The Miami Dolphins came into this evening's draft wanting a tight end and outside linebacker. And when they were picking in the second round they had the choice of both of the top tight ends on their board.
They selected Penn State's Mike Gesicki, a 6-foot-6 and 246 pounder who is best known as a pass-catcher.
In the third round, Miami picked Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker with the 73rd selection after they lost the chance to pick BYU's Fred Warner.
Baker is a speedy, sideline to sideline tackler who played all the top competition.
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"It's one of the most exciting moments of my life," Gesicki said. "The people in that program and the people in that organization ... they made it seem like home when I was down there a couple of weeks ago. I'm excited to get down there."
Gesicki is very athletic in that he is a good leaper who played volleyball and basketball in high school. As with some volleyball and basketball players, blocking is not one of his gifts.
"I definitely need to continue to improve my run-blocking and all that kind of stuff," Gesicki said.
Gesicki has a chance to start right away if he is the kind of player the Dolphins think. But general manager Chris Grier merely said he has a chance to compete.
"The one thing we loved is his skill set," Grier said. "He's big, he's long, he's fast ..."
A league source is telling The Miami Herald the Dolphins will consider taking another tight end if the right one falls to them. Dallas Goedert remains on the board.
So in the endless cycle of digging for information (and misinformation sometimes) related to the NFL draft, I continue to search for possible picks this evening. And I am convinced the Dolphins will be looking for a tight end in the second round Friday evening. So Dallas Goedert or Mike Gesicki.
Baker, who is 6-1 and 232 pounds, said he's not concerned about where the Dolphins are going to use him because he promised to make plays all over the field. He described himself this way:
"Versatile, tough, a dynamic player," Baker said. "I'm the whole package."
Baker seems better suited to play the weak side outside linebacker position.
More second-day options
But there are some names coming up that are interesting in that they don't necessarily fit for the Dolphins but simply may be too good to pass up...
The first of those names I'm hearing is Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry, who is still on the board. If he is still on the board at No. 42 overall, this player suddenly becomes a possibility for the Dolphins. He is not a prototype 4-3 defensive end. He is not even perfectly sized as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
But he's a gifted pass rusher. Some scouts see Vic Beasley in him. And that's hard to simply overlook 10 picks into the second round because teams with great quarterbacks and teams that make great quarterbacks uncomfortable win a lot of games. Landry does the latter.
A round three (more likely round four, but got to put it out there now) prospect is Virginia Tech guard Wyatt Teller. The Dolphins are content with what looks like a solid potential starting offensive line but there's age on the line and uncertainty for the future. So Teller, is a possibility.
Teller reminds me of Richie Incognito a little bit without the, well, you know. The problem here is Teller had a stellar 2016 season and then was progressively worse in 2017. If he'd played at the same level he'd be a certain second-round pick. Perhaps a team that understands what happened and how to fix it will value Teller. He's in Miami's sights more likely tomorrow but we'll see.
If you want more targeted players for the Dolphins scroll down. That's how we started this bad boy this morning.
T.J. McDonald odd man out -- eventually
In picking Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round -- a choice widely applauded by anyone who knows anything about football -- the Dolphins told you something about T.J. McDonald.
Remember T.J. McDonald?
He joined the team as a free agent last offseason and, after serving and eight-game NFL suspension, started the season's final eight games at free safety. Well, the Dolphins just drafted a new free safety in the first round.
So McDonald, who signed a four-year contract extension worth $24 million in September is on the outs.
It makes sense for the Dolphins to trade McDonald after June 1 -- perhaps during training camp when they know for sure what Fitzpatrick is and isn't ready to do as a rookie. Because McDonald's suddenly a $24 million backup and his future with Miami beyond this season is tenuous at best. Here's why:
McDonald can be kept in 2018 and will cost the Dolphins only $2.5 million against the salary cap. But that cap cost balloons to $6 million next year and $7.5 million after that before coming back down to $6.9 million in 2021.
McDonald will never see the deal through to 2021 in Miami. He will never see the deal in Miami beyond this year if Fitzpatrick is the player the Dolphins believe he is. The high cost -- you don't pay backup safeties $6 million on the cap -- is the reason.
This year, barring a failure to trade him, the Dolphins can carry McDonald for the $2.5 million. They can perhaps experiment with him as a nickel linebacker or some sort of funky hybrid.
"That's for the coaches to decide here once they get going through the spring," general manager Chris Grier said. "They'll let Minkah come in and get settled in and start working with the guys and see how it fits."
It doesn't fit for McDonald longterm unless he is the starter and playing major snaps because he becomes a luxury too expensive to keep as a backup in 2019.
Trading or cutting McDonald by then would be a cap savings. Trading him might also be benefit for a team needing a box safety because the $8 million per year deal is expensive but not outrageous for an otherwise solid player.
So a player who probably thought he could put down roots after signing a big extension seven months ago is on much different footing now. I hope he rented instead of bought.
About the available quarterbacks
So you want to know about quarterbacks because, well, you don't love Ryan Tannehill.
I suggest you forget about not loving Tannehill because that ship has sailed.
Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase said at the end-of-season news conference on Jan. 3 that Tannehill is his starter. Gase, owner Stephen Ross and executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum said they trust Tannehill and he's the starter at the NFL annual meeting on March 27. General manager Chris Grier said Tannehill is the starter at the predraft presser on April 18.
People, after awhile you have to believe them. They are sold on Ryan Tannehill.
So the idea the team was going to trade up for Josh Rosen — who had durability problems the last two years — is illogical, especially if you consider the cost of making that move.
The rest of this draft, however, is another matter. The Dolphins don't seem likely to want to move heaven and earth to go get a quarterback they covet. But they have guys they would like.
Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph is considered by most draft gurus to be the next quarterback who will come off the board. I don't know if he's the next Dolphins QB on their board or will be the highest-rated player on their board when they select, but he's up there.
I know the Dolphins did significant undercover work on Rudolph. They interviewed him and actually talked to him a couple of times. As we saw with first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, who did not visit the team's facility or work out privately for the team, visits aren't always the thing.
The Dolphins like — don't love — the rest of the draft class of QBs, I'm told by someone familiar with the team's thinking. That's interesting to me.
I guess the fact each of the next batch of available quarterbacks has warts has something to do with how Miami feels. The batch:
▪ Rudolph: Someone is going to have to teach him to read defenses. His instincts are a question, which might not be something coaching can solve.
▪ Kyle Lauletta: Perhaps the weakest arm of this bunch. He fails to check that box. He checks others such as ... accurate, team leader, good mechanics, good decision-making. The Dolphins saw him at the Senior Bowl and talked to him. If he becomes an NFL starter it's going to surprise some people I've talked with.
▪ Mike White: He visited the Dolphins. He followed Brandon Doughty at Western Kentucky. He has a much better arm than Doughty, but he's coming off an unspectacular final year in college. Why? He's not mobile (neither was Tom Brady coming out of Michigan). He can connect on deep passes. Can be accurate. Needs to improve how he processes reads — as in do it faster and make it more natural.
▪ Luke Falk: The Dolphins did all the work on him including visits and interviews and retinal scans and fingerprints (kidding). You look at the stats and he was a star — 30 TDs, 13 INTs, a 66.9 completion percentage. But the truth is he disappointed Washington State coach Mike Leach to the extent he was benched — multiple times. Why? Good arm, good accuracy, great release, as in quick.
Rudolph is the only one of this group who is expected to be picked in the second round. The others will go later.
In other words, if the Dolphins pick a quarterback from here on out, that guy will be competing with Brock Osweiler for a job in 2018 and even beyond because none of these guys are ready to compete to be NFL starters now.
The Miami Dolphins options Friday
Round 2 and 3 for the Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are scheduled for two selections. with their second-round pick being the 10th pick of the second round (42nd overall) and their third-round selection being the ninth pick of that round (73rd overall).
So who is in the crosshair?
The Dolphins must fill two areas of significant need in this draft — tight end and strong-side linebacker.
Tight end seems to be the priority because the Dolphins think there is value at linebacker late in the second round and even in the third and fourth round. The top tight ends, meanwhile, should be gone by the end of the second round because this is not a great year for tight ends.
So let's consider tight ends first:
The focus is on Dallas Goedert (GOD-ert) of South Dakota State. He is 6-5 and 256 pounds, which is prototypical tight end size. He is mostly a pass-catcher. He lit up the Missouri Valley Football Conference with 92 catches for 1,293 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2016 and came back last season with a 72-catch year in which he gained 1,111 yards and scored seven TDs.
By the way, check out the gaudy yards per catch numbers from last year — 15.4 yards per catch.
The Dolphins picked safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round because he is a Swiss Army knife, meaning he's versatile. Well, Goedert is versatile. He played in line. He played outside. He played in bunch sets. The Jackrabbits (hey, I don't make up these nicknames) moved him around to give him a better chance to uncover.
A negative on Goedert: His blocking. Of course.
I'm told not only is he inconsistent but he didn't always seem "eager" to stick his facemask in a linebacker's chest on run plays. So there's that. That can be addressed by a tight end coach who lights a fire under him. Of course, that was kind of the concern about former Miami draft pick Michael Egnew coming out of Missouri and it never got resolved.
The tight end position is obviously a thing and so you must include Penn State's Mike Gesicki in the conversation in the second round for Miami. The Dolphins like him a lot as well, but not as much as Goedert, I'm hearing.
Gesicki is a bit more of a project which is tough because the Dolphins need a starter, like, now. He is not a good blocker. He's a pass-catcher. The lack of blocking is obviously something the Dolphins have decide about — is it a technique issue, physical ability issue, desire issue.
Gesicki can run. He ran 4.52 in the 40. And he can dunk. Tight ends who can dunk always get a check mark from fake GM Mando. The guy is just a very good athlete, but he is not necessarily built like a very good NFL tight end. He's kind of lanky.
Other second-round options?
Cornerback Josh Jackson of Iowa. Auburn OG Braden Smith. OG Will Hernandez of Texas El-Paso. Center James Daniels of Iowa.
Jackson is someone to watch here, particularly if Goedert is gone. He's 6-foot and and a playmaker. He's not fast, and he has only one year of production which are red flags.
But the kid led the nation with eight interceptions last season and returned two for touchdowns. The Dolphins are trying to add turnovers to their defense.
You see all the offensive linemen in the list of possibilities above? Yeah, well, the Dolphins seem to have a grasp on the starting offensive line for 2018. But the future is coming. Offensive line remains a thing.
Round 3: Linebacker time. Or at least that's the direction this draft is pointing because there are more linebacker options in the later rounds but not as many potential starting tight ends.
The name to monitor in the third round is BYU linebacker Fred Warner.
He's 6-3 and 236 pounds and ran a 4.64 in the 40. He led the Cougars in tackles (87) and tackles for loss (9) and also had one interception with five passes defensed.
So why him?
Need, obviously. But his coverage ability is huge.
Look, Dolphins fans (and coaches) grew weary last season of seeing Miami linebackers struggle in coverage. Lawrence Timmons was awful because, well, I don't know why. And Kiko Alonso struggled, although the team "says" it was because he was trying to cover up for the mistakes made by Timmons.
The team needs a smart, fluid, pass-defending strong-side backer to shore up the pass defense. Is Warner a downhill linebacker that will remind of Jack Lambert? Of course not. But that's not what a team that plays off linebackers typically needs.
It needs guys who rally to the football and can cover. He can do both.
Other third-round possibilities: Georgia RB Nick Chubb, Oklahoma TE Mark Andrews, Indiana TE Ian Thomas.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said this evening it's possible Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst may not be drafted at all because of the reported heart issues he has suffered.
NEXT UP: The second round begins
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero