When predicting the Dolphins' draft board, I looked at 3 factors in this priority order:
1. Positional Need - Teams always say they don't draft for need, but that only applies to teams that have already built depth at most positions and can afford to take best player available.
2. Positional Value - Where is the depth in this draft? Which positions will see early runs and which will see later runs? You have to answer these questions before knowing where to value certain players.
3. Player Value - This isn't purely based on the player's relative talent level, but I also look to see how this player will impact the team. Is he a capable starter or is he a game-changing starter? Is he a depth player or does he fix a significant deficiency on the team? That's how I rank players.
Dolphins' Positional Needs (priority order)
1. RT - no proven starter on the current roster and depth is a concern
2. OG - no proven starter on the current roster and depth is a concern
3. LB - our MLB and WLB severely underperformed last season
4. WR - lacking a big WR target and a YAC target; depth due to injury is also a concern
5. TE - Clay was a revelation last year; Everyone behind him stinks
5. FS - our SS underperformed and our new, free-agent FS has troubling injury history
6. DT - lost Solai in FA and could use another young body for depth
Dolphins Positional Value
1. LB - I only see 5 LB the Dolphins should target in the 1st 3 rounds. Round 1 Value - CJ Mosley, Ryan Shazier; Round 2 Value - Kyle Van Noy; Round 3 Value - Chris Borland, Shayne Skov
2. RT - I also see 5 RTs that the Dolphins like. Round 1 Value - Zack Martin; Round 2 Value - Morgan Moses, Ju'Wuan James, Joel Bitonio; Round 3 Value -Jack Mehwort.
3. WR - Round 1 Value - Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks, Marquise Lee, Allen Robinson; Round 2 Value - Donte Moncrief, Martavis Bryant; Jordan Matthews; Round 3 Value - Jarvis Landry, Cody Lattimer; Bruce Ellington.
4. OG - Round 1 Value - None; Round 2 Value - Xavier Su'a-filo, Gabe Jackson; Round 3 Value - Dakota Dozier
So here are the 3 draft scenarios I see and how each plays out for us.
1. Scenario 1-No trades; We pick at #19 in the 1st, #50 in the 2nd, and #81 in the 3rd
- #19 - CJ Mosley - I think the Vikings will try to trade back to get some extra picks and then pick Mosley, but I don't think they get it done. Given the lack of depth in this draft for linebackers, Mosely is a good positional value pick. Mosley instantly upgrades 2 positions on our defense by allowing us to play him at MLB and slide Ellerbe to his more natural position at WLB. The move not only fixes our run defense, but it also improves our 3rd down pass defense. In some passing situations, we can play Mosley and Jelani Jenkins together and have our 2 best coverage linebackers on the field.
- #50 - Ju'Wuan James - I was hoping Bitonio would still be there at 50, but his value has risen quite a bit and I think he will be gone. I take James here because I think he is an instant plug-and-play at RT. Time will tell if he can also fill in at LT, but we know what he is right now. He's a starter. That's all you can ask of a 2nd round pick.
- #81 - Dakota Dozier - I would have liked to pick a receiver in this spot, but there was a good run on them in the 2nd round and the talent left does not match a 3rd round value. Plus, Dozier is the last available guard before the drop-off becomes steep. I like him because he has the movement skills we covet, plus he could likely fill in at RT or LT in a pinch.
2. Scenario 2 - Trade Down into the late 1st while picking up another 2nd round pick
- Late 1st Round - Joel Bitonio - While some would argue that this is too high for him, I see a quality starter that could possibly play RT or RG. I think we will kick him inside to RG. He gives us performance and positional flexibility. In addition, I don't see any of the WR candidates dropping to this position on our value board.
- #50 - Ju'Wuan James - Touchdown! We just snagged 2 OL starters at proper positional value and acquired 2 starters with positional flexibility. This fixes our starting line and our depth problem.
- Late 2nd Round - Martavius Bryant -Too low for Donte Moncrief and too high for Jarvis Landry. I think Bryant will be here and he has #1 receiver physical ability. With our WR depth, we can bring him along slowly. Teach him to run routes and let his knowledge catch up to his physical ability.
- #81 - Chris Borland - Everyone loves Borland because of his tenacity and his read/react skills, but I see Borland dropping when all is said and done. His limitations, especially in coverage, scare off some teams. I think he will be fine in zone coverage, but will have to work on man techniques when being asked to cover running backs. What we get is a tackling machine that will compete for playing time right away.
3. Scenario 3 - Trade out of the 1st with a team looking at QB, while picking up an early 2nd and an early 3rd
- Early 2nd Round - *Donte Moncrief or Allen Robinson - One of these guys will drop. I give Moncrief the nod based on his performance against SEC competition, his freakish performance at the combine, and the fact that Moncrief was playing with a worse QB.
- #50 Ju'Wuan James - fits our positional need and fits positional value. Starter at RT and could possibly add depth at LT.
- Early 3rd Round - Jack Mehwort - has been working out at multiple positions and even played some center at Ohio State's pro day. Positional flexibility moves him up some draft boards. I have him rated as the last capable RT starter with value in the 1st 3 rounds. I think the drop off is steep after him.
- #81 - Chris Borland - Crossing my fingers that Borland is still there. If not, I give Shayne Skov a hard look. I also wouldn't be surprised if we double down on WR at this point. The WR class is particularly strong.
That's a wrap on Rounds 1-3. I ultimately think we're going to end up in Scenario 2 or 3. I think we'll pick up our surefire O-line starters and then try to address other needs. One move I think we make in the later rounds is to draft 2-3 undervalued line prospects. Hickey will look to fix the position group long-term through this draft.