1. Ja’Wuan James, OT Tennessee
2. Jarvis Landry, WR LSU
3. Billy Turner, OT North Dakota State
4. Walt Aikens, CB Liberty
5. Arthur Lynch, TE Georgia
5. Jordan Tripp, ILB Montana
6. Matt Hazel, WR Coastal Carolina
7. Terrence Fede, DE Marist
Considering the mess the Miami Dolphins had in their locker room this past season, they had some issues that already needed to be addressed become even worse as a result. The approach the Dolphins took in the early part of the draft was deliberate and targeted, which was good, but they seem to have left opportunity on the board in the process. They seemed to rally in round three and come up with a terrific amount of value on day three of the draft.
The offensive line was the issue going into the season last season for the Dolphins. They failed to properly address left tackle effectively and signed Branden Albert to address it at least for now. The Dolphins identified right tackle as an issue to address early and opted to take Ja’Wuan James to do it; a pick they had been linked to a few weeks before the draft.
Ja’Wuan James looks the part and is a good athlete, but both he and the Dolphins have a long way to go for this pick to make sense where they got him. James has the athleticism to be a left tackle, but was kept on the right side because of Antonio Richardson at Tennessee and because he would make misreads that resulted in missed blocks. On the right side, that is not as big of an issue since the quarterback can see it coming, but it is still an issue that needs to be corrected. If he can do that, James could be a nice player for them for a long time.
From the point of view of addressing a need, the Dolphins did it, but the question is why they felt they had to take him at 19. Considering a team like the Cleveland Browns moved up from 26 to 22, the question is if the Dolphins front office had an offer in place to allow them to move up 19 and they simply rejected it. There is not much doubt James would have been there at 26. That seems like a missed opportunity for them to get an extra pick that could have really helped them. The Browns gave up a third round pick to move up four spots.
The Jarvis Landry pick in round two is really interesting. Landry has outstanding hands and can make plays in traffic. The problem is he average as an athlete and is inconsistent with route running. The Dolphins likely do not need him to help on the outside and if they do intend to use him in the slot, he could be an intriguing weapon.
Landry is a head hunter as a blocker and as a result, he ends up playing the slot like a joker tight end as opposed to a receiver. He can go out and make catches to extend drives, but he can take the head off of opposing linebackers that are not looking for him and really help their struggling running game. If the Dolphins want to use trey formations for instance, they can have three receivers on the field but be a legitimate threat to run both sides.
The Dolphins went back to the offensive line in round three and took Billy Turner from North Dakota State. While he likely will move inside to guard at least initially, he has a lot of experience at left tackle and could move out there in a pinch. Turner may end up being a swing tackle while also helping the Dolphins inside. He has a good amount of strength and power with a good amount of developmental upside.
I like the pick of Walt Aikens out of Liberty in round four. Along with Pierre Desir from Lindenwood, Aikens was a small school player that hit the ground running at the Reese’s Senior Bowl running and was not afraid to take on anyone. He has a good combination of size and length, so he could help a team as a press corner, but he is not afraid to get involved in the running game either. Aikens could end up contributing on nickel early, moving another corner into the slot.
My favorite pick for the Dolphins was Arthur Lynch. The Dolphins have next to nothing as a legitimate inline tight end and Lynch can do everything. He will line up and fight as a blocker, helping to create running lanes. Lynch is able to run routes and give opponents problems in that 5-8 yard range as a receiving threat with a little bit of ability after the catch as well. Overall, Lynch is an underrated player and could come in and have an immediate impact in Miami, giving Ryan Tannehill a place to throw the ball to extend drives and in the red zone while also helping the running game.
Getting Jordan Tripp later in round five was another great value. He did not get much attention playing at Montana, but Tripp did just about everything there. He played in the middle, but has experience on the outside, shows a great deal of ability in zone coverage and range to make plays. Tripp can also long snap if the team wants. The Dolphins have put a lot of money into their linebackers in free agency, but Tripp could be a player that becomes a quick fan favorite. It might take him a little while to adjust to speed of the NFL, but once he does, he could prove valuable.
The Dolphins opted to give Tannehill another weapon in Matt Hazel in round six. Hazel tends to be a possession receiver that has does his best work using vertical routes to open up underneath options and catch passes on comebacks. He is more along the lines of a Brian Hartline if he can develop, but getting to play behind the receivers the Dolphins have could allow him to have time to become a nice player as he has good size and still possesses upside.
On the whole, the Dolphins probably had the best draft in the AFC East despite the reach on James. I think they could have done more with that pick and still gotten their man, but after him, the value steadily improved until the Dolphins were picking up some great value players that can help the Dolphins early on day three. Everything with this draft is going to depend on how the offensive line plays this year, but they got weapons that can help their blocking scheme as well as catch the football and some under the radar defensive players with ability. After getting past the James pick, the Dolphins really were able to do well with the resources they had.