The NFL Draft is just over three weeks away, with the Miami Dolphins poised to redefine the direction of the franchise with 14 picks over the three-day selection process, including three first-round picks. Will the team come out of the Draft with the pieces in place to rebuild the team after a complete tear-down last year? Can Miami position themselves to be a perennial challenger in the AFC East?
Weekly, SB Nation’s Dan Kadar projects the first round of the Draft. In his latest 2020 NFL Mock Draft, he looked at potential options for each team. He made a primary selection for each club, then added a “backup” choice for the team. The backup selection had to also adhere to the way the board had fallen ahead of the selection - a team could not have a backup pick that was selected earlier in the Draft.
Kadar started his projection of the Dolphins’ first round at the position many expect Miami to first target, but not with the name many anticipate. With the fifth-overall pick, Kadar had Miami selecting Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, despite Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa still available. Would the Dolphins pass on Tagovailoa for Herbert? Kadar thinks it is possible Miami would not have that choice. He wrote of the selection, “This week’s mock isn’t projecting trades — trades will be back next week — but I do think the Chargers could jump ahead of the Dolphins for Tagovailoa. That could leave Herbert for Miami.”
Kadar seems to be projecting Herbert to Miami because he believes the Los Angeles Chargers will jump the Dolphins, even without trades being in this mock, not that the Dolphins would prefer Herbert over Tagovailoa.
As for the other option for the Dolphins with the fifth pick, Kadar looked toward Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons. He expained that alternate selection, writing, “If the Dolphins don’t get Tagovailoa, they could punt on quarterback until 2021 and wait for Ohio State’s Justin Fields or Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. If that happens, Clemson defender Isaiah Simmons would be fun in Brian Flores’ defense.”
Simmons could be an interesting option for the Dolphins, giving them another versatile player on defense for head coach Brian Flores. He can line up all over the defense, playing in the interior or outside at linebacker or even potentially as a strong safety or a nickel linebacker in coverage. He could be exactly what Miami wants as a defensive weapon, so a selection of Simmons if the Dolphins are not sold on Herbert and Tagovailoa is not available.
The Dolphins then use the 18th-overall selection, the second of their three choices, to add offensive tackle Josh Jones out of Houston. You probably know that I love Jones and think this is a perfect addition for the Dolphins, which means this pick seems right to me. Kadar said of the selection, “Miami’s offensive line needs plenty of help. If the Dolphins get a quarterback in this draft, the blocking has to get better. Jones started four years in college and should be able to step into the starting lineup as a rookie.”
The option picks for the Dolphins here are USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson or Georgia tackle Isaiah Wilson. Not a lot of explanation from Kadar here, just listing those two could “be in play” for Miami if they are not sold on Jones.
The pick of a tackle here does make sense, adding a young player to shore up pass protection and run blocking. The Dolphins have to fix the offensive line problems that have plagued the team for years, and the best way to do that is to continue to look for the right pieces in the Draft. No issue with any of these three prospects, with Miami able to take the player they like the most here.
Miami came back on the clock with the 26th selection, which Kadar has being used to add to the defense. Alabama safety Xavier McKinney takes the position here, giving Miami a Swiss Army Knife type of option on the back-end of the defense - giving the Dolphins back the player they thought they had in former first-round pick and former Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitpatrick. Kadar explained, writing, “This is a repeat pick for the Dolphins from last week. After quarterback and offensive tackle, there’s a real argument for Miami’s third-biggest need between a defensive lineman, safety, and running back. In this mock draft, McKinney is the best player available at those three spots.”
The pick may be the perfect one for Miami here, especially if they Dolphins are not looking to double down on first-round offensive linemen. If they are not interested in McKinney, Kadar could see them addressing the running back position. He explained, “If there is a team that could take a running back in the first round, it is Miami. The positional value is questionable, but if the Dolphins do it, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift should be the first running back off the board.”
Swift makes sense for the Dolphins, though waiting until the second round to add someone like J.K. Dobbins from Ohio State would likely be possible as well. McKinney is definitely the better of the two options here.
What do you think of Kadar’s mock?