The 2017-2018 NFL playoffs role on toward the Division round, with eight teams remaining in the hunt for the Super Bowl championship. Meanwhile, 24 teams are preparing for the offseason with internal reviews of 2017 and scouting reports on prospective free agents and draft picks. When it comes to the Draft, the end of the 2017 regular season really means one thing: the start of Mock Draft season.
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar has been wrapped up in mock drafts for weeks at this point. In his latest 2018 NFL Mock Draft at the first round of the selection process, he begins about where every mock draft begins this year. With the first selection, he has the Cleveland Browns adding a quarterback, Southern California’s Sam Darnold, followed by the New York Giants adding a quarterback, UCLA’s Josh Rosen. The Indianapolis Colts use the third-overall pick to select North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, with the Browns coming back on the clock for the fourth pick (via the Houston Texans) and using the selection to grab Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. The Denver Broncos round out the top five with the third quarterback selected, picking Oklahoma passer Baker Mayfield.
After the Broncos, the New York Jets grab Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson before two of the top Miami Dolphins projections get selected back-to-back. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pick up Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson with the seventh pick, while the Chicago Bears use the eighth-overall selection to pick Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. Where do the Dolphins, with the 11th pick, look now?
Kadar projects Miami to still look to bolster their defense, but maybe not at a position considered a major need for the team. Despite Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald being on the roster, Kadar has the Dolphins adding a safety. He does explain that the pick could actually make sense, however.
With the 11th overall pick in his latest mock draft, SB Nation’s Dan Kadar has the Miami Dolphins selecting Florida State safety Derwin James.
This is a tough draw for the Dolphins with Nelson and Smith both gone. If that’s the case, the Dolphins could try and maneuver down the draft board. If they stick here, James makes sense. He can be a hybrid safety/linebacker in their system with his ability to cover linebacker and running back on passing plays.
It is that hybrid piece that could make sense for Miami. While Jones is a great do-everything type of safety, he is best when he is in the box supporting the run or blitzing the quarterback. Derwin gives the same type of support, but he is athletic and has cornerback coverage ability as well - letting him become Miami’s answer to covering tight ends (maybe...hopefully...).
In August, Sports Illustrated named James the number one in their list of College Football’s Top 100 Players of 2017. They wrote at the time:
James may be the only player in the country capable of lining up virtually everywhere on the defensive side of the ball, and Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher might want to consider dialing up a running play for him or asking him to run a deep route. Billing James as the next Jabrill Peppers is underselling the number of tasks the 6’3”, 211-pound redshirt sophomore can perform on the field at a high level. The NFL team that eventually uses a top-10 pick on James will probably want him to focus on one position. Fisher should give James the opportunity to demonstrate why that approach would be a gross misuse of his talents. James is the best player in college football because he can do more things well than anyone else.
James may not perfectly fit a need for the Dolphins, but he could be the answer to a decades long need for the club. Would the selection of James excite Dolphins fans?