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Projecting Stats for 2016 Dolphins Rookies

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Miami went heavy on offense in this year's NFL Draft and would be much improved with some rookie contribution to coach Gase's offense. Let's take a look at all 8 rookies and make some predictions on how their rookie seasons will play out.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Round 1 - Laremy Tunsil, OL

The only reason I can't see Laremy Tunsil having a successful NFL career is if his body breaks down. I don't see any issues with him at all in his film, and that includes his character (which I think was unfairly questioned during the entire draft process, but that's a whole other story). While Miami has penciled him in as the starting left guard for now, don't read too much into that. It's only May and people tend to get fired up prematurely and jump to conclusions over nothing. Ultimately, the Dolphins will put the best starting five on the field for Week 1, and that just might have Tunsil lining up at his left tackle spot, a position that many of us hope he will be an anchor at for the next decade(s).

At the end of day, I find it hard to believe that Miami would plug their 10-million dollar pro bowl veteran LT inside, so look for Tunsil to start Week 1 at guard, a position he should master somewhat quickly. A thing to remember is that Miami's tackles in the Tannehill era have not completed a season where they have stayed healthy all year, so odds would look like Tunsil would be lining at tackle this season at some point.

WORST CASE Tunsil battles injuries which leaves us in a similar situation as Jake Long, asking ourselves what could have been? BEST CASE The Dolphins find their next version of Richmond Webb, a hall of fame talent. Tunsil falling to pick 13 is one of the big moves that Miami gets right to regain them on the path of relevancy once again.

PROJECTED STATS: 16 GP, 16 GS (10 at guard, 6 at tackle), 4 total sacks allowed

Round 2- Xavien Howard, CB

Miami went a lot more risky with their second round selection of Xavien Howard, however he has the ability to be a very nice fit in this secondary if he can master his skills at the next level. Howard is a physical aggressive corner, and a stout pass rush is his best friend. We have to remember that he is a rookie; in an ideal situation he would be placed in a reserve role and be eased into the defense. Miami is so razor thin at CB though at the moment, that he will likely not be afforded that luxury. I do like the fact that Miami went up and got their guy and picked a player who fits their mold of what they wanted instead of trying to get cute and change a player into something that he's not. They took the chance on Howard and I admire that. He will likely compete with Tony Lippett for the outside corner spot opposite Byron Maxwell, one in which I predict he will win.

WORST CASE Howard looks like Byron Maxwell-2015 version. He is constantly lost in preseason and looks too raw to even beat out Tony Lippett for Week 1 starting honors. His poor play sends the coaching staff into a frenzy, as they phone up Miko Grimes, apologizing and begging her to talk to Brent about coming back to South Florida. BEST CASE is Howard looks like Byron Maxwell-2013/14 version; who flourishes in Vance Joseph's system, learns the ropes quickly and makes 20 good plays for every bad one. He is helped by the Dolphins fierce pass rush and resurgence of Maxwell and gets plenty of opportunities to make game-changing plays, ending the season as the best rookie corner and a consideration for defensive rookie of the year.

PROJECTED STATS: 15 G, 14 GS (outside CB2), 60 tackles, 10 Passes Defended, 4 INT's

Round 3- Kenyan Drake, RB

I admit I do like what I see from Drake, even though I was skeptical of selecting a change-of-pace back so high in the draft. This must have been the fact that Miami thought their best option at starting RB at this point in the draft was Jay Ajayi, and they wanted to get a player who would compliment him instead of competing with him. I agree with this assessment even if I wouldn't have drafted Kenyan here. I do think Jay Ajayi is our man this year and will be our starting running back all season if he stays healthy. I do have my doubts that Drake could fill in as a three down back if Ajayi gets banged up, however I do feel he is a very good compliment to the Jay Train.

WORST CASE is Drake doesn't look even better than Damien Williams in training camp and fans are left wondering why we didn't go after more complete backs like Booker or Prosise in the draft. BEST CASE is even though Ajayi is the starter, everyone, and I mean everyone, is talking about Drake. He has Reggie Bush-like success and Adam Gase can't find enough ways to get him the ball. Teams game-plan around him every week and he's a huge reason why Miami has exploded into a top 10 offensive team.

PROJECTED STATS: 14 GP, 2 GS, 55 att, 260 yards, 4.7 avg, 3 rush TD's, 15 rec, 180 yards, 1 rec TD, 1 fumble

Round 3- Leonte Carroo, WR

Carroo is the one guy I have a weird feeling is going to surprise alot of people, in a very good way. The last time I had a feeling about a receiver like this, it was Rishard Matthews, who ended up being a heck of a 7th round selection. Every time I watch this guy he reminds me more and more of a talented young receiver named Jarvis Landry. I think the kids call him Juice, have you guys ever heard of him? Carroo has an opportunity to catch on just like Landry and explode as a rookie. I think he's a very complete receiver and just needs opportunities to show that he can be a major spark on Sundays. I like him to have a very good rookie season and ultimately make a case to start in 2017, giving Miami the youngest most talented receiving trio in football.

WORST CASE is that Carroo looks promising but can't separate from NFL corners. He doesn't really find a role like Parker, Landry and Stills have with the team. He makes some plays on game day but wasn't worth the steep price to trade up for. BEST CASE is Miami is left wondering what what in the world they can do with TWO Jarvis Landry's on offense??? Meanwhile, opposing defensive coordinators are MUCH more stressed over trying to find out how to stop them. Carroo ends up looking like he could be Miami's most versatile receiver, excelling both inside and outside. Miami ends up nailing the wide receiver position in three consecutive drafts and Tannehill can't ask for a better offseason, adding yet another prime weapon into the mix. The best part may be the Patriots (who were very high on him before the draft) end up kicking themselves as they see Carroo score against them twice a year.

PROJECTED STATS: 16 G, 6 GS, 59 receptions, 690 yards, 5 TD's.

Round 6- Jakeem Grant, X-Factor

There's no question that Grant can be a play-maker in the NFL, the question is where in the world do you put the 5'6 firecracker? I think Grant will be an interesting option in Gase's offense and gives the team plenty of options. I think he can excel in special teams and could provide some big returns with his speed, similar to Trindon Holiday when he first entered the league. I don't see him taking too many carries away from Drake, but I think lining him up as an inside receiver could be an option in passing downs. He can be very dangerous on slant routes because if he gets past the insider defender's grasp he has a possibility of taking a 10 yard pass to the house every time.

WORST CASE is Jakeem's size really prevents him from being trusted in any offensive package and after fumbling a key kickoff return, the team slowly minimizes his role. BEST CASE is Grant continues with his highlight reel eye-popping plays in the NFL, becoming the first NFL player to score a rushing TD, receiving TD and return TD in the same game. He becomes the team's best returner since Ted Ginn, and at a much better draft value (minus the family aspect though).

PROJECTED STATS: 13 G, 3 att, 33 rush yards, 18 rec, 290 rec yards, 2 TD's, 38 returns, 1145 ret yards, 2 TD's.

Round 6- Jordan Lucas, CB/S

I think Jordan Lucas is the forgotten piece of this draft class, but remember, he's still the second highest Dolphin defender drafted in 2016! Lucas reminds me of former Miami corner, Jimmy Wilson, because he's a stout defensive back and is more of a physical presence than a coverage specialist. Don't be surprised if Lucas finds an important role as a special teams ace, and is used similar to like Miami did with Wilson. People might not know him now but I guarantee they remember his name when he blocks a punt in the fourth quarter to seal a win for the Dolphins this season.

WORST CASE is Lucas gets banged up and not able to separate from competition in training camp; he ends up on IR or the practice squad. BEST CASE is he becomes a fan favorite on defense, starting off as a special teams guru and eventually becoming a solid role player on defense, as a reserve safety and slot corner.

PROJECTED STATS: 8 G, 24 tackles, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 blocked punt.

Round 7- Brandon Doughty, QB

I seem to root for late round picks that much more if they are a hometown kid. The fact that Doughty, a lifelong Dolphins fan, played high school ball down the street from the Dolphins training facility makes him easy to root for. He was a very accurate passer last year and passed for over 5,000 yards for Western Kentucky. He was a terrific value in Round 7 and could become Tannehill's right hand man.

WORST CASE is Doughty plays in preseason and seems overwhelmed by NFL defenses and gets picked apart. He doesn't even make a practice squad position. BEST CASE is Doughty's work ethic pays off and he puts together a nice preseason, enough to make Miami keep 3 quarterbacks. He improves so much next year that the Dolphins feel comfortable enough with making him Tannehill's backup in 2017, ending the Matt Moore era for good.

PROJECTED STATS: Kept on practice squad for 2016 season.

Round 7- Thomas Duarte, TE

Duarte is a very interesting pick and one that could be intriguing for the Dolphins. The former Bruins tight end  was pegged as a sleeper by many draft analysts and some viewed him as a day 2 pick. The thing about Duarte is he has a huge opportunity ahead of him here in Miami, considering the three tight ends on this team, Cameron, Sims and Stoneburner are all free agents next offseason. If Miami can figure out creative ways to get Duarte the ball he could be a red-zone option and a jack-of-all-trades player similar to Charles Clay.

WORST CASE scenario is Duarte is Michael Egnew 2.0, and we realized why all the other teams passed on him like they did. BEST CASE is Duarte rises to the challenge and shows those so-called draft experts why they thought he was a sleeper in the first place. He ends becoming option 2A to Cameron by the end of the season and gives Miami plenty of flexibility at the tight end position moving forward, competing for a starting spot in 2017.

PROJECTED STATS: 8 G,  22 receptions, 265 yards, 2 TD's.