With the Twelfth Pick
As it stands, the Miami Dolphins are well on their way to making a complete transformation from an ogre to a swan. A perennial doormat in the AFC East, Miami has decided to go all-in during the offseason. With $44 Million in cap space at their disposal, Miami certainly made a splash in free agency. By adding the likes of Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson, and Dustin Keller while also retaining Brian Hartline; the Dolphins have completely revamped their offensive personnel. In a pass-happy league that is the NFL, second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill has plenty of weapons at his disposal. On the defensive side of the ball, Miami has also gotten a face-lift. Incumbent linebackers Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett were released in favor of Phillip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerby. While they saw Sean Smith take his talents to Kansas City, Miami quickly answered with the signing of veteran cornerback Brent Grimes.
In just one offseason Miami has plugged more holes than they have in the previous 4-year tenure of general manager Jeff Ireland. Whether this was always part of Ireland’s elaborate plan or he simply decided to put his big boy pants on and finally go all in remains to be seen.
A very productive offseason for the Dolphins, however, did not leave the team without needs to be filled. The naïve fan can look at this team as it is and say it is built for the playoffs as is and/or maybe a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl. Let’s get real, even on paper, still isn’t a playoff team in the AFC. That being said, they are well on their way to becoming one. This 2013 draft will go a long way in determining their postseason chances. Miami has a total of nine selections in this year’s draft. Five of those selections come in the first 3 rounds. With that many selections, the Dolphins are in a very interesting position. They have the ammunition to move up and select a player they really like or do the complete opposite and trade down to take a player whose value merits the spot in which he’s selected. That being said here’s the official InsideMiamiSports mock draft for the Miami Dolphins.
Offensive Tackle, Cornerback, Pass Rusher, Tight End, Running Back
I believe a trade-down is immanent for the Dolphins here. Whether they trade down into the late teens or early twenties, the man for them is Tyler Eiffert out of Notre Dame. Eiffert has a big frame at 6’5 250lbs. This would give Tannehill a big target in the red zone, something he was desperate for last season. Eiffert would also stretch the seam down the middle of the field. Dominant tight end play has become an integral factor of offensive success in today’s NFL (just ask the New England Patriots). Though the Dolphins would undoubtedly be reaching for Eiffert at 12, the fit is just too perfect for both that it cannot be ignored. Miami’s offense gets yet another weapon.
If the Dolphins stay put at 42 then Watson is the selection here. This addresses the need for an offensive tackle. Jonathan Martin will move to the left side where he filled in nicely for Jake Long last year. Watson can come right in and start at RT. He is an absolute athletic specimen which will fit in well with the Dolphins new zone-blocking scheme. With an explosive first step and good quickness he is able to get to the second level. Nevertheless, Watson will be 25 years old during his rookie campaign and that may be a concern for Miami.
The Dolphins MUST take a corner with one of their first five picks. Whether they take Rhodes or Trufant with their first selection or trade back into the first round remains to be seen. At 54, Slay is a great pick for the Dolphins. He is 6’0 192lbs and ran a 4.36 forty at the combine. Slay plays extremely aggressive which is something the Dolphins desperately need in the secondary. Aside from good ball skills, Slay can be physical with receivers on the line if need be. Slay can come in and start opposite of Grimes in his rookie year and possibly take over the number 1 corner spot the following year if it doesn’t work out with Grimes.
Miami cannot help taking another corner here with Amerson still on the board. At 6’1 205, he is built like a wide receiver. With such big size for the position there are questions about his speed. By running a 4.44 forty at the combine, he quickly put those to bed. He possesses excellent ball skills. He had a phenomenal 2011 season as a sophomore totaling 13 interceptions to lead the nation. With this selection the Dolphins solidify the cornerback position.
Round 3 (82nd overall): Brandon Jenkins DE, Florida State-Miami takes another Seminole here. Jenkins will fill the need the Dolphins have at defensive end opposite Cam Wake. Jenkins has very good quickness and could get up field in a hurry. The knock on him is the Lisfranc injury he suffered in 2012. Regaining his explosiveness is still to be determined but the Dolphins should take a chance on him. If he returns to form, Miami will have a very formidable pass rush. If Jenkins doesn’t return to form, Miami has an insurance policy by the name of Olivier Vernon.
Miami takes Bostic here. He led the Gators with 94 tackles last season. Bostic plays with a mean streak and is very physical. He would fit right in playing between Ellerby and Wheeler at inside linebacer. Linebacker isn’t necessarily a huge team need for the Dolphins, but it is a position they need depth at. Bostic is a good pick here for them.
After taking two Seminoles, the Dolphins take a pair of Gators back to back. Gillislee will not be an every down back in the NFL. The beauty of that is that Miami won’t expect him to be. He is very agile and can easily make people miss. He compiled 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns in the stingy SEC last season. Gillislee would be the perfect compliment to Lamar Miller in the backfield. Both backs are a threat to score anywhere on the field and both can be utilized in the passing game.
Hopkins was absolutely money during his career at Florida State. Though taking a kicker in the 5th round seems absurd, it is a smart choice here. Dan Carpenter is being paid $2.5 million dollars to be average. He struggled mightily last season and it cost the Dolphins wins. Hopkins can come in right away and compete for the gig. At the very least he’ll push Carpenter to be better or be good enough to take over the starting role. In that case, the Dolphins can dump Carpenter and his obese salary.
Armstrong has had his battle with off the field issues. It ultimately cost him his spot on the team as he was dismissed by head coach Al Golden. There’s no doubt Armstrong is talented but the question is whether he can stay out of trouble and keep motivated. The hard-hitting Armstrong would be a good project pick here for the Dolphins.
Vernon leaves Duke as the all-time leader in receptions and reception yards in school history and ACC history. Vernon has average height and speed but has a knack for getting open by running very technically sound routes. He also has great hands. Vernon will make a very serviceable slot receiver in the NFL.
Why not take a chance on Aaron Rodgers’ little brother? He was nothing special at Vandy but at 250th overall are there really any gems left? Rodgers can battle Pat Devlin for the 3rd quarterback position. At 6’1 he lacks size but he does have leadership qualities like his big bro for whatever that’s worth.