With the 54th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Raekwon McMillan, LB – Ohio State. With the 97th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Cordrea Tankersley, CB – Clemson.
It’s refreshing to have a front office in Miami that seems to be making logical selections. To use a golfing reference, the Dolphins are hitting the ball straight down the fair way with these first three picks. Nothing too flashy or risky, Miami is taking productive college players from big schools who should transition well to the NFL. All three of Miami’s draft picks have started at least two seasons in college football – they’ve seen plenty of football!
Below I give reasons to be positive and reasons to be negative about these picks. We’ll start with the negatives and get those out the way…
Raekwon McMillan – Reasons to be negative
1) Zach Cunningham
When the Dolphins took Raekwon McMillan at pick 54, Zach Cunningham of Vanderbilt was still on the board. Cunningham is a player I graded similar to McMillan (Cunningham / McMillan) but who I believe has a higher ceiling. In 2-3 years time we might look back on this pick and think Miami ‘played it safe’ rather than going for the more unknown and raw prospect of Zach Cunningham. However, like I mentioned above, Miami seems to be driving the ball straight down the fairway and taking known commodities in this draft.
2) Questionable athleticism on tape
On tape Raekwon McMillan is not a sideline-to-sideline linebacker and who’s lack of athleticism led to serious question marks around his ability to cover and play 3-downs. This is part of the reason why he was available in round 2 and why Reuben Foster and Jarrad Davis went in round 1. If McMillan is unable to close down runs to the outside and teams bully him with TEs and RBs, McMillan could be limited to a 2-down linebacker. He was also unable to get home on delayed blitzes or blitz the C-Gap to surprise and disrupt QBs in college.
Counter! Despite a lack of athleticism on tape – McMillan excelled in Indianapolis and was one of the more impressive linebacker prospects. McMillan ran the 2nd fastest 40-time at (4.61!), Kiko Alonso only ran a 4.72 in 2013. Miami might be getting a player who was under-utilised for Ohio State and while he was purely a in-the-box tackling machine for the Buckeyes, could in fact show case his athleticism in the NFL. He also looked extremely fluid in coverage skills at the combine – important for playing all 3 downs.
Raekwon McMillan – Reasons to be positive
1) Ideal SAM in a Wide-9 and could be a tackling monster for Miami
If the Wide-9 works for Miami and on run plays the defensive ends are able to set the edge and funnel run plays inside, Miami has three tackling monsters in Raekwon McMillan, Lawrence Timmons and Kiko Alonso. McMillan is an ideal SAM LB and a see-it, react LB. He was a captain for a great Buckeyes defence and emerged as a leader following an exodus of talent to the NFL after the 2015 season. Over the last two years he racked up 221 tackles with 11 TFL.
2) Looked great at the combine
While his athleticism does not show up on film, he excelled at the combine and looked every bit a complete 3-down linebacker.
3) 2-year rebuild at LB is complete?
I know Lawrence Timmons is a stop-gap solution but Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier have overhauled the Miami Dolphins linebacking corps in just two seasons.
2017 starting LBs – SAM: Raekwon McMillan, Mike: Lawrence Timmons, Will: Kiko Alonso
2015 starting LBs – SAM: Kelvin Sheppard, Mike: Koa Misi, Will: Jelani Jenkins
McMillan could develop into a consistent 80+ tackling machine who is an extremely strong run defender and able to contribute in zone coverage. Miami addressed a clear position of need while also getting a good prospect with a high-floor and Pro-Bowl level ceiling.
Cordrea Tankersley – Reasons to be negative
1) Run support!
I put an explanation mark but it should be a massive question mark. Tankersley avoided contact in run support during his time at Clemson. If Miami’s DEs can’t set the edge and runners come flying towards the sideline, Tankersley could be the last line of defence to hold RBs from breaking off long touchdown runs. Despite having ideal, height, weight, speed and size – Tankersley just did not actively get involved in run support during his time at Clemson. Instead of trying to break free of a block and tackle the runner, Tankersley seemed to allow himself to be blocked too easily. However, when in the open-field, Tankersley showed he is not afraid to make a tackle – the Dolphins will hope they can address this.
2) Had 8 pass interference calls in two seasons
Tankersley can be overly grabby, something that NFL officials are far less tolerant on than those in college. He also struggled to locate the football in the air, however, these are areas that are all coachable in the NFL.
Cordrea Tankersley – Reasons to be positive
1) Ideal height, weight, speed and size to be an aggressive press-corner
Tankersley has prototypical size at 6’1″, 199lbs with 32 1/4″ arms. He’s slightly longer than Xavien Howard but both were excellent press-corners in college. Tankersley ran a 4.40 40 time and was extremely impressive during drills. He has the traits to be an aggressive press-corner who bullies receivers at the line and is able to excel in a Cover-3 scheme. He was a 1st team All-American according to PFF in 2016.
2) He’s can be a ball hawk and his production shows it
The Dolphins are getting a veteran CB who has seen plenty of football during his time at Clemson. He’s played in two national championships and won one, proving he has the strong mental toughness required to excel on an island in the NFL as a CB. He’s had 9 INTs the past two seasons alongside 20 passes defended and 9.5 TFL.
3) In every other draft he is in the conversation to go late round 1 to mid round 2
I believe that based on Tankersley’s production in college, his tape and his combine performance – any other year, teams would have serious conversations about whether to take him late round 1 or early round 2. He fell to Miami in round 3 due to an extremely deep defensive back class where a lot of prospects were graded similarly by teams. Miami might just have got a steal with a 3rd round compensatory pick by taking a national championship winner who also blew up the combine.
Important: Per PFF – he gave up only 1 catch of 30+ yards and only 1TD in 2016.
Did Miami strike gold, tripling down on Defense and addressing 3 areas of need? Now to find a guard!
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