Before the start of free agency I introduced you all to the idea of the Turtle Approach, a bold new outlook on how I think Miami should approach this offseason. We already looked at what I'd like to see happen with our current free agents, roster management, and free agency. Today we will address everyone's favorite topic, the NFL Draft- including the do's, the dont's, and some of the big names (and sleepers) to keep a serious eye on during the next month.
The Turtle Approach
- Re-signing Dolphins Free Agents (click link to read)
- Roster Management of Current Depth Chart (click link to read)
- Addressing Free Agency (click link to read)
- Tackling the NFL Draft
- Looking ahead to 2017 and Beyond
What to do at Pick 13
Miami has already seemed to take a different approach in this season's free agency as opposed to years past. As I suggested in last issue, I would hope the Dolphins take a step back and tighten their checkbooks this offseason, and they appear to be doing that. In line with my suggestions, Miami released Brent Grimes (and Miko Grimes!), set their prices on our free agents in house and weren't afraid to let both Miller and Vernon walk when they believed that the price wasn't worth it. While I would have hoped Miami would have made a bigger effort to bring in help for the offensive line (I know, Free Agency isn't done yet), and while losing out to C.J. Anderson may sting, overall Miami is doing pretty well at sticking to my current method, so I can't be all upset.
So on to the NFL Draft... At pick 13 overall, Miami has three scenarios:
1) Get lucky and grab the one of the elite five. I believe FIVE guys fit this mold in terms of talent and needs, however I believe all five will likely be selected by the time Miami selects. They are Myles Jack, Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey, Ronnie Stanley and Vernon Hargreaves III. While the first three are almost certainly to go top 5, there may be an outside chance that Stanley or VHIII remain on the board at 13. If so, I believe that would be the selection.
2) Trade Back. It seems I am an advocate to trade back every single year, and considering Miami already has done so with their trade with Philly, they may not be opposed to do so again. If the elite five above are gone, Miami should field some calls to move lower in the first round, out of the first round all together, or even explore getting a 2017 1st round pick if at all possible. I have stated before that the Turtle Approach plays a heavy emphasis on building for the future and striking when the value is best at our favor... and trading down (yet again) plays wonderfully in that approach.
3) Select one of the next best five at Pick 13. If Miami is unable to trade down I think these following five players should be at the top of our big board: tackle Jack Conklin (Mich State), cornerback Eli Apple (Ohio State), defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (Oklahoma State), cornerback William Jackson III (Houston), and linebacker Reggie Ragland (Alabama).
Securing OL Help by the 2nd Round
Unfortunately, Miami's main move to address the offensive line this offseason has been to sign tackle Jermon Bushrod to come over to a position he's never played before and fill in at guard. While that experiment may or may not work, the Dolphins desperately need to do more to secure one of our greatest team weaknesses. Whether we stay put at pick 13 or trade down, by the time Miami reaches the second round they need to be looking squarely at the offensive line if they have not done so already. Kansas State guard, Cody Whitehair, jumps out as a perfect fit for this team, if he's not already picked.
While he's not on the same pedestal as Whitehair, Vadal Alexander (LSU) might make sense as well. His stock dropped due to his slow lateral movement at the combine despite a terrific senior year at right tackle. While he needs to improve his athleticism he could be an option at guard. If Miami has already shored up their offensive line, other names in round 2 to look at include LB Derron Lee (Ohio State), DE Shaq Lawson (Clemson), DT Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss), CB Xavien Howard (Baylor) and CB Mackensie Alexander (Clemson). A few of the aforementioned guys are being projected as top 25 players, however I wouldn't be surprised if I see any of them drop.
15 Sleepers for the Middle Rounds
The NFL draft is just as much as luck as it is skill and research. Miami needs to address their holes, (and trust me, there are plenty) but also not be afraid to take risks once in awhile for potentially game-changing players, especially in the later rounds. Below are 15 players who I think would be great fits for Miami in rounds 3-7, if available.
- Jaylon Smith, OLB - Notre Dame. Once a potential top 10 pick, Smith's stock sadly fell off a cliff after his ACL and LCL injury last season showed chances of possible nerve damage. While Miami has too many holes to draft him for his potential in the early rounds, Smith is look a serious look at the middle and late rounds. If Miami trades back and acquires more picks, I think it would make sense to select him with essentially a "free draft pick" given to them in a trade. It's a big IF, but IF Smith returns to the NFL field, he's exactly the linebacker that Miami has been looking for.
- Su'a Cravens, OLB - USC. Cravens, who is cousins with Dolphins TE Jordan Cameron (and ironically enough also distant cousins with Manti Te'o) is exactly what the Dolphins hoped they were getting when they selected Koa Misi in the second round of the 2010 draft. Cravens is undersized but he's a smart player who can instantly plug in at OLB and grades well in both the running and passing games.
- Artie Burns, CB - The U. Another one of your typical incredible Hurricane athletes, Burns is very raw but has all the attributes to be a fantastic outside corner. If he can put it all together in the right system Burns already has the speed and hops to cover opposing team's top receivers.
- Scooby Wright III, ILB - Arizona. I'm almost trying to keep Scooby's name as quiet as possible because everyone who watches him seems to fall in love with his play. He's been compared to Zach Thomas by some scouts, and if Wright is on the board in round 3, I'd already be bringing my card to the podium because in my mind, Miami would have their new inside linebacker.
- Javon Hargrave, DT - South Carolina State. A small school standout who would be a lock for the first round if he went to a SEC school. Hargrave had 16 sacks last season, including six in one game! And he's a defensive tackle, remember? Teams are definitely taking note of him now after he was the standout in this year's East-West Shrine game. Miami would love a chance to grab this guy in the middle rounds to pair with second year Jordan Phillips to line up at DT next to Suh.
- Dak Prescott, QB - Miss. St. Although Miami has the luxury of not having to grab a quarterback early in the draft, Prescott is a name to keep an eye out for. His stock has taken a hit this week with a recent DUI arrest, but he has as high of a ceiling as any QB in this draft in my opinion. If Miami isn't scared away by his character, I think he's a legitimate name to watch if he falls to rounds 5-7.
- Willie Beavers, OT - Western Michigan. In addition to being a top jersey candidate with such a terrific name, Beavers would be a great pick for tackle depth. He played very well at left tackle last season and even if he does not end up starting he should be a very good backup with the athleticism to play both tackle spots. With both tackles missing time with injury last season, this would be a smart pick.
- Harlan Miller, CB - Southeastern Lousiana. Miller's stock dropped a bit after the combine with a subpar 40-time, however he still shows an aggressive work ethic that has made up for some concerns about his athleticism. He reminds scouts of Kevin Johnson, who was the Texans 15th overall pick last year, so some do see the upside in him as a potential starting CB.
- Jalen Mills, CB/S - LSU. Mills rebounded very well from an injury in 2014 to have a good ending to his senior year, while showing a toughness and grit that scouts seemed to notice. While many project Mills as a free safety, others think he would be a better fit at slot cornerback. Luckily here in Miami we could use both!
- Kentrell Brothers, LB - Missouri. Brothers isn't known for his size or speed but few recognize plays and display the vision that he does. He is a great run stopper and could be a great option at inside linebacker for the Dolphins, especially as Kiko Alonso gets up to speed from injury.
- Shawn Oakman, DE - Baylor. Oakman is a beast, and has always been the biggest, baddest and scariest player on the field. An absolute monster at 6'8, 287 lbs, Oakman has the most powerful upper body you may see from a prospect standpoint, however he may get neutralized by tackles who play with good technique, due to his lack of lower body strength. Oakman is a fantastic end for setting the edge and controlling the run game however, and I could see him fitting in wonderfully in that role if he were drafted by Miami.
- Will Redmond, CB - Miss State. Redmond is another corner prospect to keep an eye on. He missed last season with a torn ACL but before that showed great athleticism and a knack for being a hard hitter. I think Redmond could be a good candidate in the later rounds to compete with Bobby McCain for starting slot corner for the Dolphins.
- Robert Aguayo, K - FSU. While Miami may not have a pressing need for kicker, Andrew Franks is still somewhat of an unknown after limited opportunities last season. If Aguayo drops and the board is thin, I wouldn't mind upgrading the position with one of college's most accurate and consistent kickers.
- Trevone Boykin, QB TCU. - Like Prescott, Boykin is another highly athletic, highly productive quarterback with a very high ceiling. However, (also like Prescott..) his stock took a hit with his off the field issues, when he was arrested for a felony assault of an officer which suspended him from playing in the Alamo Bowl last year. That arrest is extremely concerning and will take him off many draft boards, but someone needing a QB may get a diamond in the rough in the final round of this draft if Boykin can keep his head upright.
- Kenyan Drake, RB. Alabama. While I shied away from the running back position for the most part this draft (and I will address why in my last and final article soon enough), I think Drake is a guy that could get overlooked and end up being on the board late for some team as a potential sleeper. Drake was overshadowed by Heisman winner, Derrick Henry, at Alabama, but still is a high motor guy and could end up being a terrific third down back in the right setting.
While this shows you a great deal of Turtle's Approach to the NFL Draft, I will wait to submit my first overall mock draft at a later date. However, the final article will be out shortly, in where I will be tying all the methods together to show why I believe the Turtle Approach will breed success for this team in the future. Until then, you stay thirsty my friends...