Monday, June 14, 2021

What should we expect from Vince Biegel?

There has been a lot made of the players on the Miami Dolphins roster this off season. The rookies who need to step up, the veterans who have been cut, the veterans who have been signed, the drafted and undrafted new comers, the returning opt outs. But there’s a name that you don’t see talked off all that much, and that is linebacker, Vince Biegel. 

Acquired in a 2019 trade which saw Kiko Alonso move to New Orleans, it is fair to say that most people were not expecting Biegel to come and be a major player. At the time, Miami was dismantling an older squad with poor contracts in favour of resources ready to rebuild. They were taking chances on high potential players in the hope of unearthing some cheap productivity to keep around through their rebuild and that is the bracket that Biegel falls into. 

Vince Biegel Early Career 

Vince Biegel was the kind of mid round linebacker that would have inflamed current GM Chris Grier’s interest. As a three year started at Wisconsin, he was comfortable in both a 3-4 or 4-3 set up, which showcases a versatility enjoyed by Miami staff. He totalled 18 and a half sacks in those three years and was a captain in his senior years. At 24 years old he was drafted in round four, of the 2017 NFL draft, taken at #108th overall by the Green Bay Packers. 

He spent just over a year in Green Bay, making little to no impact in 9 appearances before being claimed off waivers by the New Orleans Saints. He made even less of an impact in New Orleans, making just 4 tackles in 14 appearances before being traded to Miami in a trade that saw Kiko Alonso move in the other direction. Moving to his third team in as many years since being drafted, Biegel had a point to prove after 19 total tackles and zero sacks in his first two years. 

Miami Dolphins – 2019 

Knowing what we know about his early career, Miami acquired Vince Biegel with more hope than expectation. They liked his versatility and trusted that in a team of players fighting to be part of the rebuild, Biegel would have an opportunity to showcase his value. That is exactly what he did. Without becoming a dominant force, he obliterated his total tackles number. With 19 total tackles in his first two years, he amassed 57 in his one year in Miami, 25 of those solo and the other 32 assisted. He also recorded 2.5 sacks and an interception to show that he had the talent and potential to be a Miami Dolphin player through their rebuild. 

On top of this, he and his family embraced the Miami culture. In the locker room he was a team first guy, he was everything Brian Flores looked for. He didn’t give penalties away, he put work rate above talent, he played for the guy next to him and ran hard every play. Away from the field, he and his family took part in several of the community events and charity events, he interacted with the fanbase and showed his impact on the city of Miami could be as big as his impact on the Dolphins. 

Rightly so there was plenty for Dolphins fans to like, if Vince Biegel was kept as part of the linebacker group. 

Injury Strikes 

Then things went wrong. An underwhelming start to his pro career, followed by a season where he showed he belonged at this level was followed by a season on the injury report. Training hard as always, Vince Biegel suffered a torn Achilles which immediately ended his 2020 season before it even began. 

Put on top of that, that this was not just any season. This season was Covid-19 time, where rehab, contact, use of facility, competitive work was all affected and limited in comparison to the average year. 

You then look at what Miami was able to do in the meantime. While Beigel watched on, hurt, Miami became a top 10 defense. Primarily down to the secondary, the Beigel-less defense built a 22 game turnover streak, the Biegel-less defense were instrumental to the 10 win season. Andrew Van Ginkel emerged as a destructive presence in the team, creating sacks, returning fumbles for touchdowns and playing from the side we previously saw Biegel lining up from. In addition to that Miami traded for Benardrick McKinney, picked up a couple of depth LBs like Duke Riley and Brennan Scarlett and drafted Jaelan Phillips with pick #15 in the first round of the draft. Initially a Edge player, Phillips appears to be working and listed as an LB for the coming season. 

That said, Kyle Van Noy didn’t last long, leaving Miami after just 1 year, as did Kamu Gruiger-Hill. So while the linebacker group that Biegel will return to is busy, it isn’t completely saturated to the point that Miami wanted to move on from him. 

2021 Predictions 

Vince Biegel did enough in his first year, and showed enough during his recovery to convince the Miami staff that he was worth keeping around. Miami gave Biegel an extension to his contract in March, but a cheap, one year deal. Earning just a hair over £1m total, and only inked onto a one year deal, he will be asked to come in, compete and prove himself all over again against the likes of Riley and Scarlett. 

It almost feels like a re-set for him. He was asked to prove himself in year 1 in Miami, and he did that and more. But the combination of his injury and the improving defense seems to have put him back at square one. While his production does live in the memory of fans and coaches alike, that was production within a very different defensive animal. He now is earning close to minimum, with little guaranteed money, over one year and now has to prove himself within this newly productive defensive group. 

I predict that he will do enough and we will see Vince Biegel earn a 2 year extension at the end of this next year. Yet I see him as a back up, rotational option. McKinney and Baker are key players on the inside, with Phillips, Ogbah and Van Ginkel, they have the base of their pass rush starters, and they continue to be linked to Melvin Ingram who would only add to that. 

Yet these guys can’t play every snap of every game. The Van Ginkel role from last year, where he came in for intense, high impact periods is up for grabs for that second tier of linebackers. That is the role that I see Vince Biegel putting his eyes on. Intense, High Impact and 

Problematic is exactly where Biegel could reside, and are three of the qualities he demonstrated in that 2019 season. If AVG does get more reps in the starter group, then Biegel could be the man to sit behind him and play those snaps. 

That completely depends on the strength and recovery of his Achilles and how that affects his ability to hit the ground and push off that first step from the snap, but assuming he is back as strong as ever, there is a role for Vince Biegel in the wider sense of this defensive scheme, but he may well have to earn it all over again.

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