For years, it seemed as though the Miami Dolphins’ drafts were average at best. Yes, there were players here and there with elite talent, but overall there were more busts than NFL greats. Most of that can be credited to everyone’s favorite general manager, Jeff Ireland. Ireland hit on a few prospects, but overall failed miserably at turning the Miami Dolphins into a winning organization. Enter Adam Gase. With Gase’s arrival a season ago, Miami’s roster has continued to improve in all areas. On paper, Miami’s 2017 draft could become one of the better drafts in recent team history. Which begs the question, which Dolphins’ rookie will have the biggest impact in 2017?
Heading into the season, I believed Isaac Asiata was destined to begin the year as one of the team’s starting guards. And after word broke that starter Ted Larsen would miss significant time with a torn bicep, I hoped Asiata would be the “next man up”. Certainly Larsen’s injury would allow Asiata to emerge as one of the Dolphins’ starting offensive lineman. I was wrong. Early in preseason, Asiata appears to be behind Jermon Bushrod on the team’s depth chart. Whether or not he gets time with the first team as preseason progresses, will tell a lot about his transition to the NFL game. Asiata plays with intensity, but doesn’t appear ready to be a starter in the NFL. This could change over the next several weeks, but for now my hopes have been tempered for Isaac Asiata to begin the year on the Dolphins’ first-string offensive line.
According to several reports out of Davie, defensive tackle Davon Godchaux has had a very nice camp so far. He continues to push Jordan Phillips for the starting spot, and could be the starting defensive tackle sooner than later. Godchaux has been disruptive in the backfield, and continues to bully offensive lineman on his way to the quarterback. Miami’s defense ranked among the NFL’s worst at stopping the run in 2016, and could use a run-stuffing anchor in the middle of the defense line. It’s early, but Godchaux is ahead of fellow rookie DT Vincent Taylor on the depth chart. It will be interesting to see how he progresses throughout preseason, and whether or not he can take the starting spot from Phillips. A defensive line consisting of Wake, Godchaux, Suh and Branch, could cause trouble for opposing offensive lines. Time will tell, but Miami may have found an acorn in defensive tackle, Davon Godchaux.
Reviews were mixed when the Dolphins selected defensive end Charles Harris with the 22nd pick in this year’s draft. There were other options available, but Miami liked the player and believed he would make an immediate impact as a pass-rushing specialist. This offseason, Harris reached out to Hall of Fame defensive end, Jason Taylor. The two worked together and Taylor helped Harris prepare for his rookie season. Despite being a feared pass rusher, it’s been Harris’ ability to set the edge that has caught the eyes of many coaches. He will likely begin the season as a third-down pass rusher, but should see plenty of snaps as the Dolphins try to keep their defensive line fresh throughout the duration of the season. Harris displays an explosive first step and a spin move that leaves offensive lineman speechless. How his play transitions to the NFL is anyone’s guess, but things look promising for the defensive end out of Missouri. Whether or not he has the biggest impact in 2017, Charles Harris will have a significant role in Matt Burke’s defense. Offensive lineman beware.
It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of linebacker Raekwon McMillan. During the draft process, I believed he was one of the best linebackers in this year’s class. It was clear McMillan was a first-round talent and had he choose to stay in college another season, he may have been a top-10 pick in next year’s draft. Since arriving in Davie, McMillan has proven he has what it takes to play in the NFL. He began the year as the Dolphins’ starting middle linebacker, and has continued to improve in all areas of his game. As the middle linebacker, McMillan is the quarterback of the defense. He calls the plays and is responsible for getting the defense aligned pre-snap. This is a bit different than what he was accustomed to in college, but nothing is too big for the 20-year old rookie out of Ohio State. As he continues to adapt to the NFL speed, McMillan will become more comfortable in Matt Burke’s defense. He might not start the year as an every-down linebacker, but all signs point to him being the starter in the middle of the Dolphins’ defense. In my opinion, Raekwon McMillan will have the biggest impact in 2017.
Which Dolphins’ rookie do you think will make the biggest impact in 2017?
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