Immediately after every pick of the NFL Draft, people are giving grades to each team. Did they grab the best player on the board? Was it a reach? Does it fill a need? Is the front office's vision clear? Did the pick agree with what the experts thought they would do? All very scientific and objective questions with which to determine how well a team selected.
Do not get me wrong, we all do it, we all love to read the grades, and we will all do it again this year. That does not mean that the grades actually have any real merit when it comes to how a player or a team performs that season.
After completing their first year in the league, during which at least most of the draft picks were able to play their first NFL snaps, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., revisited his grades for all 32 teams, re-grading them based on the production of their rookies.
Immediately following the Draft, Kiper gave the Miami Dolphins a B. The team had used their eight Draft picks to select:
Rnd 1 - 19 - Ja'Wuan James, T, Tennessee
Rnd 2 - 63 - Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Rnd 3 - 67 - Billy Turner, T, ND State
Rnd 4 - 125 - Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
Rnd 5 - 155 - Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia
Rnd 5 - 171 - Jordan Tripp, LB, Montana
Rnd 6 - 190 - Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
Rnd 7 - 234 - Terrence Fede, DE, Marist
How does Kiper view Miami's Draft now?
Post-draft grade: B
Summary: At the time, I described this as "a really quiet draft class in terms of star appeal, but the Dolphins did a pretty solid job of hitting their biggest needs. Ja'Wuan James isn't a player many people know, but ... the Dolphins need an immediate starter at right tackle, and that's James." And, "Jarvis Landry doesn't fill a major need at WR, but he's a really reliable target who catches absolutely everything."
James did, in fact, get plugged in, but it's hard to push the grade up based on his performance because while he turned in nearly 1,100 snaps, it was pure necessity, and Ryan Tannehill saw just as much pressure in 2014 as he did in 2013. That said, James did start and a year of reps could help. He can still turn into a good NFL player. Landry was a favorite of mine and finished second among all rookies in catches, and led the Dolphins with 84. If there's a knock it's that he didn't stretch the field at all (9.0 YPC), but that's a nice find at No. 63 overall, and Tannehill's so-so protection factored in to any field-stretching. That's about it, though. Walt Aikens is a "we'll see" type, and Billy Turner could develop. I do think they helped Tannehill, which was the goal. James just needs to take another step.
I think Kiper's grades are fairly correct. James had a good year at right tackle for Miami, but struggled at times when he was moved to left tackle to replace the injured Branden Albert. Landry had a great year, leading the team in receptions and demonstrating the potential to become a special wide receiver. Turner is still developing, but could be looking for more playing time next year. Aikens is being developed as a safety, not a cornerback as he was in college, though he did see playing time at cornerback as injuries plagues the Miami secondary. Lynch landed on injured reserve in the preseason, Tripp saw time as a special teams player and reserve linebacker, Hazel spent most of the year on the practice squad, and Fede flashed a ton of potential at the defensive end position.
It was a solid draft, probably a little above average, for Miami, with a lot of potential to
turn into something special. A B- seems about right to me, where development of some players, including a healthy return from Lynch, could keep moving the grade up the chart.