a third-place finish in Defensive Player of the Year voting. 

Top performance: Week 12 @ NYJ – Three receptions allowed (10 targets), 37 yards, one INT, two PBU, 93.0 overall grade

9. EDGE Cameron Wake, 2016 (87.0 overall)

Wake led the 2016 Dolphins to a 10-6 record and, with it, their first winning season and playoff appearance since the 2008 season. Wake, who missed the majority of the 2015 season with a torn left Achilles tendon, returned less than a full calendar year and appeared in all 17 games (including playoffs) that season. Wake was our 2016 Comeback Player of the Year, due in large part to his elite 90.1 pass-rushing grade (67 pressures) in his return from injury.

Top performance: Week 9 vs. NYJ – Four pressures, two sacks, two forced fumbles, 93.7 overall grade

10. EDGE Cameron Wake, 2010 (86.9 overall)

In case you haven’t noticed a theme by now, Wake was very good. Wake played sparingly in his first season with the Dolphins, registering just 163 snaps in 2009. He was so dominant in those limited snaps (92.1 pass-rushing grade) that the organization had no choice but to see what he could do in a full-time role in 2010. Wake took advantage of the opportunity and immediately established himself as one of the best pure pass-rushers in the league, racking up 66 pressures. 

Top performance: Week 11 vs. CHI – Four pressures, one sack, one forced fumble, five defensive stops, 90.3 overall grade

11. T Vernon Carey, 2008 (86.6 overall)

Carey may be the most surprising name on this list for some, but he is certainly in the conversation for best offensive lineman in recent Dolphins’ history. It is fair to assume that Carey was underrated because he was part of an offensive line with 2008 No. 1 overall pick Jake Long, who (deservedly so) got a lot of the credit. The most impressive thing about Carey was how consistent he was throughout his career, despite changing positions multiple times (RT in 2006, LT in 2007, RT in 2008, RG in 2011).

Top performance: Week 5 vs. SD – Zero pressures allowed in 32 pass-blocking snaps, 95.5 run-blocking grade, zero penalties, 94.8 overall grade

12. T Jake Long, 2009 (86.1 overall)

In comparison to his rookie season of 2008, Long’s 2009 season was worse as a run-blocker (78.4 overall vs. 88.8), but better as a pass-blocker (86.7 overall vs. 80.9). To put these numbers in perspective, Long allowed just 14 total pressures in 607 pass-blocking snaps during the 2009 season, the fewest for any season in his career.

Top performance: Week 14 @ JAX – Zero pressures allowed in 32 pass-blocking snaps, 91.0 overall grade

13. EDGE Cameron Wake, 2014 (85.8 overall)

The 2014 Dolphins finished the season with an 8-8 record for the second straight year, but Wake was his usual dominant self. Here is a stat that’s worth noting — Wake generated 65 pressures in 2014 and that was his fewest since joining the team in 2009 (excluding that first year where he played just 163 snaps). 

Top performance: Week 1 vs. NE – Seven pressures, two sacks, two forced fumbles, 93.4 overall grade

14. DI Ndamukong Suh, 2017 (85.6 overall)

There was a time when the Dolphins would swing for the fences whenever free agency rolled around, none more evident than when they landed All-Pro Suh in 2015. Suh, who had three productive seasons in Miami from 2015-2017, never quite got the credit he deserved because his contract ($114M over six years) made him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history at the time (and didn’t exactly translate to much success for the team). While Suh was a more productive pass-rusher, his first season in Miami (60 pressures in 2015 vs. 43 in 2017), his run-defense grade of 90.6 in 2017 was by far the highest of his career.

Top performance: Week 16 vs. IND – Seven pressures, one sack, 89.7 overall grade

15. EDGE Cameron Wake, 2011 (85.4 overall)

You guessed it, Wake again. 2011 was the first of Wake’s back-to-back 80+ pressure seasons. Wake holds five of the top-15 individual Dolphin seasons in the last 15 years and if it wasn’t for an injury in 2015, it would have been six. When you think about the most underrated NFL players over the last 15 years, Wake has to be at or near the top of that list.

Top performance: Week 15 @ BUF – Seven pressures, one sack, one batted pass, 89.5 overall grade

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