Top linebacker options for the Miami Dolphins in April’s draft
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins have a big need for a linebacker and the fact they did not address the position in free agency leads many to believe they are targeting one in the draft.
When the Dolphins are on the clock in round one, linebacker may be the position they lean towards. If they pass on one at the top or one isn’t available, expect them to address it round two or round three. Miami can’t afford to wait until day three to add to the position.
When the season begins in August with training camp the Dolphins roster will include last years second round draftee Raekwon McMillan who spent his rookie season on injured reserve. He will join Kiko Alonso as the second starter if there are no setbacks. After those two the Dolphins have nothing.
Miami traded for former New Orleans first round pick Stephone Anthony but he is not viewed as a viable option to start and may not make the roster. Mike Hull is a back-up who can start a game or two if needed but not at the level Miami needs. Chase Allen is developing but is still a long ways from taking over a starting role.
Even with the addition of a linebacker in the draft Miami is going to have a lot of inexperience. Assuming the Dolphins plan to start a rookie, McMillan has never played even a pre-season game at the position so in essence two rookies are likely to start for the Dolphins in 2018.
The question is who could be targets for the Dolphins?
The two most talked about linebackers are Roquan Smith of Georgia and Tremain Edmunds of Virgina Tech. After the two of them the drop off is significant for outside linebackers. Harold Landry of Boston College could go in round one but more likely he is a 2nd or 3rd round talent. Several draft experts have him ranked as a 1-3 round prospect but no one is predicting him to be taken in the top half of day one.
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If the Dolphins want to go inside with a backer, Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch is a prospect that is gaining first round momentum and some believe he could be taken in the middle of the first round. Alabama’s Rashaan Evans is another middle linebacker that is grading as a first round prospect.
At 11 however the Dolphins are believed to be interested in Smith or Edmunds. Both have a lot of blue-chip potential and Smith is the higher graded of the two. He is viewed as being more well-rounded and versatile than Edmunds. He can also play inside or outside whereas Edmunds is an outside linebacker.
McMillan could bounce outside of the Dolphins draft a middle linebacker but last season Miami had him penciled in as the middle backer.
Another prospect to watch is Darius Leonard of South Carolina. He can play both inside and outside and is a 2nd to 3rd round graded prospect. With free agent linebackers mostly off the market, the Dolphins have the draft and Robert Quinn to solve the problem with the unit.
Quinn played outside linebacker last year with the Rams and could stay there. He was not as productive at linebacker as he was at defensive end but his ability to play both will help if the Dolphins have to look at grooming a middle round prospect.