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We are now over a week removed from the 2015 NFL Draft and the Dolphins just completed thieir Rookie Camp this weekend. We have had a chance to hear the so called experts thoughts on how Miami did in this draft as well. It's now my turn to give my thoughts on how the Dolphins did in this draft as well as some thoughts on the UDFA signed immediately after the draft.
We know going into the draft, the Dolphins needed to address cornerback, wide receiver, offensive left guard, defensive tackle, safety and running back, in no particular order. With their 1st pick, the Dolphins took WR DeVante Parker of Louisville. In the 2nd round, in perhaps a surprise to some, myself included to some degree, the Dolphins took DT Jordan Phillips of Oklahoma. Most thought, myself included was that Miami would look to address that OLG spot at this point in the draft, with Hobart OLG Ali Marpet or South Carolina OLG A.J Cann possibly being a prime consideration. That said, the Dolphins released DT Randy Starks and lost DT Jared Odrick in free agency to Jacksonville. And while the Dolphins bought in perhaps the best DT in football, Ndamankong Suh, they still had a need for another DT. Phillips was a borderline 1st round player that fell into the 2nd round and he fit BPA for the Dolphins, who traded down from #47 to #52 with Philadelphia and acquired (2) 5th round picks from the Eagles.
Not having a 3rd round pick hurt in this draft, but Miami looked at the acquicision of WR Kenny Stills from New Orleans as the eqivalant of getting a 3rd round pick. In the 4th round, the Dolphins addressed the OLG position by taking OLT/OLG Jamil Douglas from Arizona State. Some have speculated that the Dolphins missed out on OLG Tra Jackson of Florida State, who went a few picks earlier to the New England Patriots. This very well could have been the case, but I'm sure Miami had a group of OL personnel they were interested in at this point, and the Dolphins did not take the alloted amount of time to make this pick, so this tells me this was a young man that was on the radar for Miami. Douglas is a very good fit for the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins use and has the versatility to play OLT in a crunch, as his senior year with the Sun Devils as spent at OLT.
Then we get to the 5th round. The Dolphins orginally had (2) 5th round picks, but after the trade with Philadelphia on Friday, they went into Saturday with (4) 5th round picks. With that 1st pick in the 5th, the Dolphins took the tough, fiesty playmaker from Memphis, CB Bobby McClain. His last 2 years with the Tigers, McClain had 11 interceptions. He is also dangerous with the ball in the return game as well. The 2nd pick in the 5th round bought the biggest bargin of the draft in RB Jay Ajayi from Boise State. Thought to be a 2nd round pick, Ajayi dropped to the 5th round due to concerns about a knee that is bone on bone. The Dolphins doctors have to be happy with what they saw, and if that knee holds up, the Dolphins get a player that can be an immediate contributor. With the 3rd pick in the 5th round, the Dolphins took FS Cedric Thompson of Minnesota. Thompson is one of those size, weight speed guys that just fits what the Dolphins want, as Thompson is 6'0, 208 lbs and ran a 4.38 40 at the Minneosota Pro Day. He is a guy that can provide depth and be a special teams demon. With the last pick of the draft for Miami, the Dolphins took WR/CB Tony Lippett of Michigan State, which in my mind is a very interesting pick. Lippett fits the mode of the bigger CB at 6'2, 192 lbs, with very good ball skills and footwork. He has to obviously do a lot of work on technique at the cornerback position, but this kid could potentially turn into a very good CB.
With the emphasis by the Dolphins to develop their own players, I fully expect every member of this draft class to be on the 53 man roster when the season begins. I can see WR Devante Parker, DT Jordan Phillips, RB Jay Ajayi and CB Bobby McClain be contributors in the 2015 season, with CB Tony Lippett possibly contributing as well. OLG Jamil Douglas will be given every chance to win the spot and Thompson will be a special teams contributor in my opinion, as the Dolphins do have good depth at the safety position.
Last year the Dolphins had RB Damian Williams, LB Chris McClain, DT Anthony Johnson and TE Gator Hoskins make the team as UDFA in 2014. I expect to see a few UDFA make the team in 2015 as well.
Some possible candidates to make the team are WR/KR Christian Jones of Alabama, LB Zach Vigil of Utah State, OLB Mike Hull of Penn State and ILB Jeff Luc of Louisville. Miami signed multiple UDFA linebackers since one was not drafted.
I would expect the Dolphins to add additional talent as teams look to cut players as we work our way to summer camp as well. Keep an eye on OLG Ron O'Leary of Dallas. He could be a casualty of the Cowboys beating the Dolphins out on OLG/OLT Ja'el Collins, who came down to Miami and Dallas and signed with the Cowboys. Another couple of names to keep an eye on are ILB/OLB Mychael Kendricks and OLG Evan Mathis of Philadelphia. Both were on the trading block and Mathis still could possibly get cut, although the latest was that HC Chip Kelly would not cut Mathis.
This was a very important draft for Miami to continue to build off of what was a very good off-season. Miami needed to keep that momentum going, and I thought they did a very good job of adding talent that can help the Dolphins in 2015. Some will question the Dolphins not addressing CB or OG in the 2nd round or the decision not to draft a ILB. That said though, overall the Dolphins did a very good job with this draft, and most that grade the draft thought Miami did as well. The lowest grade I saw was a C+ from Rotoworld's Evan Silva, the highest being an A from several experts. I give the Dolphins a B+.
This is what desperation to win looks like.
Moving around to stock up on talent that can help them immediately, the Dolphins replaced their dismissed wideouts with the last of the three top receivers (Parker), a sliding big body who can replace Randy Starks (Phillips) and a guard who can continue the rebuilding effort on the offensive line (Douglas).
The Dolphins knew what they needed and got it. This "shopping list" draft could get them into the playoffs this year or inspire eye rolls in three years.
|CBS Sports' Pete Prisco
Best Pick: I love second-round defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. He will be a better NFL player than he showed at Oklahoma. Playing next to Ndamukong Suh will really help his game.
Questionable move: Waiting until the fourth round to pick an offensive lineman on a team that needs help up front.
Third-day gem: Fourth-round pick Jamil Douglas was a tackle at Arizona State last year, but I think he can be a dominant guard, his original position.
Analysis: The Dolphins had a nice draft. Whoever was making the picks -- Dennis Hickey or Mike Tannenbaum -- deserves a lot of credit. First-round pick DeVante Parker will be a nice target for Ryan Tannehill. The first two picks were outstanding.
|ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr
Top needs: WR, G, CB, LB
Analysis: The Dolphins had one of my favorite picks of Round 1, and they didn't have to move to get their guy. DeVante Parker has the chance to be special and fills a clear need for them. I could have seen him going with any of the four picks ahead of Miami -- St. Louis, Minnesota, Cleveland and New Orleans -- so getting him at No. 14 was a good value. Jordan Phillips has first-round physical ability and third-round tape, so landing in Round 2 just about averages things out. The addition of Ndamukong Suh was impactful, but Miami can use the depth behind him or put Phillips and Suh on the field at the same time. If Phillips plays at Suh's effort level on every snap, there's a potential stud here. Jamil Douglas could play right away, given the need at guard, and though I thought Bobby McCain was a bit of a reach given some other cornerbacks available when he was taken, that's splitting hairs again. Jay Ajayi is a tough runner who fell on injury and ball security concerns, but if he's healthy, he can be really good. Tony Lippett is a player I expected to go earlier. If there's a question, it's the lack of a linebacker earlier on. The Parker pick really elevates this draft for me, and they can hope the coin flip on Phillips' becoming really good works out. But ultimately, I see one certainty here, and injury risk in a number of places.
Day 1 grade: A
Bottom line: The Dolphins' draft started out well landing a target like Parker, and they grabbed some very solid players
Overview: Almost all of the players selected here -- particularly Phillips and Ajayi -- brought great value to Miami. I thought Phillips had a realistic shot to be taken on day one, and defensive tackle depth was a definite need behind Ndamukong Suh and Earl Mitchell. I'm not quite as high on Parker as many are, and would've preferred Miami address its glaring cornerback need at No. 14 with either Kevin Johnson or Marcus Peters. I do believe Parker will be a good player, but envision him more as a rich man's Brandon LaFell than A.J. Green. Douglas has all the tools to become a starting left guard in the NFL and fits Miami's zone-run game. McCain is a feisty, playmaking slot corner. Thompson is a tools-based projection who will open his career on special teams, while Lippett is a receiver-to-cornerback project the Fins presumably hope can become their version of Richard Sherman. I thought this draft was solid, but was very surprised Miami didn't place a higher priority on its suspect secondary.
Analysis: Picking at Nos. 14 and 52, the Dolphins essentially wound up landing two first-round talents in wide receiver DeVante Parker and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. Hard to believe either guy was available at the spot he was picked. Parker was but a hair (if that) behind Amari Cooper and Kevin White at receiver—both those players were gone by No. 7, with multiple teams in need of a playmaker between No. 8 and Miami's spot. Likewise, Phillips had suitors toward the tail end of round 1 (Indianapolis would have been a match).
Guard Jamil Douglas, cornerback Bobby McCain and in particular running back Jay Ajayi all were welcome finds on Day 3. Concerns over a knee issue lowered Ajayi's stock, but he was well worth a round 5 play.
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Vikings and Dolphins have very similar goals. They both need a receiver and a cornerback, but instead of a left tackle and a running back, Miami has to find a guard and a safety.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Dolphins came away from the draft with a solid class. Its two best picks will help the offense. DeVante Parker was a mini-steal at No. 14, as he was being discussed as a possibility for the Rams (10th), Vikings (11th) and Browns (12th). He can't possibly have worse chemistry with Ryan Tannehill than Mike Wallace did as the team's No. 1 receiver. The other top selection was Jay Ajayi in the fifth round. Ajayi would have gone in the second frame if his knee wasn't "bone on bone," as Mike Mayock described it. If he can get over that issue, he has the ability to emerge as Miami's starting running back.
One area in which the Dolphins disappointed was their inability to find help in the secondary. They waited until the fifth round to take their initial defensive back. I would have gone with a corner or a safety in the second frame instead of the overhyped Jordan Phillips.
Miami had what seemed like a thousand fifth-round choices, and it may have hit on most of them. After Ajayi, the best of the bunch seems like Tony Lippett, who can play both receiver and cornerback. I imagine the Dolphins will be using him at the latter position, given their huge need there.
Analysis: The Dolphins did well to get another dangerous receiving option for QB Ryan Tannehill. DeVante Parker was the third wide receiver taken in this draft, after Amari Cooper and Kevin White, and was the right choice for Miami at 14th overall. DT Jordan Phillips, taken in the second round, could be effective if given a chance to play alongside Ndamukong Suh. RB Jay Ajayi might emerge as a superb fifth-round find.