It’s day 20 of Draftmas and the Miami Dolphins are up.
The Dolphins started the season off poorly in 2016, going 1-4. They then went on a tear and only lost two more games the rest of the regular season to make Adam Gase’s first year as head coach successful. They did lose in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, but should be able to build off of last year’s success.
Offensively, Miami was average in 2016, scoring 22.7 points per game. While they ranked near the bottom of the NFL in passing yards per game, they finished 9th in the league in rushing yards, averaging 114 yards per game.
Ryan Tannehill had an improved season under Gase, but running back Jay Ajayi became a real game-changer. Ajayi started the season as an after-thought, but finished the season as the NFL’s fourth leading rusher. The offensive line was solid last season, but they did trade Brandon Albert to the Jaguars. They signed Ted Larsen to play guard and presumably will move Laremy Tunsil out to left tackle.
Miami has two young wide receivers in Jarvis Landry and Devante Parker that should be great targets for Tannehill for years to come. Kenny Stills is also a viable option. Julius Thomas is an athletic, receiving tight end who was acquired in the trade with the Jaguars for Albert.
On defense, the Dolphins were only one of five teams to give up more than 2,000 yards on the ground. They were in the middle of the pack against the pass, ranking 15th in pass yards allowed. Miami was tied for 19th in the league in sacks with 33.
Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and William Hayes are good defensive linemen, but they need more to stop the run and get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Kiko Alonso is the only good linebacker the Dolphins have, but aging veteran Lawrence Timmons was signed to try to help. It is unlikely that he will have a big impact for the defense. A safety to pair with Reshad Jones and multiple corners will be needed to make this defense great.
Picks and Needs
The Dolphins have seven picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. They should be able to get a few impact players with their early picks and find some diamonds in the rough late.
First round: (1) No. 22
Second round: (1) No. 54
Third round: (1) No. 97
Fourth round: (0)
Fifth round: (3) No. 166, No. 178, No. 184
Sixth round: (0)
Seventh round: (1) No. 223
These needs are in no particular order.
Guard- With Tunsil moving to left tackle and Jawuan James being at right tackle, the Dolphins need to make sure guards are addressed.
Defensive Line- Miami definitely could use a defensive tackle to put next to Suh, but having another player who can get after the quarterback would be a nice luxury.
Linebacker– Kiko Alonso is the only good linebacker they have. They may need to take a couple of linebackers in this draft.
Cornerback- Byron Maxwell is a good corner, but the Dolphins don’t have many good ones behind him. Getting at least one in this draft class is necessary.
Targets and Thoughts
The picks here are who the Dolphins could realistically get where they are drafting.
Pick #22: Forrest Lamp, OG/C, Western Kentucky
The Dolphins can take Lamp, the best interior lineman in this draft, and fill other needs later. This is a deep draft class for some of the other needs. Lamp played left tackle in college and completely shut down Alabama’s pass rushers. He has all the tools to start in the NFL for more than ten years and be successful.
Pick #54: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
He may not be there for the Dolphin’s second round pick, but some mock drafts have Cunningham falling. That would be an ideal scenario for Miami. Cunningham is tall and lanky, but makes plays. He is a tackle machine that can vastly improve the run defense. His length and size allows him to cover tight ends, which paired with his run stopping ability, makes him a hot commodity. He will be a starter for the Dolphins immediately.
Pick #97: Derek Rivers, DE/OLB, Youngstown State
Rivers is an edge prospect from the FCS evel. He has risen up draft boards because of his pass rushing ability. The Dolphins can get great value by picking Rivers in the third round.
The Dolphins will still need to draft more needs later in the draft, but with a roster like this, should be able to make it back to the playoffs.
You can read all of the previous days of Draftmas here!
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