Draft review: Miami Dolphins

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After analyzing the draft needs of all 32 teams, PFT will review how well each team addressed those needs. Up next: The Miami Dolphins.

What they neededOffensive line, defensive end, cornerback, safety

Who they got:
Round 1: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Round 2: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
Round 3:  Dallas Thomas, G, Tennessee; Will Davis, CB, Utah State
Round 4: Jelani Jenkins, LB, Florida; Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State
Round 5: Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida, Caleb Sturgis, K, Florida
Round 7: Don Jones, S, Arkansas State

Where they hit: The Dolphins came into the draft with a ton of picks and they leveraged them well to move up and get Jordan. Giving up one of their two second-round picks for a player who is potentially special coming off the edge was a bold move and it is one that can really pay off for the Dolphins in the short, medium and long term. There’s some concern about how he’ll hold up against the run, but it’s gotta be fun for the Dolphins to think about him attacking opposite from Cameron Wake.

Taylor was a very solid pick at No. 54 from both a need and value standpoint. The Dolphins need a starter and he should be at the top of the list of players in the mix for that role. Davis is ticketed for sub packages, another place where the Dolphins need a boost after last season’s misadventures in the secondary.

Where they missed: Thomas played left tackle in 2011, but he moved to left guard last season and seems a longshot to kick back outside at the NFL level. The Dolphins could stand to get better at guard than they’ve been with John Jerry and Richie Incognito, but it would have been nice to see them get better competition for Jonathan Martin at left tackle. The same goes for safety, where the need isn’t acute but a possible chance to add quality competition to the mix went by the wayside to add depth at tight end and running back.

Impact rookies: Jordan and Taylor will be expected to start and play well at two pivotal spots in the Dolphins defense. Jordan will likely get spotted a bit more as the team tries to bring him along against the run, but both guys will have plenty to do with how well the Dolphins stop the pass. Thomas should challenge for a starting job somewhere on the line, Jenkins excels in coverage so should see a fair amount of time in sub packages and Sturgis will try to push Dan Carpenter out of the kicking job.

Long-term prospects: This was something of an odd draft for the Dolphins since there’s a sense that General Manager Jeff Ireland’s job could hang on this year’s results. Jordan isn’t a developmental pick by any means, but he’s not a perfect fit for the Miami defense and may not be developed enough to immediately become the force Ireland clearly thinks he can be. That’s not a bad thing at all, but there’s some disconnect from the rest of the draft where the Dolphins went with safer picks that filled some obvious needs with players that should help right away. There’s a lot of reason to think this draft will help the Dolphins for years to come. Ireland just has to hope it starts helping right away.

22 responses to “Draft review: Miami Dolphins

  1. This is probably the most fair writeup related to the Dolphins I’ve read on this site.

    The theme of free agency was getting help on offense – Dustin Keller as a seam-threat tight end. Mike Wallace as a deep threat at wide receiver. Keeping Brian Hartline and signing Brandon Gibson as possession receivers.

    The theme of the draft was getting help on defense – Dion Jordan as an edge rusher, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis as cornerback depth, Jelani Jenkins as a coverage-specialist linebacker, and Don Jones as a developmental safety with crazy measurables.

    Dallas Thomas improves our O-line depth (he can play OG or OT), while Dion Sims is a good blocking tight end (to replace Anthony Fasano). Mike Gillislee looks like a solid third round running back (to complement Lamar Miller). Caleb Sturgis allows the Dolphins to get younger, cheaper, and more accurate from long-range at kicker.

    Overall – offense was awful, so it attracted most free agent dollars. Defense was solid but could use more depth, so it was addressed more in the draft.

  2. Mike Gillislee could be a starter for Miami at some point this season. There were several games last year where he carried the Gator to victory, including 34-146-2 against an LSU team who’s entire defense just got drafted.

    Plus, since he spent his first two years playing in Urban Meyer’s NFL-repellant “offense” he’s’ got very little tread on the tires.

  3. Miami got fast. Really, really fast.

    As to the confusion over Ireland going “long” with some picks, I think Miami went with a dual plan: short term contracts for immediate affect…coupled with upside-talent to take those players spots over the next 2-3 years.

    It’s in the team’s best interest, and more power to Ireland for taking that approach.

    We’re Eric Winston’s signature on a short term contract from an A+ off-season.

  4. This evaluation of the Dolphins does seem fair. The evaluation of the offensive line however overlooks the offensive zone blocking scheme that the Dolphins will use. The OL personnel should be of a hybrid OT/OG skillset, more athletic and not just plow blockers. That’s why Jake Long was less in demand by this team. He is slower with his lateral movement and he had problems with speed rushers. The Dolphins got what they were looking for with Dallas Thomas and will add to him from free agents still available.

  5. I respect this evaluation too. With that said, I think that a lot of people doing draft grades that are just plain lazy. If you move up to draft someone who has the potential to do great things, you fit the defense around him. For example, when Zach Thomas played for the Dolphins, they had Tim Bowens and Daryl Gardener to protect him from offensive linemen. Thomas wouldn’t have done that well if he played in a defense where he had to take on a lot of blocks.

  6. As a Fin fan let me say this:

    The biggest miss was having Armstead and Keenan Allen going in the two picks before we traded away our second third rounder for two fours. Good trade but we really could have used either of those guys more.

    The dumb move was trading away three picks to get back in the third to draft Will Davis, a 5th or 6th round talent. Athletic but not a player. A 4th, 5th and a 7th for a developmental player. Dumb, just dumb.

    Not getting a OT, WR or S really surprises me. Had we not traded away three picks we could have address WR and S as there were several good prospects available.

    Love Jordan, Taylor, Jelani and Sims….

  7. It’s a fair evaluation, but since Parcells left Ireland has yet to draft an all-pro or elite player (although Pouncey is close), so there’s no evidence to support this draft will be any better, especially when looking at the college numbers. Only 5 sacks for Jordan in 2012, so I don’t expect big NFL numbers from him either. A left tackle or CB at that spot would have been a much wiser pick.

  8. The way I see it, everything Miami has done was aimed at beating the Pats. John Harbaugh said that Ellerbe at times was playing CB. Wheeler’s strength is suppose to be covering TEs and now they added Jordan who also has been known not only to rush the passer but to drop back as well. Back when Wannstedt was the HC Miami always found a way to win a game against the Pats because they hardly ever blitzed the QB. They simply was able to get pressure on Brady with their front 4. If Miami is able to do that with what ever front four the place out there I think they have a good chance of winning the division. I know what I say is just what’s on paper but the pieces are there where they can do these things, its just about making it happen. IMO, it is a boom or bust year for Miami.

  9. We can all sit here and bitch and moan about who we should taken…traded for etc…but do any of you spend the
    time to go over countless plays by each player to determine who will fit the Phins? NO!!! We dont! We have made some great moves…let it play out…

  10. I’m a lifelong Dolphin fan who could not agree more with falcon999. That 3rd round whiff was classic Ireland. He did it 2 years ago with RB Daniel Thomas. He gets swell headed and figures he’s smarter than the GMs he’s competing against. Suddenly, after trading out of a round, he has to throw picks away to move back up to salvage the last guy he has in his horizontal draft tier. How Davis was in that tier is beyond comprehension.

    Trading up to get Jordan was slick, and doing it without losing multiple picks was amazing. Having Jamar Taylor still there at #54 is a testament to the CB depth in this draft.

    The first and second round success was soured by the Davis pick and by the time we picked again there was nothing left at slot WR that combined speed and skill, just one or the other. And OT had been wiped out. If Dion Sims can keep his weight down we may have gotten a depth TE. Jenkins is an injury prone special team player and Don Jones is a project in the truest sense.

  11. And where do you get your infinite NFL wisdom from? Your lap top? Everyone has the opportunity to succeed or fail…its up tos the individual…not stats…would you have ever drafted Zach Thomas or Jason Taylor in the rounds they were drafted and EXPECT their level of play???

  12. Make the Big Tuna the GM, and King of the Fish. Then and ONLY then will the Fish get good and good fast
    Band Ross and his band of parasites from the staduim will help too

  13. I dont see why everyone was making LT out to be a huge need for the Fins. The only knock on Martin last year was his strength and a reason why it wasnt where it needed to be was because he missed the mini camps early on due to school. This offseason he focused on getting stronger and early reports are he really beefed up. How quick everyone is to forget that man covered the blind side of the highest rated QB to come out of school since Manning.

    I love what Ireland did in the offseason and draft. IMO he gets a solid “A” for the moves he has made. The one thing im eager to find out is if they will be moving back to a 3-4. Last year they only had one pass rusher in Wake so that formation would have been pointless. Now with Jordan in the mix and keeping him at his natural college pos. I think they should consider it.

    Could you imagine Odrick, Soliali, Starks up front with Jordan, Wheeler, Ellerbe, and Wake rounding off the front 7? That is scary and they would destroy any offensive line that they went up against!

  14. No problems with the Dolphins draft really, but I wouldn’t have complained if they would have sent that 2nd second round pick to KC for Albert.

    LT feels like it was the last missing piece.

  15. To those questioning the Will Davis move, can I just ask you if you think maybe, perhaps Kevin Coyle (an expert on developing DBs) may have possibly had some sort of input into which secondary players were targeted in the draft? Huh?

    I only ask this because Coyle had Will Davis in for a private workout leading up to the draft and maybe, just maybe, he knows more about those skill positions than the armchair GMs in this thread and the author of this article. Maybe.

  16. I think my lone critique is that they grabbed Sturgis in the fifth with Ryan Swope still available. Yeah, I’m one of those folks who became obsessed with Swope in the run up to the draft.

    And having said that, I actually like the Sturgis pick. Dan Carpenter is too unreliable to be getting paid upwards of $2 million, so now they can either cut bait there or maybe the added competition will push him to consistency. Probably the former. Blair Walsh and Greg Zuerlein proved a year ago that a rookie kicker can be a boon for a team, so I’m all for it. But I feel like the better value move would’ve been grabbing Swope (or whichever WR they liked the most), then making a deal to get back into the fifth or sixth to grab Sturgis. There were teams flush with picks and the cost of moving back in is pretty cheap, even if it means shipping off a 2014 pick (which it would’ve since they only had a seventh left).

    But some of that speaks to falcons999’s point about trading multiple picks for Davis. Maybe Davis ends up being worth it, maybe not. I’d probably have preferred to keep those picks in tact, grab a lesser CB along the way, and get a player like Swope plus Sturgis versus just Davis and Sturgis. The truth is though, there’s no telling how it’ll play out.

  17. One thing that most teams can not do is fill every need or hole in one offseason, especially a 7-9 team. With that said I think the Dolphins staff has done about as good a job this offseason as I can remember any team doing since free agency began in the 90’s. There will be at least 9 new starters on offence and defense and possible up to 16 new ones. Not to mention a huge influx into special teams. The extra (HOF) preseason game is fantastic because it’s gonna take them a while to jel. This kind of turn over will surely test Philbin’s abilities. It’s now obvious that they made a conscious effort to get rid of the team leaders that were content with mediocrity. Of course there were many fans that complained about the loss of Marshall, Long and Bush but I believe the team’s mind set will be more insync with Philbin because of it.

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