Back-to-back mock drafts? Yeah, we really are hitting the peak of mock draft season. Pro Football Focus’ Cris Collinsworth posted his 2017 NFL Mock Draft on Tuesday night, taking his swing at making the 32 picks for the first round of the selection process. Collinsworth writes, in his introduction, “We once took a Disney Cruise with our children, and there were so many kids in the Mickey Mouse pool on the first day, I told my wife, ‘You couldn’t hit water if you threw a ping-pong ball in that thing.’ I feel the same way about this draft — you will have to work really hard to miss in the early rounds.”
Where does he have Miami’s ping-pong ball landing when they are on the clock with the 22nd overall pick? In a surprising place.
The Dolphins used this year’s offseason to deliberately reinforce their roster, keeping their own players and adding depth behind them in many cases, while targeting players who can fill starting roles where needed. They did it in a financially responsible method, rather than just throwing huge amounts of money into the market in an effort to draw the biggest named free agents to South Florida.
In their moves this offseason, the team traded for Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas and signed free agent tight end Anthony Fasano. The Miami offense appears set at the tight end position, but Collinsworth thinks the team could be adding another with their first draft choice this year.
22. Miami Dolphins
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The Miami Dolphins took huge strides on offense under Adam Gase, QB Ryan Tannehill was much improved until injured, RB Jay Ajayi was brilliant at times, and WR DeVante Parker is coming on. Now the Dolphins’ good luck continues, as O.J. Howard falls to No. 22. Howard runs a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, is an athletic blocker for those outside-zone runs the Dolphins love, and recorded just three drops over the last two seasons. He lacks a little physical toughness to be a top-15 pick, but has a ton of upside that Gase will develop. Greg Olsen, the receiving tight end from Carolina, is a good comparison.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Run-blocking grade of 81.5 led all FBS tight ends in 2016. Averaged 7.8 yards after the catch per completion over the last three years.
If Howard were still on the board when Miami makes their selection, he would probably fit the “best player available” method of selections. He would not immediately fill a need for the team, but he does add talent to the roster and could be a weapon in head coach Adam Gase’s offense.
Earlier today, we saw the Mel Kiper mock draft in which Miami was projected to select Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis in the first round. Would you prefer Davis or for Miami to grab Howard if he were still on the board?