Miami Dolphins

How could the Dolphins go from good to great? Start hitting on second-day picks

The draft is just a week away and the Dolphins’ big board still needs some work.

It has more than 140 names on it, a number too heavy for general manager Chris Grier’s liking.

“For the most part the board is pretty much set and now you’re just tweaking within groups and rankings and there won’t be any real major jumps,” Grier said at the Dolphins’ pre-draft news conference on Wednesday.

Perhaps in the coming days, Grier and his staff should revisit players they have slotted in the 30-to-60 range. Because that’s where the Dolphins have historically had the most trouble.

Here’s a brief recap of the Dolphins’ past decade of drafts:

Good, if not excellent, in the first round.

Miss after miss in the second and third.

Remember Dallas Thomas and Will Davis?

How about Billy Turner and Jonathan Martin?

And who could forget Pat White or Michael Egnew.

Busts, all of them.

And many of the players who have panned out ultimately moved on to another team (think Olivier Vernon, Sean Smith and even Jamar Taylor).

Since 2009, the Dolphins have selected 18 players in the second or third rounds. Of those 18, just six are still on the team. No more than four will start for the Dolphins in 2017 — and Jordan Phillips and Koa Misi, a couple of major question marks, are two of them.

The exception, obviously, is Jarvis Landry, who has played so well in his first three seasons he will likely become the offense’s second-highest-paid player in the coming months.

“Just thinking over the years, there’s always been circumstances for picks,” said Grier, who has been in the Dolphins’ personnel department for all of those drafts. “… At the end of the day, we’re always just going to listen to our board. I don’t want to speak ill of the guys that were here before me. I have great respect for those guys, I worked for them. For me, I just kind of lean our way, with what I learned.”

Jeff Ireland had plenty of misses. So did Dennis Hickey.

As for Grier? It’s too early to fairly evaluate his first draft, but the three players he took in the second and third rounds last year (Xavien Howard, Kenyan Drake and Leonte Carroo) started nine games in 2016 — combined.

Carroo, a wide receiver, was especially disappointing. The Dolphins gave up three draft picks to take him late in the third, but he fell so far out of favor that undrafted Rashawn Scott was playing ahead of him late in the season.

“Candidly, give us a grade of incomplete,” Dolphins football czar Mike Tannenbaum said of the 2016 draft. “We’ll know in two more years. … I think some guys exceeded expectations and I think some haven’t, but I would say it’s a grade of incomplete.”

If there was any year to get their second-day problem fixed, this is it. The Dolphins’ needs and the draft’s depth — mainly edge rushers and secondary — align. The Dolphins own the 54th and 97th picks, and should be expected to find two quality players.

They don’t necessarily have to be starters.

They just have to be good enough to see the field in some capacity.

The Dolphins didn’t get nearly enough of that from their second- and third-rounders last year, and injuries exposed a lack of depth on defense.

“It’s not just the second or third rounds,” Tannenbaum said.

“It’s also the later-round guys. If you go back to last year and all the injuries we had … when we were playing meaningful games down the stretch, it was guys on the practice squad that got bumped up. Rashawn Scott. There were so many of those guys, and that’s where you get a lot of pride from. Sure, you want to hit on your second or third round. But I think what we stand for and what we talk about all the time is trying to develop as many players as possible on our roster.”

▪ As of Wednesday afternoon, running back Damien Williams still had not signed his restricted free agent tender. The deadline for Williams to sign an offer sheet with another team is Friday.

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

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