Grading the Draft: Miami Dolphins

With no first round pick thanks to Ricky Williams sensational season, the Dolphins looked to fill in the missing pieces starting in round two as Dave Wannstedt needs a big year to save his job. Offensive line was a priority as was linebacker.

Round Pick Player Pos School
2 17(49) Eddie Moore OLB Tennessee
3 14(78) Wade Smith OG Memphis
3 23(87) Taylor Whitley OG Texas A&M
5 21(156) Donald Lee TE Mississippi St.
5 34(169) J.R. Tolver WR San Diego St.
6 8(181) Corey Jenkins S South Carolina
6 36(209) Tim Provost OT San Jose St.
6 40(213) Yeremiah Bell S E. Kentucky
7 34(248) Davern Williams DT Troy St.

UDFA of Note: Korey Banks/CB/Mississippi St, Ronald Bellamy/WR/Michigan, Jimmy Fryzel/WR/Central Florida, Otis Grigsby/DE/Kentucky, Byron Hardmon/OLB/Florida, Terrance Leftwich/S/Temple, Dejhown Mandley/TE/UNLV, Morgan Pears/T/Colorado St, Josh Rue/FB/Duquesne, Lon Sheriff/QB/San Diego St, Billy Yates/G/Texas A&M

Prior to the draft the Dolphins did more maneuvering, acquiring an additional third round choice.  They then hoped to package multiple choices in order to move into the late part of round one but the plan fizzled when Denver surprisingly picked the player Miami wanted, offensive tackle George Foster, in the 20th slot.

To add insult to injury the Dolphins used their first pick of the draft on Eddie Moore, a linebacker most thought would go unselected. Moore plays hard and has a good feel for the position but lacks lateral speed and seemingly runs around the field aimlessly at times. This was definitely a need pick and worse yet, a major reach.

Same cannot be said for Wade Smith, the athletic and versatile blocker who can play multiple positions up front. In many ways Smith was a hidden gem in this draft yet were one to study him on film, you could see he has the tools to be successful. Can he fill the hole at left tackle for the Fish? He has the feet and technique, its' just a matter of whether or not you want a shorter lineman blocking the blind side.

Again Miami surprised taking Taylor Whitley in round three. Whitley had a nice career at A&M but by no means was the dominant force many thought he should've been. Pre-draft workouts improved his stock but now the question is, can he play to his athletic numbers on an every down basis.

Donald Lee is a solid number two tight end and a much better blocker than last year's rookie sensation Randy McMichael. Lee's also a competent safety valve as a pass catcher. 

Fellow fifth round pick JR Tolver was exceptionally productive at SDSU playing in a spread offense but not a natural receiver and as shown at the combine, a skill player that won't win many foot races.

Corey Jenkins is a project who could be headed for the practice squad as the former USC Gamecock quarterback will be tried at both safety and linebacker while Tim Provost was excellent value in round six. At the least, Provost could develop into a starting strong-side guard while at the worst he'll back up Todd Wade at right tackle.

Their last two selections were mind-boggling. Yeremiah Bell was a nice safety at EKU but an early season knee injury quickly ended his 2002 campaign.  After fighting with the NCAA for an added year of eligibility Bell threw in the towel and entered the draft. Last choice Davern Williams is a major project that needs work.  Both would've been available as free agents.

Miami actually did a great job signing rookie free agents.  Korey Banks is a solid cover-corner who plays much faster than his forty time, at the top of his game Ronald Bellamy is as good a prospect as JR Tolver, Byron Hardmon is a serviceable linebacker while Billy Yates is a solid blocker when healthy.

Analysis: Wade Smith should quickly start up front and if he can handle the left tackle duties the organization will be pleased but Smith aside the Dolphins did not come out of the draft a better team.

Tony Pauline
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