Top draft eligible defensive tackles in this years NFL Draft
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins have a hole on their defensive line after releasing Ndamukong Suh. They could go with what they have on the roster but they could also look to drafting a replacement.
Currently the Dolphins are sporting Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux, and Vincent Taylor as their top three rotation players. Miami got lucky with Godchaux and Taylor in the middle of last years draft but is this enough to enter the 2018 season with? Probably not.
Miami only has four true defensive tackles on the roster. The 4th player is Jonathan Woodard. DT is going to be in play for Miami at some point in the draft, write it down. It may even come into play at pick 11 in round one.
Here are some names that might creep up in conversations over the next few weeks ahead of the draft that the Dolphins could be looking at.
Talent available at pick 11
Vita Vea – Washington
A projected first round draft pick, Vea could come in to play for the Dolphins at 11 especially if one of the top linebackers or quarterbacks are off the board. Vea is a powerful interior defensive lineman. He is quick for an interior defensive player and uses his arms well against offensive lineman. He is better at stopping the run than pass rushing but he is getting better at the latter.
Vea would be a very good fit to replace Suh as they have similar positives but Vea would likely be a rotational player in his first year, then again, all of the DT’s will be.
Da’Ron Payne – Alabama
There is not much that separates Payne and Vea from each other and frankly either one could go before the other does in the draft. Payne is incredibly fast for a man his size and he comes off the ball hard with explosive athletics. Payne is good at stopping the run but might be a little better than Vea in pass rush.
The Dolphins may want to consider Payne’s speed and pass rush ability over Vea. The Dolphins could also consider moving down a few spots and still land one of the two big bodies.
Day 2 or mid-round talents
There is a drop off after the top two defensive tackles and if Miami opts to go in a different direction with their first pick, these are some later round picks that could help add some depth to the defensive line.
R.J. McIntosh – Miami
If you are a Miami Hurricanes fan you know McIntosh well. A solid defensive tackle that is projected widely between rounds two and four depending on the person you speak with. He is a strong interior defense men who can collapse pockets but isn’t going to change a game or take over a line of scrimmage by himself. His 12.5 tackles for loss in 2017 is the kind of production the Dolphins could use in their front rotation.
Maurice Hurst – Michigan
Hurst’s draft status is uncertain. At the NFL Combine Hurst was sent home after doctors found a heart condition. Originally projected in the 2-4 range Hurst could see his stock drop to round seven. It’s hard to imagine that he will go undrafted unless teams find out his condition is serious enough to stay away from.
On the field Hurst is a solid football player who would project higher if not for his size. Regardless he is fast and the Dolphins seem to like speedy football players who can hit the point of attack as fast as possible. Hurst can disrupt an offensive line but he lacks some of the run stopping ability that you would want from a defensive lineman.
Andrew Brown – Virginia
A mid-round project, Brown could be another diamond in the fifth round for the Dolphins. He is the kind of prospect that could outperform other DT’s drafted in front of him. Brown is quick as well but he will need to develop more before taking on a major role with the team. In Miami he should fit in well with a rotation.