The Miami Dolphins had good draft last week. Potentially one of the best drafts in years and while it’s unclear if any will immediately start, they are expected to in the near future.
The Dolphins entered the draft with needs at linebacker, safety, corner, offensive guard, defensive tackle, and defensive end. Tight end could also be an argued need as well. Miami chose who they chose when they did but what were the other options available to them?
Round one – Charles Harris – DE – fills a need
- S – Jabril Peppers – Michigan: Peppers is a very solid athlete and while his good at several positions, he isn’t great any one position.
- CB – Tre’Davious White – LSU: Miami drafted a corner in round three so there was a definite need but the need was not so bad that Miami needed a first round player that was projected as a mid-first to early second.
- TE – David Njoku – Miami (Fl.): A lot of fans held their breath when Njoku was still on the board because a lot of swirling talk surrounded him being a favorite of Adam Gase. The Dolphins need for TE is a future need not a present one. Miami didn’t draft a TE this year.
- OLB – T.J. Watt – Wisconsin: Miami could have drafted Watt but there are real concerns over lingering injuries.
- G – Forrest Lamp – Western Kentucky: Lamp was projected as first round player but fell all the way into round two. Something had teams wondering internally.
- LB – Reuben Foster – Alabama: More fans expected Foster to be the pick after dropping all the way to 31. A projected top five pick, Foster’s attitude, a diluted Combine sample, a history of concussions, and a shoulder injury that is still lingering scared teams off. Including the Dolphins who opted for the far safer play with Harris.
Round two – Raekwon McMillan – LB – fills a need
- DT – Dalvin Tomlinson – Alabama: Defensive tackles were thin at the top of the draft and the value many teams placed on them fell into the mid-rounds were Miami drafted not one but two defensive tackles.
- S – Obi Melifonwu – UConn: Safety is a need for Miami especially after the release of Isa Abdul-Quddus due to injury concerns. Miami addressed the position in free agency but it’s a stop-gap at best. The issue with Melifonwu was that he truly didn’t stand out until his stellar Combine.
- G – Dion Dawkins – Temple: A road grading guard that fit Miami’s offensive style, Dawkins is a tough as nails player but for the Dolphins, value at OG was set later in the draft. Made easier by the re-signing of Jermon Bushrod and the FA addition of Ted Larsen.
- CB – Chidobe Awuzi – Colorado: Like in round one the priority had to be on LB with DE already addressed. Awuzi is a solid player with a huge upside but Miami had more of a need at linebacker and given the availability of McMillan it’s understandable why they passed on the position in round two.
- LB – Zach Cunningham – Vanderbilt: Perhaps the most debated of the not-picked players in round two is Cunningham. Many believe that Cunningham is a more rounded player for OLB with a much better ability to cover the pass. Moreso than McMillan who is more geared towards run support. Miami would have done well with either selection but stopping the run has been the focus and McMillan excels at tackling.
Round three – Cordrea Tankersley – CB – fills a need
- DT – Nazair Jones – N. Carolina: Jones would have filled a need but the issue here was that the level of value between DT picks in round three was not much different from selecting one later. Even in hindsight, the Dolphins made the right decision to wait and take their chances.
- S – Eddie Jackson – Alabama: Jackson could have been drafted in round three but he wasn’t drafted until the 5th pick of round four. While it wouldn’t have been a reach, the Dolphins stuck to their board and did not overreach on any players.
- At the end of Round 3, three CB’s were drafted including Tankersley, one tight-end, and two linebackers. Only the tight-end remained potential need.
Final rounds: It’s hard to dissect what players are drafted and those that are not once the mid-rounds commence. Teams typically stick to needs vs. best player available mentalities or they use the BPA approach to add depth. In Miami’s case they opted to stick with their board and took Isaac Asiata who will add depth and challenge for playing time. As mentioned earlier the Dolphins used their next two selections to fill depth and need at defensive tackle.
Overall Miami’s approach this year yielded solid combinations of need and best players on their board that should add quality depth for the immediate future and starters in another year at the latest.