The NFL Draft is approaching, and Dolphins Nation is salivating for news after the excitement of NFL Free Agency has faded. So I thought I’d enlighten them on players I like in the 2017 NFL Draft. I grew tired and annoyed reading some of these ridiculous Mock Draft selections national analysts have made for the Dolphins—i.e. Still selecting a TE in the 1st round after the Fins just traded for Julius Thomas and signed Anthony Fasano as a #2? In the words of OchoCinco… Child, Please.
So I thought I’d come up with something that made a little more sense.
The Science behind my approach:
I am using the CBS Sports NFL draft board as the guide for my selections. I am also using NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein’s scouting reports. Zierlein began his role as an NFL draft analyst and content provider for NFL.com in November 2015 and continues in that role today. He is responsible for writing the strength and weaknesses for over 500 draft profiles each season and is one of the lead analysts on the NFL Now mobile platform during combine and NFL draft broadcasts.
My players of interest are a combination of the Miami Dolphins needs as well as my personal opinion of the best player available based on Zierlein’s reports. I stayed away from players who were labeled “inconsistent” or had questions of work ethic and love for the game. I will not factor in trades, I will simply use the Miami Dolphins draft picks, and players ranked roughly 5 positions above and below the Dolphins selection spot according to the CBS Sports Draft Board (So as not to be too farfetched with my selections).
“Hold on to your butts...”
Round 1 (pick 22 overall):
Selection: LB Zach Cunningham – Vanderbilt. CBS SPORTS RANK - #25
The Dolphins need an outside linebacker to pair with Kiko Alonso(outside) and Lawrence Timmons(middle) to complete the unit. If the Fins cannot or choose not to sign free agent linebacker Zach Brown, then Cunningham will be an intriguing option. According to Zierlein, he is a perfect fit as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 attacking defense, which is the same defensive style of the Miami Dolphins.
(A lot of people would’ve suggested DE Taco Charlton, but I stayed away from him due to Zierlein’s labels of inconsistency and lack of prouction. Plus, the Dolphins didn’t re-sign DE Andre Branch to a 3-year/$24M contract for no reason.)
Round 2 (pick 54 overall):
Players of Interest: OT Taylor Moton – Western Michigan(CBS Rank- #59) and FS Desmond King(CBS Rank - #57)
There are a number of Guards here for Miami around this spot: Dan Feeney, Dion Dawkins, and Dorian Johnson. But if they do not fall to Miami, I would suggest taking a look at Taylor Moton—not as a Tackle but as a Guard. At 6’5 and 320lbs, Moton is a behemoth of a man and resembles the Mountain from Game of Thrones(lol Taylor MOUNTAIN). The Dolphins signed veteran guard Ted Larson and brought back Jermon Bushrod. They also have depth at the guard position with Craig Urbik and Anthony Steen. However, those players are strickly backups, and RG Bushrod is only returning for 1 more season at $3M. Moton can be a future quality starter to replace Bushrod when he retires and help running back Jay Ajayi. Perhaps even compete with Ted Larson for a starting spot at LG.
FS Desmond King meets another of the Dolphins needs. Safety Nate Allen was only brought in to be a stop-gap player after Isa Abdul-Quddus suffered a potential career-threatening injury. The Dolphins need a future at that position to pair with Rashad Jones. Zierlein compares King to another NFL talented safety in Jairus Byrd, which is good enough for me. However, I have King as my fall-back selection after I stumbled upon more quality free-safeties for the Dolphins in the later rounds.
Round 3 (pick 97 overall)
Players of Interest: DT Jaleel Johnson – Iowa (CBS RANK - #98) and FS Marcus Maye – Florida (CBS RANK - #103)
The Dolphins need depth at the Defensive Tackle position after releasing Earl Mitchell, and also someone who can push and make up for Jordan Phillips’ inconsistency. Enter Jaleel Johnson. Unlike Jordan Phillips, Johnson has a high motor and will give you everything he’s got on every snap. He has starting caliber traits and disruptive pass-rushing skills. Worst case scenario—he will be a quality rotating DT for the Dolphins when Ndamukong Suh or Phillips needs a breather.
Marcus Maye… Like I said before, the Dolphins need a starting Free-Safety.
Round 5 (pick 166 overall)
Players of Interest: OLB Matt Milano (CBS RANK - #165) and FS John Johnson (CBS RANK - #168)
Ah! The first of three 5th Round picks for the Dolphins, and it starts off with 2 players from Boston College. This selection is tough because the Dolphins could use depth at the Linebacker position, but could also use a slot corner. So let’s start with Matt Milano.
If the Dolphins do not or are unable to draft Zach Cunningham in the 1st round, perhaps they can find a 5th round gem in Matt Milano to compensate for that. Although he lacks some size at 6 feet, Milano has great instincts and loves to hit(reminds me of Zach Thomas in that way). He can bring value to the Dolphins as a 4-3 outside linebacker.
FS John Johnson brings versatility for the Dolphins. I like him mainly as a slot corner to start in place of Bobby Mccain (No offense to Bobby Mccain. He’s done a serviceable job, but I wouldn’t call him a difference-maker.) Johnson is a ball hawk and his athleticism in coverage has gotten NFL scouts buzzing. So many potential 5th round gems in this draft for the Dolphins. Johnson can be one to contribute immediately and be an upgrade at cornerback for this Dolphins Defense.
Round 5 (pick 178 overall)
Players of Interest: FIU TE Jonnu Smith (CBS RANK - #179) and TCU DE Josh Carraway (CBS RANK #176)
Although the Dolphins brought back Anthony “The Italian Stallion” Fasano as a blocking tight-end, they will need to replace him soon as he will be turning 33 in April and only playing on a 1-year/$2.7M contract. Jonnu Smith should be up for the task. Zierlein praises Smith for his blocking, and while his route-running and hands need work, he has athletic traits and 4.6 speed to be a pass-catching threat. Zierlein also compares Jonnu Smith to NFL Star TE Delanie Walker, and who doesn’t like that? Lol
Round 5 (pick 184 overall)
Players of Interest: ILB Ben Gedeon (CBS RANK - #183), C Jon Toth (CBS RANK - #185), DE Joe Mathis (CBS RANK - #188)
The Dolphins need depth at linebacker. Their starting unit was average at best, except for Kiko Alonso. Lawrence Timmons was signed to a 2-year deal and will be turning 31 in May. Miami could use depth behind Timmons and a possible future replacement. Ben Gedeon has the size, instincts, and intelligence to play the position. He can offer run support and make plays in the backfield. The only glaring knock on him is his quickness and speed.
Who’s expecting Mike Pouncey to miss games this season? I am. The Dolphins Pro-Bowl Center has been dealing with hip injuries since 2014, and has not completed a full season since 2013(missing 19 games). Let Center Jon Toth be the insurance policy. Perhaps not athletic as Pouncey, but Toth has starting-caliber traits and could be a weapon in the run game. A potential starting Center in the 5th round to back up my injury-prone Pro-Bowl Center? Why not make this move?
Round 7 (pick 223 overall)
Player of Interest: CB Jeremy Clark (CBS RANK - #229)
The 7th Round… very unlikely you will find starters here. So let’s think a little more Special Teams. The Dolphins could use a gunner/jammer on Special Teams. The last standout gunner the team had was Don Jones. If Jeremy Clark can overcome his injuries, perhaps he can contribute there.