The 2015 NFL season may still be underway, but the transition from 2015 season to 2016 NFL Draft is not that far away for most of the teams in the league. This is also the time of year where we starting paying a little more attention to the needs of the teams in the league, as well as the value of draft prospects from around college football. With that transition getting close, it also means we are getting closer to full-on Mock Draft season.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller got an early start on Mock Draft season this week, releasing a three-round projection for all 32 teams. Miller points out in his introduction to the draft that the point of mock drafts this early is "to entertain, to inform about player value and team needs and to start setting the table for which holes franchises could fill."
The Cleveland Browns have the first overall pick currently, and Miller has them looking at Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. The second overall pick currently projects to go to the Tennessee Titans, with the AFC South franchise selecting Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. The San Diego Chargers then follow with the selection of Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley, with the Jacksonville Jaguars' selection of Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and the Baltimore Ravens' pick of Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III rounding out the top five.
The Miami Dolphins currently project to have the eleventh pick in the first round, which they use on Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Miller explains his selection for Miami, writing:
The Miami Dolphins have a lot of needs - defensive end, offensive guard, cornerback - but they also have a lot of bright young talent to build around. Depending on who the new head coach is, the needs and fits for the team will change. But as of now the cornerback position is a huge hole on the roster.
Brent Grimes is a good cornerback, but not an elite player, and he can't compete with Alexander's youth, speed or length. And with a need opposite Grimes, Alexander can be groomed by the veteran and learn the ropes while not taking on No. 1-cornerback pressure in his first season.
Alexander is also the best player available, and that's something vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum and crew need to focus on.
Miller then has Miami selecting Arkansas guard Denver Kirkland in the second round and Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise in the third round.
The selection of a cornerback early in the draft does make a lot of sense for Miami, though I may not have taken one in the first round. At that point, I may be looking either linebacker or offensive line. The concern of finding a starter opposite Brent Grimes - or potentially a replacement for Grimes - is important, but solidifying the run defense and finally putting an offensive line together that can block for quarterback Ryan Tannehill probably takes precedence. A cornerback makes sense, and if you are looking straight best player available, it could give Miami a player of talent at a position of need.
Kirkland in the second makes sense as the Dolphins do address the offensive line. Prosise in the third seems like a wasted pick for Miami, unless the team does not re-sign Lamar Miller this offseason. The team should be able to use Miller and Jay Ajayi as their top two running backs next year, and should feel pretty comfortable with that. Based on the first two picks for the Dolphins in this mock draft, the team should probably be looking linebacker or defensive end, potentially finding a player to fill Cameron Wake's spot whenever Miami's top pass rusher retires. The Dolphins also need to be looking for tight end options, as well as depth picks for the offensive and defensive line, and the wide receivers could use an addition as a depth option behind the presumed starters of Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews (free agent), DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills for 2016.
What do you think of Miller's projection? Where would you look if you were making the pick? What are the Dolphins' biggest needs heading into the offseason?