Last week, the 2023 NFL Draft took place, and the Miami Dolphins began to add to their roster that went 9-8 last year and finished second in the AFC East Division. The Dolphins and head coach Mike McDaniels, however, did not have much to work with. They would make just four picks in the draft, with picks in the second, third, sixth, and seventh rounds.
Part of the lack of draft picks of course, is due to the franchise’s illegal tampering and contact with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and long-time NFL head coach Sean Payton. They also lost several picks in the trades for cornerback Jalen Ramsey and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The AFC East should be a very competitive conference with Aaron Rodgers going to the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills being the team to beat, and you can never count out Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots. New England area fans can Bet on the NFL and more with BetMGM Massachusetts now that online sports betting is legal in Massachusetts. Florida sports betting is still stuck in limbo at the current moment.
Round 2 – Pick 51: CB Cam Smith (South Carolina)
Cornerback generally wasn’t considered one of the Dolphins’ top needs in the 2023 NFL Draft, but that’s what they decided to do with their first pick in the second round. Smith, on his own, is a quality cornerback. While he likely won’t be a starter this fall, he has a chance to be a starter down the road. Elite level speed with a 4.43 forty-yard dash and also possesses a 38″ inch vertical jump. Has a chance to stay in the league for a long time if he can stay healthy but again, it wasn’t exactly one of the Dolphins’ biggest needs either. Overall, Smith himself is a great player with a very high upside. Grade: B+
Round 3 – Pick 84: RB Devon Achane (Texas A&M)
Achane is an intriguing pick and a player in the style of Darren Sproles almost. He has great athleticism and speed while also being a fearless runner. He knows mostly everyone else is bigger than him, but he doesn’t have time to be concerned by that. Had high production at Texas A&M. The ultimate question will be how well he’ll be able to hold up at the NFL level. The Dolphins did have a need for a running back, and Achane has the potential to be their answer at the position and will fit the Mike McDaniels system very well. Grade: B+
Round 6 – Pick 197: WR Elijah Higgins (Stanford)
Will be interesting to see how Higgins is used by Miami; with his size he could develop a role similar to that of tight end Mike Gesicki, who left the Dolphins in free agency for New England. Higgins is a strong route runner as well and put up good numbers on a bad Stanford team. Was the only truly reliable wide receiver for quarterback Tanner McKee this past season. Grade: B
Round 7 – Pick 238: OT Ryan Hayes (Michigan)
There were a few better-value picks left on the board for Miami when they selected Ryan Hayes. He was a solid pick, but he doesn’t project to a tackle at the next level, and he struggled in his career when going up against bigger and stronger pass rushers. There is potential here, and he did have plenty of success at Michigan throughout his career including not allowing any sacks this past season. Grade: C+
Overall, it was a quality draft for the Dolphins considering the lack of picks they had. They got two potential starters in Smith and Achane, Smith has great upside, and if Achane could stay healthy, he has a chance to be very good in his own right. Higgins and Hayes, on the other hand, are much more developmental picks with high potential. There is no doubt that with their overall lack of draft picks in the draft, they were going to have to take bigger chances with those two picks, hoping that both players can develop closer to their ceiling than their respective floors. For an overall draft grade, we’ll give the Dolphins a B. Now, let’s answer some other questions in regard to the Dolphins, their draft picks, and the impact they could have.
Did the Dolphins fulfill all their needs?
The short answer is no. The Dolphins still have questions at several positions, including defensive end and at offensive tackle. As noted above, seventh-round pick Rhyan Hayes may not be an offensive tackle at the next level and you can’t bank on a seventh-rounder making the roster, let alone being a reliable contributor. Picking up Elijah Higgins as a potential tight end is a quality pick but is far from a given as well. Using their third-round pick on Achane is one no one will argue about thanks to his abilities, but that pick may have been better used, answering one of their actual news.
Most likely to be an immediate impact player?
The most likely draft pick to be an immediate impact player is cornerback Cam Smith. His elite athleticism and strong size will allow him to step in right away at the NFL level and be a considerable contributor. Should see most of his time in zone coverages and be a consistent and immediate rotational player in the Dolphins’ secondary.
How does the Dolphins’ draft affect their potential in 2023?
The Dolphins’ 2023 draft probably won’t have a huge impact on its 2023 season. Smith has as noted has a chance to be their biggest impact player and Achane should fit in nicely in their deep backfield but that also means his role will be limited. Either way, the Dolphins should remain one of the better teams in the AFC and be pushing for an AFC playoff spot once again in 2023.