The Dolphins took a decidedly homegrown approach to free agency this year. How would it look if they followed the same philosophy during the NFL draft?
Retaining the likes of Kenny Stills, Andre Branch, and Kiko Alonso were priorities for the Dolphins this offseason. They also handed out a big extension to Reshad Jones. Jarvis Landry is likely next for the Dolphins as they try to keep their talent close to home.
South Florida has long been a hotbed for NFL talent. The “U” of Miami has produced countless NFL stars, including Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Andre Johnson. Recently, FIU, FAU, and USF have funneled in big names like T.Y. Hilton, Alfred Morris, and Jason Pierre-Paul, respectively.
The Dolphins have a ton of needs that they need to fill in the upcoming draft. There are numerous holes on the defensive side of the ball and several positions that require upgrades on offense. This mock draft potentially fills many of those needs by acquiring prospects that are within driving distance of Hard Rock Stadium.
Round 1, Pick 22
David Njoku, tight end, University of Miami
The Dolphins seemingly solved their issues at tight end with their trade for Julius Thomas and signing of Anthony Fasano. However, Thomas’s health has held him back the last two seasons, causing him to miss a combined 11 games. Also, he is under contract with the Dolphins only through the 2018 season.
Njoku, though somewhat raw, is a far superior athlete to Thomas. He runs incredibly crisp routes and is adept at challenging the seams of the defense. He could contribute immediately as a matchup weapon, while rounding into form as an elite move tight end to eventually replace Thomas.
Round 2, Pick 54
Trey Hendrickson, defensive end, Florida Atlantic University
The Dolphins have decent depth at the defensive end position. Nonetheless, they need players waiting in the wings to replace aging legend Cameron Wake and one-year rental William Hayes.
Hendrickson surprised many by running very fast (4.64 seconds) at the scouting combine. He has great athleticism for a man of his size (6′ 4″, 266 lbs) and plays with a great motor on the field. He earned 23 sacks during his final two years in college, earning first team all-conference honors both years.
Round 3, Pick 97
Marlon Mack, running back, University of South Florida
The recent attempt of the New England Patriots to poach RFA RB Damien Williams looms to threaten the Dolphins running back depth. The selection of the dynamic Mack could soften the blow.
Mack is an incredibly explosive runner who offers home run potential every time he touches the ball. He will have to shore up his fumbling issues, but the Dolphins showed last year that they value explosive playmaking ability with their third round choice of Kenyan Drake.
Round 5, Pick 166
Danny Isidora, guard, University of Miami
The guard position has been a sore spot for Phin Phanatics for quite some time now. The Dolphins continue to use a revolving door approach at the position. The guard market recently drummed up huge money for free agents like Kevin Zeitler and Larry Warford. Rather than pay big bucks, the Dolphins continue throwing darts at late round guard prospects.
Isidora is a highly athletic guard who fits well in Miami’s zone blocking running scheme. He slides to the fifth round in this mock draft due to concerns about his ability to hold up against the massive bull-rushers he will face at the NFL level. He may not be a year one starter, but he does offer starter potential once Jermon Bushrod decides to call it quits.
Round 5, Pick 178
Corn Elder, cornerback, University of Miami
Elder finds himself in the same unfortunate position as many cornerback prospects entering today’s prototype-driven NFL. He possesses all of the intangibles and talent, but at 5′ 10″, 183 lbs, is lacking in the height department. His college production will likely not match his draft position.
The Dolphins need competition at the cornerback spot and should get it from the tenacious Elder. The former Hurricanes star will challenge Bobby McCain for reps at nickel corner, a competition he should eventually win.
Round 5, Pick 184
Rayshawn Jenkins, safety, University of Miami
My favorite pick of this mock draft, Rayshawn Jenkins rounds out a trio of Hurricanes to the Dolphins in the fifth round. Jenkins is an outstanding physical specimen who slides in immediately as a special teams weapon.
The Dolphins hope to develop Jenkins similarly to the way they did former fifth round pick Reshad Jones. If all goes well, in a few years the Dolphins will field two Pro Bowl safeties snagged from the fifth round.
Round 7, Pick 223
Dieugot Joseph, offensive line, Florida International University
With their final selection, the Dolphins take a high-upside stab on the highly athletic Joseph. A converted defensive end, Joseph needs time to develop his strength, but NFL teams covet his long (6′ 6″, 293 lbs) athletic frame.
Brad Kaaya, quarterback, University of Miami
Stacy Coley, wide receiver, University of Miami
Jonnu Smith, tight end, Florida International University