From trading up to trading down, trading out or trading for a player, the Miami Dolphins and Jeff Ireland have options. While round one will be the most scrutinized the subsequent rounds will have as much impact as the first round. For now, we are talking pick number 12.
While rumors continue to circulate that the Dolphins’ Jeff Ireland could be targeting a trade up for Oklahoma LT Lane Johnson or Michigan LT Eric Fisher, the move up for an LT is nothing close to absolute. The Dolphins have plenty of options ranging from offensive line to pass rushing DE and some have even speculated that Ireland may go after the replacement for Randy Starks in round one as well.
What makes sense:
Lane Johnson – There is a definite need for a LT and there is no question that the Dolphins do not believe that last years 2nd round tackle Jonathan Martin is ready to take over the left side of the line. If they were, RT Eric Winston would be a Dolphin instead of unemployed. Lane Johnson has the potential to be better than perennial Pro-Bowler Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns.
Johnson fits the Dolphins zone blocking scheme very well and with the weapons given to Ryan Tannehill this off-season it is imperative to give him solid protection. The issue here is that Lane Johnson is not expected to fall to the Dolphins at pick 12. Forget about not being flashy.
Several teams including the Jacksonville Jaguars are thought to be interested in left tackles and there are only three at the top of this years class. Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher. Both of those guys will be gone in the top five. If Ireland does in fact want a LT, they will have to move up to get him. Moving up will cost the team an additional 2nd or 3rd and maybe both.
While Johnson makes sense for the Dolphins, the rumors of their interest in Johnson could be two fold. The Dolphins could be working to lower the trade demands by Kansas City for LT Branden Albert. In addition the flirtation with Lane Johnson could be a ploy to lower the contractual demand of RT Eric Winston. Although personally, I don’t think that is the reality.
Moving off Johnson, the Dolphins could opt to trade up for an opportunity to draft CB Dee Milliner. The thought of adding a top CB is intriguing but Milliner is not comparable to previous top CB’s in the last few drafts. The difference between Milliner and even second round prospects is marginal at best. The extra picks it would take to move up are not conducive to getting better only filling a hole.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes could be available at number 12 costing the Dolphins only the selection. Rhodes is a top five CB but there are questions regarding his ability to fit into the Dolphins scheme and again, the difference between Rhodes and second round talents is marginal. In other words, the Dolphins can afford to wait if they don’t believe Rhodes makes a major impact on the secondary.
The Dolphins will likely pass on WR’s but the name that gets the most play is Tavon Austin and Austin is the one player I don’t want to see drafted in round 1. Slides to round 2? O.k., but that won’t happen. Austin comes with the tools, the speed, and the ability to change a game. The problem I have is his ceiling.
What I see in Austin now is the best I can hope for at the peak of his career at the next level. Austin will not get faster, he will not get bigger, and he will not make a move to number one outside . In fact, the more realistic scenario is a reduction in performance from his college stats. If I am Jeff Ireland I’m not looking at drafting a slot receiver at number 12. That being said, if they trade back and draft him, I may sing a different tune.
Aside from LT only one position on the offense stands out to me as a potential option for the Dolphins and this is where my number one choice for the team comes into play. TE. More specifically, Notre Dame TE
Eiffert is the best pure TE in this years draft. He has NFL ready hands and runs very solid routes. He is able to pick up the ball in air and adjust his body high and low to make the catch. He has NFL type speed and has room to get faster. Eiffert’s biggest downfall is his blocking ability but he still is better than some of the top TE’s coming out in previous years. Eiffert is good but not great at that skill set. Unlike, in my opinion, Tavon Austin, Eiffert has the ceiling to get better in all aspects of his position.
It’s because of the fact that Eiffert is my number one pick for the Dolphins this year that I don’t believe they will actually drafting him. Instead I believe they will look to rounds 2 and 3 to add their TE to play opposite Dustin Keller. Zach Ertz and Gavin Escobar are possible targets.
Moving back to the defensive side of the ball, the Dolphins have a lot of options. Barkevious Mingo is a top option. He reminds of a Jason Pierre-Paul type and comes into the draft with similar concerns. He seems to lack a move set that enables him to get up-field to the QB consistently a knock that JPP had as well. Mingo has the strength to move up-field quick but needs to get better and more consistent. He has long arms and can get better using them to keep his body away from bigger left tackles.
Another OLB option could be Jarvis Jones if he falls. Jones was impressive at Georgia and has stellar up-field speed. Jones is projected to go in the 8-10 range of the draft and most mocks have him going to Buffalo at eight. He maybe a player to watch if he is still on the board at number 12.
Another option could be Tank Carradine who has a lot of Dolphins fans singing his praises. While Carradine has a lot of upside, he is coming off an ACL injury and that should be a red flag concern for any player taken at the top half of the draft.
Honestly, there are too many defensive players to mention on the outside as options for Jeff Ireland. Ireland must find impact play making players in this draft. While many believe that he is standing on his last leg as an NFL GM, there is no guarantee that another bad season will cost him his job. While that may be true he can ill afford to draft this year with the idea that the player/s will get better in a year or two.
Jeff Ireland needs impact draft picks now and for that reason he needs to draft players that can start immediately.