With the 2017 NFL Draft just days away you’ve probably read all the mock drafts, listened for all the news reports, and flocked to social media for even a hint of direction. For Miami Dolphins fans the anticipation has to be building. After the change of culture and the passion for playing for rookie head coach Adam Gase, the Dolphins surprisingly made the playoffs. Now fans are just days away from a make or break year for the team.
While the verdict is still out on the 2016 class, 2017 for the Dolphins needs to be a home run. Their schedule hasn’t done them any favors. They’re still towards the bottom statistically. And let’s face it, they’re still in the division with the Patriots. As they won’t be the only team from the division looking to make a splash in this year’s draft, every pick needs to be a bold one.
In order to be successful, Miami could need to stick to this draft day plan:
At least one Miami Dolphin won’t be with the team after the Draft.
The Dolphins have put themselves in a unique situation. They’ve gone from a team that barely has starters to having an abundance of players who fill their roles. They’re no stranger to draft-day trades but have limited picks to move. If Miami feels they can’t get the player they want at the current spot they could move one of their expendable pieces. Most likely candidates are Matt Moore or Damien Williams.
When quarterback Ryan Tannehill is healthy enough to play, a log jam will form as his backup. The Dolphins signed David Fales this offseason who’s already worked in Adam Gase’s offense. Not to mention last years pick of Brandon Doughty who could benefit from another season in the offense. If Gase feels comfortable in either or both, the team could look to get a lot cheaper in their backup position.
Damien Williams has value with the team. His big plays last season kept the Dolphins in close games. Depending on whether or not Kenyan Drake is the player Miami thought they were selecting, Williams also could be a costly backup. Miami placed an original round tender on him, but since he went undrafted would get nothing in return should he sign elsewhere. His ability to make plays and extend drives might entice teams if paired with a later pick in the same round.
If Forrest Lamp is there when Miami picks, he’ll be their guy. If not, Miami will trade down possibly out of the first round.
Miami needs a good amount of depth on their roster. Either they have a guy on the roster who can be a backup, or they’re looking to draft a backup or replacement. Miami needed a guard before signing veteran Jermon Bushrod to return. However, his one year deal puts them in the same place again next season. In addition, while he’s showed his talent Miami might not be sold on Ja’wuan James as their tackle going forward. James has struggled at times and Lamp could work into another Tunsil situation and slide to tackle should James still struggle.
Miami also signed C/G Ted Larsen to a 3-year deal which could make James even more expendable. As a center, Larsen could be Mike Pouncey insurance who’s had his share of injuries. If Pouncey stays healthy, Miami could then move Lamp to tackle and Larsen to guard next season. Since flexibility is a staple of an Adam Gase run offense, look for their first pick to give them options. The new regime doesn’t want to be handcuffed to players who don’t work out anymore.
The team will finally address linebacker in this year’s draft in the second round.
While there are rumors floating around that Rueben Foster will fall to the Dolphins in this year’s draft, don’t hold your breath. Teams are still willing to gamble on defense because true game changers are hard to come by. Miami might want to eye the mid round talent at linebacker as they still can get a playmaker in round 2. If Miami does trade back or up, depending on how far playmakers like TJ Watt or Zach Cunningham may still be in that sweet spot. Miami has improved their linebacker corps with the addition of Lawrence Timmons. Now, the Dolphins might still snag a playmaker who could develop behind their current guys. They might also want a guy who could breakout and be an instant starter. Again, Miami wants flexibility.
The Dolphins found unusual ways to win last season. Now that a year has gone by, teams won’t be caught off guard. Whoever they pick needs to instantly push them towards the top. Waiting a year for a player to make an impact is not an option. Rumors have circulated about Miami needing a DE, S and for some reason WR. While those might be on the list for later round selections, don’t expect them in the first 2-3 rounds. The Dolphins do need to improve on defense and build depth. However, Gase is an offense-first guy. He might not hurt the team’s chances with his ego, but drafting G sets the team up for a defense heavy draft.
Miami currently has seven picks in this year’s draft. If they can build on last year’s success then maybe Jarvis Landry’s Patriots sweep might not seem too far fetched.