The Miami Dolphins have spent a lot of time this offseason addressing the defensive side of the ball. They have added a starting safety, a starting cornerback, a starting linebacker, and a starting defensive end, as well as some depth pieces coming in behind those positions. It has been a complete re-vamp of a unit that disappointed in 2015 and will be looking to dominate in 2016. Despite all of the attention during free agency the defense received, many of the mock drafts floating around the internet have continued Miami's defensive re-build, particularly looking at the cornerback position.
ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., published his fourth 2016 NFL Mock Draft on Wednesday, and he also sees the Dolphins continuing their defensive focus - but he is not looking at cornerback as the projected first-round pick for Miami.
Kiper's newest mock begins with the Tennessee Titans selecting Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil. That selection is then followed by North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz being picked by the Cleveland Browns, then the San Diego Chargers grabbing Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey, and the Dallas Cowboys using their fourth-overall selection on Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. The fifth pick, which belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars, is used to select UCLA linebacker Myles Jack.
Miami previously held the eighth-overall selection, which they traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for the starting cornerback (Byron Maxwell) and linebacker (Kiko Alonso). The Eagles then use that pick to add Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, according to Kiper's projection.
The Dolphins then use the 13th overall pick, previously held by Philadelphia, to select Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee.
Kiper explains the projection, writing:
Lee offers tremendous upside, and I think a smart defensive coordinator will find him extremely versatile. He's an explosive, blitzing threat who is great in space and will grow into an above-average coverage linebacker. Athletes like this are special, and Lee has the instincts to go with that raw ability.
Lee is an interesting option for the Dolphins. He probably needs to put on some muscle to reach his full potential at the NFL level, but he has the instincts to be a really good linebacker, and he could immediately become the coverage linebacker the team needs. He probably plays as the weakside linebacker for Miami as a rookie, which would mean the team either has to move Jelani Jenkins to a reserve role, or let Jenkins and Koa Misi battle for the strongside starting position.
Would you agree with the Dolphins taking a linebacker in the first round?