What should the Dolphins do with their first-round choice Thursday, aside from trying to trade down slightly to pick up a second-rounder? Draft analysts weighed in:
• Though some (including Mel Kiper) view Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett as a second-rounder, NFL Network analyst and former general manager Charley Casserly said he would have interest in Mallett at No. 15, if he meets Miami’s approval off the field.
“Mallett is the second-best quarterback behind Blaine Gabbert, and Mallett is more ready to play,” Casserly said. “At quarterback, teams won’t get something worth taking in the second round. But you will at running back. From a talent standpoint, I rate Mallett higher than Chad Henne. You always take the quarterback” if you have a strong conviction about him.
UF guard/tackle Mike Pouncey also “would be a sound pick,” Casserly said. “I’m not sure how good [Alabama’s] Mark Ingram will be in a power running game” like Miami’s.
“And I can’t see Miami investing a first-round pick in a tackle.
• NFL Network’s Charles Davis said he would take Southern California tackle Tyron Smith if he’s surprisingly there at 15 but otherwise would draft Mallett: “I’m enamored with Mallett’s skill set, and he’s coming out of a pro-style system. I want a game-changing type at 15, and Ingram is not the same threat as backs who can go the distance.” I doubt he’s special enough to give the ball 20 to 25 times a game.”
• ESPN’s Todd McShay changed his mind and said Miami should pick Pouncey, not Ingram: “NFL running backs have a short shelf life, and Ingram [is] one year removed from a knee injury. Rather than reach for a quarterback, the Dolphins would be best served to draft the best available offensive lineman in Pouncey.”
• NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, the ex-Cowboys executive, said Miami should trade down slightly and take TCU quarterback Andy Dalton: “Fifteen is a little too high.” They’ve done a lot of investigation into him.”
• Sporting News analyst and ex-Browns scout Russ Lande said if Boston College tackle “ Anthony Castonzo or Tyron Smith is there at 15, I pounce on either. If not, take Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi.” ( Mike Mayock said Castonzo and Carimi also can play guard.) Lande added, “Any of those three makes your running game better. If they’re gone, I take Pouncey. I would tend to say no to Ingram. He’ll be solid but not special.”
• Sports Illustrated’s Tony Pauline said Miami had a decent shot to trade down because “it’s such a good draft for defensive linemen and maybe teams will try to jump ahead of Jacksonville at 16 to take one.” If not, “Ingram makes the most sense.”
• Kiper advocates Ingram, but Pouncey “has to be in the mix. I would not take a quarterback that high. Henne deserves more of a chance. You try to help Henne. Once Ingram gets through the initial hole, he’s a terror in the second level.”
• The analysts advocated an offensive player for Miami’s first-rounder, though defensive linemen Aldon Smith, Cameron Jordan, Ryan Kerrigan, Corey Liuget and Muhammad Wilkerson and linebacker Akeem Ayers are projected in that range, and Miami has evaluated them all.