Barry Jackson

In his latest mock draft, Mel Kiper believes this player could go to the Miami Dolphins

ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Dolphins drafting Florida State safety Derwin James, shown running the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis in March.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Dolphins drafting Florida State safety Derwin James, shown running the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis in March. AP

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Thursday:

▪ ESPN’s Mel Kiper has a new pick for the Dolphins’ first-round pick in 2018 and mixed views about the Dolphins’ 2017 draft.

In his latest mock draft, Kiper has the Dolphins selecting FSU safety Derwin James.

Among other players still on the board at the time of Kiper’s pick: Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and Washington State defensive tackle Vita Vea.

Kiper’s assessment: “James is back in the discussion for the top 10 after he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash and showed off a 40-inch vertical at the combine. He has rare athleticism for a 6-2 safety, though his 2017 tape was inconsistent after he returned from a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the previous season. At his best, James is an enforcer in the mold of Kam Chancellor — he’s not afraid to bring the wood.

“He can be a versatile defender who plays in the box and also covers the deep middle of the field. The Dolphins have arguably lost more talent this offseason than any other team, and they have needs all across their roster.”

Dolphins coach Adam Gase said this week that the Reshad Jones/T.J. McDonald safety tandem didn’t achieve the chemistry he expected. But linebacker and defensive tackle are more pressing needs.

▪ Kiper, on ESPN.com, reviewed the 2017 draft of every team and gave Miami a C plus, ahead of only Oakland and Denver.

Kiper’s take: “This offseason has been filled with roster changes in Miami — Ndamukong Suh, Mike Pouncey, Jay Cutler, Jarvis Landry and Julius Thomas are among the veterans out as the Dolphins try to get younger [and cheaper]. But are they better? I don’t think so. This is a 6-10 team with holes and question marks at several positions, including quarterback, where Ryan Tannehill missed all of 2017 with a knee injury. And the 2017 draft class didn’t bring many clear answers.

Charles Harris played a situational pass-rusher role as a rookie, chipping in two sacks. I thought the first-round pick would be a better fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, and I don’t see an immediate path to more playing time in 2018 as he sits behind Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake and Andre Branch on the depth chart.

“I like Raekwon McMillan and he was in line to start at linebacker before tearing his ACL in the preseason. Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley broke up seven passes in 11 games — all starts — but was limited by shoulder and ankle injuries. Davon Godchaux is in line to replace Suh in the middle of the defense, and he had 40 tackles and a forced fumble last season. Undrafted linebacker Chase Allen ended up starting four games due to injuries.”

Dolphins coach Adam Gase meets with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine.

▪ Gase implied this week that he has no intention of “easing in” Tannehill after last August’s knee surgery.

“I don’t know if there’s anything about him that’s going to be easing in,” Gase said. “I think he’s ready to go. I already know I’m going to get some dirty looks when I say ‘How are you doing? How does it feel?’ He’s not going to want to hear it. He’s just going to want to go. We’ll just keep … I’ll just try to do a good job of not bothering him too much; but at the same time, kind of figure out where he’s at. I know our training staff is going to do a great job of just making sure everything is good. He’s been really honest with us as far as how he feels and where he’s at. We’ll kind of see how that plays out.”

What will Gase tell Tannehill about protecting himself when he runs the ball?

“I mean he’s going to play his game,” Gase said. “I don’t think he ever really put himself in harm’s way to begin with. I thought he was always smart. Occasionally I would have loved to have seen him get down; but it was usually at the right time where he knew he had no choice and he had to lower his shoulder and try to run through a guy for a big play in the fourth quarter. I know it feels like forever ago, but he got hurt in the pocket throwing a ball. Really, it’s about … If we do a good job of protecting him and he gets the ball out on time, I don’t feel like he’s going to get hit as much as he has in the past.”

▪ The Dolphins, internally, have discussed possibly extending Cam Wake’s contract into 2019 but have done nothing on that yet.

▪ One reason the Dolphins settled on Brock Osweiler instead of Chad Henne, who they also reached out to: Osweiler agreed to a modest deal of $790,000 in base salary with a $90,000 signing bonus and $720,000 guarantee.

Henne would have been more costly: The Chiefs gave him two years and $6.7 million, plus performance bonuses. He got a $3.1 million signing bonus. So he gets $5.15 million if he’s on the team only one year.

▪ Former Dolphins linebacker Neville Hewitt signed with the Jets. … The Dolphins’ visit with UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen will be in Los Angeles, according to a Rosen associate.

▪ ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Dolphins “saw no need to be in force for Lamar Jackson’s Pro day — he is eligible to work out at the team’s facility before draft because he lives in Miami’s metropolitan area.”

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