With the 2015 NFL Draft just days away, fans all over the world are buzzing to see just who their team will take in the first round Thursday evening. The Miami Dolphins with the fourteenth selection is one of the more intriguing picks in the Draft where thanks to a stellar free agency, which included the biggest prize of this years free agency Ndamukong Suh; Miami does not appear to have any glaring weaknesses.
The recent acquisition of Greg Jennings at WR gives a young and talented receiving core a veteran figure, who will be valuable both on and particularly off the field in the film room. While many talked of adding depth at the Corner position, Miami signed Brice McCain from the Steelers and Zack Bowman from the New York Giants. The Offensive Line also saw the addition of Jeff Linkenbach at Guard from the Kansas City Chiefs and also Jacques McClendon at the G position from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Even at QB which the Dolphins feel they have tied up with Ryan Tannehill, the free agency saw the resigning of Matt Moore as a solid back up who knows the playbook and the addition of Josh Freeman who could turn out to be just a camp arm but will also push Matt Moore for the number 2 spot. The Dolphins therefore may look to draft anyone along O or D Line as well as a skill-position player to make an immediate impact in the 2015 season. Yet they may also want to look for a new Linebacker or even a complementary back to help ease Lamar Miller’s workload.
While I obviously would love to see players like Amari Cooper, Kevin White, Randy Gregory or Dante Fowler, JR in Miami’s aqua next season, sadly I believe that all of these players will be out of Miami’s reach in the draft unless they trade up. I have therefore highlighted 4 players who I feel the Dolphins may target and could help strengthen this Miami roster ahead of a big season for both General Manager Dennis Hickey, Head Coach Joe Philibin and also Quarterback Ryan Tannehill who’s looking to improve on an impressive 2014 season.
DeVante Parker – WR, Louisville
Many analysts have Parker as going to the Dolphins at 14, something that must excite every Miami fan. Parker is a tall receiver at 6 foot 3 and has a huge wingspan making him a big target for Ryan Tannehill. He also consistently high points the ball and his best play often comes from when the ball is high in the air. This would make him a perfect red zone threat, something that Dolphins need following the recent departures of Mike Wallace and Charles Clay. Parker also possesses a great ability to extend plays after the catch and he could turn short throws into big gains for the Dolphins.
However, despite his 209lb frame, Parker is not a physical player and could struggle against bigger and more physical Corners in the NFL. He also needs to improve his route running ability and polish up on some routes that he may not have ran at college.
Yet Parker would be an explosive weapon alongside Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry and Jordan Cameron. At his best when the ball is in the air, he could provide the Dolphins and Tannehill with a great red zone target. Questions remain over whether he will be available at 14, with strong interest from New Orleans at 13 and the Vikings at 11 who may want to reunite Teddy Bridgewater with his old college receiver.
Trae Waynes – CB, Michigan State
Waynes had an unbelievable Combine where he finished 4th amongst Corners in the bench press exercises (19 times); 1st in the 40-yard dash (4.31) and 6th in the vertical jump (38 inches). At 6 foot and 186lbs and with 31-inch arms, Waynes is a long Corner who excels in man-to-man coverage. He is mentally tough and is also a great tackler in the running game. Waynes only gave up 2 TDs in the past two seasons and the general consensus coming out of the NFL Combine this year was that Waynes is the no.1 CB in this year’s draft.
However, most critics will highlight that Waynes has been penalized 9 times in the past two seasons for grabbing and he is also at times clumsy with his feet and hips. He excels in man coverage and so this may pose problems if he does not adapt quickly in the increasingly flag happy and receiver friendly NFL. Yet he has a high ceiling and may prove to be the perfect pairing alongside Brent Grimes in the next few seasons if Miami takes him at 14.
Danny Shelton – NT, Washington
At 339lbs, Danny Shelton is a thick interior Defensive Lineman who’s big body plugs gaps in the run game. He also posses the potential to bulldoze his way into backfield and earn sacks and tackles for losses. He has quick hands off the line, which allows him to shed blocks quickly. He recorded 9 sacks and 16.5 tackles for a loss in 2014 showcasing his productivity. Shelton’s sheer size demands a double team, however, if drafted by Miami he would most likely have a 1-on-1 match up with a G due to the presence of Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake.
However, Shelton’s weight is something that needs to be kept in check and many teams will hope that once drafted, he turns up for training camp in a good condition and sub-340lbs. Yet Shelton managed to disrupt opponents with an average bull-rush at College and he therefore needs to incorporate spin and swim moves into his arsenal, in order to turn him into a potential pass rushers. This plays in to one of the main criticisms of Shelton in that his numbers are highly inflated due to him facing poor opponents. This can clearly be seen in that six of his nine sacks last season came against sub-par competition (Hawaii and Eastern Washington). Yet Shelton’s size could cause match-up nightmares for offensive lines in the NFL. Alongside talented individuals such as Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Earl Mitchel, Shelton could grow into a player that every week bullies opposing Guards and Centres.
Todd Gurley – RB, Georgia
After the recent suspension of Dion Jordan for the upcoming season for violating the League’s substance-abuse policy, it is unlikely that the Dolphins will take too many gambles in the 2015 NFL Draft. However, Gurley is the most intriguing prospect of this years class, a consensus top-5 on talent alone, Gurley’s career at Georgia has been dogged with injuries. Last year he played just 6 games before tearing his ACL. However, the tape he has managed to compile over his college career is mind-boggling.
Gurley has been dominate throughout his college career due to his blend of speed and power. He uses quick and tight footwork to weave his way throughout the second level and where there is no room for this he just explodes into tacklers and absorbs contact. He has a mean stiff arm and is an absolute menace to bring down. He does most of his work after initial contact and has incredible ball protection (only three fumbles in 510 carries).
However, Gurley missed three games in 2013 due to an ankle injury and the recent ACL tear is a massive red flag for any team thinking of taking Gurley. Questions have been raised over whether he will be ready in time for training camp or season opener. Yet others ponder whether Gurley may even be a step slower than we have seen at College due to surgery. Before his injuries, Gurley was talked about as the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson, however, the extremely young and talented Gurley has All-Pro traits and the potential to be one of the top-3 RB’s in the NFL if he finds the same form he in the NFL that he showed at times in Georgia.
Other notable targets: Dorial Green-Beckham (WR – Oklhoma), La’el Collins (OT – LSU), Marcus Peters (CB – Washington), Nelson Agholor (WR – USC), Shane Ray (DE – Missouri).