Ahhhh…mock drafts! Gotta love ‘em. When fans and media begin talking about the NFL Draft it is very easy for them get tunnel vision and concentrate on what a team will take in round 1. Nothing stamps the exclamation mark on this than the NFL Network coverage and the ESPN coverage.
Both live broadcasts spend countless hours discussing what teams will do in round one but come day two and three, a high percentage of their coverage rehashes who was taken by whom in round one. In fact the coverage wanes so much following the first day of the draft that viewers begin learning of who was selected not by a visit to the podium but instead by a passing verbal comment or a “Selection In” flash at the bottom of the screen. Followed then by a name or by a brief highlight a few moments later.
It’s easy to see why round 1 draws so much attention. The players selected are normally the top of the college class. They are the best athletes, the highest expectations, and get paid the most money. Yet the players taken in rounds 2-7 often are players who have the highest overall impact on a teams roster. Mainly because there are far more of them.
Case in point, Jason Taylor was selected in round 3 of the 1997 NFL draft. Two rounds behind WR Yatil Green. Sam Madison was taken in round 2 of that same draft and both players had a far larger impact on the team than Green. Despite his knee injury that curtailed his career. Zach Thomas a year before was selected in round 5 after the Dolphins selected 8 other players before him.
It’s safe to say that while the first round gets the attention, the gems and possible future stars of a team come from any round of a draft. Not just 1-32.
Perhaps a bigger question surrounding the first round is whether the Dolphins’ GM, Jeff Ireland will use his plethora of picks (11) to make a move up in round 1 or even trade down. Will the Dolphins draft in the 12th slot?
Once the first day of picks wraps up, as it stands now, the Dolphins will get into the meat of their draft. With two picks in round 2, 2 in round 3, and 2 in round 4, the Dolphins will be busy. And with those picks it’s imperative that Ireland finds at least 3 starters.
So what will the Dolphins do? A lot unfortunately depends on what they decide to do with the 12th overall pick. If they take a LT it’s likely they will not address the position again in round 2-4 but that does not rule out a guard. TE in round one puts the odds of selections on the offensive line at tackle and guard as well as CB.
Among the many options Ireland will have in round two is FIU Safety Jonathan Cyprien. The Dolphins don’t have an immediate need at safety but the team doesn’t have to follow a “needs” draft outline. With the Dolphins free agent signings, they have put themselves in a position to go off chart. Instead of working the Jeff Ireland “horizontal” draft as he states he goes by, he is in position to address positions that are not “major” needs.
To get an idea of who the Dolphins could target you could do two things. One, buckle down and do all the NFL type research and mock your drafts based on your own research. Or two, view a myriad of mock drafts from around the web (I recommend pro-site mocks) and deduce who may fall and who may not.
It’s obviously difficult to determine what players the Dolphins will be interested in after day one. There are simply too many names to mention and then to discern which players will go in what round suddenly becomes more than a daunting task. Still, players like DE Alex Okafor could fall to round 2. Damontre Moore, the Texas A&M DE. Or maybe the Dolphins add a WR like Ryan Swope from A&M.
Another intriguing option could be offensive guard Kyle Long’s addition to the Dolphins offensive line. Long is the son of HOF’er Howie and brother of Chris Long in St. Louis. The Dolphins addition of Brent Grimes also gives them flexibility at the corner spot and allows them the option of not doubling down on corners in the draft.
Simply put, the Dolphins have options. Options they really haven’t had in recent years. The Dolphins have been drafting for pure need all the way back to Nick Saban’s drafts and that doesn’t always add up to the best decisions. The Dolphins will still draft for need but this time around, their needs are a lot less than they have been.
Ireland is in a position to take a game changing player in round 1 and then add more playmakers and beef up his line in rounds to come. He also has an opportunity to use some of his extra picks to move back into round 1 and grab another top prospect. Regardless of what he does, the rounds on Friday and Saturday will be more telling of whether his draft is a success both short and long term.