Potential Targets For Rounds 2 & 3

We are now just one day away from the 2008 NFL Draft and, like many of you, I can’t wait to get this thing started.  In particular, I’m very excited to see what the Dolphins do with their 2 second rounders on Saturday.  Usually, I’d do a little mock draft and attempt to predict who the Dolphins might take.  Of course, some might say it’s easier this year to predict correctly because of the fact that we already know who Miami’s first pick will be.

However, that’s not true.  This year is as hard as ever because of whom the Dolphins have running the show (Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland) and their very tight lips.  Also complicating things is all this Jason Taylor trade talk that is going on right now.  So because of that, I’m going to take a different approach.  Instead of trying to predict who they will take, I’ll instead lay out some positions and players who I feel the Dolphins might target between rounds 2 and 3.  And we’ll even include some late first rounders just incase the Dolphins are able to trade Taylor and move back into the end if the first round (though I’d be very surprised if they were able to pull this off).  And keep in mind that the positions listed and the players listed are in no particular order.

Defensive End/Outside Linebacker

Of course, I’m referring to the position that Jason Taylor plays, which I do think the Dolphins will address at some point in this draft regardless of it they trade Taylor or not.

Quentin Groves, Auburn, 6’3, 259 – Groves is the player we keep hearing about that the Dolphins reportedly like.  He’s got very good speed and has the kind of skill set you look for to play outside linebacker in a 3-4.  With the recent issue about his heart (which has been taken care of and shouldn’t be much of an issue anymore), he could potentially slip to the 2nd round.  But it also wouldn’t be surprising to see him go in that 20-31 range in round 1.

Lawrence Jackson, USC, 6’4, 271 – Jackson is a bit bigger than Groves and is not quite as athletic.  However, he’s quite strong and plays the run very well.  He’ll probably last longer than Groves and could be a target at #32 or even #57 for the Dolphins.

Jason Jones, Eastern Michigan, 6’5, 273 – Jones is almost like a poor man’s Lawrence Jackson.  He enters the NFL a bit more raw than the players who will go before him, but could make a great heir apparent to Jason Taylor if Taylor remains in Miami for a year or two.  I don’t think he could come in and start right away, but he has a very high ceiling and could be a target at #64.

Defensive End/Defensive Tackle

This position I’m referring to here is the one that Vonnie Holliday currently plays.  Holliday could very well be in a make-or-break season in terms of his future in Miami.

Trevor Laws, Notre Dame, 6’0, 304 – Laws has both the size and strength that you look for in a defensive end for the 3-4 system.  He’s also quite athletic for a man of his size, which makes Laws an even more interesting prospect.  But if the Dolphins want him, they’d have to likely spend their #32 pick on him, as he’s unlikely to last to #57.

Dre Moore, Maryland, 6’4, 305 – Moore is a little bit more slender than Laws, but could definitely play the DE spot in a 3-4 because of how strong he is.  He actually reminds me a lot of Randy Starks in that both could drop back into coverage and play a short zone in a zone-blitz situation because of his athleticism.  He could potentially be available at #57.

Pat Sims, Auburn, 6’2, 310 – Sims is a solid athlete who has good instincts.  However, the question about him is his strength.  Can he hold up as a DE in a 3-4?  That’s the question the Dolphins would have to ask themselves before drafting him.  If they did want Sims, he would likely be available at #64.

Due to the length of this post, you'll have to make the jump to see the rest.

Tight End

This is a tricky position to try and predict because I don’t think there is a consensus as to who the top 3 or 4 tight ends are in this draft.

John Carlson, Notre Dame, 6’4, 255 – Carlson is a very good athlete who has reliable hands and is good at getting open.  He’s also one of the better blocking tight ends in this draft.  However, he’s not a big time threat.  He’ll probably go somewhere in round 2.

Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M, 6’6, 259 – From what I’ve heard and read, it seems like Bennett is the tight end in this class with the most upside.  He’s a solid blocker but also is extremely athletic great hands.  And as a former basketball player, many compare him to Antonio Gates, though he isn’t as fast.  Again, he’ll likely go in round 2 at some point.

Brad Cottam, Tennessee, 6’7, 270 – With his size, he’d make a terrific redzone threat for this Dolphins offense.  Cottam, from what I’m told, is a hard worker and might be the best blocker among all the top tight ends available.  However, his hands are not as reliable as you’d like.  That’s what worries me about him.  He’s got a lot of potential, but might be a little project at first.  Look for him to come off the board in round 3.

Wide Receiver

I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Dolphins take a receiver in rounds 2 or 3, especially if one of the top ones slip a little.

James Hardy, Indiana, 6’5, 217 – Hardy is the receiver I like the most in this draft class because of his combination of great size and solid speed (4.5 40).  He’s a great natural athlete and possesses reliable hands.  He can also leap through the roof, which makes him an ideal weapon inside the redzone.  I’d love Miami to snatch him up at #32 if he’s still there, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Jordy Nelson, Kansas, 6’2, 217 – Nelson is coming off a great senior season.  However, his production before that is rather pedestrian, leaning some people to believe if he was a one year wonder.  He does have good hands, though, and is a solid route runner.  He wouldn’t make a bad pick at #57 or even #64 if he slips a bit.

Mario Manningham, Michigan, 5’11, 181 – Speaking of slipping, Manningham’s stock seems to be falling quickly after poor workouts and some character issues that have came up.  And with the belief that Parcells and company don’t want any "thugs," some think Miami would never take him.  But if he falls to the 3rd round, he’d be a solid value pick at #64.  And you can say what you want about workouts, but you can’t deny his on-field production at Michigan.

I also think that Andre Caldwell and/or Earl Bennett could be potential targets at #64 if the Dolphins do indeed want to take a receiver in the first half of the draft.

Final Thoughts

I also wouldn’t rule out additional offensive lineman being added sometime in rounds 2 or 3, specifically if guard Chilo Rachal is still available at #57.  You might also have noticed a few positions I left off that some feel are pressing needs, quarterback and cornerback to be specific.  So I’ll address that quickly.

I don’t think the Dolphins are really interested in a quarterback in the top 3 rounds.  All this Joe Flacco and Chad Henne talk, in my view, is a smokescreen to get teams who do want QBs to trade up ahead of Miami, allowing one of the players the Dolphins want to fall to them.  It just doesn’t make sense to take a QB in round 2 or 3 whose skill set isn’t any better than that of John Beck.  Too many other needs right now.

As for cornerback, I just think that the Dolphins will hold off on spending a high pick on that position, instead focusing on the pass rush.  After all, the Giants didn’t have great corners last year when they won.  And you can find solid CB depth in rounds 4-7.  So unless you have a shot at one of the top 5 or 6 (DRC, McKelvin, Jenkins, Talib, and Cason), you might as well pass on cornerback in those early to mid rounds.

I do think that inside linebacker is a need as well, but I just don’t think any of the top prospects really fit the Bill Parcells mold.  Personally, I’d love to see the Dolphins take Beau Bell in round 3 or maybe even Curtis Lofton in round 2, but I just don’t think it will happen.  In fact, if I was able to make the pick at #64 and could have any player who will realistically be there at that spot to open day 2 of the draft, I’d take Bell.  I think he’s a star in the making and is going to really make people feel foolish for passing on him in round 2.

Thoughts?

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