The NFL Draft is upon us and Miami Dolphins fans are excited, some probably even more excited then lasts year’s draft when Miami was expected to, and did, take QB Ryan Tannehill in the first round as the future franchise QB. Even though it was a great move, many weren’t sure in Tannehill’s abilities, but he proved himself worthy of the pick. Miami made a huge splash in the Free Agent Market this year with additions like speedy WR Mike Wallace, TE Dustin Keller, and LB Dannell Ellerbe among others. Not only giving Tannehill more weapons and immediately improving the offense but also beefing up an already powerful defense and making them younger at the same time. GM Jeff Ireland did a great job of filling some of the gaping holes, while also improving some other positions. The holes that are left will most likely be filled through the draft since Miami has slowed down in free agent signings.
Going into the 2013 draft, Ireland has his hands full with the amount of picks Miami has this year and the amount of holes still left on the team. The team is still in need of O-linemen, Cornerbacks, a tight end, running back and defensive end. Fortunately this draft is loaded with linemen on both sides and some really good prospects at corner and D-end. So what position will be addressed first? Miami now has a great set of weapons for the offense but is hurting at O-line with the departure of Tackle Jake Long. Free Agent Eric Winston was brought in for the second year in a row and left without a deal again. Corner back Brent Grimes was also signed yesterday for a one year deal, which means there is still concern about his achilles and if it has healed. Where Miami will go with the first pick is anyone’s guess even the experts are all different in opinion. Unlike last year when the majority said Miami would go after Tannehill, this year almost no two mock drafts are the same, so here goes another to add to the confusion.
Round 1, Pick 12
Xavier Rhodes, Corner Back, Florida State
As much as Miami fans would love to take Dee Millner here, He won’t be available. There is a slight chance he falls but doubtful. If he’s there, Miami should take him, since he won’t be, they take Rhodes. Miami is still hurting at corner and hasn’t made any real moves yet to address it. With Sean Smith leaving(not a big loss) Rhodes can step in and replace him as a big cover corner. Rhodes is only an inch smaller but almost the same weight. He’s great in press and has smooth hip transition with great ball skills. 8 picks and 31 passes defended in 3 years, combined with 4.3 speed can be really interesting. Rhodes is also very physical and uses his hands a little too much. With the refs these days and diva receivers, too much hands can lead to pass interference and mass amounts of yards given up. Good pick with a lot of upside, just needs a little coaching. Not to mention this year’s schedule includes Qbs Like Drew Brees, Ben Rothlisberger , Andrew Luck and Tom Brady and a few more top Qbs.
Round 2, 42nd Pick
Alex Okafor, Defensive End, Texas
Miami is looking for a D-end to compliment Cameron Wake. They Looked into Elvis Dumervil with no luck as well Osi Umenyiora. They also brought in two linebackers to replace Carlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett that have higher recorded sacks. In other words, they want pressure on the QB. Okafor can do that. Quick initial step with amazing power allow him to able to knock opponents in to the back field to disrupt play and get sacks. Finished 2012 with 12 sacks in 2012, most by a long horn in almost 30 years. Not blazing speed or great pursuit speed and has some trouble in coverage if ever asked to drop back but can seal the edge when needed and can be bumped inside to tackle for a speed blitz up the middle.
Round 2, 54th Pick
Terron Armstead, Offensive Tackle, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
The defense looks pretty good right now, time to switch to offense. The O-line needs help at tackle. Miami signed Guard Lance Louis which means there will be a fight for the start at guard which also means John Jerry can be bumped to tackle, he’s done it before. They also have Nate Garner and Will Yeatman, but they need a true O-Tackle. Armstead is amazingly fast running the fastest time ever for an o-lineman with a 4.6. Perfect fit for a zone blocking scheme that forces the lineman to block on the move and get to the secondary level. Great agility and great pop on initial hit, but sometimes gets lost in the second level. Has some trouble holding blocks but not all that important in zone blocking but will need to work on it for pass blocking and hit the weights. A lot of upside and will fit zone blocking scheme.
Round 3, 77th Pick
Andre Ellington, Running Back, Clemson
Reggie Bush is gone, Lamar Miller is untested and Daniel Thomas has not turned out to be the back they hoped he would. Miami is obviously turning into more of a passing team with the flood of receivers they acquired in the offseason. But they do need running backs to scare defenses and keep them honest. Ellington has good speed and is on the shorter side which will make it harder for the defense to keep an eye on him. Great stop and go with breakaway speed and doesn’t mind contact. Had 2 thousand yard seasons back to back but has trouble in pass protection because of his size. Used to dance behind the line but stopped dancing and hit the hole his senior year. Speed and size make him a great addition to a zone blocking scheme that allows his blockers to run with him so he doesn’t run them over.
Round 3, 82nd Pick
Jordan Reed, Tight End, Florida
Tight end has been a need for the Phins for years now. Anthony Fasano was a great blocker with great hands but not very fast. Michael Egnew still has not seen any playing time after a terrible preseason and Miami just signed Dustin Keller to a 1 year deal, so he still has to prove what he can do. Reed can compete for the starting spot with his versatility at the position. Reed has the speed and footwork to line up at receiver or tight end which is great since Miami runs a lot of no huddle. Former QB so he knows what the QB will be looking for and finds open spots on the field. Needs to develop his blocking skills and work on holding on to the ball. Had a big fumble late in the season that caused his team the game and still needs work on his skills but can come in and compete for a starting if not back up spot.
Round 4 110th Pick
J.J. Wilcox, Strong Safety, Georgia Southern
Turnovers have been lacking in Miami for the last two seasons with only 26 interceptions in two seasons. While not bad in 2011 the Phins only had 10 picks in 2012 and were 27th in the league in picks. Something the Head Coach Joe Philbin has personally pointed out. Chris Clemons had a great year last year and was resigned to a 1 year contract to see if he can do it again. Jimmy Wilson was bounced back and forth between Safety and Corner last year but wasn’t exactly getting it done. Wilcox has great speed and hand-eye coordination since he used to be a slot receiver which helps in coverage. Attacks the line well when reading run but might get swallowed up by blockers. Raw and needs proper coaching but could be a great replacement if Clemons doesn’t work out. Former receiver with good hands can lead to picks on the long ball.
Round 5 146th Pick
Terry Hawthorne, Corner back, Illinois
Miami needs depth at corner back while still finding their starters. Nolan Carroll and Richard Marshall are expected to be the starters as of right now depending on any FA signings. There are 4 other corners on the roster but all late season pickups last season for depth. Hawthorne speed can come in handy with fluid hips can help on coverage and not let receivers get away from him. He’s not afraid of contact and will step up in run support but needs help on fakes. Bites too easy on run fakes and double moves in the pass game but can be coached out of both of those. Needs work and discipline but has large upside.
Round 5 177th Pick
Kwame Geathers, Defensive Tackle, Georgia
Paul Solilai is in his contract year and with the money Miami is spending might be allowed to walk after the 2013 season. Unless of course he has another great year jamming the middle and forcing backs outside. If not there’s Geathers. At 6’6 342lbs, Gethers can clog just about any hole he steps into. He needs motivation and to be pushed but he has the size and strength to move the O-line and dominate inside. Fast straight line speed and can pursue if he needs to but offers no effect as a pass rusher, but then again neither did Solilai.
Round 7 217th Pick
Brandon Kaufman, Wide Receiver, Eastern Washington
You can never have enough receivers, especially huge ones like Kaufman. 6’5 216lbs and runs a 4.6 is an easy target on the outside over NFL corners backs that average around 6’0. Good hands and deceptive speed are obvious pluses but lack of real competition.
Round 7 224th Pick
Brandon Bishop, Free Safety, North Carolina State
A consistent player that is always in the right spot. Not very fast but smart enough to overcome it by positioning himself and getting to the ball. Solid player and can be a great back up to Reshad Jones
Round 7 250th Pick
Quentarus Smith, Defensive End, Western Kentucky
Strong and fast, attacks well from the outside but coming off ACL injury. Has a lot to prove coming off an injury as well as playing against lower-level competition. Has to prove he can play the same way against the best.