With free-agency taking up much of the off-season attention, many have forgotten how well the Dolphins are positioned for the draft. The Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis trades last year have left Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin with 6 picks in the first four rounds. The following is how I see the top four rounds of the draft playing out for the ‘Phins in an ideal scenario. I’ll give my opinion of what I think the Dolphins will do and also a second option should some more moves be made in free agency.
Round 1 Pick 12:
OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
This pick is by far the hardest in my mind to forecast given the remaining time in free agency but as of now should OT Lane Johnson be on the board, I would expect the Phins to take him. The 6’7″ 303lbs Oklahoma product is a physical specimen who has seen time at 3 positions in his college career. He is very athletic and projects as one of the best pass protectors in the draft (clearly a priority for the Dolphins moving forward). He needs to add a little more weight but has proven he is willing and able to do so. Additionally the guy is exactly the type of player Philbin likes, a high character, extremely hard-working player who could be a future leader for this team.
Second Option: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Rhodes is a very physical 6’ 2” 210lbs cover corner with 4.5 speed. Some have highlighted his 2012 game tape as a problem, but teams really threw away from him a lot of the time. To see his potential check out his 2011 game, in which he covered former Notre Dame now Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd, and shut him down hard. Also if DE Deon Jordan is available (which is highly unlikely) don’t be surprised if the Phins take a luxury pick. Also don’t be too surprised if the Phins trade down before taking a corner, this draft is very deep at the tackle and corner positions and more picks are never bad.
Round 2 Pick 42:
CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, UConn
The 6’ 1” 195lbs corner out of Connecticut is an excellent cover corner with good size and speed. While he has had some injury trouble, he is extremely intelligent, well respected by his teammates and coaches and has shown all the ability necessary to be a productive corner in the NFL.
Second Option: OG Justin Pugh, Syracuse
Probably the third best Guard prospect in the draft, Pugh is an athletic and well-sized prospect only limited from being an excellent tackle by his short arms. Nevertheless, he would be an excellent addition to the Dolphins Offensive Line and a potential replacement for Richie Incognito for years to come. Keep an eye out for FSU OT Menelik Wilson also.
Round 2 Pick 54:
DE Margus Hunt, SMU
A 6’8” 277 lbs Defensive End with 4.7 speed, what’s not to like? Well his injury history is questionable and he may well be gone by now, but a massive and athletic guy to take some pressure off of Cam Wake would be tremendously helpful. I really like this guy to be pretty productive for a while in the NFL.
Second Option: CB Jonathan Banks, Mississippi St.
A big corner who is excellent in run support, Banks would be a nice addition to the Dolphin’s defense. His big conference pedigree and history of covering NFL caliber corners is also a plus.
Round 3 Pick 77:
FS Eric Reid, LSU
The 6’1” 213lb LSU product has faced questions about his speed, but I believe his intelligence and instincts more than make up for this. He is an extremely hard worker and has shown the ability to attack the ball in the air and force interceptions, something the Dolphins need to do a lot more.
Second Option: OT Terron Armstead, AR-Pinebluff
Armstead is a big, quick and athletic Tackle who could be a nice addition for the Dolphins. Obviously the level of his competition is questionable, but he has a very high ceiling and excellent physical tools.
Round 3 Pick 82:
CB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
At just 5’ 9” 186 lbs. Mathieu is definitely undersized and comes with a well-documented history of off the field problems. However, he appears to have turned the corner and by all accounts has performed well in interviews. Mathieu is a player with incredible instincts and a knack for creating turnovers, something the Dolphins could desperately use. I believe Philbin and his hard-nosed staff would be able to limit his off-the-field troubles and turn this guy into one of the steals of the draft.
Second Option: WR Markus Wheaton, Oregon St.
Wheaton was incredibly productive in his senior year at Oregon St. catching 91 passes for 1244 yards and 11 TD’s. He is an undersized receiver blessed with incredible speed who was used in a similar way to Percy Harvin in the Oregon St. offense. A natural playmaker and hard worker, Wheaton would provide Ryan Tannehill with another young deep-threat in the passing game
Round 4, Pick unknown (projected at 14):
TE Levine Toilolo, Stanford
This pick will surely be met with some skepticism but I love Toilolo. The 6’8”, 265lbs. Tight End has played backup to Zach Ertz and Colby Fleener in his time at Stanford but could be better than both in the NFL. He is an excellent blocker and would complement Dustin Keller’s lack of blocking ability, but also a solid pass catcher and extremely hard runner after the catch. With 4.8 speed he has enough to do some serious damage and could develop into a legitimate threat in the Dolphins offense, especially when added as a complement to Dustin Keller and Charles Clay
Second Option: RB Le’veon Bell, MSU
Tough to imagine this guy being available here, but he would be an excellent complement to Lamar Miller. This is especially true given Daniel Thomas’ lack of progression and injury situation. A massive 6’2” 230lbs. back who runs hard and straight would be a useful tool in the Sherman offense and could be similar to Lousaka Polite in short-yardage situations.