Recapping Late Rounds: Did the Dolphins Strike Gold With Any Day 3 Steals?
After addressing some of the roster’s most significant needs in the first three rounds, the Dolphins did well to work on some of their remaining roster holes with their two 5th round picks, their 6th round pick, and their 7th round pick. While these late round diamonds in the rough have an uphill battle to carve themselves out a role, or even make the 53-man roster, there are reasons to believe that these four players all have an opportunity to make a name for themselves in the future.
Isaac Asiata, OG Utah:
With the 164th overall pick, the Miami Dolphins selected Isaac Asiata out of the University of Utah. After addressing every major need on defense in the first three rounds, the team finally turned their attention to their understaffed interior offensive line. With Branden Albert gone and Laremy Tunsil making the move to left tackle, the guard positions in particular will be a major competitive battleground during training camp. Considering the relatively unassuming competition of Antony Steen, Ted Larsen, and incumbent starter Jermon Bushrod, Asiata will have an opportunity to carve a role out for himself.
At 6’3” and 323 lbs., Isaac Asiata has the size to be effective in the NFL. He actually plays even bigger than he is and has the immense physical strength required of a starting offensive lineman. To put it mildly, this man can take an opposing defensive lineman’s money. He can be easily described as a mauler and plays with a tenacity that is desirable among football players. However, his movement is very static and he struggles with stamina against shiftier opponents. He often lets his aggressiveness get the best of him and relies too heavily on his power in place of consistent technique.
While Asiata is definitely raw, he probably has the highest ceiling amongst all of the Dolphins’ interior linemen. While Mike Pouncey should have no issue remaining the team’s starting center if he stays healthy, the other starting interior lineman jobs are completely up in the air. While I believe that Jermon Bushrod and Ted Larsen are currently the favorites, if Isaac Asiata impresses in training camp, the Dolphins could have an intriguing option at the offensive guard position in 2017.
Davon Godchaux, DT LSU:
With the 178th overall pick in the draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Davon Godchaux out of LSU. While Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips fill the starting positions, the Dolphins can certainly use some big men as depth. Considering the unit was among the worst at defending the run last season (2nd worst), I can’t blame them for throwing the dice. Davon Godchaux has a lot of experience playing against top-tier college talent. Depending on your interpretation, he’s either versatile or a “tweener.” At 6’3” and 300 lbs., he won’t be making waves as a nose tackle any time soon. He’ll undoubtedly have to sit behind Jordan Phillips and Ndamukong Suh, and he will face competition simply to stay on the 53-man roster.
He’s quick for an interior lineman, but he lacks the size and strength to consistently punish guards on a play-by-play basis. He has some pass-rushing ability and fairly polished technique, but he will undoubtedly struggle against better lineman and probably doesn’t have the ability to outmaneuver double teams at the next level. He often lacks discipline and is too aggressive at times. Based on numerous reports from scouting experts in the media, he projects as a backup lineman at best if he does not change his playing style quickly. Sadly, considering the competition at the defensive tackle position, he may find himself as the odd man out.
Vincent Taylor, DT Oklahoma St.:
With the 194th overall pick, the Miami Dolphins selected another defensive tackle: Vincent Taylor out of Oklahoma St. As previously mentioned, the Dolphins need some help defending the run, so taking back-to-back defensive tackles isn’t particularly surprising in the later rounds. Taylor has the desired physical talent required for an interior lineman and has the production to back it up (13 tackles for loss and 7 sacks last season). His quickness off the line and solid strength make him a nuisance, particularly against the pass. Like Godchaux, who was taken a round before him, Taylor has virtually no chance of beating out Ndamukong Suh or Jordan Phillips in the short or long-term for a starting position. His lack of agility, high-center of gravity, and mediocre stamina make him a rotational lineman at best at this stage.
Taylor’s physical talent, experience against pass-heavy offenses, and long arms give him good tools to build upon in the NFL. But it is probably his special teams prowess that could keep him on an NFL roster. With four blocked kicks, he has the production to support his claim as an excellent special teamer. While special teams are often scoffed at, this is often the best way for middling players to grind it out until they get their big break down the line. In my opinion, this is what ultimately will separate Taylor and Godchaux when it comes to competition over the coveted few roster spots available to interior linemen.
Isaiah Ford, WR Virginia Tech:
With the 237th overall pick, Miami drafted wide receiver Isaiah Ford out of Virginia Tech. The 6’1” and 194-pound 7th round pick will face a lot of competition to crack the 53-man roster, especially if the team opts to keep fewer than 6 wide receivers. The top 3 wide receivers are set in stone, as Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, and DeVante Parker figure to maintain their three-headed monster role throughout the 2017 season. Ford will primarily compete with Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant for snaps.
Isaiah Ford’s excellent quickness, good height, and advanced route running are great building blocks to work on at the professional level. He’s a playmaker (18TDs over the last 2 seasons) and was a consistent presence for Virginia Tech as well (154 receptions for 2,258 yards over the last 2 seasons). However, his lack of functional strength will hurt him in the NFL when pinned against more physical cornerbacks. His relatively small catch radius is also a concern, especially considering he does most of his damage on deep balls. He has the talent to succeed in the NFL, so long as he takes the necessary steps to improve his abilities. He should contend with Leonte Carroo for the 4th receiver spot, but he has limited special teams value so he may find his window to make the roster shorter than he’d like.
*Many scouting takeaways came from referencing Ian Wharton’s NFL draft guide*