A six-pack of Dolphins draft notes on a Tuesday:
▪ The Dolphins have told credible NFL people (people they’re not trying to fool for competitive reasons) that adding more speed and explosiveness at receiver and running back remains a key objective, among other priorities.
Even though they have a good measure of those qualities at those positions (Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, Kenny Stills, Kenyan Drake), they believe they ultimately need more.
And while that’s an understandable goal, in theory, it also worries me heading into this draft.
Fact is, the Dolphins cannot afford to spend any of their first four draft picks at those positions. This draft needs to be entirely about rebuilding the offensive and defensive lines, adding edge rushers who can play both defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker and perhaps adding a cornerback who could develop into an NFL starter. And if the Dolphins find a quarterback they genuinely believe will be an above-average longterm starter, great.
And let’s be clear: The Dolphins know they have those aforementioned glaring needs and intend to start filling them this weekend.
And while I believe the majority of the Dolphins’ first five picks will be allocated to filling those needs, let’s also be clear about this: There would be no justification for using an early round pick – in my view, any pick - on a receiver (when there are already six on the roster) or a running back (when next season has to be entirely about determining whether Drake and Kalen Ballage are the running backs you want coming out of this rebuild.)
Dolphins general manager Chris Grier cites receiver as one of the deepest positions in this draft. And yes, the Dolphins eventually need a legitimate No. 1 receiver. But the Dolphins will be fine this season at receiver with Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, Ricardo Louis and Brice Butler. It’s their deepest position and one that resources shouldn’t be allocated to this offseason, beyond signing undrafted free agents to fill out a training camp roster.
That’s why it’s surprising the Dolphins used 30 visits on a few receivers, including West Virginia’s Gary Jennings, and brought in Oklahoma’s Marquies Brown, a potential late first-rounder.
Due diligence is one thing, but with the Dolphins bereft of above average NFL talent at defensive end, defensive tackle, guard and right tackle, I don’t want to hear about any draft pick being wasted on a receiver who probably wouldn’t even make the team.
Nor do I want to hear about a pick in the first four rounds being used on a running back or even a tight end, with Miami still needing to learn exactly what it has in Mike Gesicki.
So stick to the trenches, outside linebacker and edge rushers in general and cornerback. And as Grier said, don’t pick a quarterback in the first few rounds just to say you picked one if you aren’t convinced he’s the longterm answer.
Grier, incidentally, said this draft is particularly deep at receiver. Let’s hope that’s a non-factor for Miami this week.
▪ NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said several teams are trying to trade back and that Houston would be an ideal partner for those teams because the Texans are looking to move up for offensive line help.
Hypothetically, Houston could trade Miami the 23rd pick to move to 13, and give Miami one its two second-round picks (54th or 55) and a a third rounder this year (86th) or next year. I wonder if Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffrey Simmons - a top 10 talent whose stock could drop because of a torn ACL - will drop to 23. Mel Kiper has him dropping to the mid-20s.
Keep in mind that Texas general manager Brian Gaine and Grier worked together six years with the Dolphins (2008-2013).
▪ It wouldn’t be surprising if the Dolphins have the option to pick one of the best pass rushers in the draft, Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat, at 13 because some teams have removed him from their draft board because of a heart murmur. Jeremiah has him slipping to 17th.
“I have not talked to anybody on Montez Sweat that has completely removed him from their board. But I have talked to some teams that say, we have a little bit of a concern,” Jeremiah said.
“The reason why I have him sliding down a little bit is not because of anything he’s done as a player or because you’re worried he’s failed a bunch of physicals,” Jeremiah added. “I have him sliding down a little bit because if you feel somebody else is in that same range or same ballpark, it can be a little bit of a tiebreaker. But I don’t anticipate you’re going to see a major fall with him.”
▪ If the Dolphins go offensive tackle in the first round, who would be the safest pick among UF’s Jawaan Taylor, Washington State’s Andre Dillard and Alabama’s Jonah Williams?
“To me the safest, I would probably say Jonah because Jonah has played a lot of ball at a very high level against elite players,” Jeremiah said. “He’s played right tackle. He played left tackle. I believe he can kick inside. That’s personally where I think he’s going to end up. I think he’s going to be a very good player in there. To me, he’s the high-floor guy. Now, he doesn’t have that type of size or elite athleticism that I would put the ceiling really high, but I think he’s got a chance to be a real solid player, maybe could even be a Pro Bowl player on the inside in my opinion.
“Then when you go to highest upside to me it’s Dillard. He’s already the best pass protector in the bunch. He’s not going to be somebody that’s going to drive you to the ground.... But the pass protection and the athleticism was what gives him the highest upside.
“And then Taylor to me is just the most physical. He can move people in the run game at the point of attack. I think he’s going to be a really good right tackle. Some people think he’s going to kick inside. I think he can hold up out there. He’s athletic enough when you watch him against Florida State against Brian Burns, he was able to kick out and cover him up with the speed. But to me he’s just a nasty guy who will bring the most physicality to the position.”
▪ How confident are the Dolphins that they will be able to add offensive line help in the first three rounds?
“I would say we feel good about it,” Grier said.
Grier said “it’s a good offensive line class. A lot of potential of guys to be really good. There are kind of some young players that maybe have to mature a little more but I do think it has a chance to end up – if all those kids do things the right way – has a chance to be a good offensive line class.”
▪ Even if Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins falls, there’s hardly any assurance Miami takes him 13th. Jeremiah has him dropping to 11th for these reasons:
“It’s just really two things, and it’s the one-year starter deal. It’s the same thing that Kyler Murray gets hit on, but we have obviously the landing spot for Kyler Murray with Arizona [first overall]. When you look at what you have with Dwayne, the one-year thing is one part of it. The other part of it is just the mobility concerns. Is he going to be able to create time, is he going to be able to move around and get away from pressure?
“Which nine times out of ten if you’re getting picked in the top 10, you’re on a team that’s not great up front and you’re going to have to be able to protect yourself and get away from some pressure, and that’s the concern with him. Sometimes I see him when we study him, the eyes are quick.
“He’s moving his eyes through progression and getting there with his eyes but sometimes his feet are a little bit late to catch up. But what I like about him, he’s a firm, sturdy guy. I think he’ll be able to hold up physically the way he’s built. He can drive the ball.”
Jeremiah said “some teams really like Daniel Jones or some teams really like Drew Lock, but they aren’t as high on the other one. I think Dwayne is the No. 1 or No. 2 guy with the most teams, [but] you don’t know if he’s going to be the No. 2 guy for all of them, and that could cause him to slide. I don’t think he gets out of the top 15.”