1st round: OT Ju’Wuan James
2nd round: WR Jarvis Landry
3rd round: OT/OG Billy Turner
4th round: CB Walt Aikens
5th round: TE Arthur Lynch
5th round: OLB Jordan Tripp
6th round: WR Matt Hazel
7th round: DE Terrence Fede
Usually, three months or so is long enough (like last year) for me to get over all the inevitable and redundant mistakes the Miami Dolphins have made during Draft Day, so as training camp gets hopping in earnest, it’s high time to take a look at the rookie class.
Under new general manager
The Dolphins were involved in three trades on Friday, but there are legitimate questions (still) on whether Miami got enough. Unfortunately, the Billy Turner pick seemed to ruin all the efforts that went into drafting LSU receiver Jarvis Landry, which seemed to be shifting Miami’s draft in a positive direction when it happened.
The rest of the haul was littered with a whopping five players from non-BCS schools, pegging this is as a bit of a high-risk draft for a first-year GM. In three years or so, we’ll have an indication of what these draft results are returning, but the early impression is that Miami had a middling draft that is largely dependent on how quickly James can land—and solidify—the right tackle position on a woeful offensive front.
Now to the specifics and player profiles …
First Round (19th overall): Ju’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
If you’re a Dolphins fan, this was the sort of trainwreck-in-slow-motion move you were expecting. Sure, he’s a right tackle by trade, is experienced with 40+ starts in the ACC and has the stature at 6-6, 311 pounds … but most had him pegged as a mid-second-round talent. Not only that, but Miami turned down trade requests to move down and acquire an extra third-rounder. So essentially, the ‘Fins elected to not only reach for a guy, but basically use first- and third-round picks on a second-rounder, which is quintessential Miami math and reason #6,408 how bad teams stay bad.
Other guys that were still on the board and intriguing were Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Michigan State corner Darqueze Dennard, Oregon State wideout Brandin Cooks and USC receiver Marquise Lee. Again, I understand the need for James and I don’t hate the pick, but I take issue with the inability or unwillingness to parlay the 19th overall spot into a higher value. Also, I question where his eyebrows are.
Second Round (63rd overall): Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
I almost never say this in conjunction with a Miami Dolphins draft selection, but I absolutely loved this pick. Using a pick from Denver through San Francisco, Landry was the result of a couple of shrew trade-downs that allowed Miami to pick up extra fourth- and fifth-rounders while still adding a playmaker. At 5-11, 205, Landry has great hands, strong slot skills and brings an element of toughness and swagger to a position and an offense that has lacked that for too long. With three wideouts coming off ACLs, he’ll have a great chance to impact right away, and in my estimation, represents the best draft pick in recent memory for this franchise.
Third Round (67th overall): Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
OK, so remember all the praise I bestowed on the ‘Fins braintrust, like, 30 seconds ago? This pick, to me, took a dump on all those shrewd moves. Turner was arguably the second major reach in three picks, and not only was he graded a fifth-rounder by many, but he cost Miami a third- and a fourth-rounder as part of a tradeup with Oakland. That’s an awful lot for a small-school project guy headed for a position change right off the bat.
So that’s the bad news. The good news is Turner is 6-5, 315, has a nasty disposition and likely will have a chip on his shoulder with all the non-BCS talk. He projects to left guard, which is a vacant spot for the Dolphins, so he will certainly have a shot at starting. The biggest issue here, to me, is that this seemed a bit panicky and undid a lot of the strong work done throughout the second round to address value and ammunition.
Fourth Round (125th overall): Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
So Aikens was kicked out of Illinois for stealing a laptop, but that’s where the Cam Newton similarities end. He has good size (6-1, 205) and speed, and the hope is that the character concerns have been addressed through a humbling process that lands you somewhere like Liberty. This would appear to be a good spot to take a chance on a risk like Aikens, but it also points up the pervasive sentiment that Miami whiffed badly on second- and third-round corners a year ago in Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.
Fifth Round (155th overall): Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia
At 6-5, 258 pounds, Lynch is a massive dude and an SEC-tested talent—an anomaly in the midst of a run on small-school diamonds in the rough. However, he’s not a seam threat, which is what Miami ostensibly needs. However, the ‘Fins have been investing heavily in drafting tight ends in recent years, and this is a good draft slot to draft a guy for a position that has increased in importance—and a position at which the Dolphins are by no means set. I’m not sure I see the fit, but hell, if he’s a good in-line blocker who can help the running game while also helping out struggling tackles in pass pro, it’s certainly a worthwhile pick.
Fifth Round (171st overall): Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana
My initial thought was that size (6-3, 234) could be a concern for Tripp, but this selection has been roundly lauded and pointed out as a good sleeper by most draft analysts. At the very least, he could be a special-teams ace, and the promising aspect is that this is a guy who was rising up many draft boards through the process. Chosen with a pick from the Broncos through the 49ers, Tripp is an addition to a position group that struggled mightily a season ago, and he could be a guy to watch throughout the preseason.
Sixth Round (190th overall): Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
The analysts seemed to really like this pick, with the thought process being that the 6-1, 198-pound Hazel could fit on the outside or in the slot. However, the Dolphins are stacked with similarly regarded wideouts, and one gets the impression that a receiver with more of a definitive strength and with kick-return potential would have had a better shot to impact the roster. As it stands now, it would be an upset if Hazel made the practice squad.
Seventh Round (234th overall): Terrence Fede, DE, Marist
Fede is the first player ever taken from Marist. He is 6-4, 276 pounds. I can't tell you much more than that, other than that he is joining perhaps the strength of the 'Fins roster. At the very least, as a representative of the smallest of small schools, he'll be an easy dude to root for.