Miami Dolphins

Unfortunate medical news might have taken a big name off Dolphins’ short list at 13

Michigan DT Rashan Gary: ‘I feel like I’m the best player in the draft’

Michigan Wolverines defensive tackle Rashan Gary believes he's the top player in this year's NFL Draft class. He's training for the NFL Combine at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas.
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Michigan Wolverines defensive tackle Rashan Gary believes he's the top player in this year's NFL Draft class. He's training for the NFL Combine at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas.

Whoever takes Rashan Gary was always making a projection pick.

What was known publicly until recently: Just how long-term of a projection it would be.

Michigan’s athletically gifted but too-often invisible defensive lineman tore the labrum in his shoulder during college, NFL Network first reported, and will likely need surgery, either before the 2019 season or after.

Most believe that Gary can play this season, the report continues, but would be limited and potentially need to wear a harness for support.

So that’s Strike 2 for Gary, whose productivity in college never matched his potential. In 34 games as a Wolverine, he had just 119 tackles and 9 1/2 sacks, including 3 1/2 his final season. At 6-foot-5, 283 pounds, Gary looks to be a natural 3-4 defensive end, which the Dolphins will need as they transition to a new scheme under Brian Flores and Patrick Graham.

“Hot and cold,” ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said of Gary on Monday. “Very poarizing. ... One GM said [picks] 10 to 28 for Rashan Gary. That’s a heck of a range.”

The Dolphins, at 13, fall in that range, and Kiper raised the possibility of Miami taking him. But that was before Tuesday’s medical news.

It’s hard to see now how he would be a consideration if general manager Chris Grier stays at 13. There will surely be plenty of healthy, consistent players available at that spot.

But what about a trade-back? The value in the 20s for a player who might not give you much as a rookie would be much better. It’s the same logic around taking Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons, who tore his ACL while training for the draft.

Simmons, if healthy and without his arrest as a high schooler for striking a woman, would be almost certainly be a top-10, if not a top-five pick. Now, he’s no guarantee to go in the first round.

If Grier, who is building for tomorrow but not necessarily today, believes Gary or Simmons will eventually become a top NFL player, he has the luxury of time.

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