Dolphins 1st Round Pick: Bracket-Style

This is a great time of year.  Two of my favorite sporting events, March Madness, and the NFL Draft, both take place over the next month and change.  So in the spirit of these events, I thought I'd put together a Draft Pick Bracket to narrow down who I think the Dolphins should pick.

I've taken 32 prospects that could be available, tried to seed them fairly based on where they would fit if I made a Big Board, separated them into 4 regions, and matched 'em up.  And each round, I'll look at the match-up's, decide who I would take if both of those players were available, and move on.  Keep in mind that I did not include top-tier players like Curry, Raji, J. Smith, Oher, Orakpo, E. Brown, or Maualuga, because I doubt any of them drop into the 20's.  But enough of my senseless rambling, you guys are here to see the bracket.

 SHULA REGIONAL                                                                                        MARINO REGIONAL

(1) Clay Matthews, OLB, USC




(1) Jeremy Maclin, WR, Mizzou

(8) Victor "Macho" Harris, CB, VTech



(8) Duke Robinson, OG, OKLA

(4) Andre Smith, OT, Alabama




(4) DJ Moore, CB, Vandy

(5) Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake




(5) Josh Freeman, QB, KSU

(3) Brandon Pettigrew, TE, OK St



(3) Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU

(6) James Laurenaitis, ILB, Ohio St



(6) Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia

(2) Sean Smith, CB/FS, Utah




(2)Darius Butler, CB, Conn

(7) William Beatty, OT, Conn




(7) Eben Britton, OT, Arizona








(1) Brian Cushing, OLB, USC




(1) Vontae Davis, CB, Illinios

(8) Knowshon Moreno, RB, UGA



(8) Evander "Ziggy" Hood, NT, Mizz

(4) Larry English, OLB, NIU




(4) Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers

(5) Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Mary



(5) Michael Johnson, OLB, Gtech

(3) Alex Mack, C/G, Cal




(3) Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio St

(6) Max Unger, C/G, Oregon




(6) Aaron Maybin, OLB, Penn St

(2) Hakeem Nicks, WR, UNC




(2) Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

(7) Ron Brace, NT, BC




(7) Connor Barwin, OLB, Cincy

 CSONKA REGIONAL                                                                                    THOMAS REGIONAL

There it is.  Four regions, 8 players each.  I won't waste any more of your time talking about it, let's start breaking down match-up's.

First up, the Shula Regional.

  • (1) Clay Matthews, LB vs (8) Macho Harris, CB.  This one is a landslide, Matthews is the pick.  Macho could be had as late as the bottom of round 2, so that's a poor value pick.  Clay moves on.
  • (4) Andre Smith, OT vs (5) Alphonso Smith, CB.  Andre Smith was considered a Top 3 selection at one point, but Cornerback is a bigger need for us, and Andre's Combine and Pro Day fiasco's tell me to avoid this kid at all costs.  Alphonso Smith is a 1st round CB.  He wins it.
  • (3) Brandon Pettigrew, TE vs (6) James Laurenaitis, LB.  This is a tough match-up, because I believe Pettigrew is a Top 15 talent, but TE isn't a very big need for us.  However, I also think we can get a similar player to Laurenaitis later in the draft, so I'd take the BPA in this situation.  Pettigrew it is.
  • (2) Sean Smith, CB vs (7) William Beatty, OT.  I don't think this one is close.  Sean Smith presents great value at a need position, while Beatty is a 2nd round-graded player at a position we're set at.  Smith wins it going away.

2nd Round of the Shula Regional

  • (1) Clay Matthews, LB vs (5) Alphonso Smith, CB.  Either player would be a solid pick, but I think Matthews is the better pick.  There's still some CB depth into the 2nd round, while it'll be difficult to find a player like Matthews later on.  Clay moves into the Finals.
  • (2) Sean Smith, CB vs (3) Brandon Pettigrew, TE.  This one isn't as close as the rankings make it out to be.  Sean Smith is a highly ranked player at our biggest position of need, while Pettigrew would be more of a luxury pick.  Smith takes it.

Finals of the Shula Regional

  • (1) Clay Matthews, LB vs (2) Sean Smith, CB.  Match-up of the top 2 seeds in this region, and it's a doozy.  Matthews is one of the better OLB's in the draft, but what tips the scales for me is Sean Smith's versatility.  Being able to CB and FS allows us to move him around, and gives us options in case he isn't up to snuff at CB.  Matthews is really pigeonholed into the Rush LB, and that isn't an absolute need at this point.  Sean Smith moves on to the Final 4.

Next up, we'll go down into the Csonka Regional's First Round.

  • (1) Brian Cushing, LB vs (8) Knowshon Moreno, RB.  No-brainer here, Cushing is the choice.  He has the ability to play any LB position in the 3-4 defense.  He's a juggernaut in this Region.  Cushing wins.
  • (4) Larry English, LB vs (5) Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR.  Tough choice here, because Heyward-Bey is an extremely talented WR.  But he is also very raw.  English is a solid, if unknown, OLB prospect, and he gets the nod here.
  • (3) Alex Mack, C/G vs (6) Max Unger, C/G.  The top two Center prospects matched up in the first round here.  The Jake Grove signing flipped me on this one, and I'm going with Unger, due to the fact that he can play 4 OL positions.  Versatile depth is a must for the OL, so Unger moves on.
  • (2) Hakeem Nicks, WR vs (7) Ron Brace, NT.  Brace is a guy I really want, but he would be a bit of a reach in round 1.  Nicks is one of the top WR prospects, and would look damn good alongside Ginn.  Hakeem is on to the 2nd round.

2nd Round of the Csonka Regional. 

  • (1) Brian Cushing, LB vs (4) Larry English, LB.  In a battle of LB prospects, versatility reigns supreme.  Cushing's ability to be moved all over trumps English's single-position status.  Brian steamrolls into the Finals.
  • (2) Hakeem Nicks, WR vs (6) Max Unger, C/G.  The cinderella story continues.  Nicks is good, but there isn't another OL with the type of positional-flexibility that Unger has.  Unger takes it in the upset.

Now, the Csonka Regional Finals

  • (1) Brian Cushing, LB vs (6) Max Unger, C/G.  This is the Finals of the Versatility Bracket, it seems, but Cushing will be an immediate starter and impact player, while Unger will provide quality depth.  In the first round, take the impact guy.  Depth can be found later.  So the Csonka Regional Juggernaut, Brian Cushing, snowplows himself into the Final 4.

Moving right along in this already Epically Huge Post, the Marino Regional 1st Round.

  • (1) Jeremy Maclin, WR vs (8) Duke Robinson, OG.  Maclin is a top-flight WR prospect, and I'd be pleasantly surprised if he was available.  Robinson is a guard, and a guard only, and you don't take guards in round 1 unless that's the only thing you need.  Maclin moves on.
  • (4) DJ Moore, CB vs (5) Josh Freeman, QB.  Freeman is a talented QB, but we don't have a need for a 1st round QB right now.  DJ Moore, however, would start immediately at CB.  I'll take Moore.
  • (3) Tyson Jackson, DE vs (6) Clint Sintim, LB.  Another difficult 3-6 match-up.  We picked up 2 DE's in last year's draft, and both were solid, but we could still use another good rotation player.  Sintim may be available later in the draft, so Tyson gets the nod here as the BPA.
  • (2) Darrius Butler, CB vs (7) Eben Britton, OT.  Butler is a terrific player, and instantly steps into the void we have in the secondary.  Britton would provide quality OT depth, but you have to take the impact starter in round 1.  Butler dominates.

2nd Round of the Marino Regional, it's all chalk, top 4 seeds here.

  • (1) Jeremy Maclin, WR vs (4) DJ Moore, CB.  Maclin is a stud, and I don't think DJ Moore is worth passing on Maclin at 25.  There's some solid CB depth into round 2, so we can go ahead and take the electrifying WR from Mizzou here.  Maclin heads to the Finals.
  • (2) Darrius Butler, CB vs (3) Tyson Jackson, DE.  Both players would be great value picks at our spot, so it comes down to positional need to me.  We only have 1 starting CB, while we have 3 young, solid DE's.  Butler starts Game 1 and instantly upgrades the defense, so he moves on to face Maclin in the Finals.

Marino Regional Finals.  (Almost done guys lol)

  • (1) Jeremy Maclin, WR vs (2) Darrius Butler, CB.  Real good match-up here, facing one of the top WR prospects vs a high-rated CB.  I believe Corner is a more pressing need than Receiver, and Butler is definitely a starting-caliber player.  Butler moves into the Final 4, joining Cushing and Sean Smith.

 The final Regional of this bracket is up next, the Zach Thomas Regional.  First round.

  • (1) Vontae Davis, CB vs (8) Evander "Ziggy" Hood, NT.  I'm not real high on Ziggy because I don't think he'd be a real good fit in our 3-4, and I definitely don't think he's worth our #1 pick.  Davis might be the top CB in the country, but there's also some maturity issues to deal with.  Saying all that, Davis still walks away with the win here.
  • (4) Kenny Britt, WR vs (5) Michael Johnson, OLB.  Britt is a favorite among some of the bloggers here, and for good reason.  He's a big, strong receiver who can go up and get the ball.  Johnson has bust written all over him, and screams Workout Warrior to me.  Britt moves on.
  • (3) Malcolm Jenkins, CB vs (6) Aaron Maybin, OLB.  Maybin is another guy like Michael Johnson who has a high bust potential.  Jenkins is a decent CB prospect, but looks as if he'll be best as a FS.  I take Jenkins over Maybin though, and Malcolm gets into the next round.
  • (2) Percy Harvin, WR vs (7) Connor Barwin, OLB.  3rd straight OLB prospect goes down here, because I think Harvin is just too good to pass up in favor of Barwin.  Harvin will be instant impact, and can add that score-from-anywhere threat to our offense. 

2nd round, coming up.

  • (1) Vontae Davis, CB vs (4) Kenny Britt, WR.  This is the end of the line for Davis, and it's the attitude issues that did it.  He's definitely talented, but I want my first pick to be a good player as well as a coachable athlete, and Davis is still a question mark in that department.  Britt can come in and immediately upgrade our WR corps, and he rides on into the Finals.
  • (2) Percy Harvin, WR vs (3) Malcolm Jenkins, CB.  Another WR/CB showdown in this bracket, and the WR takes it again.  I have questions about Jenkins being able to step up to the NFL level of play, but I have no questions about Harvin.  The kid can flat out play, and he opens up the playbook immensely with his versatility. 

It's WR vs WR in the finals of the Thomas Regional.

  • (2) Percy Harvin, WR vs (4) Kenny Britt, WR.  I've really jumped aboard the Harvin bandwagon as of late, because the more I watch the highlights and hear about the kid, the more I like what he could do for our offense.  His physique, along with his style of play reminds me a little of Steve Smith, and I'd love to have one of them.  I would be perfectly happy taking Britt, but not if Harvin is still on the board.

So the Final Four is set.  Brian Cushing, Sean Smith, Darrius Butler, and Percy Harvin are the last one's standing.  Realistically, I'll be extremely happy with any one of these 4.  But that's not any way to close out this bracket.  The last 3 match-ups are next.

  • (1) Brian Cushing, LB vs (2) Sean Smith, CB.  Great match-up, and there really isn't a right or wrong answer with these two.  Both would start immediately, and both are versatile enough to play all over the place on defense.  The deciding factor for me is that LB has more of an impact than a CB through the course of a game.  They rush the passer, drop into coverage, play the run, make tackles everywhere, and generally wreak havoc all over the field.  And Cushing is a certified beast.  He's been a juggernaut all tourney, and he's moving on again.
  • (2) Darrius Butler, CB vs (2) Percy Harvin, WR.  This one is a little easier for me, mostly because of positional value.  I believe that Butler is first-round caliber CB, and would be able to step in and start right away.  He fills our biggest need.  Harvin is an electrifying athlete, but I wouldn't pass on Butler to take a WR at this point.  So the Draft Pick Bracket Championship is set, with Brian Cushing taking on Darrius Butler.
  • ~CHAMPIONSHIP~  (1) Brian Cushing, LB vs (2) Darrius Butler, CB.  Can't say I'd be disappointed with either of these guys, both are instant impact on defense, and both are bigtime playmakers.  My choice, however, is Brian Cushing.  He affords us so many options on defense, and there really isn't a player of his caliber anywhere in the 2nd round.  He can play Strongside or Weakside, depending on the package, and I'm fairly certain he'd be able to make a quick and smooth transition to the inside alongside Crowder (who also made the switch from 4-3 OLB). 

So there it is.  If you read the whole thing, I applaud you.  It took me two days to come up with it all, and I actually enjoyed doing it.  And the best part?  It's a bracket, so everyone of you can make your own and see who you come up with.  I think it's a real good way to take a close look at each prospect and figure out the best pick for us. 

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.

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