The NFL Draft is eight days away, which means we are starting to reach the climax of mock draft season. That includes the annual three-round, “Grade A” mock draft from ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr., which was posted on Wednesday morning. Kiper uses this exercise as a chance to act as the general manager for all 32 NFL franchises, making picks for them based on what he thinks they should do, not taking into account the rumors and speculation he is hearing about what the team may do.
For the Miami Dolphins, Kiper used the first-round, 22nd-overall pick on Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis, giving Miami their third starting linebacker to add to Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons. Kiper sees Miami using Alonso in the middle still, though the team seems to be leaning toward Timmons in the middle while Alonso mans one of the outside positions. Kiper writes of the Davis pick:
With Forrest Lamp and the top-four cornerbacks off the board, I'm moving on to linebacker for the Dolphins, who are set in the middle with Kiko Alonso but have questions at both outside spots. Enter Davis, whose intangibles I love. He's a reliable linebacker with a nose for the football who could play inside or outside in the NFL. He has the potential to be an every-down player.
Moving to the second round, Kiper has Miami using the 54th overall pick on Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. The Dolphins have made no secret of the fact that they want to add cornerbacks this offseason, providing depth, as well as challenging for playing time across the roster. The team has Byron Maxwell and Xavien Howard likely installed as the top two players on the depth chart, with Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett as the nickel and primary reserve corners. Kiper explains the pick:
I like 2016 second-round pick Xavien Howard at corner, but as I've said, this is a passing league. Teams need corners. Awuzie is the best tackling corner in this draft. He tackles so well that he could play safety.
Finally, the Dolphins’ third-round pick, number 97 overall, gives the team USC offensive lineman Zach Banner. The Dolphins have a hole on their offensive line after moving left guard Laremy Tunsil to his natural left tackle position this year, replacing Branden Albert who was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Banner, a right tackle in college, could be asked to move inside at the NFL level, with Miami either looking to him as the left guard, or possibly putting him at right guard and moving Jermon Bushrod to the left side. Kiper writes of the selection:
Banner could be Miami's answer at guard, with Laremy Tunsil moving outside to left tackle. Banner (6-foot-8, 353 pounds) started three seasons at right tackle for the Trojans, but I don't think he has the athleticism to play outside in the NFL.
This Draft seems fairly strong for the Dolphins, giving them answers at two of their biggest needs - linebacker and guard - while also adding depth and a potential upgrade at cornerback. The team would likely need to be looking for defensive line help later in the Draft, but this would be a solid start to the selection process.
Do you agree that this would be an “A” Draft for Miami?