The purpose of this exercise is to find five realistic fits for Miami at their current draft selection. I based these selections on the best players that may be available combined with those who have had contact with Miami so far in the process. Without further adieu, here they are:
1. Derek Barnett – The Dolphins have reportedly “spent a lot of time studying Barnett” according to The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. Jackson also added that “the Dolphins this year told one high-end front seven defender that they didn’t need to use one of their 30 visits on him because they feel good about his ability without bringing him in.” I’m betting that player is Barnett. Opinions on Barnett’s draft stock are all over the board. Some believe he could go in the top 10, while other believe he could linger into the early 20’s. The All-Time Sack leader at Tennessee would seemingly be a perfect complement to All-Pro rusher Cam Wake. He plays the run well, has active and violent hands to disengage blockers and obviously does a nice job getting to the passer. The only thing holding back Barnett from being a Top 10 lock is his lack of elite athleticism. At the end of the day, this is an outstanding football player and is very much in play to be the Dolphins pick at 22.
2. Taco Charlton – Another former Wolverine that appears to be a terrific position fit is edge rusher Taco Charlton. The long, athletic pass rusher could become a starter relatively quickly for this team and gives the team much needed depth in the interim. Cam Wake is not getting any younger and newly added William Hayes is only working on a one-year deal. No one doubts Taco’s ability; however he doesn’t show the same maximum effort on every play. Motivation shouldn’t be a problem while playing on the line with All-Pro greats like Ndamukong Suh and Wake. Taco’s length and upside are certainly intriguing and could make for a solid addition for Miami on Thursday night.
3. Reuben Foster – Foster’s case is maybe the most interesting and intriguing one of all. This pick will depend largely on how teams view the risk of taking Foster in the first round. Foster will now be one failed drug test away from a four-game suspension. Picking the former Alabama product now comes with considerable risk. Reuben Foster is a top 10 pick on talent alone and the Dolphins have been proven to roll the dice if the talent outweighs the risk. They faced a similar decision with their 2016 first round selection of tackle Laremy Tunsil. At this moment, it still seems like a long shot that Foster will be available, but he would be make a lot of sense for Miami if he is. Gase also has a close relationship with Alabama head man Nick Saban, who would likely give his recommendation for Gase to make Foster the next Miami Dolphin.
4. David Njoku – At first glance, this may seem like a luxury pick. This offseason, Miami traded disgruntled offensive tackle Brandon Albert to Jacksonville for Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas. Thomas was a free agent bust for Jacksonville; however, Gase knows the big tight end very well from their time together in Denver and proposes a plan to get him back on track. There is no immediate need, but with Tight Ends becoming a premium skill position in the NFL nowadays, this pick does make some sense. Just ask the division rival and Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The Dolphins front office brass has maintained that they will go best player available and have positioned themselves well to do so. If Njoku is somehow available at 23, he will likely be the best player available and would make this offense downright scary in 2017.
5. Cam Robinson – Let me preface this by saying, I don’t believe the Dolphins are considering using their first round pick on an offensive lineman. They re-signed Jermon Bushrod and brought in Ted Larsen as stopgaps at the LG and RG positions. This allows them some flexibility in the offensive line and makes those positions less of a glaring need heading into Thursday. I also sense that Cam Robinson will be long gone by 22. With that being said, if he is available, Robinson is the only offensive lineman the Dolphins may consider here. Most experts have projected Robinson as either a starting right tackle or guard in the NFL. What makes this pick so logical for Miami beyond their need for an update at both guard spots is that the Dolphins remain undecided on their current right tackle spot beyond 2017. The team has yet to make a decision on current starter Ju’Wuan James’ fifth year option. If they decline his option after 2017, Robinson can follow in Laremy Tunsil’s footsteps and slide out to tackle next season.
Obviously, there are other names in play for the Dolphins on Day 1 of the NFL Draft. As we all know, the draft is extremely unpredictable and anyone who says they have the pick pegged right now is either lying or needs to be playing the lottery.
Bottom line is, while the team has preached BPA, the player they choose will likely be ready to step in on day one to make an impact. An impact player is sorely needed if the Dolphins are going to build on their success coming off a 10-6 season and first trip to the playoffs since 2008.