Welcome to the boring, long and treacherous off-season Miami Dolphins fans. My apologies if I do not seem energetic, I’m ready for some football!!
This past April, Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland put together quite an impressive draft plan and executed it to perfection. While I graded Ireland’s draft with a B++, the one pick holding it back from being an A- was selecting a kicker in the fifth round.
While Caleb Sturgis will challenge incumbent starter Dan Carpenter for his roster spot, there are no guarantees Strugis will even make the team.
That being said, I was still quite impressed with the class Ireland was able to reel in. So why not look at some potential first round talents the team could look at during the 2014 NFL Draft?
Per kffl.com, the Miami Dolphins are slated to have ten free agents next off-season: QB Aaron Corp, QB Pat Devlin, TE Dustin Keller, RT Tyson Clabo, OG Richie Incognito, DT Paul Soliai, DT Randy Starks – should sign a long-term deal soon?, LB Austin Spitler, CB Brent Grimes, S Chris Clemons.
Realistically speaking, Corp will not even make the team this season, therefore we can cross his name off that list. Also, Starks is in line to receive a long-term deal soon (Hopefully..) and if he does not agree to terms, I expect Ireland to sign Soliai to a long-term deal. Therefore we can limit this list to eight free agents.
Needs: OG, OT, CB, S, TE?, OLB?
OLB: This is a wild-card position, in my opinion. Depending on how recently signed linebacker, Phillip Wheeler, and Koa Misi perform this season will determine whether or not Miami goes this route.
Wheeler has been inconsistent throughout his career. The same can be said for Misi. Therefore the team could opt to take a look at three linebackers during the first round next April.
OLB – C.J. Mosley – Alabama
Analysis: Mosley is certainly one of the draft’s top defensive prospects, therefore he will likely hear his name called early. Possessing a relentless motor and great pass rushing skills, this kid reminds me a bit of that Patrick Willis type player.
Mosley is one of those guys I would certainly call a “can’t miss” prospect. Do NOT compare him to a recently retired former Alabama Linebacker. This kid plays a whole different game. He is a great leader on and off the field and is a stand-up kind of guy.
Mosley would be a great option to replace Koa Misi or Phillip Wheeler if either player does not perform well next season.
Target Range: Top 10
OLB – Ryan Shazier – Ohio State
Analysis: This is my guy. Shazier is an under-sized linebacker coming in at 6’2”, 222 lbs. Do not be concerned, though. I expect Shazier to work his tail off to get his weight at the very least into the high 230 range before the draft – meaning he will be doing the opposite of recently drafted TE Dion Sims.
Shazier is an excellent tackler and is best suited to fill a weak-side linebacker role. He runs well and is great in pursuit of the ball carrier. Sure he is under-sized for a linebacker, but he plays with a tenacity that you cannot teach.
This kid a true athlete. Miami wants to get more athletic at the linebacker position. Here’s your guy Jeff Ireland.
Target Range: Top 20
OLB – Christian Jones – Florida State
Analysis: While it pains me as a Miami Hurricanes fan to put a Florida State player on a potential “want” list for NFL prospects, Jones is a guy I would bang my hands on the table for.
Jones has the prototypical size NFL defensive coordinators covet in their linebackers – 6’4” 232 lbs. Jones is an athlete whom is better suited to play in the middle or at the SAM linebacker position.
While he is not the best in coverage, he compares well to former Miami Dolphin, Karlos Dansby – without the attitude and lazy play-making ability. While he compares to Dansby, he is much better in space and coverage than Dansby.
Jones is a vicious tackler and is one of the draft’s best when in pursuit. He possesses incredible speed for the linebacker position and is an overall great athlete.
Jones will be a great zone scheme linebacker and could sneak into the tail end of the first round.
Target Range: Late First
CB: Grimes‘ future is up in the air with Miami. The team is also banking on a pair of rookies to compete this season for snaps. Yikes, is this a recipe for disaster or what? Too early to tell. Grimes may not be the player he once was – this is a key reason I gave Ireland an A+ for signing Grimes to a one-year deal. If Grimes walks via free agency, Taylor and Davis prove to need more time, and the combination of Richard Marshall, Dimitri Patterson, Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson cannot hold up, Miami may be looking corner during the first round of the draft next season.
CB – Louchiez Purifoy – Florida
Analysis: Purifoy is an interesting prospect. This kid has the prototypical size defensive coordinators covet at 6’1”, 190lbs. Possessing long arms, Purifoy uses his length to jam receivers at the line and compares well to new Minnesota Viking, Xavier Rhodes.
This kid is a corner who is not afraid to tackle you and will lay the wood any chance he gets.
He excels in man coverage, but he stunk last year when caught in zone coverage. Miami could pass on this kid if the team opts for more of a zone type defensive scheme on the back end.
Target Range: Top 20
CB – Bradley Roby – Ohio State
Analysis: Roby was a candidate to leave school early last season and enter the 2013 NFL Draft. If Roby had left school early to enter the draft, he likely would have been the second corner taken – possibly by Miami at 12..
Roby has shown great ball skills over his time with the Buckeyes. He compares well to Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks. Possessing the length and tenacity to become a hard-nosed press cover corner, whom can also excel in zone coverage.
Roby is easily the draft’s top corner..
Target Range: Top 15
TE: If the team allows Keller to walk via free agency AND both Dion Sims and Michael Egnew do not show any promise at all this season, Miami may feel pressed to take a shot on a tight end during the early rounds of the 2014 Draft.
TE – Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Washington
Analysis: I know, I know. The first thing that many of you will point out is that this kid recently had a run-in with the law. While he has been suspended indefinitely from the University of Washington‘s football program, the kid still has undeniable talent. Hell, I would have taken this kid over Cincinnati Bengal, Tyler Eifert, this past April.
The 6’6”, 266lbs. tight end is the complete package. ASJ can block, catch, run. You name it. He can do it. He possesses that big time red-zone style build which Miami is clearly missing currently on its roster.
It’s definitely a possibility, but I still have some faith in Michael Egnew to prove his doubters wrong this season..
Target Range: Mid to Late First
OG: The team is actually in position already to allow G Richie Incognito to walk next season, but assuming that neither Louis nor Jerry can solidify the RG position, let’s take a look at a guard whom can step in and fill that void from day 1 – even though I am 100% against taking a guard in the first round…
RG – Anthony Steen – Alabama
Analysis: Steen is your technician style of offensive lineman. He will not blow you away with sheer strength as a Chance Warmack will. Nor will he blow you away with insane athleticism for a guard such as a Jonathan Cooper. He is your David DeCastro type of guy.
This kid is the type of player that you take in the first or second round and plug him right in there. Not saying he will be an instant pro-bowl player, but he will be damn good in any scheme.
Target Range: 20′s
OT: First off, I am not even going to mention Michigan‘s Taylor Lewan nor Texas A&M‘s Jake Matthews as it would be both a godsend and a horrible scenario for Miami to land either one. Miami would likely end up tanking this season or either Matthews or Lewan would have had a terrible season/combine – which would be good for Miami.
Regardless if the team brings Clabo back next season – unlikely in my opinion – the team will have to find another tackle to pair with LT Jonathan Martin for the future – praying to god that he can hold down Ryan Tannehill‘s blindside..
And while I would really love Alabama‘s Cyrus Kouandjio, Miami would likely have to land in the top ten or eleven picks to grab the Alabama Tackle…
OT – Antonio Richardson – Tennessee
Analysis: Miami Dophins’ beat writer, Omar Kelly, praised this kid quite highly when analyzing the Dallas Thomas pick. And after watching some tape, I can see why…
Richardson is listed at 6’6” 332lbs. And is very athletic for his size. The guy has quick feet and can move like a deer, this allows him to be a great run blocking tackle and a very good pass blocking tackle.
Although the Tennessee LT does tend to have issues with speed rushers, show me a tackle that really did not coming out of college…
Target Range: Top 20
OT – David Yankey – Stanford
Analysis: Could Ireland take another Stanford tackle? It’s quite possible.
Yakey is an excellent fit for the zone blocking scheme Miami would like to use this season. Depending on whether or not the team decides to stick with it will depend on the success the team sees from it’s running game this season.
Yankey is a great pass protector, but a bit of a questionable run blocker. He is more of a technician. This means he maneuvers his assignment rather than over-powering his guy with sheer strength – some coaches actually prefer this..
Hell if he doesn’t work out as a tackle, he would be a pretty damn good guard..
Target Range: Mid to Late First
Well, it’s quite early to be looking at potential suitors for the Miami Dolphins during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. We have yet to see the team take the field, hell we have yet to even see the team really practice.
From a realistic stand-point, the team will re-sign one of the defensive tackles allowing Jared Odrick to assume his rightful place along the defensive line. And I am not taking a safety high this season!
Give me some thoughts in the comment section below! Did I miss anyone you were thinking of??