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Mel Kiper final mock draft 2018: Dolphins pick up linebacker

NFL: NFL Meetings Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the NFL Draft slowly inches toward its 8pm ET start tonight, the final mock drafts for many analysts are also starting to come out. ESPN’s Mel Kiper released his final 2018 NFL Mock Draft on Thursday, projecting the first round picks for all 32 positions.

He starts the mock with the Cleveland Browns selecting Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first-overall pick, followed by the New York Giants adding Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, then the New York Jets picking up USC quarterback Sam Darnold. The Browns come back with the fourth pick to balance the Myles Garrett pass rush from one side of the line of scrimmage with the addition of North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb now coming off the other side. The Denver Broncos pick up the quarterback-run theme with the selection of Wyoming’s Josh Allen with the fifth choice on the night.

The Indianapolis Colts use the sixth pick to select Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, followed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ selection of Florida State safety Derwin James, the Chicago Bears picking Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, and the San Francisco 49ers using the ninth pick on Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. The Oakland Raiders finish the first ten picks with a selection of Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey.

That leaves the Dolphins on the clock and a few options available to them. They could select UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, they could add Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, or the could pick up Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, but Kiper has those three being selected 12th, 13th, and 14th, respectively. For the Dolphins back at pick 11, he has them adding a player who should be starting immediately and shore up some big issues the team has had.

11. Miami Dolphins. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Could Miami go quarterback here? Edmunds makes sense as a fallback option -- the Dolphins’ linebacker group isn’t very good.

I would love the pick of Edmunds at 11, but I have some questions about the team not taking Fitzpatrick or Rosen. I still do not think the Dolphins plan to select a first-round quarterback this year, despite all the talk about how they need one, but if Rosen is sitting there, he has to be a consideration. I have all offseason thought the first pick should be a linebacker, but Fitzpatrick is an intriguing option who has to be a strong consideration here. He could play free safety, freeing up Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald to be more of a true, in-the-box strong safety; he could play as a cover safety or cornerback, matching up with tight ends, running backs, and even receivers; he could play in the box as a linebacker or a strong safety supporting the run defense or blitzing.

Edmunds is a great pick for Miami. I would likely make the same pick, but if someone said the Dolphins took Fitzpatrick or Rosen instead, I would not be surprised by that either.