For once, the Miami Dolphins had one of the better drafts in the National Football League. The question now remains whether or not the team's new draftees have the skills to make an immediate impact in the NFL. It is time to present my 2016 NFL Draft report card. Below is a list of players selected by the Dolphins in this year's draft.
#13 Laremy Tunsil, Offensive Tackle, Ole Miss
Arguably the best player in the 2016 NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Laremy Tunsil with the 13th overall pick. The elite offensive lineman fell helplessly after a video of him smoking marijuana surfaced online. Miami was willing to take a risk on Tunsil, when no other team was. In doing so, the Dolphins fill a huge need on the offensive line. Whether in the run or pass game, Tunsil is a man among boys. At Ole Miss, Tunsil allowed just two sacks throughout his career. I believe he is an elite prospect who has the potential become one of the best players in franchise history. Though nothing is official, Tunsil will likely begin his career at guard before later transitioning to left tackle. Miami traded away the No. 8 pick in this year's draft, in exchange for Laremy Tunsil, Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso. Quite the hall for Mike Tannebaum and the rest of the Miami Dolphins' front office.
#38 Xavien Howard, Cornerback, Baylor
One of the Dolphins biggest needs this offseason was in the secondary, where the team struggled immensely in 2015. Miami's new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph had success in Cincinnati, getting the most out of his defensive backs. At 6’0, 201-pounds, Howard fits the Vance Joseph mold at cornerback. He’s big, strong, fast, and physical. During his time at Baylor, Howard recorded 98 tackles, 10 interceptions and 1.5 sacks. If he can continue to improve, the sky is the limit for Howard. He will likely start the season opposite of Byron Maxwell, as the Dolphins’ No. 2 cornerback.
#73 Kenyan Drake, Running back, Alabama
The Dolphins desperately needed a running back to fill the void left behind by Lamar Miller. Though Miami spent a majority of their offseason searching for a starter, they appear content with Jay Ajayi carrying a majority of the work load. Throughout his college career, Drake played second fiddle to Eddie Lacy, Derrick Henry, and T.J Yeldon, during his time at Alabama. Miami believes Drake can make an immediate impact on offense, primarily in the passing game. He also proved to be a dynamic return man during his collegiate career. If Drake can stay healthy, he may be the perfect complement to Jay Ajayi in the Dolphins’ backfield.
#86 Leonte Carroo, Wide Receiver, Rutgers
Heading into the draft, it was believed that the Miami Dolphins were set at the wide receiver position. After all, they spent a second-round draft pick in 2014 on Jarvis Landry. The following year, the Dolphins used the 14th overall pick on DeVante Parker. This year, Miami decided to trade a third and fourth round pick in 2017 to move back into the third round to select Leonte Carroo. The 6’0, 211-pound wide receiver, dropped only two passes throughout his collegiate career. During his time at Rutgers, Carroo averaged a touchdown every 4.2 receptions. Carroo finished his collegiate career amassing 122 receptions, 2,373 yards and 29 touchdowns. He will likely start the season as the No.4 wide receiver on the depth chart, but all that could change with a solid training camp.
#186 Jakeem Grant, Wide Receiver, Texas Tech
Although Grant lacks ideal size (5'6) he is a dynamic playmaker when the ball is in his hands. Grant is a good route runner who has the ability to take one to the house on every play. He uses his blazing 4.1 speed to break away from defenders. Gase loves Grant and it appears he was added to give the Dolphins another dimension in the passing game. He possesses the skill-set to succeed at the next level, and will likely begin the year on special teams, primarily as the Dolphins' return man.
#204 Jordan Lucas, Safety, Penn State
Lucas has the ability to play in the slot, as well as on the outside in Vance Joseph's attacking defense. During his time at Penn State, Lucas recorded 119 solo tackles, 3 interceptions and 4 sacks. He proved he can compete at a high level at both cornerback and safety. Although he will need to battle for a spot on Miami's 53, Lucas has the skills to make an impact at the next level.
#223 Brandon Doughty, Quarterback, Western Kentucky
Finally the Miami Dolphins drafted a quarterback to compete with Ryan Tannehill and the other quarterbacks on the roster. The 6’3, 220-pound, threw for 12,855 yards, 111 touchdowns and 34 interceptions during his career at Western Kentucky. It is uncertain whether or not he will make the Dolphins’ active roster. However, if anyone can help Doughty develop into an NFL quarterback it is Adam Gase. Gase helped several quarterbacks take the next step, and could prove to be the perfect mentor for Doughty.
#231 Thomas Duarte, Tight End, UCLA
Though a long shot to make the roster, Duarte is an intriguing option at the tight end position. During his time at UCLA, the 6’3, 225-pound recorded 97 receptions for 1,626 yards and 17 touchdowns. If he wants to make an impact for the Dolphins or any other NFL team, he must first prove his worth on special teams. If Duarte wants to see playing time on offense, he must earn reps over fellow tight ends, Dion Sims and Cameron Jordan. In the end, Duarte is an intriguing prospect and someone fans should keep a watchful eye on.
Overall Grade - B
Surprisingly, the Dolphins had one of the best drafts in recent memory. After all, Miami landed an elite offensive tackle, a solid shutdown cornerback and a running back willing to split carries with Jay Ajayi. The addition of Carroo and Grant should give Tannehill to additionally weapons to attack opposing defenses. Unlike years prior, the Dolphins had a clear vision heading into the 2016 NFL draft, and executed to near perfection.
This article was written by Josh Houtz. Follow him on Twitter!