The Dolphins’ leadership team strolled out of team headquarters late Saturday feeling darn good about its roster.
Now, it’s on the organization’s rookie coach to make all these flashy new pieces fit.
After an offense-heavy 2016 draft, Adam Gase has the weapons to take the Dolphins into the 21st century.
Assets added this weekend alone:
▪ The No. 1 offensive lineman — if not top-rated player overall — in the draft. (Laremy Tunsil.)
▪ A dynamic running back who can change the game with one cut. (Kenyan Drake.)
▪ A wide receiver in the third round who the Dolphins would have considered in the second. (Leonte Carroo.)
▪ A Darren Sproles clone who brags that he clocked 4.1 seconds in the 40. (Jakeem Grant.)
▪ A homegrown quarterback who was coached by Dan Marino in high school. (Brandon Doughty.)
▪ And a seam-busting tight end who could develop into a dangerous matchup. (Thomas Duarte.)
If it seems like this was an offense-heavy weekend, you’re right.
Despite having the league’s 25th-ranked defense a year ago, the Dolphins were downright offensive this weekend, using six of their eight picks on that side of the ball.
One offensive coach quipped as he snuck out the front door, “I better get out of here before the defensive guys see me.”
The Dolphins, top to bottom, might have their most talented offensive roster in many years.
“It’s hard to tell at this point,” said general manager Chris Grier. “What we’ve built is a very competitive roster. It has a chance to be good, but we’ll see where it ends up.”
As for the defense, it actually lost talent Saturday. Of the Dolphins’ five trades, one sent cornerback Jamar Taylor to Cleveland for late-round draft compensation. The move gives Taylor what he needs: a fresh start after three disappointing seasons in Miami.
The Dolphins didn’t set out to go all ‘O.’ Instead, they stuck to their best-player-available pledge, ignoring needs at linebacker to double (and triple) down on wide receiver.
And for just the second time since 2009, they took a quarterback, Doughty, who grew up in Davie and played his high-school ball at North Broward Prep — where Dan Marino was a part-time coach.
He went on to to have a prolific career at Western Kentucky, breaking 37 school records. Doughty visited the team during its local pro day a few weeks back, and the Dolphins were impressed enough they took Doughty with their first of two seventh-round picks (223rd overall).
“It’s crazy, it’s very surreal,” Doughty said. “My whole life, God has kind of just rolled out a red towel and said, ‘Brandon, just follow this thing for me.’ It has really been a huge and amazing blessing and now I’m a Miami Dolphin. It’s my hometown team for the rest of my life, and it’s something I’ll tell my kids about someday hopefully.”
Also Saturday, the Dolphins added a speedy kick returner (Texas Tech’s Grant, pick No. 186), a cornerback (Penn State’s Jordan Lucas, No. 204) and a tight end (Duarte, No. 231).
The only real surprise for Miami was its first pick. The Dolphins took Laremy Tunsil at 13.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross gave a full-throated endorsement of Tunsil Saturday, saying “this is a good kid,” and “it’s going to be a great choice.”
Ross said the Dolphins did a thorough investigation into Tunsil’s past, and were comfortable taking him —even after the now-infamous video of him smoking weed through a gas-mask bong emerged.
“I think a lot of work was done for months and months,” Ross said. “And two hours before the draf,t it’s totally somebody out to get a guy. It’s not a question of this guy changed overnight. The work that we have done on him and the people we’ve talked to and even subsequently we continued that and meeting the kid, you know this is a good kid. It’s going to be a great choice.”
More than anything, Ross knows his fan base is hungry for a winner. He is encouraged by the talent Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier have assembled.
Now it’s up to his wunderkind coach to make it work.
Dolphins’ Saturday selections
Round 6, Pick 186
Jakeem Grant, KR/PR
College: Texas Tech.
Ht./Wt.: 5-6, 165.
Comment: The Dolphins packaged their 196th and 227th picks to move up 10 spots for the Red Raiders' all-time record holder in receiving yards.
Round 6, Pick 204
Jordan Lucas, CB
College: Penn State.
Ht./Wt.: 6-0, 201.
Comment: Lucas, a three-year starter for the Nittany Lions, can play safety, although the Dolphins view him as a cornerback.
Round 7, Pick 223
Brandon Doughty, QB
College: Western Kentucky.
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 213.
Comment: The local kid ends up with his hometown team. He earned it. Doughty owns 37 school records at WKU.
Round 7, Pick 231
Thomas Duarte, TE
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 213.
Comment: This second-team all-conference seam threat had touchdowns on nearly a fifth of his 53 catches last year.