The Miami Dolphins head into the 2020 NFL Draft having spent money in free agency to address some of their top needs. That spending brought in free agents like cornerback Byron Jones, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah, guard Erek Flowers, and running back Jordan Howard. All of those players could become immediate contributors - if not starters - for the Dolphins this season, while leading to a better definition of what the club could be looking to do in the Draft.
Quarterback and offensive tackle likely remain the two top needs, with pass rush and defensive back high on the list. Even with Howard’s addition, the Dolphins could also be looking for an impact running back to create a tandem of runners on the roster.
In his latest 2020 NFL Mock Draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. takes a look at the Dolphins’ free agent acquisitions, then targets their remaining needs, using all three first-round picks Miami holds on offensive players.
The first selection by Miami, the fifth-overall pick, should not be a surprise to anyone, as Kiper sees Miami adding Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Of what is now a near-consensus pick for the Dolphins, Kiper writes, “The Dolphins have three first-round picks and two second-round picks, but their best-case scenario is to stay put, get their quarterback of the future and pick up starters on Day 1 and Day 2 of the draft. With the offseason quarterback carousel mostly completed — Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton still need to find new teams — Miami is in the best spot to draft its guy. Tagovailoa, who’s rehabbing after dislocating his right hip and suffering a posterior wall fracture in November, was planning to throw for NFL teams on April 9, but that’s up in the air. There’s a chance teams won’t get to see him go through a full workout; they’ll have to trust his tape — and trust their medical staffs, who will have a clear view of where Tagovailoa is with his injury now.”
After adding their quarterback, the Dolphins come back on the clock with the 18th selection, this time giving him the dynamic runner to pair with Howard. Miami’s selection of Georgia running back D’Andre Swift is explained by Kiper, who states, “The Dolphins entered free agency with the NFL’s most cap space, and they used a bunch of their money on defense, signing cornerback Byron Jones to a record-breaking deal while also adding linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson and Elandon Roberts and edge rusher Emmanuel Ogbah. And yes, they brought in veteran running back Jordan Howard, too, but it was a low-cost deal. Let’s give Tagovailoa and the offense some help with Swift, a threat as a runner and receiver and the clear top back in this class. I expect Miami to address offensive tackle with one of its three first-round picks, and that could come at No. 26.”
As he foretold, Kiper then looks to the offensive tackle position with the Dolphins third pick of the first round, adding Houston tackle Josh Jones with the selection. He explains, “So we’ve given the Dolphins a quarterback and running back so far, and let’s stay on offense and address the tackle position, where Miami is still depleted. With Jones on the board, this is a no-brainer for me. He made 45 career starts at left tackle for the Cougars, and he dominated during practices at the Senior Bowl. Remember that the Dolphins still have two more second-round picks to help them get back on track. And after boosting their defense in free agency, the Dolphins are trending in the right direction.”
This is a great draft for the Dolphins, and there is little to dislike about what they would be doing with these three selections. I think they wait until the second round to select a running back, likely J.K. Dobbins, but grabbing Swift in the first round is not a bad way to go - especially since the Dolphins have three first-round picks. If Miami were to pass on Swift, based on Kiper’s mock, they could add a player like Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield, Jr. (20th to the Jacksonville Jaguars) or Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa (25th to the Minnesota Vikings), both of whom come off the board before the Dolphins’ 26th pick.
I think a Tagovailoa, Swift, Jones first round would be a stellar one for the Dolphins. It might not fall that way, if Miami wants a different running back, but this is a great mock to consider.