In a draft that has been talked about as one of the deeper drafts in recent years, it would be ideal for the Miami Dolphins to trade back from the 22nd overall pick and accumulate additional picks; however, in the event the Dolphins take the opposite approach, here are some potential candidates the Dolphins may have their eye on.
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Hands down the top inside linebacker in the 2017 NFL Draft, Reuben Foster projects to be a top-10 selection the night of April 27. If Miami wants to get its hands on the top linebacker that you – in all likelihood – can build around for the foreseeable future, it’s going to need to trade up to do so.
While several draft analysts believe Foster’s stock may drop after being dismissed from the NFL Combine due to his behavior, his talent and game tape speaks for itself and will likely lead to Foster being the first linebacker to hear his name called in this year’s draft.
In order to secure Foster, the Dolphins would likely have to trade into the top eight, as the Cincinnati Bengals are a logical fit for Foster after they decided to release Rey Maualuga.
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Another top talent in the draft, this time at tight end, is the 6’6” 250-pound target, O.J. Howard. While tight end isn’t a true first-round need for Miami after trading for Julius Thomas and signing Anthony Fasano, the Dolphins may see Howard as the long-term solution at the position as he projects as the most complete tight end in recent drafts.
While not well known for his performance as a run blocker, Howard may be the NFL’s next mismatch tight end where linebackers are too slow and safeties aren’t large enough to match the type of athlete Howard is on the field.
Howard has the talent and style of a wide receiver with the combination of his route running, hands, and size to attack the ball that will likely be showcased by whichever team lands him. While putting up decent numbers at Alabama, it’s likely his true talent potential hasn’t been reached yet as the Crimson Tide didn’t feature what most would consider a high-powered passing offense, which Howard may find himself in at the next level.
If the Dolphins plan to move up to select Howard, it’s likely they would need to move in front of Cleveland at No. 12 as the Browns have several directions they can go with their second first-round selection. Cleveland may see Howard as a guy who can not only help from day one, but can also learn the nuances of the position and turn into one of the top tight ends in the league a few years down the road to give the Browns and their (likely) young quarterback a solid offensive weapon.
Haason Reddick, DE/OLB, Temple
Depending on the mock draft you believe to be most accurate, you may find Haason Reddick still available for Miami at No. 22. However, there has been consistent buzz surrounding Reddick since the Senior Bowl and several NFL Draft analysts believe Reddick is a sure-fire, top-20 selection.
While Reddick is thought to be a little undersized, which may impact his ability to thrive early in his NFL career, there’s no denying his athleticism and ability to track ball carriers as he recorded 21 tackles for a loss his senior season at Temple.
As Cameron Wake continues to thrive for Miami, there’s no denying the fact that age will eventually catch up with the Dolphins best pass rusher and he will need to be replaced with a younger option. Since the Dion Jordan experiment is officially over it may be time for Miami to once again invest a first-round selection on a pass rusher – and like it did for Jordan back in 2013 – the team may need to jump ahead of a few spots to obtain their ideal choice.
The Dolphins might not have to move up too far to land Reddick, but getting ahead of the Indianapolis Colts at No. 15 may be necessary as, while the Colts need help protecting Andrew Luck, there’s no denying the fact that help at linebacker and potentially someone who can get to opposing team’s quarterbacks would be beneficial as the Colts finished tied for 19th in the NFL last season with 33 sacks.