Day 2 Primer: Who Are the Best Available Prospects for the Miami Dolphins?
The Miami Dolphins made a ton of noise on Thursday by selecting the free-falling top overall prospect Laremy Tunsil. The front office was quite understandably not expecting a player of this caliber to land in their lap, but the drama that surrounded Tunsil on draft night made this possible. Now, Miami has helped improve their shallow offensive line, and will turn their attention to their other positional needs on Day 2. Linebacker, cornerback, running back and defense line remain the most obvious weaknesses for this squad, meaning the team should look towards filling those needs in the second and third rounds. Here are some of the top available prospects for Miami to consider on day two of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Myles Jack, LB UCLA
This one should be obvious, and I don’t want to waste any time talking about his game because we should all understand at this point how talented he is. Myles Jack was every Dolphins fans’ dream selection for most of the draft process, but late whispers of a potential microfracture surgery on his knee led him to fall, and fall, and fall. We knew there was the possibility of falling out of the top 10, but the first round all together? That seemed impossible just 24 hours ago. Now the Dolphins may have the opportunity to draft another top 5 talent. When healthy, Jack is the best linebacker in coverage that I have seen in awhile, and an athletic freak. Having Laremy Tunsil and Myles Jack in one incoming class would be proof that literally anything can happen when you’re on the clock in the NFL Draft.
Reggie Ragland, LB Alabama
Who was our very own Max Himmelrich’s first choice for most of the draft process? Well, Reggie Ragland of course. Ragland is widely seen as one of the most NFL-ready prospects in the draft. He is a consistent tackler and an absolute force against the run, but seemed to fall into the second round due to concerns about his weight and speed. Unlike Jack, these weaknesses, in theory, would make it difficult for him to succeed in coverage. Nonetheless, Ragland has always been a good fit in the Dolphins’ defense potentially playing behind Ndkamukong Suh. If he is still available at Miami’s pick in the second round, it would be a huge mistake to pass him up.
Kevin Dodd, DE Clemson
This is an interesting one. There was a time when teams seemed to like Kevin Dodd more than his teammate, the newest Buffalo Bill, Shaq Lawson. He has a ton of athleticism and has the frame of an NFL defensive end. With another year in college, Dodd could have ended up in the top 15. Instead he chose to declare following a season ending streak of five games with a sack, including a dominant performance against Alabama in the national championship game. The Dolphins may be the ideal destination for the Clemson stud. He can rotate with Cameron Wake, while learning from both him and Mario Williams, and should eventually reach his full potential. He is an extremely hard worker, has an endless motor and is evidently very coachable. Overall, no one should be upset if he is the Dolphins’ next pick in the draft.
Jaylon Smith, LB Notre Dame
Does anyone really know where Jaylon Smith is going to end up? After seeing Jack go the entire first round undrafted, it is quite possible that Smith ends up in an even more severe free-fall. Teams have been worried about his injury even more so than Jack’s. With that being said, I have thought throughout the offseason that Smith would go off of the board by the third round, so I will stick with that belief here.
Smith is almost unstoppable when he is healthy. He flies around the field, making plays against the run and in coverage, combining to create an electrifying prospect. He could single handedly transform a defense when at full-strength, and whoever ends up drafting him will do so with that in mind. The Dolphins would have to be willing to take the risk, but the mere possibility of Smith ending the linebacker corps’ woes in both pass and run defense should be more than enough to have the front office and coaching staff interested.
Cody Whitehair, OG Kansas State
Maybe the first four possibilities were a little more exciting, but who could blame Miami if they chose to go in this direction? Drafting Tunsil was a matter of both value and need, and Whitehair would be much of the same. The Kansas State guard could have been gone already with teams at the end of the first round looking for offensive line help, but he ultimately fell into the second round. I’m not saying the Dolphins will do this, or even should do this; all I am pointing out is that a combination of Tunsil and Whitehair on the line of scrimmage could completely eliminate what was a huge weakness throughout the past few seasons. It will be very interesting to see how this situation would play out if Miami were given the opportunity to select the Kansas State lineman.
Mackensie Alexander, CB Clemson
The potential pairing between Mackensie Alexander and the Miami Dolphins is a tough one to gauge. Many identified cornerback as the team’s most obvious target in the first round, and Eli Apple and William Jackson III had become two extremely intriguing possibilities prior to the Tunsil pick. Eli Apple, William Jackson and Artie Burns are all long gone now, which leaves Mackensie Alexander as the clear top corner left in the draft. The only problem is that he doesn’t clearly fit in defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s scheme.
When at his best, Alexander is a shutdown corner in man-coverage. He has a cockiness to his personality that often suits defensive backs well in the NFL. However, Joseph is looking to implement a zone-coverage scheme in Miami. Alexander would be out of his element in this scenario. He doesn’t have the size to be considered a forceful tackler, and his lack of interceptions speaks to subpar ball skills. While I don’t see this as the right fit, that doesn’t mean that Joseph won’t see something in him and make the call. Regardless, it would have been wrong to keep him off of this list considering his clear standing as the best available corner and the Dolphins’ need at the position.
C.J. Prosise, RB Notre Dame
Adam Gase & company would have surely attempted to move up had Ezekiel Elliott slipped past the Dallas Cowboys, but instead the Dolphins will turn to a later round to address their lack of depth at running back. Gase has seemed impressed by projected starter Jay Ajayi up to this point (though much of his public commentary could have been part of a draft smokescreen), but they will almost positively draft an insurance policy. Derrick Henry may be the most talented running back still available, but Notre Dame star C.J Prosise seems like the much better fit in their offense.
We had broken down the potential union between Prosise and Miami earlier in the draft process, but here are a few key points. Prosise is a big back, but combines his size with impressive speed and acceleration. He is also a willing blocker, and, as a former receiver, is a very capable pass catcher. While he is still raw and inexperienced at the position, Prosise would do very well in splitting time with Ajayi and learning Gase’s offense. Overall, this could be one of the better player-team fits in the 2016 NFL Draft, and it is one that the Dolphins should pursue actively.
Kendall Fuller, CB Virginia Tech
Another player who would have gone in the first round had it not been for injury, I felt the need to include Fuller on this list because he seems to better fit what Joseph and the Dolphins are looking for in a cornerback. He is tall enough at 5’11, physical and is probably better suited for a zone-coverage scheme due to his instincts and lack of blazing speed. Fuller is extremely competitive and plays like he wants to be the best defender on the field. He is known for his above-average tackling capabilities for his position. This will be important in keeping plays in front of him if he does in fact play zone in the NFL, given the aforementioned lack of speed. Teams may be worried that he will have early penalty issues considering his aggressiveness, but Vance Joseph would be a great coach to turn that aggressiveness into production. Plus, Fuller is one of the more NFL-ready corners in this draft when healthy. Could he be the Dolphins pick on Day 2?
It would certainly be another high upside pick to help fill a severe need.
A’Shawn Robinson & Jarran Reed, DL Alabama:
Noah Spence, DE Eastern Kentucky
There are few cases in this year’s draft as curious as that of Noah Spence. Spence’s talent and production suggest he should have been off the board a long time ago, but underwhelming performances at the NFL Combine and concerns regarding past behavior off of the field (substance issues) made it likely that he fell into Round 2. Now that he is there, don’t expect him to last for long. In fact, he may not even be available by the time Miami picks again. Nonetheless, I had to mention him because the potential fit is just far-too intriguing.
Spence is going to be a great player in this league some day if he keeps his drug use in the past. He could excel in both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, which is important to consider due to Joseph potentially making the switch down the road. His best contributions come as a pass rusher, but he has shown enough glimpses in the run game to suggest that he won’t be a liability in this area either. Additionally, much like with Dodd, he could benefit greatly from playing behind defensive greats Cameron Wake and Mario Williams, both on the field and off of it. Overall, I think Miami has proven that they won’t be afraid to make selections based on talent and value over all else, which makes Spence a very intriguing possibility on Day 2.