Genovesi’s Grades: The Draft

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Tight end Mike Gesicki
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Tight end Mike Gesicki /

Well, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last two and a half weeks, the 2018 NFL Draft came and went on April 26-28. The Dolphins added eight players throughout the three-day Draft, so I’m here to give you my opinion.

The one thing that is great about being a college student whose exams fall around the NFL Draft is it gives me time to digest what the Dolphins did in the draft and then formulate a more rounded opinion. Rather than a knee jerk reaction.

It is impossible to grade these players now. You cannot grade someone without them ever playing a snap in the NFL. Therefore, the grades I will give are more grading what the front office was thinking when taking each of these picks rather than the player himself.

Let’s do this.

Round 1: Minkah Fitzpatrick – Safety, Alabama – A+

I love this pick with the 11th overall selection. Most people thought that Fitzpatrick was a top 5 talent in this draft, but because of the run on QB’s he fell right in Miami’s lap at 11.

Fitzpatrick is the type of game-changing defensive back that Miami desperately needs. Some might say, what about Reshad Jones? I love Jones and he is a pro-bowler, but he does not cover tight ends well. He is a ball hawk that blitzes well and forces turnovers.

Jones has always needed someone to compliment his skill set. Minkah Fitzpatrick is that guy.

Note that Fitzpatrick is not just a safety. DB is the better description for him because he can play all over the field.

The high percentage of snaps at slot corner is a big indication that he can cover anyone he lines up against. It seems like the Miami defense hasn’t had anyone to cover TE’s or RB’s in the pass game in a decade. Hopefully, Fitzpatrick is that guy.

And if you haven’t heard his story, watch this video. The hard work and determination that it has taken for him to get to where he is today is incredible. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rookie is a leader on the defensive side of the ball by the end of the season.

Round 2: Mike Gesicki – TE, Penn State – A

The Miami Dolphins have not had an elite pass catching tight end in…well, forever. The touchdown record for a Dolphin TE is seven, set by Keith Jackson in 1994 and Anthony Fasano in 2008.

That is pathetic. Especially when the tight end position plays such a critical role in Adam Gase’s offense. Just go look at the tape from Julius Thomas‘s years in Denver.

Thomas had 12 TD’s in both 2013 and 2014. Adam Gase was the offensive coordinator in Denver for both of those seasons.

That should be the role that Gesicki plays for Miami this season, and hopefully many years to come. We have already heard that he will be a third down guy, plus a red zone threat for Ryan Tannehill to go to.

Gesicki should be a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses, and with that vision in mind, this is another fantastic pick by Chris Grier.

Oh, and to go along with the culture change this off-season, and wanting guys in the building that are going to work hard and do things the right way, here’s this:

Round 3: Jerome Baker – LB, Ohio State – B+

We all know elite college linebackers such as Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds names were thrown out there before the draft as possibilities for the Dolphins at pick 11. The Miami LB core was weak last season, and the Dolphins wanted to add help through the draft.

They did so with Jerome Baker. The experts say that Baker is a fast weak side linebacker that can cover almost anybody. Therefore, this pick makes a ton of sense.

More from Phin Phanatic

The worry was that Baker is small for an NFL linebacker. He is 6’1″, 229 pounds. But I do not mind that at all. In fact, I like it.

Once again, the Dolphins have not been able to cover tight ends over the middle of the field or running backs out of the backfield in what feels like an eternity.

From Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald: “He’s really fast,” a source said. “Can he go cover Dion Lewis in space on opening day? Yes. He has that ability. I’m not saying he’s going to be the opening day starter but the ability is there.”

The Dolphins wanted to get faster on defense this offseason. They accomplished that with Fitzpatrick and Baker. We’ll see how the speed translates to the field in September.

Round 4: Durham Smythe – TE, Notre Dame – C

The 6’5, 257 lb TE is known for his blocking out of Notre Dame. Smythe had 28 receptions for 381 yards and 6 touchdowns total over four years with the Irish.

His senior season made up 15 receptions, 244 yards and one touchdown of those statistics.

We all know the front office was thinking, Gesicki is a pass catching TE so let’s go get a blocking TE. Though I get the logic behind the pick, I was not a fan of doubling down on tight end instead of taking a defensive tackle or a flyer on a QB.

Round 4: Kalen Ballage – RB, Arizona State – A

Kalen Ballage can do it all. That’s probably why the Dolphins took the ASU running back with their second fourth round pick.

We knew this entire offseason that Miami needed two more running backs as there was no one signed behind Kenyan Drake when the 2017 season ended.

The Dolphins got Frank Gore in free agency, and now have Ballage to add to the RB room.

The reason I am so high on this pick is because Ballage is the exact type of RB that Gase loves. He runs well, shows explosive ability to break big plays, blocks well, and he’s an excellent pass catcher.

Ballage’s best season at ASU came as a junior when he averaged 4.3 yards per carry and scored 14 times on the ground. He also caught 44 balls for 469 yards and a TD that year for the Sun Devils.

Oh, and eight of those fourteen TD’s came in one game, setting the FBS record.

It should be easy for Ballage to see the field a lot his rookie year. Just a couple of days ago special teams coach Darren Rizzi said Ballage is a kickoff return candidate as well. 

Some are even mentioning his name in the offensive rookie of the year discussion.

It’s not often you hear a fourth round pick being discussed in the offensive rookie of the year conversation. Again, it’s May, we have no idea what Ballage will do. But to pick a player with that type of potential in the fourth round, is a job well done by the Dolphins.

Round 6: Cornell Armstrong – CB, Southern Mississippi – C

The saying goes, “you can never have enough DB’s in the NFL”. I’m guessing that’s what the Dolphins were thinking here.

Armstrong has speed and plays outside which is a plus for this Miami defense. However, his ball skills are not great. The 5’11, 180 lb corner had just five interceptions in his four years at Southern Miss.

Once again, I believe this would have been the perfect spot for Miami to take a quarterback. Yes, a QB in the sixth round probably isn’t going to turn into anything spectacular, but now we’ll never know.

Round 7: Quentin Poling – LB, Ohio – B

Being a student at Ohio University I have seen Poling play many times over the last two years. He was a leader in the middle of the Ohio defense his junior and senior years, and has the stats to back it up.

Poling had over 100 tackles in each of his last two seasons along with 15.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks.

He has a nose for the ball as well, coming up with seven interceptions, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his four years as a Bobcat.

Poling is the type of player that knows the game well, and works harder than anyone to know the playbook inside and out.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he makes the team and is successful on Rizzi’s special teams unit. This is a good find by Miami in the seventh round.

Round 7: Jason Sanders – K, New Mexico – B

I was not surprised to see the Dolphins take a kicker here. With the loss of Cody Parkey, Miami didn’t even have a kicker on the roster heading into the Draft.

As anyone who follows the Dolphins knows, Sanders did not have a great percentage at New Mexico, making just 25/35 kicks. However, that is not what Rizzi looks at when evaluating kickers in the Draft.

Basically, Rizzi got the kicker he wanted in this draft, and is confident that Sanders will be a good NFL kicker. In this situation, I trust the veteran special teams coach.