Barry Jackson

A Miami Dolphins loss to Buffalo could open up interesting options

Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (3) tackles Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship earlier this month. Smith, a projected top 15 NFL draft pick, was selected to the AP All-America team.
Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (3) tackles Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship earlier this month. Smith, a projected top 15 NFL draft pick, was selected to the AP All-America team. AP

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on Christmas night:

• As Miami Herald colleague Adam Beasley explains here, the Dolphins have a good chance to crack the draft’s top 10 by losing to Buffalo on Sunday.

But a move up from their current 11th spot wouldn’t necessarily offer an obvious choice at a need position.

Though a lot can – and usually does – change between now and late April, the current top 10 draft projections don’t include the two positions where the Dolphins appear most in need of an upgrade: linebacker and tight end. It also doesn’t make sense to draft a guard in the top 10.

There is a chance a linebacker could move into the top 10, if Georgia’s Roquan Smith makes a move up in postseason workouts. (ESPN’s Todd McShay has him 15th in his first mock draft.)

Here are the top 10 picks in McShay’s mock draft: 1) USC quarterback Sam Darnold; 2) UCLA QB Josh Rosen; 3) North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb; 4) Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick; 5) Wyoming QB Josh Allen; 6) Penn State running back Saquon Barkley; 7) Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell; 8) Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley; 9) LSU defensive end Arden Key; 10) Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams.

At none of those positions does Miami have an urgent need for a starter, though Williams could step in at right tackle if Miami moves on from Ja’Wuan James, and Key would be an asset in the defensive end rotation.

The Draft Wire’s first mock draft has six of the same players in the top 10 (Darnold, Rosen, Fitzpatrick, Barkley, Chubb, Williams) and four different ones: Louisville QB Lamar Jackson, Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson (McShay has him 14th to Miami in his mock), Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield and LSU running back Derrius Guice.

Unless the Dolphins fall in love with Barkley, it’s difficult to see the Dolphins taking a running back in the first round, because of Kenyan Drake’s emergence, though Miami is expected to take one later in the draft.

Best hope for the Dolphins is that one of the QBs falls to Miami’s pick and the Dolphins can trade that pick to a QB-needy team, move down a few spots and pick up additional second-day picks.

(I”m not on the QB-in-the-first round bandwagon, FYI. Ryan Tannehill was 12th in the NFL in passer rating before his injury last season, and Miami has far more pressing needs, if QB is even a need at all.)

• For the second straight game, Kenyan Drake played all but three offensive snaps for the Dolphins (54 of 57 in the Kansas City game). Over the last four weeks, Drake ranks fourth of all running backs with 369 yards after contact and is tied for first with 17 missed tackles forced, according to Pro Football Focus.

• Jakeem Grant played 11 offensive snaps and caught four of his six targets for 107 yards. He has played in 10.4 percent of Miami’s offensive snaps this season. By the way, here are the season-long passer ratings on targets to Miami’s top three receivers: Jarvis Landry 93.3, Kenny Stills 89.6 and DeVante Parker a meager 54.5, though he was productive Sunday.

• For the first time, we saw lots of tight end A.J. Derby and cornerback Torry McTyer Sunday. Derby, the tight end claimed off waivers from Denver, was targeted five times and had only one catch for 11 yards. On one throw, CBS’ Rich Gannon wondered why in the world Miami was targeting Derby with top corner Marcus Peters covering him.

McTyer played 61 of Miami’s 83 defensive snaps, a result of Alterraun Verner being limited to just nine snaps before he was injured. Bobby McCain and Xavien Howard each played 82 and Jordan Lucas five.

• Charles Harris played 45 defensive snaps and had two quarterback hurries, one hit, one sack and also recorded two stops. Harris has two sacks in 15 games. Dion Jordan, Miami’s former No. 1 pick via trade, has three sacks in four games for Seattle after producing three in 26 games for Miami.

• Landry leads the NFL with 103 receptions – two ahead of Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Brown - and is the only player in Dolphins history to have 100 receptions in a single season and he’s now accomplished the feat twice. He set the team record of 110 receptions in 2015.

Landry can break his own team record for single-season receptions (110) with eight receptions against Buffalo. He needs 105 receiving yards vs. Buffalo to become the first player in Dolphins history to record three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

If you missed it, here’s why the NFL moved the time of Dolphins-Bills and cancelled the final Sunday night game of the season.

Here’s my story, if you missed it, on what the other Marlins bidders would have done if they bought the team and why the future is bleak.

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