A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Friday:
▪ The Dolphins insist they take the best player on their draft board (though they do factor in need, even if they don’t admit that publicly).
But what if the best player on their board at No. 11 is a guard — specifically Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson?
Selecting a guard in the top 12 of the draft is unusual, but it’s not unprecedented.
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It’s also unsatisfying, like going to a steakhouse and ordering meatloaf.
For perspective, only three guards have been chosen in the top 15 of the draft this century: Leonard Davis second overall by Arizona in 2001, Jonathan Cooper seventh overall by Arizona in 2013 and Chance Warmack 10th overall by Tennessee in 2013.
The next highest-drafted guards this century? Shawn Andrews (Philadelphia) and Zack Martin (Dallas) both went 16th and Mike Iupati (49ers) went 17th.
Fourteen guards have been selected in the first round of the 18 drafts this century. Last year, a guard wasn’t taken until Forrest Lamp went 38th to the Chargers.
So would the Dolphins be justified in taking Nelson in the top 12?
“Guard is tough, but he’s the best offensive lineman in the draft,” ESPN’s Todd McShay told me.
“If he’s sitting there and some other positions aren’t there, it wouldn’t be a bad pick. You can never go wrong by getting good football players and he’s going to be a good football player for a long time in the league.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Nelson allowed just one sack over the past two years and had the highest run-blocking grade for any guard in college football since 2014.
All this might be a moot point; ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Nelson going seventh to Tampa Bay in his first mock draft.
“Nelson is a plug-and-play starter who would be an upgrade for almost every team,” Kiper said on ESPN.com. “He’s a dominant run-blocker at 6-foot-5, 330, who causes destruction at the point of attack.”
Nelson at No. 11 would be mildly surprising, with the potential of better prospects available at offensive tackle or linebacker, for starters. But it certainly cannot be ruled out.
▪ From a Dolphins offensive perspective, a couple things that stood out from Kiper’s first mock draft, which has Miami taking Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey at No. 11:
Kiper has the draft’s best receiver, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, going to Chicago at No. 8. Ridley would be worth considering if Miami doesn’t re-sign Jarvis Landry.
Kiper has Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield going 13th to Washington and another offensive tackle, Pittsburgh’s Brian O’Neill, 16th to Baltimore.
▪ From a defensive perspective, a couple of things that stood out from Kiper’s first mock: He has Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith going 10th to Oakland, one spot ahead of Miami.
On a conference call, Kiper mentioned Virginia Tech outside linebacker Tremaine Edmunds as a possibility for the Dolphins. Kiper has slotted him 12th to Cincinnati.
“Edmunds has the most upside of any linebacker in this class,” he said. “At 6-5, he doesn’t have the typical frame of a middle linebacker, but he truly could play inside or outside — he had 109 total tackles and 14 tackles for loss in 2017.”
▪ Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo, who watches the college game closely, did a mock draft based on what he would do if he were each team’s general manager.
Palazzolo would pick Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson at No. 11, even though the Dolphins are in decent shape at corner with Xavien Howard, Cordrea Tankersley, Tony Lippett and Bobby McCain.
Said Palazzolo: “A breakout performer in 2017, Jackson led the nation in both pass breakups (18) and interceptions (8). His length and playmaking will upgrade an inconsistent Dolphins’ secondary that has struggled to keep up with its disruptive defensive line in recent years.”
He has McGlinchey 12th to Cincinnati and Georgia’s Smith 21st to Buffalo.
▪ The Dolphins are expected to try to upgrade over Matt Moore at backup quarterback. But Moore’s representation, which hasn’t been told that, doesn’t seem concerned.
“Matt has many options going forward,” said his agent, Lynn Lashbrook.
▪ Found it amusing that Jay Ajayi told NBC’s production crew that one reason the Dolphins traded him is he was too “honest.” The Dolphins privately would call it complaining, among other shortcomings.
According to Philadephia-area newspapers, Ajayi wants to pay back the Dolphins for trading him and then suggesting he was a cancer in the locker-room.
“I don’t think it will be redemption until I win the Super Bowl,” he said. “If we get that done, then I’ll have my redemption.”
Here’s my Friday post examining reasons for Justise Winslow’s dramatic improvement as a three-point shooter.