Final Draft Grades: Rating the Dolphins’ 2015 Draft

Draft grades for each of Miami’s picks, and what to expect from each of the team’s selections in the upcoming season.

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I have always had a love/hate relationship with draft grades. I compare them to products on the shopping channel that you see on TV at 3am. You know that they are completely useless, but for some reason you wont be able to explain at 11am the next day, you were able to justify buying it in some roundabout, useless way. Draft grades are not the optimal way to assess a group of new players, as you truly have to wait until the season to see who pans out for the team. But for now, here are grades and summaries for each of the Miami Dolphins’ selections in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Round 1 (14th Overall): DeVante Parker (WR- Louisville)

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This pick was simple. Miami had been linked to Parker since the draft process began, and managed to get a top 10 player at the 14th spot due to abnormal depth at the position. If it were not for Cooper and White, DeVante Parker would have bee a top 10 pick. All Miami had to do here was make sure the employee handing in the draft card didn’t get hit by a truck on his way to Roger Goodell. The Dolphins pick up a high level receiver, and select the best player available with their first pick. It is hard to ask for much more, and Parker should improve the team’s offense from day one.

              Grade: A+

Round 2 (52nd Overall): Jordan Phillips (DT- Oklahoma)

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Going with the best player available is always solid in the draft, but this pick might have been a bit much. My personal theory is that Miami traded back expecting Denzel Perryman to still be available, but the Chargers managed to swoop him up. The reason for this pick not receiving a higher grade is that it should have been used on a linebacker. However, given the circumstances and players available, fans should be happy with Phillips. He is a dominant lineman, with the ability to blow up a play and wreak havoc in the backfield. Phillips is more athletic than one would expect for his size, and will help make an already imposing defensive lineup for Miami even more effective. This pick gets a slight boost as a best-on-board selection, and I do believe that Jordan Phillips is a first round talent.

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              Grade: B

Round 4 (114th Overall): Jamil Douglas (OG- Arizona State)

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Miami needed to address the offensive line, and Jamil Douglas showed enough promise to warrant a shot in the 4th round. He possesses outstanding mobility, and will be an ideal fit for the fast paced offense in Miami. He has a huge issue with his strength, and will have to bulk up to hold his own against NFL lineman. Douglas also sometimes appeared to go onto autopilot at Arizona State, and his motor will have to be on every single play for him to be effective in Miami. I don’t have a problem with bringing in an offensive lineman with his skill set as a developmental piece, but Douglas is a risky player due to his consistency and strength issues. One underrated plus of Douglas: his experience playing left tackle as well as guard in college. His versatility will help him see playing time early on in Miami.

              Grade: C+

Round 5 (145th Overall): Bobby McCain (CB- Memphis)

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Dennis Hickey and Mike Tannenbaum had noted interest in adding a cornerback opposite Brent Grimes heading into the draft; unfortunately I believe they might have played this poorly. There were plenty of gifted, physical cornerbacks on the board later than expected, and it might have been wise for Miami to try to secure one with a more physically dominant skill set. Bobby McCain almost appears to play like a poor man’s Brent Grimes. He is an undersized, athletic corner with good speed and reaction. McCain does struggle with press coverage when asked to guard a receiver one-on-one. I just can’t help but feel like Miami could have done more to diversify their arsenal of cornerbacks by going after a bigger, stronger defender. His top line speed is also a red flag, as he is labeled as being quicker than he is fast. Overall, McCain is a good addition for the team, and will be able to contribute on special teams, as well as competing with Jamar Taylor, Brice McCain, and Will Davis for playing time.

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              Grade: C-

Round 5 (149th Overall): Jay Ajayi (RB- Boise State)

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Regardless of his health, selecting Jay Ajayi in the 5th round of the draft was an absolute steal. He has good burst, and elite strength when hitting the hole. Ajayi also possesses the ability to make big plays using his strength to beat defenders in the second level. Miami already has a speed back in Lamar Miller, but Ajayi’s skill set will add versatility to the offense, especially thanks to his above average pass catching and blocking ability. Lamar Miller has struggled at times when asked to block in the passing game, so Ajayi’s ability in that regard will be useful. This was a great pick for the Miami Dolphins, and as long as Ajayi is healthy, he can be a huge help to an offense that struggled on the ground a year ago.

PS: Jay Ajayi drinks pickle juice during games. So there’s that.

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              Grade: B+

Round 5 (150th Overall): Cedric Thompson (FS- Minnesota)

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With the departure of Jimmy Wilson in free agency, Miami had left a void at the safety position. While Reshad Jones and Louis Delmas will be the starters, Delmas has a strong history of injuries, making depth at the position highly important. Coming off of an ACL tear, it is uncertain whether or not Delmas will be able to start in the early portion of the season. This is the best way to justify the Cedric Thompson pick. I like Thompson’s physicality and size (6’0, 208), and his ability to play either free or strong safety. He is a very strong tackler, who plays well downhill in run support. The Dolphins have needed physical defensive backs for a while now, and Thompson could bring that to the table. While he does show fluid movement, Cedric Thompson sometimes appears to lack instinct and reactiveness. When the game speeds up, his reaction time sometimes appears to lag. Cedric Thompson will have to work hard to develop his vision as a rookie, and might be thrust into playing time too early due to the history of injuries with Louis Delmas.

              Grade: C+

Round 5 (156th Overall): Tony Lippett (WR- Michigan State)

What keeps players on NFL rosters? Versatility. Tony Lippett will be a Swiss army knife for the 09.06.14_MSU FTBL VS OREGONMiami Dolphins, most likely starting his career contributing as a receiver and on special teams. Lippett’s experience at Michigan State playing cornerback could also prove useful as an emergency option. Teams struggle to select the 46 players who actually get to suit up for games, and if a player can be a 6th receiver, special teams contributor, and even a spare defensive back (BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF ABSOLUTE, CATASTROPHIC EMERGENCY ONLY). I love this selection just for the sake of adding depth, as Miami’s special teams struggled last season down the stretch. Tony Lippett might not be a big-time pass catcher, or record huge statistics, but he is a true football renaissance man, and will always be able to find some way to help his team.

              Grade: B-

Total Draft Grade: B+

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This year’s draft was simultaneously the most and least predictable for Miami in years. Everybody knew the team wanted to add a receiver, running back, offensive line, and cornerback. It was just a matter of when each position was selected.

Devante Parker and Jordan Phillips will both be sure-fire contributors as rookies, and I place them in the instant impact category. Apart from the team’s first two picks, this draft class could be a mixed bag. Due to need at the position, Jamil Douglas and Bobby McCain could find the field as rookies, but will struggle to make the leap from college to the pros early. Cedric Thompson and Tony Lippett will have to rely on special teams to get playing time as rookies with the Dolphins.

Now that the draft is in the rearview mirror, it is time to stop scouting players, and focus on how they will perform for the Miami Dolphins on the field. Draft grades are a good way to gauge how satisfied observers are after the picks are in, but really do not serve much more of a purpose than that. When the lights come on in September, we will all be able to truly grade the team’s draft, and see how the newest members of the Dolphins perform when making the leap from college football to the NFL.

Check out The Deep End’s full profiles on the Miami Dolphins’ draftees here:

DeVante Parker (WR-Louisville) – Jordan Phillips (DT-Oklahoma) – Jay Ajayi (RB- Boise State) – Jamil Douglas (OG- Arizona State) – Tony Lippett (WR/CB- Michigan State)

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