Mel Kiper loves University of Miami tight end David Njoku, thinks the Dolphins should target a linebacker with the 22nd overall pick and has bad news for Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya.
“It will be interesting to see where Brad Kaaya comes off the board in the third or fourth round,” Kiper, ESPN’s godfather of the draft, said during a national conference call on Thursday.
Kaaya decided to skip his senior year at Miami, believing he was ready for the NFL. But does the NFL agree? Perhaps not. Kiper suggested Thursday that Kaaya might not get picked until the draft’s third day.
Kiper is not alone. NFLDraftScout.com also projects Kaaya as a fourth-rounder.
The Dolphins don’t need a quarterback. They have Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore under contract next year.
What do they need? Linebacker and tight end, Kiper said.
That’s why he projected the Dolphins to select University of Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis with the 22nd pick.
“[He’s] got great versatility, and when he was healthy he was a tackling machine at Florida,” Kiper said.
“Going to Miami, he would fill a big need. I had the chance to see the Dolphins up close against the Ravens, and the Ravens did whatever they wanted against that defense. I think [the] back seven needs help, and it starts at linebacker for the Dolphins. The local product Jarrad Davis would be a real good starting point.”
Davis could conceivably play both inside and outside, but there is concern about his durability and size.
Yet Kiper believes Davis’ reward is worth the risk for the Dolphins, who could then target a tight end on Day 2.
Njoku would be a great fit for the Dolphins — if he’s still there by the second day.
“[He] had a great year,” Kiper said. “… He can stretch the deep middle. He’s got tremendous speed and athletic ability.”
Kiper is also high on Louisville tight end Cole Hikutini, who could be a third-round target for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins could also use an edge rusher, particularly if Andre Branch leaves in free agency.
Michigan’s Taco Charlton and Alabama’s Tim Williams would presumably be in Miami’s first-round range. But there should be value throughout the draft.
“This is a great defensive line draft, a great defensive draft overall,” Kiper added.
Frank Bush, who has more than three decades of experience as an NFL coach and scout, will join the Dolphins as their new linebackers coach.
Bush, who spent the past three seasons with the Rams, will also serve as the Dolphins’ assistant head coach. That job was last held by Darren Rizzi, who received a promotion on Thursday.
Rizzi, the second-longest-tenured member of the Dolphins coaching staff, is now Adam Gase’s associate head coach and special teams coordinator.
Another Miami coach getting a salary bump: quality control coach Chris Kuper, who is now the Dolphins’ assistant offensive line coach. Kuper replaces Jeremiah Washburn, who was hired away by the Bears earlier this week.
Bush is a former Texans defensive coordinator who began his career with the Oilers in the late 1980s. He returned to the franchise, albeit in a different city, in 2011 when the Titans hired him as linebackers coach.
Bush’s promising playing career was cut short by injury in just his second season.
Bush takes the job last held by Matt Burke, who is now the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator. The first domino to fall in this sequence was when the Broncos hired Vance Joseph as their new head coach.
▪ Dallas’ Jason Garrett was named the NFL’s 2016 Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America.
Gase was also in the running for the honor.