Dolphins GM Chris Grier agrees this needs to be a ‘great draft’
The Miami Dolphins’ roster reboot has left the team leading the league in needs. If life were fair, the Fins would have, like, 38 draft picks. That, or the ideal first-round pick Thursday night would be a unique, generational talent who can play quarterback, simultaneously block for himself and also rush the passer.
Instead, here in the real world, this won’t be the draft for Miami to answer its pressing need at QB (that will be next year). This will see the Dolphins focusing on defensive line or offensive line in the first round, and I predict the 13th overall pick will deliver Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary — his tremendous upside overcoming concerns about his shoulder and modest college numbers.
I explain why I like Gary as the selection and offer alternatives below.
This is the NFL’s 83rd draft, the Dolphins’ 54th and my 28th annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft.
The past two years my mocks have featured 12 bull’s-eyes — exact player to exact team — and that’s more than ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., by the way. Do you know how ridiculous that is? Kiper makes a year-round cottage industry of this and spits out several mock drafts. I do only this one, and it’s a glorified guessfest involving darts and a Ouija board. My idea of film study is rewatching last week’s “Game Of Thrones.”
Our first-round picks below do not pretend to foretell draft-day trades but instead go by the draft order as of Wednesday.
Ready? Let’s Mock!:
1. Arizona Cardinals — Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: There has been a late spate of subterfuge suggesting Cardbirds have cooled on Murray. Forget it. Coach Kliff Kingsbury has been enamored of Murray for years, they have same agent, and Murray is too perfect a fit for the new coach’s “Air Raid” offense. Defensive stars Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams would otherwise tempt, but Murray trumps all with Kingsbury. So up on trading block steps Josh Rosen. No one wants to give up a first-round pick, but might some team — like the Dolphins — part with a second-rounder for Rosen?
2. San Francisco 49ers — Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State: Niners need an edge rusher, and Bosa, of the great bloodline, is the draft’s No. 1-rated overall prospect despite missing most of last season injured. A trade down has been stuff of speculation, but Bosa is too special to pass up. In anticipation of being a 49er, Bosa deleted all his anti-Kaepernick tweets. So he’s athletic and smart.
3. New York Jets — Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky: Tough to bypass Quinnen Williams here, and Planes supposedly love Ed Oliver, but Allen better fits the specific need for an edge rusher and NYJ’s 3-4 scheme. Major trade down (maybe to 15th with quarterback-shopping Washington?) also looms possible here.
4. Oakland Raiders — Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama: First of three Oakland first-round picks as Mike Mayock goes from mock drafter to actual drafter. Jon Gruden’s D produced a meager 13 sacks last season (next lowest team total was 30), and in Williams they get a guy who could be the next Aaron Donald. Raiders also love Kyler Murray, should he unexpectedly fall,. and like Dwayne Haskins, too, as a guy to push Derek Carr.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, ILB, Louisiana State — Bucs could be a trade partner if, say, Miami sought to move up. But White makes sense if Tampa stays at five. Might go Quinnen Williams if he slips. Montez Sweat also in the mix, but his heart issues figure to drop him in the round. Fact he isn’t attending the draft is another little red flag waving.
▪ SUPER BONUS DRAFT FACT: The Dolphins’ annual free draft-day “On The Clock” watch party for fans will be 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday at Hard Rock Stadium. It will feature cheerleaders, food trucks, current and former player autographs, photo opportunities, draft merchandise, an interactive area for kids, prizes and giveaways and other fun stuff designed to distract fans from the sobering reality that this is the club’s 46th draft since last winning a Super Bowl.
6. New York Giants — Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State: I’m not buying reports that Biggies may have cooled on Haskins. NYG needs a fresh arm to groom behind ancient Eli Manning. And this is first time since 1984 that Giants have had multiple first-round picks, so they have the 17th selection to target less major needs such as offensive tackle and edge rush.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars — Jawann Taylor, OT, Florida: Jags keep a Gator in state. Call it a gift for new QB Nick Foles and RB Leonard Fournette. Taylor is a guy Dolphins need and love and would hugely consider if he fell (like manna from heaven) to 13th. He would be on right side opposite Laremy Tunsil to give Miami great bookend OTs.
8. Detroit Lions — Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State: Heart issues make this a risky top-10 pick, but upside is huge at a position of need opposite Trey Flowers — all assuming Sweat has checked Detroit’s medical boxes. Rashan Gary a possibility here, but he too has medical concerns (shoulder).
9. Buffalo Bills — Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson: Buffs get lucky he falls this far. (Dolphins might gobble him up if he dropped to 13th). Might also ponder Ed Oliver or Gary here, or gift Josh Allen with T.J. Hockenson or Marquise Brown.
10. Denver Broncos — Drew Lock, QB, Missouri: John Elway needs an arm to groom behind stopgap Joe Flacco, and Lockis the best left on the board. Although might also opt for protection or a weapon for Flacco.
11. Cincinnati Bengals — Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan: Gals get an every-down tackle machine. But could also see Cincy going for a tackle such as Jonah Williams, or even a QB.
▪ SUPER BONUS DRAFT FACT: The NFL Draft, no longer held in New York every year, this week is happening in Nashville, where broadcast crews from ESPN, NFL Network and other outlets are situated to convey local flavor. NFL Network, for example , is set up at the famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge honky tonk barn, which would explain the slurring announcers. Nearby is the massive stage where commissioner Roger Goodell will be introducing the players he will later be suspending for rules violations or arrests.
12. Green Bay Packers — D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss: A gift for Aaron Rodgers. Metcalf and Marquise Brown are draft’s top-rated wideouts, but Metcalf is a hugely bigger target. Pack also could go TE with T.J. Hockenson here.
13. MIAMI DOLPHINS — RASHAN GARY, DE, MICHIGAN: I know. I know! Two red flags here. 1) A shoulder issue. Torn labrum, news out just this week via NFL Network. It’s likely Gary could play through the injury this season but then need surgery. 2) Underperformance in college, a modest 9 1/2 sacks in three seasons. But this is a 6-4, 277-pound dude with uncommon speed and athleticism. He excelled at the Combine. He is the fifth-rated talent in the entire draft by Scouts Inc. The ceiling here is so high that, if Gary’s shoulder isn’t of great or long-term concern, he’s a steal at 13, and in a role that’s a bigger need than than some of the pure interior D-linemen still around. As big a need and a strong option here should be an offensive tackle like Jonah Williams — or certainly Jawann Taylor if he falls. Could see either direction because the priority — apart from QB — should be replenishing both lines. But the way my mock is shaking out, there won’t be a potential franchise arm available to Miami at 13. So look for the Fins to still target a QB this week. Could be Daniel Jones on Day 2 or with as trade-down Thursday. Could be Josh Rosen by trade. But either way, Fins figure to double down on trying to land Tua Tagovailoa in 2020 and go pass rush or O-line in the first round Thursday. Clelin Ferrell is another viable option. But Gary’s tremendous upside makes him well worth the risk attached.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston: Falcons covet Christian Wilkins, but he won’t last. They could reach for a cornerback or even a guard, but safest value play is for highest-ranked available D-lineman in Oliver, a light interior guy who could also play the edge.
15. Washington Redskins — Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma: Washers might try to trade up into top 10 for a QB. Failing that, best midround buy at position of urgent need is this tiny but blur-fast wideout who helped make Kyler Murray look good.
16. Carolina Panthers — Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson: Here’s a guy I could see Miami snatching if the Fins are scared of Gary’s risk and play safe. He productively started all 44 games for an elite program the past three seasons.
▪ SUPER BONUS DRAFT FACT: Rival Miami sports-talk radio stations 790 The Ticket and 560-WQAM are inundating the airwaves this week with draft talk, blithely unaware that, in a recent national poll of what would most make listeners intentionally plunge their car off a cliff to stop the sound, the No. 1 answer (oddly specific) was, “Listening to a local radio host probe Trey Wingo on the upside of Rock Ya-Sin.”
17. New York Giants — Byron Murphy, CB, Washington: I had Giants addressing their their pulsing QB need with sixth pick, so they turn to defense at this first-round slot obtained from Browns in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. Not an exceptional draft for corners, but Murphy, though undersized, is seen as a right-away starter.
18. Minnesota Vikings — Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama: Here’s a guy who should get a long look from Miami five spots earlier. He started 43 consecutive games for Nick Saban and is pro-ready. Andre Dillard and Cody Ford are other top OTs still available.
19. Tennessee Titans — T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa: The most complete tight end in this draft fills a Titans need, although Tennessee should be very tempted here by Dexter Lawrence, the best pure nose tackle left.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers — Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State: Both of draft’s first-round quality inside LBs are long gone, so Pitt looks to Tallahassee and the most productive edge rusher still on the board. Cornerback also in play here, because ex-Cane Artie Burns has disappointed.
21. Seattle Seahawks — Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College: Seattle on Tuesday traded DE Frank Clark to Chiefs (see 29th pick), so may hunt for edge rusher here. Instead they go for more protection for the mega-investment in QB Russell Wilson with the draft’s top-rated guard.
▪ SUPER BONUS DRAFT FACT: This draft marks the NFL’s 100th season, and it will be a year-long celebration by the league, which traces its roots to 1920. Notable players from that very first season included the Canton Bulldogs’ Jim Thorpe and the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady.
22. Baltimore Ravens — Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama: Crows might go D or receiver here, but Jacobs, the draft’s only real first-round-quality running back, could augment dual-threat QB Lamar Jackson very nicely.
23. Houston Texans — Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State: He’s a true left tackle, and Houston gave up 62 sacks last season. A few less bruises on Deshaun Watson is the idea.
24. Oakland Raiders — Greedy Williams, CB, Louisiana State: Second of three Raiders picks in first round, this one obtained from Chicago in Khalil Mack trade. The one knock on Williams is he likes to avoid contact. But you know Jon “Chucky” Gruden thinks he can coach toughness into somebody, right?
25. Philadelphia Eagles — Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State: With all of the impact linebackers taken, National Birds go for the draft’s highest-rated safety. Also might go RB here if Josh Jacobs drops.
26. Indianapolis Colts — Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson: Might not fall this far, but Lawrence is a guy Miami may have in mind if they trade down from 13. A 342-pound load of a nose tackle from a pedigreed program.
▪ SUPER BONUS DRAFT FACT: Perhaps not surprisingly, the defending champion New England Patriots have had the most scouts preparing for this draft. A few of those scouts have been researching players the team might possibly select.
27. Oakland Raiders — Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State: Oakland’s third first-round pick was gotten from Dallas in the Amari Cooper trade. Fittingly, they target that same position here with a guy whose sprinter’s speed, big-play potential and return ability make him a sleeper prize.
28. Los Angeles Chargers — Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma: Because Philip Rivers is really good, and old, and this is the Bolts’ most pressing need. Also could go DT, with maybe a gamble on free-falling Jeffery Simmons?
29. Seattle Seahawks — Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia: Hawks acquired this pick Tuesday from Kansas City in exchange for DE Frank Clark. Went O-line at 21, so go D here. Pass rusher to replace Clark is more pressing need but most good ones are taken. (But keep an eye on somebody gambling on Louisiana Tech’s uber-productive DE Jaylon Ferguson).
30. Green Bay Packers — Noah Fant, TE, Iowa: It’s Be Nice To Aaron Rodgers Day in Green Bay! Got him a wideout with pick No. 12. Now, with Pack’s second 1R pick obtained from Saints in last year’s draft, they go for a bulk-catcher.
31. Los Angeles Rams — Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina State: Jared Goff and Todd Gurley stayng healthy is sort of important. Rams need a center. Bradbury is clearly the top-rated one in this draft. Some things you don’t over think.
32. New England Patriots — Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama: Rob Gronkowski just retired, and Bill Belichick loves him some guys coached up by buddy Nick Saban. Again, some things you don’t over think.