The 2016 NFL Draft is in the books and for the first time in many many years as a Miami Dolphins fan I am pleased with how it turned out. I hear many people say you must wait 3 years to grade a draft and to that I say hogwash. Live in the moment and grade the draft in real time. I take the; ok we are on the clock now and with the information we have in front of us what should we do. You can grade that! And I have and the Dolphins get an A+ for this draft.
I know I am often referred to as “Mr. Negative” and I lose around 50 to 100 twitter followers after each Dolphins game because I give honest analysis and people don’t like hearing the truth sometimes. With that said, I am very positive on the 2016 Dolphins draft. While I know many fans are upset that the Dolphins traded away two draft picks in the 2017 draft, just remember if those compensatory picks come for Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon, and Rishard Matthews as expected, the Dolphins will still have a full slate of draft picks and a pick in each round next season. To me, no harm-no foul and I am not going to get stressed out over that.
Back to the draft and why this was a glowing success for the Dolphins these past 3 days. To understand you must first go back to January 9th, 2016 when the Dolphins named Adam Gase their new head coach. Adam Gase got this job for one reason; to fix the offense and make Ryan Tannehill a better player. Period, end of story, no debate over it…that’s it! So, when you hire Adam Gase as the head coach and he is hired essentially for his offensive mind and play-calling, his first plan of action is going to be to address the offense. So the fact the Dolphins used all but two picks on offensive players is no surprise. To be honest I would be worried if he went in the opposite direction and drafted a bunch of defensive players this year.
First, he goes and gets Laremy Tunsil. We know, we know….he once smoked pot and there is a short video of it. And he was paid money in college. Everyone get off their high horse and get over it. 253 players were selected over the last 3 days and over 60% have smoke pot in their lifetime (study’s have been done that 60% of NFL players smoke pot regularly, so safe to bet every incoming group is around that number) and probably close to 40% of those kids drafted broke some NCAA rule while in college. Either getting paid by a booster or getting a free meal or something along those lines. You would have thought Thursday night watching ESPN and the NFL Network that Tunsil killed someone on video and was still walking around the bloody knife. I mean the kid smoke a little pot and has never failed a drug test in his life, get over it. He was the best player in this draft and had the highest grade until that video came out. And Miami got the best player in the draft at pick #13. GAME OVER! This draft is a win off that alone if the Dolphins decided to forfeit every pick from round 1 on. Tunsil made a huge weakness which was the Dolphins offensive line and turned it into a strength overnight. They now have 4, yes 4, first round draft picks on that offensive line. And the 5th starter on that line is either going to be Billy Turner (a 3rd round pick) or Jermon Bushrod (a former Pro Bowl player.) Depth, the Dolphins now have depth on the offensive line. Sam Young, Bushrod or Turner, Jamil Douglas, and Dallas Thomas as back-ups. And hopefully none of them see the field ever but if they are forced too we at least know they have some experience in the NFL.
In Round 2 the Dolphins took Xavien Howard and I get it. Miami is now drafting players that fit their scheme and Howard fits exactly what Miami wants to do. A tall, long armed, fast corner with experience in zone coverage and press coverage. The Dolphins had a need at CB and Howard fits that need. How can you not like this pick?
Round 3 is where it gets really good for Dolphins fans. First they draft Kenyan Drake who is blazing fast and will help as a back-up running back who you can also line up as a WR in the passing game as well in situations. Not to mention he can help in the return game. Oh by the way some “experts” are comparing him to Reggie Bush and Curtis Martin. Yes, that Curtis Martin who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The next Dolphins pick in Round 3 I am even more excited about. Leonte Carroo the WR out of Rutgers reminds me a lot of Jarvis Landry. Total playmaker who is aggressive and not afraid to go get the ball in traffic. If not for some off the field issues he had at Rutgers Carroo would have been picked much higher. Let’s take a step back and realize that right now the Miami Dolphins Top 4 WR’s on the depth chart are still on their rookie contracts. Parker/Landry/Stills/Carroo are making very little money and that unit could be very very good in 2016.
The Dolphins didn’t have another pick until Round 6 and in the last two rounds they loaded up with more speed and weapons. Jakeem Grant is only 5’6 but has been clocked running a 4.2/40. Again he is another guy who will help in the punt and kickoff return game as well be a weapon for Tannehill to use on offense. Grant is a “gadget play” waiting to happen. Don’t be shocked if Gase and the Dolphins have one off the wall gadget play a week involving Grant. Thomas Duarte the TE out of UCLA reminds me of Charles Clay. In fact he is almost a clone of Charles Clay. An H-Back who is an ok blocker but better known for making plays in the passing game and can be a match-up nightmare for opponents. I can see Duarte being the 3rd tight end on Miami this season and having a growing role on this team in the years to come. The Dolphins also took a developmental QB who they can groom to replace Matt Moore in a year or two and they took a CB/Safety late.
The bulk of this draft though was investing in and around Ryan Tannehill and letting Adam Gase build his offense with his players going forward. If you are going to give Tannehill a big contract and a lot of money then you need to invest around him. Tannehill has been beaten like a drum and taken too many sacks. Those days are over!! Tunsil solves that problem. People talk about the Cowboys having the best offensive line in football, well if the Dolphins offensive line is healthy they are not far behind and are in the conversation of one of the best 5 offensive lines in the NFL. The Dolphins are 5 deep at WR, 2 deep at RB (and will probably add a Veteran RB at some point), and the Tight End position is as deep as its been in years.
Is this Dolphins team going to win 10 or 11 games this year….HELL NO! That wasn’t the goal of this draft. This team is more than 1 year away and more than 1 player away. But the Dolphins solidified their offense for years to come. They fixed the offensive line (FINALLY) and now have a bunch of young, talented, and very fast weapons around Tannehill. The defense will be patch-worked this year. It will have Band-Aid type guys at defensive end and cornerback. Guys who you hope can produce for a year and hold the fort down. This team was a disaster after last season and the few talented players they had left in free agency. It’s more than a one year fix. With that said, after this draft I can say with confidence that the offensive side of the football is as strong as its been in many years. The 2 deep depth chart on offense at every position is solid.
As of the time this is being published here is the list of the Undrafted Free Agents Miami has signed.
Lafayette Pitts, cb, Pitt
Marshall Koehn, K, Iowa
Tyler Gray, LB, Boise State
AJ Hendy, DB, Maryland
Ruben Carter, OL, Toledo
Brandon Shippen WR Temple
Akil Blount ILB Florida AM
Ryan DiSalvo LS, San Jose State
Farrington Huguenin, DE Kentucky
James Burgess, LB, Louisville
Rashawn Scott, Wr, UM
Gabe Hughes,TE, Florida Tech