The Miami Dolphins could soon have the most dominate defensive line in the game, if the latest mock draft from ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., is accurate. Kiper published his 2015 NFL Mock Draft 4.0 Wednesday morning, and highlighted it with quarterback Marcus Mariota moving back up the projection. It is Miami's move, however, that might be the most interesting.
Kiper starts where everyone starts, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting FSU quarterback Jameis Winston. Then Mariota leaps back up to the second overall pick, going to the Tennessee Titans, after predicting him to go sixth in his last mock. Kiper does state that he is not sold that Mariota to the Titans is the pick, but that Mariota will likely go in that second overall position, with teams like the San Diego Chargers, Jets, and Chicago Bears all potential trade partners to move up for the Oregon quarterback. Kiper then rounds out the top five with the Jacksonville Jaguars picking USC defensive end Leonard Williams, the Oakland Raiders taking Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, and the Washington Redskins adding Florida defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr.
Jumping to the Dolphins with the 14th selection, Kiper sees the Dolphins selecting Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton. That pick, Shelton to Miami, was popular a month ago, before the Dolphins signed free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, but most projections have moved away from that in favor of Miami looking toward the wide receiver position. Kiper thinks the addition of Suh could be exactly why the Dolphins make this pick, however:
The Dolphins added Ndamukong Suh, but the depth chart for the interior of their defensive line is basically "Suh and that's about it." Shelton is a different kind of player than Suh, with a far more limited ability to rush the passer, but if they're on the field at the same time it could free Suh up to be the kind of disruptor the Dolphins are paying for, which is what took place in Detroit, where the Lions had a good rotation along the interior. Shelton isn't just insurance for Suh, he's a nice complement. He's not as disruptive as sack and TFL totals indicate, but he can eat up double-teams at the point of attack and make others around him better. He has great awareness and will occasionally simply discard blocks and make the tackle himself.
Kiper's pick could turn Miami into a dominant defense, if they are not already one with Suh. The Dolphins' starting defensive line would feature All Pro defensive end Cameron Wake, All Pro defensive tackle Suh, first-round pick Shelton, and Olivier Vernon, who has averaged nine sacks a season the last two years. Add in a rotation of Earl Mitchell, A.J. Francis, and Anthony Johnson at defensive tackle and Derrick Shelby and Dion Jordan at defensive end, and Miami's front four could quickly dominate a game. That lineup should alleviate some of the issues at linebacker as well, as teams try to find ways to double team Wake, Suh, and Shelton.
Shelton is probably not the way I would go with this selection if I were in charge of running the Dolphins, but it is hard to argue that complimenting Suh is a bad move. Add in that wide receivers Cooper, Kevin White (7th to Chicago), Breshad Perriman (10th to St. Louis), DeVante Parker (12th to Cleveland) are all off the board in Kiper's draft, and the pick of Shelton might make more sense. I would probably look at running back Todd Gurley, wide receiver Jalen Strong, safety Landon Collins, tackle La'el Collings, or cornerback Kevin Johnson in this scenario over adding another defensive tackle, but the elite level of play from the Wake-Suh-Shelton-Vernon lineup is tempting.
What would you do in this case? Would you be okay with the Dolphins adding a defensive tackle?