Miami Dolphins Draft Grades: A way too early analysis of final four rounds

Yesterday I spoke about how it's obviously far too soon to "grade" any team's draft from this past weekend. And yet, all of those "experts" are still somehow able to put letter grades on what the Dolphins did - even before these guys hit the field.

I do my "grading" a little differently. As you saw in my post yesterday when I "graded" what the Dolphins did in rounds one through three, I try to just look at the strategy that the team used in the draft, how they filled their holes, and the value of their picks. Will their strategy pan out? Nobody has a clue at this point. But we can at least talk about how well the Dolphins navigated the draft.

Today we look at day three - rounds four through seven.

Round Four: A.J. Edds, LB, Iowa
In the fourth round, I usually look for a team to find depth at a position that is lacking it. And if you can find a player who will actually have a role on the team beyond just depth, then you did a really good job.

The Dolphins did well to draft Edds in the fourth round, a round earlier than many draft "experts" thought he could go. Edds will come in and immediately play on special teams. More importantly, GM Jeff Ireland said on Saturday that Edds will play inside in their defense and could immediately have a role as a nickel linebacker. We know the Dolphins struggled big time to cover tight ends and running backs last year. Edds was well-coached at Iowa and is smart and athletic, which should help him see playing time sooner rather than later.

Whether the pick pans out or not will not be known for years. But when the GM of the team declares hours after he is picked in round four that the player is going to come in and play on defense - not just special teams - immediately, that's a solid draft pick.

Round Five: Nolan Carroll, CB, Maryland
As we all know by now, Carroll is coming off of a broken leg. But there are those who believe he's a second or third round prospect if he doesn't suffer that injury. I wouldn't know - I've never seen him play. Most of you probably haven't.

But he's a kid who is athletic as hell, running a 4.42 40 this offseason while still not fully 100% from his injury. That's pretty darn fast, too, for a 204 pound cornerback.

He also fills a need as a potential long-term replacement for Nathan Jones once he gets back to being 100%. In the meantime, he'll battle to be the dime back and will be a special teamer. That's not bad for a fifth rounder. Solid value here.

Round Five: Reshad Jones, S, Georgia
If you can land a player in round five that will come in and likely compete to start, there's not much more you can ask for. That's what the Dolphins got when they moved back into round five and selected this safety out of Georgia.

Many are calling Jones the steal of the draft for the Dolphins. Some people had Jones rated as a second to third round prospect and the Dolphins scooped him up in round five. The question, of course, becomes if his skill set translates to playing free safety or if he's a more natural strong safety. Regardless of which position he'll be better suited for in the long-term, Jones is going to come in and compete to start at free safety with Tyrone Culver and Chris Clemons. He'll also likely be a core special teams player. Finding all this at the end of round five is a job well done.

Round Seven: Chris McCoy, OLB, Middle Tennessee St.
In the seventh round, you're really just looking to find a player who, best case scenario, makes your squad out of camp as a special teams player and who could develop as he gets experience and coaching. If that player has a lot of potential upside, that's just the icing on the cake.

McCoy is a "sleeper" in every sense of the word. He comes out of a very small school and will be learning a new position as he transitions to weakside outside linebacker. But he has explosive potential off the edge as a pass-rusher. Will he ever pan out? I have no idea. But I like the pick because of what he could provide as he progresses. You can teach technique. You can't teach pass-rushing speed and explosion. Low risk, high reward.

Round Seven: Austin Spitler, LB, Ohio St.
Spitler was told upon being drafted that he'll focus on special teams while being groomed as an inside linebacker. He only started one year at Ohio State because he was stuck behind All-American James Laurinaitis. But he was a team captain and he has natural athleticism. He's a developmental prospect right now. And if the Dolphins can find one long-term contributor between Spitler and McCoy, they've done well.

Conclusion
It's always hard to tell what these mid and late round guys will become. But they found good value and addressed a few needs along the way.

Biggest Factor
I'm looking at two guys here: A.J. Edds and Reshad Jones. Both will be contributing in some way as rookies. If Edds can become the nickel linebacker that the Dolphins are projecting him to be while Jones can come in and eventually develop into a starter at one of the safety positions, then it'll be hard to consider the second half of this draft as anything less than a success.

Grade
Cautiously optimistic. But again - get back to me in three years.

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