The Miami Dolphins will soon be counting days instead of weeks until the draft kicks off later this month. With needs at several positions, the direction they go will have a huge impact on the 2017 roster and beyond.
When it comes to the draft there are a few names that stick out on social media. One of those names is Neal Driscoll, a member of Draft Twitter. Driscoll dedicates a lot of time to researching incoming college football players and has recently finished his 2017 draft big board. We reached out to Neal to get his opinion on some of the topics surrounding this years draft as it relates the to the Dolphins. You can follow Neal on Twitter here: @NealDriscoll
PP: You released your 2017 Draft Big Board a week ago Monday. Who do you think the Miami Dolphins WILL take at 22 and who would you prefer they take?
Driscoll: I think the Dolphins primary focus is on building the defensive line. Defensive end is priority number one for the Dolphins and I believe they will have their eyes on Jordan Willis out of Kansas State. They have been showing him a lot of attention and with it possible that Derek Barnett, Taco Charlton, and Charles Harris will be selected before Miami is on the clock, Willis is their next guy in line.
If I were making the call I’d select one of the following players, Forrest Lamp or Malik McDowell. The Dolphins offensive guard situation is abysmal but adding a quality left guard like Lamp almost fixes that issue. Malik McDowell comes with some character concerns but I think he is the next Calais Campbell. With his versatility to lineup anywhere on the DLINE, he would be a vital to a youth movement on the defensive front.
PP: The Dolphins enter the draft needing Linebackers, DT’s, DE’s, and a guard. Which position will be the hardest to fill in the first 3 rounds and which will be the easiest?
Driscoll: Linebacker is not an easy position to fill in the 2017 NFL Draft. Outside of Reuben Foster, Zach Cunningham, Hasson Reddick, Jarrad Davis, and Raekwon McMillan I don’t see a player worthy of a selection until the fourth round.
Defensive end is one of the easiest positions to find an impact pass-rusher. This is a tremendous draft class for pass-rushers. Myles Garrett, Taco Charlton, Solomon Thomas, Jonathan Allen, Jordan Willis, Derek Barnett, and Charles Harris are round-one locks but there will still be great talent when Miami selects in the second and third round of this draft.
It isn’t too far-fetched to find starting offensive guard talent in the mid-rounds of the NFL draft. Clearly, Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney are head-over-heels the best two prospects in this draft class. Dorian Johnson and Dion Dawkins are other players that will get selected in the first couple of rounds in the draft. My sleeper here is Texas A&M’s Jermaine Eluemanor. Eluemanor plays with tremendous strength reminiscent of Keseche Osemele.
With the First Pick
PP: It keeps being repeated in mainstream media that this years draft is 3 rounds deep with defensive talent. What makes this years group stand out?
Driscoll: I am of the opinion that this is a defense heavy draft class as well. You have three players that I consider elite in Myles Garrett, Malik Hooker, and Reuben Foster but the draft is loaded with other players such as Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams, Jabrill Peppers, Derek Barnett, Malik McDowell, Marshon Lattimore, Taco Charlton, Zach Cunningham, Jonathan Allen, and Hasson Reddick are instant difference makers. Cornerback and Defensive End are positions where talent is abundant. When I mock the first ten picks of the draft, seven of the ten selected will be on the defensive side of the ball.
PP: Looking at your big board who will be this years Laremy Tunsil or rather that top 10 player who slides much further than projected?
Driscoll: I hate to drop a player due to injury but I think we could see a draft day slide for Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen. There are concerns surrounding his shoulder and while I don’t think the condition will cause a long-term effect, NFL scouts are different. If Allen is on the board when Miami is on the clock, they better run to the podium.
PP: When looking at what the Dolphins did during free agency do you see any signs of what their intentions are with the draft?
Driscoll: Their plan of attack in free agency was to reward the players that flourished in the “New Miami” regime. The addition of Lawrence Timmons was a solid move as it was move to improving their horrid run defense. By not being big spenders in free agency, the Dolphins are putting pressure in building through the draft. I think Miami will work to address their needs but I don’t think they are desperate to fill any certain position and will take a best player available approach.
PP: Do you believe there is a player or maybe two that Miami would consider trading up for? If so how far would they need to go up or would it be a matter of that player/s falling closer to them?
Driscoll: I think Miami is staying put with pick number 22. The trade they made with Minnesota in last year’s draft which saw them sending a 3rd and a 4th round pick in this year’s draft for a pick they used to select wide receiver, Leonte Carroo. The ammunition to trade up in the first round of the draft is an expensive delicacy.
PP: Who are the five players that Miami Dolphins fans should watch film on ahead of the draft?
1. Derek Barnett-DE-Tennessee
2. Taco Charlton-DE-Michigan
3. Forrest Lamp-OG-Western Kentucky
4. Jordan Willis-DE-Kansas State
5. Malik McDowell-DL-Michigan State
PP: Round one is always the exciting round but teams succeed based on how they draft after that round is over. What are your thoughts on Rounds 2-3?
Driscoll: My favorite round of the NFL draft is the second round of the draft. Why? I like seeing the players that I had Round One grades fall getting my hopes up that the Dolphins get a certain player. Last year that player was UCLA’s Myles Jack. I think early in round two there will be a run on quarterbacks with players such as Patrick Mahomes, Deshon Kizer, Davis Webb, and possibly Nathan Peterman finding homes. I am a big fan of the depth in this draft which leads me to believe you can find quality starters through round four into round five.
PP: Do you anticipate the Dolphins making any moves that will allow them to acquire more draft picks this year? If so will it be by trading or shuffling around the draft order or is there a player that could provide value in a trade currently on the roster?
Driscoll: The Dolphins will certainly maneuver to acquire a few draft picks but I think they stay firm in rounds one and two. The trade that had them send 3rd and 4th round picks in this year’s draft so that they could draft Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo isn’t looking so hot right now. I think Miami would like to add a couple picks in the middle rounds of this draft.