Picking a Position: Dolphins Writers Reveal How Miami Should Spend Their First Round Pick
It is impossible to predict how the Dolphins will use the 13th overall selection in this week’s NFL Draft. The team’s vast needs give them many potential approaches to selecting among a sea of talented prospects. However, it is possible to attempt to predict in which direction they might look in the first round this Thursday.
In this article, we surveyed several writers and analysts who specialize in the Miami Dolphins to see where they think the team will allocate their resources in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Max Himmelrich: Lead Writer, The Deep End Miami
The Miami Dolphins have a long list of needs in this year’s draft. When a team has so many areas to address, it actually gives them some flexibility. I do not believe that the Dolphins will be bound to one position in Chicago, and prevailing wisdom would point towards simply selecting the best player available.
If I were forced to pick one position, I would say cornerback. I rank that need higher than any of the team’s others and feel that the talent does not extend very well beyond the second round. If the Dolphins want to address the defensive line, they can surely find a talented player on Day 2 or 3 in this very deep class. If they want a running back, there are several options they could look towards later. Cornerback appears to be the most logical option in the first round.
Whether or not the team selects that position remains to be seen. I think most can agree that if Ezekiel Elliott is available when Miami is on the clock, it will be hard to say no to one of the most dynamic playmakers in the class. Vernon Hargreaves could potentially be available, but even if he is, it would still be hard to say no to Elliott.
Predicting the likelihood of who the Dolphins will select is made very difficult by their aforementioned laundry list of needs, but I would say that a cornerback makes the most sense, unless Ezekiel Elliott is somehow still on the board.
Matthew Cannata: Reporter/Columnist, The Phinsider
The Miami Dolphins are slotted to pick 13th in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft. There have been plenty of rumors about them trading up and even some in regards to them trading down. Simply put, all options are on the table for Miami.
They can go in numerous directions in the first round. Whether it’s running back, offensive tackle, cornerback, linebacker, or even defensive end, the Dolphins are in position to pick the best player available. Now, that’s not because they are so talented across the board that they can afford to do that but rather because they have so many holes.
Here are some names to keep an eye on in round one:
Running Back: Ezekiel Elliot
Offensive Tackle: Ronnie Stanley and Jack Conklin
Linebacker: Myles Jack, Reggie Ragland and Noah Spence
Defensive End: DeForest Buckner (trade-up possibility) and Shaq Lawson
Cornerback: William Jackson and Vernon Hargreaves III
Here’s how I’m ranking these players:
- Ezekiel Elliot
- DeForest Buckner
- Myles Jack
- Noah Spence
- Reggie Ragland
- Shaq Lawson
- Ronnie Stanley
- William Jackson
- Jack Conklin
- Vernon Hargreaves III (due to off-field concerns)
Luis Sung: Lead Writer, Phinmaniacs
I’m sure that I’m not the only one on this panel who will say this, but if I had to pick a position for the Miami Dolphins to target in the 2016 NFL draft, it’s cornerback. After releasing Brent Grimes, the team is lacking a number one corner despite trading for Byron Maxwell. As of right now, the most experienced corner on the team besides Maxwell is former second-round draft pick Jamar Taylor, who struggled on the boundary last season and may get another chance to redeem himself under Adam Gase and Vance Joseph.
But that isn’t exactly encouraging.
Other corners currently on the team include former fifth-rounder Bobby McCain, a slot corner; former Cleveland Browns cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, another slot corner with high upside but also injury concerns; Tyler Patmon, who didn’t contribute much on defense in his two years with Dallas; and wide receivers turned corner Tony Lippett and Damarr Aultman.
Not exactly a promising crop of cornerbacks.
McCain and Lippett have the best chance of becoming good players as they both showed flashes during their rookie years. However, they should be regarded as projects as they’re nowhere near NFL ready, at least not on the level Miami would need them to be. Lippett is the one who will get the most attention as he’s being groomed as a boundary corner, which is precisely what Miami needs.
The Dolphins will probably turn to Maxwell to try and be their number one corner for at least this season. However, if Miami can draft one of this year’s top corners then, perhaps in a year or two, Maxwell can be relegated back to a role more suited to his ability: a number two man. Possible candidates include Vernon Hargreaves III, William Jackson III, Mackensie Alexander, and Eli Apple to name a few.
For a long time, I’ve been saying linebacker is a major need and it’s in Miami’s best interest to draft someone who could immediately fix the middle spot; on that point I’m standing firm. But for the first round pick, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Dolphins need to draft a corner that they can develop into a true number one. Maxwell could be good in Vance Joseph’s zone scheme, although he isn’t number one material.
Jake Mendel: Contributor, The Deep End Miami
I see running back as an easy to replace position for the majority of the time. There are special exceptions to this rule. Marshawn Lynch, Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles Todd Gurley, and, of course, Adrian Peterson are game changers in today’s passing league. To be able to change the game, these players need carries. The Dolphins have lacked balance on offense for some time now. Can Adam Gase turn Miami’s offense into a high-powered machine? Is the chance worth a first round pick? I think so.
Josh Houtz: Analyst, The Phinsider
With the 13th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select a cornerback.
The Dolphins are still far from being a complete team and could go several directions with the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft. In my opinion, the team’s two biggest needs are at defensive end and cornerback. In recent weeks, the Dolphins have been in discussion with free-agent defensive end Jason Jones. If interest is real, the Dolphins could choose to add him to an already established defensive line. In addition, the draft is loaded with quality defensive line talent, allowing the team to focus on cornerback in the first round.
Other than newly acquired Byron Maxwell, the Dolphins have a group of unproven cornerbacks currently on their roster. The draft’s best defensive back prospect is Jalen Ramsey and unless Miami decides to trade up, he remains considerably out of reach. The next best corner in this year’s draft is Vernon Hargreaves III. At 5’11” and 192 pounds, Hargreaves lacks the ideal size that most defensive coordinators covet. However, he has proven throughout his collegiate career to be more than capable of shutting down the opponent’s number one receiver. If the Dolphins desire a cornerback with a little more size, Houston’s William Jackson III would be a perfect fit in Vance Joseph’s offense. Whether it be Vernon Hargreaves or William Jackson, either would immediately contribute starting opposite of Byron Maxwell in Miami.
Ryan Romaine: Lead NFL Draft Writer, The Deep End Miami
The Miami Dolphins have a myriad of options with their first-round pick, and currently it isn’t very clear what their course of action is going to be. Cornerback, running back, defensive line, and linebacker are their most significant needs, and it will be extremely telling to see which position they seem to value most. It obviously depends on the talent available, but I see linebacker as the most prevalent necessity to fix in the first round. The draft is extremely deep along the defensive line, which should allow Miami to find some solid depth in a later round. The premise of acquiring Ezekiel Elliott could certainly be enough to have them bolster their running back unit, as could the possibility that Vernon Hargreaves is available at cornerback. However, if these two players are both off the board, I see linebacker as the most obvious target for the Dolphins’ front office.
With the expertise of head coach Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, the team can survive with rag-tag talent at running back and cornerback. On the other hand, without a reliable group of linebackers, the talent of Ndamukong Suh is being wasted. Targeting Myles Jack or Reggie Ragland to exploit the holes created by Suh is the most efficient way to guarantee improvement on the defensive side of the ball, specifically in run defense, and is therefore my choice for the most reasonable position of interest in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.