If there is one thing we are certain about in 2015 is that the Miami Dolphins will have some needs in the 2016 draft. Through seven games thus far the Dolphins have displayed some talent at times but most of all they have shown areas of need that will have to be addressed if they are going to improve in 2016.
Yes, I am well aware that the season is far from over and that the Dolphins can still make the playoffs. In fact, the Dolphins have a real shot at the post season thanks to other teams in the AFC under performing. The question of whether they can is a different story entirely.
The Dolphins have some young talent on the roster and some expensive talent as well but where this team has struggled is finding success in the Draft. Over the past ten seasons the Dolphins failure to draft quality starting players has been a major problem and one that has kept the Dolphins from growing into a competitive team. Through Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and now Dennis Hickey, Miami has missed far more than they have hit on.
The task next year, barring major structural changes, will be shouldered by Mike Tannenbaum.
To understand what the Dolphins need in 2016 it’s important to look back briefly at what they have done in the past five seasons. The Dolphins have done better in the last five years than the previous ten but most of those players have yet to perform up to their potential, draft spot, and more importantly expectations.
It’s far too early to label this draft either good or bad but one thing stands out. None of the players drafted are starting. DeVante Parker has been injured and has been unable to get on the field as a result of a lot of missed off-season practice. Jordan Phillips, the teams 2nd round pick, is depth only and as a result the team failed once again to find a starter in the 2nd round. A round that Miami has bee exceptionally bad at. Jamil Douglas has started but it’s been clear that he isn’t ready for a full time role just yet. Of the seven picks in 2015, Douglas has played the most. Bobby McCain, a 5th rounder is starting to show growth.
Perhaps the Dolphins best draft in recent memory and one of the few drafts to highlight success in round two, the Dolphins have Ja’Wuan James and Jarvis Landry to show off. Billy Turner is now starting and he is finally starting to get better as well. Walt Aikens has a lot of improvement to make and only 7th round pick Terrence Fede seems to have what it takes of the rest of the picks to make a name on the defensive line. Two players, Jordan Tripp and Arthur Lynch are no longer with the team.
Jamar Taylor is the best of the class and he has yet to elevate his game to the level of not needing to be replaced. Dion Jordan has been a major dissappointment and Dallas Thomas while starting is very inconsistent. The best draft pick of the class by far has been linebacker Jelani Jenkins taken in round four but Dion Sims also taken in round four is getting better each week but still has a lot of learning ahead of him. Four players of the nine players drafted are no longer with the team.
Ryan Tannehill is the teams franchise quarterback but there is questions about his growth and his inability to accurately throw the ball longer than 20 yards is a concern. Olivier Vernon has been good but not great and his contract is up at years end and he may not be back. Lamar Miller has been very good when the blocking in front of him has been good. The Dolphins drafted nine players in 2012 and only Rishard Matthews, another 7th round pick is still on the roster outside of those already named. The Dolphins wasted picks in round two on Jonathan Martin and round three on Michael Egnew.
The Dolphins drafted six players in 2011 and only first rounder Mike Pouncey is still on the team. Pouncey received a contract extension prior to the start of the 2015 season and is the teams franchise center. Daniel Thomas was another 2nd round bust and Charles Clay, taken in round six is now with Buffalo.
It’s imperative that the Dolphins get starters in 2016 and those starters must be players that fill holes. The Dolphins have a lot of them. It’s unclear where the Dolphins would go and what players they would target because frankly it’s very early but here are five positions that need to be addressed in the draft next season, preferably with the first five picks of the draft. While it’s possible some of these needs will be addressed in free agency, the Dolphins are not expected to be major players due to salary cap issues. Miami can free up space by doing contract changes but it’s likely the holes will be filled or at least should be filled by the draft.