Miami Dolphins

Draft insiders project Dolphins’ pick at 22, talk Njoku, Tunsil and CB vs. DE in Round 1

Taco Charlton’s last collegiate game was at Hard Rock Stadium. Will it be his long-term home?
Taco Charlton’s last collegiate game was at Hard Rock Stadium. Will it be his long-term home?

This much is known: The Dolphins will take an edge rusher early in the draft.

They’re also going to take a cornerback, perhaps as high as the first round.

They can’t use the No. 22 pick on both, obviously, so what should they do first?

Most believe they’ll go defensive end.

The good news: both end and corner are positions of great depth in this year’s draft.

Whichever one they don’t get in the first round, odds are the Dolphins will find a good one in the second.

Daniel Jeremiah, a draft analyst for NFL Network who spoke to reporters from around the country Wednesday, is among the many who believe the Dolphins will take a defensive end first. He has Miami selecting Michigan’s Taco Charlton in Round 1.

But they might be gambling by doing so.

Teams could think "let's identify other positions of need, and then circle back on corner because there's so much depth,” Jeremiah said. “But you run the risk of a run of them going before you pick.”

“The challenge with edge rushers is it's hard to evaluate some of them in some of these [offensive] systems,” Jeremiah added, speaking of these quick-hitting spread offenses prevalent in college football. “You don't get a chance to see these guys get a good, hard rush on some of them.”

▪  Bucky Brooks, another analyst for NFL Network, has the Dolphins picking neither a defensive end nor a corner at 22. Instead, he thinks Miami will select Charlton’s Wolverines teammate Jabrill Peppers, a collegiate linebacker who will play safety in the NFL.

“I think he's a see-ball, get-ball player,” Brooks said. “Bring him into the box and get him near the action. You want to keep him in a position where he can succeed.”

Jeremiah added: “He's one of the tougher evaluations in this draft class because he played out of position this year at linebacker. You don't really see him do what he's going to do at the next level.”

▪  Back to corner: Ohio State teammates Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley are the no-doubt first two players to come off the board at the position, but after that it’ll get unpredictable.

“You talk to 10 different teams around the league, the No. 3 guy you're going to get a bunch of different answers,” Jeremiah said.

▪  One position where there is a consensus: tight end, which is quite strong this year.

Alabama’s O.J. Howard will go in the top 10, and Miami’s David Njoku will follow shortly thereafter.

“I think the kid's got All-Pro potential,” Jeremiah said of Njoku. “He can be a dominating player at the position.”

▪  Jeremiah, a disciple of Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome, insisted that teams should never pass on the best player available for a position of immediate need. And the latest example to buttress his argument? The Dolphins and Laremy Tunsil.

“Miami last year didn't have a glaring need at the tackle position,” Jeremiah said, “but they had a player who they felt like could be a premier left tackle in the NFL and he kind of fell into their lap. Instead of going to another position of need, they took what I thought was one of the best players in the entire draft, a great value, and now a year later, they move on from Branden Albert, the kid's played a year at guard and now he's going to hopefully man that left tackle position for the next decade.”

Jeremiah added: “I think you get in big trouble of passing up great players at other positions to take good players at a position you need right now.”

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley