Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray wins the Heisman Trophy
Third of a three-part series on the Dolphins’ options in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft:
A strong case could be made for the Dolphins to select one of several highly regarded defensive linemen at No. 13 in the draft or the Gators’ pass-rushing outside linebacker, Jachai Polite, or perhaps even LSU cornerback Greedy Williams if available.
But an equally strong case could be made to select Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray or one of several high-end offensive tackles.
After examining the Dolphins’ early-round defensive line options in this piece and linebacker and cornerback options in this piece, we explore the Dolphins’ offensive options at No. 13 and their second round pick, which is expected to be 48th overall:
▪ Quarterbacks: Because it’s difficult to envision Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins surprisingly falling to Miami at 13, the only one who might be considered in Miami’s range is Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Dolphins taking him at 13.
But McShay rates him 24th on his Big Board and NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah 29th on his Big Board. The disparity about where Murray should go in this draft results largely from his height (reportedly 5-10) and concerns about him staying healthy at his size.
“Sure, he has limited experience, and there’s still that whole might-go-play-baseball thing, but Murray is just an exceptional athlete,” McShay said on ESPN.com. “I think he is the most athletic quarterback prospect since Michael Vick in terms of quickness and speed. He possesses a quick trigger and good arm strength, and he can process the play extremely fast.
“His style fits today’s NFL — think Kansas City offense — but his size does leave a lot of questions, including whether he can stay healthy.”
Murray, the Heisman Trophy winner, threw for 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns and just seven interceptions and ran for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns this past season for Oklahoma.
Jeremiah’s take on NFL.com: “Murray is an extremely explosive quarterback prospect who lacks the ideal height/bulk for the position.... He has dynamic arm strength... He isn’t as accurate as Baker Mayfield but flashes the touch to layer the ball on occasion, accompanying the “wow” power throws.
“The majority of his decisions are made pre-snap or he resorts to scrambling around and buying time .... He is an electric runner ... His flirtation with baseball will need to be factored into his evaluation by NFL teams. Overall, I believe Murray has the tools to be an NFL starter, but I have concerns about his durability due to his slight frame.”
Though Jeremiah has the Dolphins selecting Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at 13 in his mock draft, Jeremiah also rated him just 24th on his Big Board.
McShay doesn’t have him in the first round and Kiper has him 29th.
Here was Jeremiah’s assessment of Jones on NFL.com: “Jones has outstanding size for the position (6-5, 220). As a passer, he relies more on touch than power ... He’s more accurate than his stats would suggest (career completion percentage of 59.9); Jones suffered from a lot of dropped passes at Duke .... He has shown the ability to read the full field but was forced to hold the ball at times because his weapons failed to separate .... Overall, Jones lacks elite arm strength, but he has a nice blend of size, toughness and football smarts.”
Jones at No. 13 seems like a reach.
Surprisingly, Jeremiah has Missouri’s Drew Lock at No. 23. He might be worth considering if available to Miami at 48, unless general manager Chris Grier doesn’t have a strong conviction about him.
“He’s very aggressive, which leads to explosive plays and some turnovers,” Jeremiah said. “He is an excellent athlete. Overall, Lock needs to polish his footwork and tone down his aggressiveness, but he has a special skill set and tremendous upside.”
▪ Offensive line: Guard is an unlikely way to go here, but the Dolphins could opt for a tackle if they do not retain free agent right tackle Ja’Wuan James. Fortifying the offensive line is a priority in this rebuilding program.
A few tackle options: Alabama’s Jonah Williams (Kiper has him fifth), Oklahoma’s Cody Ford (Kiper has him 7th, McShay has him 13th) and Florida’s Jawaan Taylor (Kiper has him 11th) .
Taylor, as a natural right tackle, would make some sense as a replacement for James. “Taylor is raw, but he has the tools to be a premier road grader in the running game,” Kiper said.
Jeremiah has Taylor 13th among all tackles: “He’s nasty. Some teams will prefer his power inside at the guard position, but I see him as a quality starting right tackle.”
Some rate Williams the best of the offensive linemen. Jeremiah rates him 16th among all players in the draft and said he “is a solid offensive tackle prospect, but I believe he has All-Pro potential at guard.”
Ford also looms as an option at 13 or a possibility with a slight trade down.
“Ford is a nasty finisher on a good Sooners offensive line,” McShay said. “He is a big, strong tone-setter up front, and he had a great season. I think he could move from tackle to guard at the next level. Ford is flying up boards.”
Jeremiah rates Ford 18th: “Overall, I wish Ford was more consistent from game to game, but he has all of the tools to excel at right tackle in the NFL,” Jeremiah said.
Jeremiah — unlike Kiper and McShay — also includes Washington State’s Andre Dillard as worthy of going in Miami’s range, ranking him 12th among all players. But there would need to be a projection, from the Dolphins’ standpoint, that he could play right tackle.
“He’s a pure, pass-protecting left tackle,” Jeremiah said.
Two possible second-round options or possibilities if Miami trades down from 13 to add more picks: Mississippi tackle Greg Little and Alabama State tackle Tytus Howard.
As for Little, he seems unlikely to last to 48. Kiper has him 18th, but Jeremiah rates him 39th.
“Overall, Little has some flaws, but I love his body type, awareness and anchor,” Jeremiah said. “He has starting-right tackle ability.”
Howard can play left and right tackle.
“He doesn’t have a lot of knock-off power, but he’s effective,” said Jeremiah, who rates him 40th among all players in the draft. “Overall, the only real question about Howard involves the level of competition.”
▪ Receiver: A highly unlikely pick for Miami.
Kiper’s two top receivers: Mississippi’s A.J. Brown (22nd) and Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown (24th).
But Jeremiah has Marquise Brown the ninth best player in this draft and Mississippi receiver D.K. Metcalf the 11th best and rates Mississippi’s Brown just 50th.
Kiper wrote that Marquise Brown is “a big-play threat on every route. He has game-changing speed and is dynamic after the catch.”
But any discussion about first- or second-round receivers for Miami seems moot, with so many needs to fill at defensive end, defensive tackle, the offensive line, cornerback and quarterback (either in this draft, 2020, or both).
Incidentally, Jeremiah rates two other receivers (besides Oklahoma’s Brown and the two Mississippi recievers) as Top 50 pick worthy: Georgia’s Ryan Ridley (32nd) and Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry (48).
As for other positions, it would be shocking if Miami used a first-round pick at running back or tight end.
The Dolphins need to give tight ends Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe another year to see if they’re worthy of being key pieces of a team that they hope eventually will be a contender.
Jeremiah, incidentally, has three tight ends in the top 30 on his Big Board: Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson 14th, Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. 19th and Iowa’s Noah Fant 28th.
Kiper has no running back in his first round; Jeremiah curiously has one rated the sixth-best player in the entire draft class: Alabama’s Josh Jacobs. And Jeremiah, notably, rates FAU’s Devin Singletary as the second-best back in this class, 37th overall.
“Singletary is an extremely loose and dynamic runner who possesses tremendous upside as a pass catcher out of the backfield,” Jeremiah said of a player who ran for 1348 yards and 5.2 per carry last season while scoring 22 touchdowns on the ground, a year after averaging 6.4 per carry and rushing for 32 TDs.
But the Dolphins, who have Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage, are in no position to use a first- or second-day pick on a running back.