The projections across mock draft season this year for the Miami Dolphins seem to be firmly entrenched in the idea that the team will either select a tight end or a linebacker with their first-round choice in April. For SB Nation’s Dan Kadar, that selection has been locked in fairly well on Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham over the past several weeks, a pick that clearly fills a need for the Dolphins and gives them some flexibility in how they use incumbent linebacker Kiko Alonso next year.
For this week’s update to his 2017 NFL Mock Draft, Kadar switches it up a little for the Dolphins. While still selecting a linebacker, the Dolphins skip Cunningham, who is selected with the 23rd pick, one after Miami, by the New York Giants. Instead, the Dolphins look to the west coast to upgrade their defense.
With the 22nd overall pick, Kadar projects the Miami Dolphins to select UCLA linebacker Takkarist McKinley.
Kadar discusses the change from Cunningham to McKinley in his explanation of the pick.
Zach Cunningham has been a regular pick in mocks for the Dolphins, but if McKinley is available he shouldn’t be discounted. Other than pass coverage, he’s a better player than Cunningham.
Kadar also used this week’s mock draft update as a chance to look at the quarterback situation for every team, trying to decide if the team needs to consider selecting one this year. For the Dolphins, he writes:
Should they draft a quarterback? Miami has depth behind Ryan Tannehill with Matt Moore and Brandon Doughty. This question becomes much more important if the Dolphins take a step back in 2017 and Tannehill is to blame.
McKinley would be an interesting choice for the Dolphins. He is a player who could end up playing defensive end just as easily as he ends up being a true linebacker, and either of those positions could fill a need for Miami. McKinley has been compared to Tamba Hali and DeMarcus Ware at various times on NFL.com, but a draft scout also said he should be a second-round pick but will likely be overdrafted.
As for the quarterback discussion, I have always been a believer that you select a quarterback every season, but do not expect to see Miami using an early pick on one this year. They are happy with Tannehill, and rightfully so, and they know they have a quarterback in Moore who will be ready to step in if Tannehill is not fully recovered by the start of the season or if another injury were to happen. A drafted quarterback would be competing with Doughty for the third-quarterback position, though if the coaches like Doughty’s progress this year and think he will continue to develop, skipping the quarterback this year could make sense as well.
What do you think of McKinley? Would he become a true linebacker for Miami, or would he be a defensive end? Should Miami pass on him, seeing him as a better fit for a 3-4 rather than the 4-3 defensive scheme they use?