The 2013 NFL draft is two weeks away and fans are becoming familiar with the players that will be taken early. The Miami Dolphins have 3 picks in the first two rounds to go with big needs along the offensive line, the secondary, and at defensive end and tight end. This draft, more than any other in Jeff Ireland’s tenure, is a mystery as to which position will be addressed first. Offensive linemen Lane Johnson and Jonathan Cooper, cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Desmond Trufant, or tight end Tyler Eifert could all be potential options for the Dolphins on the first day.
That means no matter what order Ireland decides to fill his roster holes, some of the “need” positions still must be addressed with Miami’s 5 picks in the middle rounds, especially if the Dolphins “double down” on a position or two, which they have wisely done in the past.
Here are 5 players to watch in the middle rounds of the draft.
1) CB Logan Ryan, Rutgers: 5’11, 191 lbs
The Dolphins are searching for zone corners to match Kevin Coyle’s system and this draft is deep in talent at the position. If Miami passes on corners like Rhodes, Trufant, Jamar Taylor and Darius Slay in the first two rounds, Ryan could be a logical choice in the third.
Ryan led Rutgers in pass break ups in both of his seasons as a starter, and totaled 7 interceptions and 161 tackles in that time, including 4 picks and 94 tackles in 2012. He likely would not be competing for a starting spot in 2013, but could be a core special teams guy and offer solid depth with great potential under Coyle’s guidance.
Very good size, and well built. Tackle production was outstanding. Assett defending the run. Mirrors off the line. Sound zone defender. Terrific ball production. Not a quick-twitch, explosive athlete. Does not elevate quickly and is a poor leaper. Loses some 50/50 balls.
Breaks up a ton of passes. In zone coverage, uses his eyes well to recognize when to break off of one man and onto the next assignment. Needs to continue to work on cleaning up his footwork. Most of his struggles appear to come when he’s playing off the line of scrimmage in man coverage.
2) CB/S Sanders Commings, Georgia: 6’0, 216 lbs
Commings is another potential zone friendly player that could offer depth at both corner and safety. He won’t solve Miami’s secondary issues, but could be a great option as the second player in a “double down” situation. The Sun-Sentinel’s Omar Kelly seems convinced the Dolphins will draft a safety. It seems logical they might be looking at a player that could play corner as well with the proper guidance.
Built like a pumped up safety. Heavy hands to jam receivers at the line. Matches up with tight ends. Goods hands, works hard and takes game seriously. Short arms and tweener traits. Limited range and could struggle on an island.
3) TE Levine Toilolo, Stanford: 6’8 260 lbs.
The arrival of Dustin Keller in Miami doesn’t mean the Dolphins are set at tight end. Keller may be the receiving seam threat the team has craved, but he only signed a 1-year deal. There is also a void of blocking tight ends on the roster. If the team passes on Tyler Eifert in the first round or Gavin Escobar in the second round, Toilolo is a favorite of mine in the fourth round. He could be a great compliment to Keller, and a solid red-zone option. Zach Ertz got all the love at Stanford this year, but Toilolo was the blocker that opened up many of his plays.
Rare size. Big short to intermediate target. Good base and bulk to block inline. Athletic bloodlines. Doesn’t dominate. Could struggle to separate. Limited after the catch.
Some have compared Toilolo to Marcedes Lewis. Toilolo lacks the burst, but he is a brute after the catch. He suffered a torn ACL in 2010 and must reassure teams that he is completely over the injury.
4) OT / G David Bakhtiari, Colorado: 6’4 300 lbs
Help along the offensive line is the Dolphins’ biggest need entering the draft, and I expect multiple linemen to be selected. If Miami isn’t able to land Lane Johnson in the first round, it will likely mean Jonathan Martin will man the LT spot in 2013. There are athletic, zone blocking lineman options after the first round, but none that will walk in and compete for starting LT spot. That means several players may be in play in the later rounds to compete for the RT spot, and the RG spot, which needs upgrading as well. Incumbent John Jerry isn’t ideal in the zone blocking system. Justin Pugh, Kyle Long, and Terron Armstead may be fits in the second round, but even if one of them is taken, it would be wise to pick up another scheme fit player in the middle rounds. Bakhtiari is athletic, quick footed and may fit the bill.
Played LT in college, maybe better suited inside in the pros. Clean shuffle and slide. Easily climbs to the second level. Lacks ideal height and build, and can get over powered.
Established himself as one of the Pac-12′s most physical and consistent offensive linemen over his three seasons at tackle for the Buffs. Strong grip and latch to control rushers when obtained. A move to Guard is likely in his future.
5) G Jeff Baca, UCLA: 6’3 302 lbs.
The days of selecting mauling, space clogging offensive linemen in the Sparano era are over, and Baca is another lighter, more athletic guard prospect that may warrant consideration for Miami’s scheme. Baca is versatile and saw playing time at every position along the Bruin’s OL at different times in his career.
Stout at the point of attack and can get to the second level. Lacks weight room strength, and may lack mental toughness. Very athletic, and projects best at guard in a zone blocking scheme.
As tenacious a blocker as there is in this draft class. Strong punch in pass pro, stuns tackles to knock them backwards and works to move the line, but stronger defenders can push him back with a power rush, and can use their superior strength to rip off blocks or control his upper body.