Jarvis Landry Highlight Video
With the 2014 NFL Draft already in the books, the Miami Dolphins are one of the 32 NFL teams that hope the draft significantly improved their chances for a playoff berth, or at the very least an increase in contender status. The Dolphins draft began with a total of seven picks but ended with eight after Miami traded down into the second round.
This draft was the first where Miami fans got a chance to see Dennis Hickey in action, and if the free agency period was a barometer, everyone expected it to be a busy one. After five straight seasons without a winning one (a franchise record), the 2014 season will be very critical for third year Miami head coach Joe Philbin.
With an exciting draft for several NFL teams, let’s look at what Miami did with its eight selections and grade each one individually:
Round 1, Pick 19:
A must for the Miami Dolphins from the start was addressing the right tackle position, and they did so by selecting Ja’Wuan James from Tennessee. With the luxury of playing in the nations’ best conference through college, James saw a lot of field action as right tackle for the Volunteers. On tape, James looks to be capable enough to get himself in the starter position, but after the Dolphins’ options dwindled (tackle Zack Martin was selected 16th overall by Dallas), the Dolphins could have just as easily traded down, brought in an extra pick, and still have had a number of solid options available at tackle. Grade C+
Round 2, Pick 63:
A spot garnered though Denver via the 49ers, the Dolphins selected WR Jarvis Landry out of LSU (yes, the NFL Draft had other receivers not named Sammy Watkins). Mike Wallace struggled last season and Brandon Gibson is coming off a season-ending knee injury. The Miami Dolphins came into the draft with questions at wide receiver and Landry can help them answer those questions. At just 5’11”, Landry is the type of receiver that I would call dependable; he is fearless and just plainly goes after the ball. Even though Landry isn’t regarded as a speedster, he brings outstanding athleticism, and at 205 lbs he could become the Dolphins premier possession receiver from the start. Grade B+
Round 3, Pick 67:
A selection number thanks to Oakland, Miami aimed at shoring up the offensive line with the selection of Billy Turner, a tackle from North Dakota State. A worthy third round selection for sure, but a selection that leaves you scratching your head as the Dolphins already drafted Ja’Wuan James and signed Branden Albert in the off-season. Turner could find himself being the steal of the draft for the Dolphins, but if he is looking to contribute immediately he would have to move inside to guard. Grade: C
Round 4, Pick 125:
Part of a trade deal with San Diego, the Dolphins selected cornerback Walt Aikens with their fourth round pick. A 6’1″, 205 lb. Liberty product, Aikens is a stellar athlete that could play either corner or safety at the NFL level with some added bulk. Walt Aikens holds the honor of being a three time All-Big South selection and led a very good defense for the Flames. With the losses of both Dmitri Patterson and Nolan Carroll, there is a lot of inexperience at corner for the Dolphins, so don’t be surprised if Aikens competes well for time on the field once the season starts. Grade: B
Round 5, Pick 155:
As the fourth tight end selected by the Dolphins in the last three drafts, Arthur Lynch gets to don the teal and orange for the Dolphins in 2014. Lynch comes in with NFL size and will contend with Dion Simms and Michael Egnew for field time behind the breakout player of 2013, Charles Clay. A complete tight end, Lynch helps shore up a position that cast a long shadow of failure for the Dolphins. Lynch can be an instant contributor to the roster, but the later rounds are for needs and Miami had others it needed to address. Grade: B-
Round 5, Pick 171:
With the second of two draft selections in the 5th round, the Dolphins went with LB Jordie Tripp out of Montana. Last season, the LB production was lacking for the Dolphins, even after all the Ireland moves that promised an upgrade. Jordie Trip is the epitome of ‘overachiever’ as he excelled at outside linebacker last year for Montana but also comes with the size to play inside. Defensive versatility is a common trend in the NFL these days, and Tripp surely brings that to the Dolphins. He is a solid pass rusher to boot, which is something the Dolphins linebackers struggled with a season ago. Grade: B+
Round 6, Pick 190:
Adding another receiver to the roster hardly seems like the best thing to do for the Dolphins right now, but WR Matt Hazel out of Coastal Carolina got the nod for the Dolphins with the 190th selection overall. During the offseason, the Dolphins added competition for the roster spot, plus the drafting of Jarvis Landry earlier in the draft makes this choice a very puzzling one. Hazel is clearly a project that needs some bulk to really become an option for the Dolphins, especially over the middle, if he want to compete for a roster spot come opening day. Grade: D
Round 7, Pick 234:
A big and aggressive defensive tackle out of Marist, DE Terrence Fede joined the Dolphins roster over the weekend. Miami is pretty set at the defensive end position and that’s unfortunate for Fede, but his knack for getting to the passer is hard to pass up. At 275 pounds, Fede could potentially fill in at defensive tackle; however, it’s an area where the Dolphins are fairly thin. Fede will most likely not see much field action this coming season but the pick is surely a low-risk, high-reward type that can help in stopping the run as well as rush the passer. Grade: B
I will give the Dolphins credit for them addressing key needs along the offensive line, in the secondary, and at linebacker. They also managed to pick up an extra selection in this years’ draft, but the lack of instant contributors is somewhat anti-climactic. Of course, there could be a number of steals here and there but most of the selections in the later rounds could find themselves having a hard time making the team. Ja’Wuan James is already expected to be a starter on the offensive line, but Jarvis Landry and Billy Turner will ultimately decide weather the foes draft for Hickey as a Dolphins GM is a win or a bust.
Total Draft Grade: C+