Barry Jackson

Kiper has new pick for Dolphins; Misi restructures; Miami’s risk with Brown

Western Kentucky offensive tackle Forrest Lamp competes in a drill at the 2017 NFL football scouting combine Fri., March 3, 2017, in Indianapolis.
Western Kentucky offensive tackle Forrest Lamp competes in a drill at the 2017 NFL football scouting combine Fri., March 3, 2017, in Indianapolis. AP

ESPN draftnik Mel Kiper, after pegging UM tight end David Njoku for the Dolphins in past mock drafts, has switched his Miami projection to a position of need.

Kiper now projects the Dolphins to select Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp 22nd overall.

Kiper’s rationale, as stated on ESPN.com:

“Laremy Tunsil's expected move to left tackle leaves an opening at guard, and Lamp is the best guard in the draft. He could also move over to right tackle or slide in to center, and his versatility is a plus. Though Lamp (6-4, 309) played in Conference USA, he has the traits to step in and play immediately next season. Miami could also be in play for a linebacker, even with Kiko Alonso locked into a new deal. Florida's Jarrad Davis makes some sense.”

But here’s the thing: Kiper’s picks sandwiching Miami at 21 and 23 make more sense because of the Dolphins’ need to develop young, skilled defensive linemen.

Kiper has Missouri end Charles Harris going 21st to Detroit and Tennessee end Derek Barnett 23rd to the Giants.

Harris had nine sacks and two forced fumbles last season. Barnett had 33 sacks in three years at Tennessee.

The Dolphins know they need defensive line help and I would be shocked if they don’t draft at least one in the first two days. Cam Wake is 35 and William Hayes is entering the final year of his restructured contract. Yes, Andre Branch is signed for three years, but more is needed.

And even though this isn’t a deep draft for guards, Miami should be able to find a guard in the middle rounds, perhaps with the compensatory pick that’s 97th overall.

Among players Miami had Kiper passing on: Michigan safety Jabril Peppers (28th), Houston outside linebacker Tyus Bowser (30th) and Michigan end Taco Charlton (31st).

Among players of potential interest to the Dolphins that Kiper has going before Miami’s pick: UCLA linebacker Takkarist McKinley (ninth), Temple linebacker Haason Reddick (11th) and Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster (15th).

Kiper projects Njoku to the Denver Broncos with the 20th pick.

• The Dolphins so far have been reluctant to give free agent linebacker Zach Brown a deal as rich as Lawrence Timmons’ two-year, $12 million, which I find questionable because:

1) Brown, a Pro Bowler, is on the ascent and Timmons is either slightly past his prime or on the back side of it.

2) Pro Football Focus rated Brown 17th among linebackers last season, Timmons 70th, and said Brown graded out much better against the run: 26th, according to PFF, wheras Timmons was 82nd against the run among 89 qualifying linebackers.

You might not believe PFF’s numbers, but that’s a pretty sizable disparity.

3) Brown at 27 is three years younger than Timmons.

So I’m with Armando on this; I would find a way to sign Brown. And Brown has by no means ruled out the Dolphins if he doesn’t land a more lucrative offer, I’m told. Brown remains interested.

Yes, yes, I know the Dolphins have cap issues. But they could clear out $4.2 million by cutting Koa Misi, who’s usually stout against the run when healthy but continues to have durability issues.

UPDATE: A source confirmed that Misi has restructured his contract in the past couple of days, a source confirmed to The Miami Herald. (WINZ’s Andy Slater reported this earlier this morning.) The new terms are not yet available, but he was due to make $4.1 million with a cap hit of $4.8 million.

I’m told Misi’s restructure does not mean that Miami is out on Zach Brown. If Brown is interested in coming on Miami’s terms, the Dolphins would have interest. Also, Misi must be medically cleared after neck surgery. His representation expects him to be cleared in May.

Misi, 30, was limited to three games last season because of the neck injury. From 2012 through 2015, he missed two, one, five and three games in each of those seasons.

The Dolphins, by the way, love the culture that Timmons came from in Pittsburgh, plus his toughness and durability and ability to play the run. We get that. But a Brown-Timmons-Kiko Alonso troika would turn a Dolphins’ 2016 weakness into a potential strength.

Brown visited the Dolphins on Tuesday and is visiting his former team, Buffalo, on Wednesday.

Please click here for my Wednesday morning post with UM football nuggets, including a top player trying to juggle three things and why UM’s front seven could be its best in a decade.

Please click here for my Wednesday morning post with Heat nuggets, including a Heat player fully expecting playoffs, more Heat historical achievements and information on the Hassan Whiteside injury.

And please follow me on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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