The Miami Dolphins are close to becoming one of the better teams in the league, but there are still several holes on the roster that need to be addressed in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Miami has made a committment to keeping their own players over free agents. This year alone the Dolphins brought back Andre Branch, extended Cameron Wake, re-signed Kenny Stills, gave an extension to Reshad Jones, and re-signed Jermon Bushrod. This mentality puts more focus on making the right draft choices.
With the draft only a few weeks away how Miami addresses their needs is as important as who they draft to fill them. Here is a round by round preview of the Dolphins draft options.
The highly touted first round is not by any means the most important round of this draft, but it definitely draws the most attention. Where do we start? Well we can start by realizing that all of the top picks should be gone at this point, but we thought the same thing last year before a consensus top-3 pick fell to us with the13th overall pick. With that said, Adam Gase and company will be ready for anything.
What position will it be? Miami needs another starting guard to keep Jay Ajayi consistently lethal. Another starting linebacker would be a plus that could connect the dots on our defense. Cam Wake and number 93 are getting up there and age so maybe a future replacement will be worth a first round pick.
If we are looking at the guard position, both Forrest Lamp and Cam Robinson could be there at 22. Lamp would take over at the left guard position and likely stay in the interior for his entire career. Robinson would man the left guard spot for a year and be a possible replacement for Ju’wuan James in the near future. Both are superb athletes at their positions and both are in the conversation for best at their position.
Hasson Reddick is another very likely option. Many say he can play any linebacker position in a 4-3 scheme, which is a huge advantage. He also has the ability to drop down and rush the passer in different packages. For Miami, he could take over the strong side spot right away, then switch to the middle as Lawrence Timmons slowly calls it quits. He has the athleticism to maintain Rob Gronkowski and the speed to keep up with speedy receivers.
Maybe Reddick is long gone. What if Reuben Foster drops? He would easily slide in as the final starting linebacker with the ability to slide inside if and when Timmons departs. A key thing to look at when scouting linebackers: position flexibility.
Myles Garret is gone and most likely the same with Solomon Thomas. After that, the edge rushers could go all over the first round. We could be looking at Derek Barnett, a man who knows how to get to the quarterback and can maintain his ground against NFL tackles. Taco Charlton could be there. Charlton had one good collegiate season, but that could be enough to deem him a first rounder.
Lamp, Robinson, Reddick, Foster, Barnett, and Charlton could be taken, then what? This class is very deep at the cornerback position. Would Marlon Humphrey be a steal? He could come right in and compete day one. Gase just mentioned that there can never be too many defensive backs on a team.
This round is my personal favorite. This is the round where you take a guy that you really like; a guy that you view as a first rounder that just slid a bit. Many teams find starters in the second round and the Dolphins are looking to accomplish that very task two years in a row.
Defensive tackle is a need for the Dolphins. Do they try that here or wait until the later rounds. Caleb Brantley is very likely still on the board, keeping him in the state of Florida would give the team a few more years of quality DT depth. Does Malik McDowell have a fall all the way to number 54? The Miami Dolphins defensive line coach has already held a private workout with him. This could very well be the steal of the draft as some see him as a first rounder… key word: “SOME”.
Waiting to take an edge rusher could be ideal, as the depth is very nice. Charles Harris could be lethal. Carl Lawson has reeked havoc on our very own Laremy Tunsil. Tak McKinley has some scouts very pleased but his injury could place him right in our laps. TJ Watt has a pretty intriguing last name. Demarcus Walker has position flexibility. Tim Williams has some issues, but is pure talent on the field. Jordan Willis molds his game after Cameron Wake. Tyus Bowser has been skyrocketing up the boards. One of these talents could fall right into Miami’s lap.
Say they pass on guard in the first, does Dan Feeney sound like a good option? He sure has the size and ability to come right in and compete. Would Dion Dawkins be a reach? When is the right spot to draft Ethan Pocic?
DBs could also fall. Maybe Gareon Conley has a surprising fall. Does Sidney Jones make sense even though he won’t play much of this upcoming season? Desmond King could make the transition to safety and give us a playmaker on the back end. Marcus Williams could possibly be the long term answer opposite Reshad Jones. Quincy Wilson or Teez Tabor would be great physical additions in the second round. Adoree’ Jackson would be a great tool for the secondary as well as push Jakeem Grant for the return job. Then there’s Chidobe Awuzie, Fabian Moreau, Tre’Davious White, Keving King; some have to fall.
Maybe Jarrad Davis slips a little bit. When healthy, he is a great player. Should go in first round but teams seem scared of his injury history. Zach Cunningham could continue his slow fall down the boards. Zach could also come in and compete right away.
Things start to get interesting. Last year, Miami got creative and conducted a trade to bring in Leonte Carroo. From here on in the draft, predictions get a little more difficult as a majority of the skill/potential is very similar across the board. Coaches will then start to pick scheme fits and players that they have eyed for the past few months, which is not very public to the fans.
What is public to the fans is who the team brings in for a workout. Miami has attempted to bring in two mid-round safeties: Justin Evans from Texas A&M and Josh Jones from North Carolina State. Both can likely be seen in the third round and both can potentially serve as a reserve role and possibly compliment Reshad Jones in the future. The T.J. McDonald signing was only a one year prove-it deal, so preparing for the worst would be smart for the Dolphins.
Another safety could be a local prospect in Marcus Maye out of Florida. Marcus Maye has pretty good size to be the centerfield-like free safety for the Dolphins defense. In years past, teams could not get quality DBs this late in the draft, but this year is an exception, as even past the third round there will be some talent in the secondary.
Say we haven’t touched the defensive end position as of yet. Tanoh Kpassagnon just screams potential with his massive frame. The third round seems like exactly where he will go, due to his lack of production in college. But he could very well prove to be an extremely talented edge rusher for the next decade. You don’t like his production? Well there is Carroll Phillips, Daeshon Hall, Trey Hendrickson; all of which can be quality depth options along our aged defensive line.
Maybe Sidney Jones falls a little more than expected. I do not expect the Dolphins to pass on such a talent this late in the draft. Rasul Douglas has very good hands for a DB and has the preferred size in which Miami covets. Ahkello Witherspoon has amazing height and could be drafted off of potential alone. Maybe Cordrea Tankersley slips right into our laps with great talent and size. This CB class is so deep, so there will be some that fall through no fault of their own.
Who will play behind Jordan Phillips? Montravious Adams could be a steal. He definitely has the size to scare some guards in the NFL. Jaleel Johnson seems destined for the third round. He has a low motor, but can he be coached up? What about Charles Walker, Jarron Jones, and Davon Godcheaux? Expect some interior D-line talent to fall as well.
Everybody loves linebackers. Who is the next Deion Jones? Is this where Raekwon McMillan could fall? Great leadership at a great program in Ohio State, he has the instincts to play strong side and middle linebacker for the Dolphins. Would Kendell Beckwith be overdrafted here? Everyone likes middle linebackers, so this seems like an appropriate place to select the run-stopping machine out of LSU.
Shoot we still haven’t touched the offensive line. Well maybe Pat Elflein slides a bit and Miami gets a quality starter. Outside of Elflein, we’re looking a lot of depth on the line, which can be a very lethal move. Taylor Moton should be there with great position flexibility. Both Dorian Johnson and Danny Isidora might be overdrafted here, but does Adam Gase feel the need as an important one?
Maybe we trade back into round 4.
This is where Miami hopes to have the success they had when they took Jay Ajayi, Bobby McCain, and Tony Lippett all in the fifth round. Again, Miami has 3 picks in this round that are all fairly close, so there is a good chance that we will find some contribution out of this round.
This is where many adequate linebackers can be found, mainly because we don’t have a 6th round pick. But Alex Anzalone should be here; a very good player that just has trouble fighting through injuries. Anthony Walker has been compared to our very own Kiko Alonso and would be a solid depth addition. Miami has been rumored to like Elijah Lee out of Kansas State, who would be an outside linebacker with not enough size to man the middle. Duke Riley, again, would be an amazing depth addition. Would Ben Boulware be overdrafted at this point? You never know.
Perhaps we are still concerned about Jordan Phillips’ backup. Dalvin Tomlinson would be a steal this late in the draft, and it is very likely. He comes from Nick Saban, meaning that he should be a great off-field player and has the drive to compete on the field. Does Elijah Qualls see the fifth round? Another big-bodied player who could come in and provide solid depth.
It’s never wrong to take some linemen. None will stand out here, but Isaac Asiata, Nico Siragusa, Chad Wheeler, Jermain Eluemunor, and Zach Banner could all see the fifth round and would serve as reserves for a year or two.
There is a plethora of edge talents that might intrigue the Dolphins, but none are household names. It will be up to Miami to pick the right one if they do so choose to take an edge rusher.
No picks at the moment.
This round is always fun because every team is trying to find the one or two talents that are actually going to come in and be a major steal and have a long and efficient career. But quite frankly, it is unlikely to find a player who will start the season on the 53-man roster. Players like Ben Boulware could fall. Maybe some tight ends drop this far. A talented running back or wide receiver might be a good move. Perhaps we see a strong-armed quarterback drop and select him to beat out Brandon Doughty for the 3rd string QB spot. By no means is it impossible to find talent in this round. Adam Gase and company have what it takes to find the right gem.