Perfect Picks: Miami Dolphins
With the NFL Draft approaching we are looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we are running a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine, and finding the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
The Dolphins next, who have an unprecedented amount of draft capital including three first rounders, two second rounders, and 12 picks in total. With this many high value selections, the Dolphins are in position to trade up, down and all around. With so many potential variables, I’m doing something a little different with this Perfect Picks column, focussing on Miami’s first five picks in the draft and building as promising a class as I can given their myriad of needs.
Round 1 - Pick 5 - Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami
Tank for Tua. Except then they didn’t. The Dolphins started the season with seven straight losses and took a lot of flak for their supposed non-efforts, but Flores and his gang showed considerable moxey to finish up 5-11, highlighted by their stunning win on the road in New England in week 17. Ryan Fitzpatrick was his mercurial self but is not the future of the franchise, and so despite 4 teams picking ahead of them, it’s shaken out pretty well for Miami. Joe Burrow has emerged as the consensus number one overall pick to Cincy, Washington have Dwayne Haskins, and Detroit seem committed to Matt Stafford.
The only question marks over Tua are health related, but the signs are pretty positive that he will make a full recovery from the hip injury which ended his 2019 campaign. He’s accurate, mobile, calm amidst chaos and left-handed (hooray!). In all seriousness, he has the skillset and mindset for the QB position which will translate seamlessly to the pros, and he’d be the face of the franchise that Miami so desperately craves.
Flex Pick - Pick 5 - TRADE SCENARIO
In the event that the Dolphins are leapfrogged by a QB needy, trade happy team who have their hopes and dreams pinned on Tua, the Dolphins will be forced into a tough decision at 5 overall. My view? Trade the pick to another team if an offer is on the table, and stockpile as many picks as possible as ammunition for next season’s QB class, which includes Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. This kind of rebuild is a marathon, not a sprint.
Round 1 - Pick 18 - AJ Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Dolphins desperately need a pass rush and the 6’6, 280lb Iowa product would provide an immediate upgrade to their middling roster. Epenesa is incredibly strong with a brilliant bull rush but has the hand skills to develop into an all round pass rusher. He gets into the backfield with alarming regularity, notching 30.5 tackles for a loss, 22 sacks and 8 forced fumbles in the past two seasons at Iowa. He won’t be comfortable dropping into coverage but he shouldn’t need to if a defense is built cleverly around his strengths. If he falls to 18, which is plausible, the Dolphins can pull the trigger on an every down defensive stalwart.
Round 1 - Pick 26 - Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Taking a running back this high in the draft might be an eyebrow raiser but given the depth of the Dolphins war chest this year, why not? Jonathan Taylor had a remarkable career for the Badgers, racking up over 50 scores over three seasons and setting the FBS record for 200 yard rushing performances with 12. He is best suited to inside runs where he can utilise his power and get downhill fast, and is a rare breed in that the more you give him the ball, the more he thrives, ala Adrian Peterson. Taylor runs hard and is dependable and versatile enough to be the Dolphins workhorse feature back.
Round 2 - Pick 39 - AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson
The Dolphins defense finished 27th in yards per game against and 31st in yards against per completion. How much of this was because of such a sub par pass rush, and how much was due to poor secondary play? It’s debatable, but few would argue that the Dolphins aren’t in need of an upgrade at corner. AJ Terrell, out of Clemson, fits the bill at the start of the second round. Terrell is a natural athlete with the smarts to play zone and man alike. With the quick feet and fluid hips that most scouts love at the position, Terrell would give the Dolphins a plug and play starter from a proven programme.
Round 2 - Pick 56 - Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
Devante Parker was a revelation in 2019 for the Dolphins but reliance on one wide receiver is never a recipe for success in the NFL, and Miami would do well to upgrade their corps, especially if they draft Tua Tagovailoa. Peoples-Jones looks a good fit. He’s big bodied and strong and uses that physicality well at the catch point. The Michigan product has great hands and is proficient as a blocker in run situations and as a return specialist too, meaning he can contribute in multiple ways right away in south Florida.
Draft in full
5. Tua Tagovailoa (QB)
18. AJ Epenesa (EDGE)
26. Jonathan Taylor (RB)
39. AJ Terrell (CB)
56. Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR)
70. Ashtyn Davis (S)
135. Marlon Davidson (EDGE)
144. Adam Trautman (TE)
147. Michael Pittman JR (WR)
165. Justin Herron (OT)
177. Francis Bernard (LB)
222. Ray Lima (DT)
Feature Image Credit: Thomas J. Russo (USA Today Sports)