For NFL teams, the Draft is about how much of an impact a player can make several years down the road. For fans, the Draft is about who will make an impact this year; a player who cannot get on the field in year one, whether a first round draft pick or a seventh, is a disappointment.
Hopefully, the true impact of a player is right in the middle - able to get on the field and perform as a rookie and turns into a dominating player with a little time to grow.
How do the members of the Dolphins' 2014 draft class project to have an impact in year one? We give you a completely subjective ranking of the eight members of the class in terms of likelihood of making an impact this season.
1. Ja'Wuan James, offensive tackle, Tennessee
James is the top pick for Miami, which would typically land a prospect in the top spot on a countdown like this. In James' case, it's not just that, however, given Miami's need to rebuild their offensive line. James comes into the season as the presumed starter at right tackle, and, if he is the opening day starter, he will be looking to play every snap on offense. You cannot have a bigger impact than that -even if he is making rookie mistakes out there.
2. Jarvis Landry, wide receiver, LSU
This list is not in draft pick order, I promise. Our second player on the list, however, is the team's second round draft choice. After James, no one will be looked to make an impact quite like Landry. A do everything wide out, he will be given the opportunity to take the fourth receiver position on the depth chart, as well as have a key role on special teams - he could be the gunner on punt coverage, replacing Nolan Carroll, for instance - where he will be an impact player. He may not be the most targeted wide out on the team this year, but his blocking skills and special teams ability should get him on the field to make an impact this season.
3. Arthur Lynch, tight end, Georgia
We jump to the team's first fifth round pick here, where Lynch should be able to find a nice role as the team's in-line, blocking tight end. That's not to short-change his ability as a pass catcher, but it's just an acknowledgement of how he fits the team's needs. Lynch may not be the new hybrid style tight end, but he is a complete tight end and could develop into a player similar to Anthony Fasano. He should see playing time this year, and could push Michael Egnew for a roster spot if the Dolphins need to limit the number of tight ends they carry.
4. Jordan Tripp, linebacker, Montana
Tripp is not likely to see the field much as a linebacker this year, not with Dannell Ellerbe, Koa Misi, Philip Wheeler, Jelani Jenkins, Jonathan Freeny, and Jason Trusnik, all seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart right now, though I would not rule out anything at this point. Tripp should be a special teams player, however, filling in for Austin Spitler and providing good coverage options. If he is able to prove his worth as a special teams player, Tripp could be on the path to developing as a linebacker for the Dolphins.
5. Billy Turner, offensive tackle, North Dakota State
Turner could have a great impact on Miami this season, but it really depends on how the coaches feel about Jason Fox, Dallas Thomas, Sam Brenner, Michael Ola, David Arkin, Shelley Smith, and Nate Garner. If two of those seven can solidify the guard positions, then Turner has more time to develop. He could come in and win one of the jobs, and given that Miami has him listed as "OL" on the roster right now, and not specifically a tackle or a guard he clearly has a chance, so Turner's impact this season could be bigger than the fifth place player on this list, but he could just as easily serve in a reserve role this year before challenging for a starting spot next season.
6. Walt Aikens, cornerback, Liberty
The former Illinois and Liberty cornerback provides the Dolphins with a skill set the team does not already have, giving them the big bodied, physical cornerback they have been missing. Aikens' problem right now is simply the depth chart in front of him. Brent Grimes will clearly start on one side, while Cortland Finnegan and Jamar Taylor will battle for the other side. Jimmie Wilson should return to his role as the primary nickel corner, and Will Davis can fit into the rotation somewhere. Aikens could serve a role on special team, but as for defense, he's probably more of a development prospect at this point.
7. Matt Hazel, wide receiver, Coastal Carolina
Hazel needs to add strength to have success in the NFL, so sitting out this year is probable, possibly even landing on the practice squad. He can play both outside and in the slot, and has good hands, Hazel could serve the team as depth in case on injuries.
8. Terrence Fede, defensive end, Marist
Figuring out the role Fede will have with the team is the real question. He's a situational pass rusher on a team that could not get the third overall pick in last year's Draft on the field as a pass rusher last year. Could become a linebacker, which may play to his strengths, but would likely mean the Dolphins are stashing him on the roster somewhere, or risking him to poaching on the practice squad. Whatever the answer, Fede will likely have limited impact on Miami in 2014.