“The Miami Dolphins Select…” – 2015 NFL Draft Recap and Analysis
For the first time in the history of the NFL Draft, the names of the next potential stars would be called outside the walls of Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Destination: Chicago, the Windy City. The dreams of 256 young men came true as their names were read aloud in Chicago and the next step of their football career taken to another level: the National Football League. It’s an event where all 32 NFL teams hope to find that perennial star that can help their team lift the Lombardi Trophy in February. And with the 14th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft the Miami Dolphins select…
Before we get there let’s back track to what the team needed, wanted, and hoped to accomplish in this year’s draft. Floating at 8-8 the last two seasons, the Dolphins seemed as if they were one or two plays away from making it into the postseason since 2008. With the lack of big plays, boiling drama, and (some would argue) questionable coaching, the Dolphins once again watched their AFC East rivals, New England Patriots, and Tom Brady be crowned champions. So the question remains — what do the Dolphins need to make their championship dreams come true?
For starters they need help at the wide receiver, offensive guard, running back, defensive line, cornerback and linebacker. With a fairly deep draft it didn’t seem like a tall order to fill: scout which players best fits your team needs and hope some other team doesn’t swipe them. Fairly simple if there weren’t any trades, smokescreens, and drama surrounding the beginning of the NFL season. So let’s get to the Dolphins’ draft picks and I’ll explain to you how I believe that player fits a need, want or desire!
With the 14th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft the Miami Dolphins selected…DeVante Parker, Wide Receiver, Louisville. With both Amari Cooper and Kevin White going early in the draft it was a no brainer that the Dolphins would select Parker if he was available at 14. Why does this pick makes sense?
The Dolphins have lacked a big, strong, sure-handed, number one receiver for the last couple of years. Mike Wallace clearly wasn’t the answer as it seemed as if neither Ryan Tannehill nor Coach Joe Philbin could get on the same page with Wallace. The Dolphins decided that Brian Hartline wasn’t and isn’t a number one option, they had to choose the best offensive playmaker available on their board. Parker reminds me a lot like AJ Green out of Cincinnati. Has the size to take on the bigger corners in the league and can burn them at any time with his long strides and vertical quickness. He can make pretty much any catch that’s thrown within 10 yards of him. The Dolphins wanted to make a youth movement at the receiver position since the league has become more pass oriented. This is a pick that was a unique combination of best offensive player available on the board, fills a need, and the Dolphins WANTED him! With the receiver group of Parker, Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, and Greg Jennings, the Dolphins have something they haven’t had in the past couple of seasons: receivers that can make their own plays, catch the ball, and get significant yards after the catch. Overall, Parker gives Tannehill and the Dolphin offense a big offensive weapon to compliment the short quick hits Lazor likes to run.
In the second round the Dolphins brass caught some heat with the selection of Jordan Phillips, the defensive tackle out of Oklahoma. They picked relatively high in the second round and most experts from ESPN and NFL Network believed it would be the offensive guard issue they would resolve here. But I think it’s a solid pick for what the team wanted to address. They needed some depth behind Earl Mitchell and Anthony and Kamal Thompson. Phillips brings a versatile blend of size, speed, and strength being 6’5” and 329 pounds. He can dominate the point of attack at either left or right defensive tackle giving Suh and other teammates the freedom to do what they need to. The only issue with Phillips is if he can be a four down player. There were some instances with him back in college if he can be durable, or have the stamina, to take it to the next level. If he can work on that the Dolphins would have taken a first round talent in the second round, which would in turn save them money when it comes to contract talks. Most NFL teams like to create competition within the ranks through the draft and if the competiveness is there for Phillips he can be a defensive stud in the Dolphins defense. Overall, if he can use his big body to his advantage, he and Suh can create a very formidable defensive tackle duo.
Just a quick side note regarding the third round. The Dolphins didn’t have a third round pick in this year’s draft as it was sent over to New Orleans along with Dannell Ellerby (linebacker who benefited from a Super Bowl contract) for Kenny Stills. Which is actually a really good trade for Miami. They get a young receiver in Stills that caught nearly everything thrown his way and knows very well how to get yards after the catch. Something that will be very important given the way Lazor likes the short passes and speed.
Ok. Round four. This is where the Dolphins decided to fill their need at offensive guard. They selected Jamil Douglas out of Arizona State. He’s big enough but quick enough to play inside next to center Mike Pouncey if he gets the starting nod on opening day. He’s another competition guy that can be a solid starter for you and can progress over time especially with those around him. Billy Turner is penciled in at number one on the depth chart but the staff isn’t completely sold on him either. The right side of the line will all be competing for the starting jobs come September 10th. Offensive linemen are always the toughest positions to draft because you can play four years at left guard but be moved to right or even play tackle. That’s what Douglas brings to the table is his versatility to play either position but I don’t see him shifting over to Tannehill’s blind side. That’s putting a lot of faith in a rookie to protect your fourth year quarterback that has taken positive strides since coming into the lead. I’m sure he’s tired of eating grass over the last two years. Overall, Douglas brings versatility to an offensive line that was very shaky last year after underachievement and injuries. If he can be more consistent at a high level then he will be a solid starter.
Round five is where General Manager Dennis Hickey and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum went to work having four picks within 11 spots (145-156 overall). This is where I believe that Miami got the most value out of their picks. They were able to snag: Bobby McCain, Jay Ayaji, Cedric Thompson, and last but not least Tony Lippett.
McCain is a cornerback out of Memphis that plays with a nasty streak in the secondary. Embraces contact and loves to talk the talk. His playing style reminds me a lot of one of his Pro Bowl teammates, Brent Grimes. Undersized but makes up for it in technique, form, and sound understanding of the game. He’ll primarily be used as a nickel back but we will see the progress Will Davis makes throughout camp and possibly the season.
Ayaji was one of the top four running backs outside of Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, and Ameer Abdullah. The fact that he made it all the way to the fifth round is beyond me. Yes, he has the knee issues and had “character” issues during his freshman year at Boise State. But he can be a full time running back in this league with his running ability, awareness to pick up blitzes, and the finesse to catch the ball out of the backfield. You see a trend going on in the NFL with two-set backs or two backs that can be clear number ones on other teams. With Lamar Miller rushing over 1,000 yards last season he is lacking the size to have that ground and pound style. I love this pick for Miami this far late because it gives them a two headed monster with the quickness of Miller and the brutality of Ayaji (and even he can outrun a few defenders).
Thompson is a free safety out of the University of Minnesota and should have a great opportunity to learn under current safety Louis Delmas. Thompson has great speed and amazing range for the position and should take note of what the starters are doing, he might be next. Delmas is coming off an ACL injury and a position that requires a wide range of motion could be a liability if the injury isn’t fully healed. Thompson should be around him at all times though as he can learn a lot from the veteran safety.
Lippett is a very interesting player and a little surprised he fell this late into the draft. He can be the Swiss army player on the squad after playing corner and wide receiver at Michigan State. Lippett worked out and was drafted as a corner and will be primarily used as such but you never know with how schemes change in the NFL (thanks Chip Kelly). He can even field punts since he has the speed to make guys miss on special teams. The advantage of having a player like this is that he’s aware of what a receiver would do naturally on any given route. This gives him an inside track while trying to cover some of the league’s best slot receivers and has really good hands to boot!
The biggest winner of this draft has to be Ryan Tannehill after all the offensive firepower they have laid at his disposal. Most of the AFC East has focused on defense so the best way to fight that: get offensive playmakers that fit your system and can be explosive. DONE AND DONE!
After the three hard days of work the brass of the Miami Dolphins put in the work isn’t quite done. Keep your eyes peeled for the next tid-bit of information coming out of the undrafted free agent pool that the Dolphins managed to scoop up. Trust me, there are some good ones and you won’t want to miss it!
With all that said, will these young men help push the Dolphins over the edge of mediocracy? Will they make a deep playoff push and be crowned champions? Or will the dreams of these young men fade into the night and the hope of being an NFL star fall? Only time will tell.
By Nicolis Freeman