Mock draft season is officially in full swing when ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., is getting into the mocking. Early Thursday, Kiper's 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1.0 was released, giving us an early look at his projections for the draft's first round. When it comes to the Miami Dolphins, a name that is starting to become familiar is once again slotted into the 14th overall pick.
Early in the draft, Kiper sees the expected names going in the top two positions, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers bringing FSU's Jameis Winston down from Tallahassee to Tampa with the first overall selection, then the Tennseee Titans snagging Oregon's Marcus Mariota with the second pick. Once the two quarterbacks are off the board, the draft becomes a little more difficult to project, at least when you are trying to do it in January.
The Jacksonville Jaguars hold the third pick, selecting USC defensive end Leonard Williams, followed by the Oakland Raiders picking Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. The top five selections are then completed with the Washington Redskins selection of Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory.
The first pick of the AFC East teams belongs to the New York Jets, who are selecting sixth overall. According to Kiper's scenario, they are picking up Missouri defensive end Shane Ray. Skipping the Dolphins' 14th pick, the AFC East also sees the New England Patriots add Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates with the 31st overall pick (which is a pick not yet finalized, as the Patriots are still alive in the NFL Playoffs). The Buffalo Bills, meanwhile, do not have a first round selection this year, having traded it to the Cleveland Browns so they could select Sammy Watkins last year.
Coming back to the 14th pick, Kiper has the Dolphins selecting Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson, a pick fairly popular for the Dolphins in mock drafts right now. Kiper explains his reasons for the selection, writing:
The great thing about Thompson is he's not just a freak in the athletic sense. He's also a freak in his football instincts. This is a kid who has played safety, linebacker and in 2014 was every bit a future NFL running back when the Huskies asked him to help out there for a few games. Ideally, he ends up at weakside linebacker, perhaps in the Lavonte David mold, using sideline-to-sideline speed to disrupt attack angles and chase down ball carriers and underneath pass-catchers. He can also use his big-time explosiveness as a gap blitzer and coming off the edge. There's developmental work to be done here, but maybe not much because the football instincts are so good.
This is the third or fourth time we have seen Thompson projected to Miami. He's an interesting pick for Miami, given most of the analysis on him stresses his speed and athleticism in his pass rush ability and ability to cover. Both of those will help the Dolphins, but the bigger concern should be a run-stopping middle linebacker - unless the team feels a healthy version of Koa Misi can be that guy. I love the versatility Thompson would bring to Miami, and, at least in mid-January, I think it is a good pick. I just do not know if I will still feel that was come April.
The fact that Thompson's name is being tied to the Dolphins so often this early feels a little like the 2012 draft, when Jonathan Martin was repeatedly mocked to the Dolphins early in the offseason, but then he fell to the second round, where Miami grabbed him, by the time the Draft actually started. I am not saying Thompson will be a second round pick this year, just that the way he is becoming a consensus pick for the Dolphins already has me starting to believe the Dolphins will not select him.
What are your thoughts on seeing Thompson again mocked to Miami?