The 2018 NFL Draft is a month away and the free agency frenzy is coming to an end. We have reached that time in the calendar where teams are adding depth pieces more than they are after game changing starters while they all start turning their attention to the draft prospects who could come in and have an immediate impact. Who will those players be?
ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr., posted his third mock draft of the year on Wednesday, once again projecting the first round of next month’s selection process. He has the Draft starting with the Cleveland Browns selecting Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, followed by the New York Giants adding USC quarterback Sam Darnold. The quarterback run continues with the third pick by the New York Jets, who grab UCLA passer Josh Rosen. The Browns break up the quarterbacks with their second pick, the fourth overall, taking Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
The fifth pick brings us back to quarterbacks, with the Denver Broncos adding Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.
When the Miami Dolphins are on the clock with the 11th overall selection, there are several key defensive pieces still available to them. While Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith was selected tenth by the Oakland Raiders, Miami sees Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea still on their big board. Kiper does not have them adding either of those players, however.
Kiper has Miami adding Florida State safety Derwin James. Of the selection, Kiper writes:
James is back in the discussion for the top 10 after he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash and showed off a 40-inch vertical at the combine. He has rare athleticism for a 6-foot-2 safety, though his 2017 tape was inconsistent after he returned from a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the previous season. At his best, James is an enforcer in the mold of Kam Chancellor -- he’s not afraid to bring the wood. He can be a versatile defender who plays in the box and also covers the deep middle of the field. The Dolphins have arguably lost more talent this offseason than any other team, and they have needs all across their roster.
Looking at the selection, I do not hate it as James does have the ability to play free safety as well as strong safety, which fits exactly the versatility Miami loves in their safeties. I think Kiper misses a key opportunity, however, and one he identified - the Dolphins lost a lot of talent this offseason and “they have needs all across their roster.” Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald will hold the safety position for 2018 - adding a third safety where two play does not seem to be filling a need.
I would much rather have seen them add either Edmunds or Vea. Those seem like bigger needs than a safety, even as talented as James is. Realistically, Jones is with the Dolphins through 2020 (they could get $7.5 million in cap savings if released prior to the start of 2020, but they would have $8 million in dead money as well), while McDonald wold be a $3.1 million in savings next year if released. James could be the younger player to be the backfill for either Jones or McDonald, but when there are two players who could come in and start right away, adding a third safety seems to not do what Kiper seems to think the Dolphins should be doing.