The Miami Dolphins have holes that need to be filled this offseason, with the answers most likely coming from the NFL Draft. Most mock drafts are currently projecting the Dolphins to address the defensive side of the ball with the eighth overall pick in April's selection process. ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., however, sees Miami going a different direction in his latest 2016 NFL Mock Draft.
Kiper opens his draft with the Tennessee Titans selecting Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, then the Cleveland Browns picking up North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. The third pick has the San Diego Chargers adding Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, followed by the Dallas Cowboys picking California quarterback Jared Goff, and the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting defensive back Jalen Ramsey from Florida State.
Leading up to the Dolphins' pick, the Baltimore Ravens add Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa with the sixth pick, then the San Francisco 49ers use the seventh pick on UCLA linebacker Myles Jack.
With the way the board has fallen in the first seven picks, the easy answer for the Dolphins' pick is Vernon Hargreaves, the cornerback from Florida. The Dolphins have to find someone to start opposite Brent Grimes, or potentially replace Grimes if the team cannot workout a new contract with the Pro Bowl cornerback and instead chooses to cut him. Other potential targets include Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith (despite his injury), Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, or Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland. Kiper does not look at any of those players.
Instead, he thinks the Dolphins could address their pass protection issues, looking to finally keep quarterback Ryan Tannehill upright. With the eighth overall pick, Kiper projects the Dolphins to select Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley. Explaining the choice, Kiper writes:
Adam Gase will be charged with getting Ryan Tannehill back on track, and getting a potentially elite tackle is a good way to aid in that process, as sacks have plagued Tannehill throughout his career thus far. Stanley returned to Notre Dame and made himself more NFL-ready. The Dolphins would benefit if he's available here.
Kiper is correct in his assessment that, if Stanley is available, the Dolphins could benefit from selecting him. Adding a potentially elite tackle is always important, though it would stack Miami with three tackles for two spots, with Stanley joining Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert and 2014 first round draft pick, right tackle Ja'Wuan James.Miami could look to push James inside to guard, or even put Stanley at guard, until Albert either retires or the team moves on from him, which could help address the holes at guard the team has right now, but it is still a questionable pick for the Dolphins.
Would you understand the selection of Stanley in this scenario? Would you rather grab Hargreaves, Lawson, Smith, or Ragland? Would you look somewhere else entirely?