It is a curious evolution from January to April in the world of mock drafts. While the scouting on prospects is generally viewed as more accurate before the Combine and pro days skew perception, team needs change dramatically during free agency.
Over the course of the past several weeks, I have compiled and participated in five mock drafts in one place. Beginning with my first 2012 iteration before the Combine all the way up to my most recent collaboration with other "general managers" in Mock Three, you can gain a sense of what the Dolphins might do with what might be available to them when they are on the clock.
Take a deep breath. Here we go....
This was my first mock draft of the season. It came before Miami traded Brandon Marshall to the Bears, hence why there is only one third round pick. It also assumed Miami would land a quarterback in free agency. That was clearly an awful assumption.
Here are the picks with the notes from that mock:
Round 1 - Pick: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC
The Dolphins will likely go in one of two directions in the first round, barring free agency: offensive tackle or pass-rusher.
Coples has been rising on many scouts' draft boards after a strong Senior Bowl week, and a good Combine may raise his stock too much to fall to the Dolphins. If he is there at the eighth or ninth pick, though, he will be hard to pass up for Jeff Ireland and the Dolphins.
Coples is a bit of a polarizing prospect. On the one hand, the 6'6", 281-pound lineman is physically gifted in a Jevon Kearse kind of way.
On the other, the only reason he is not a lock for the Top 5 is because of a down senior season—though he did lead his team with 7.5 sacks—and motivational issues. Look for any team who drafts him to remedy the latter with good coaching.
Round 2 - Pick: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
Allen's stock is also on the rise, meaning the Dolphins may miss out on him this far into the second round.
If he is there for the taking, though, he makes a lot of sense for Joe Philbin's offense—the Packers stockpiled tight ends like there was a shortage when he was there. Anthony Fasano is an underrated, underutilized tight end, but Allen brings a playmaking ability to the position that the Dolphins have been missing for what seems like an eternity.
He may lack prototypical size for the position at 6'4"—if he even measures that much at official weigh-ins—but the same can be said of Antonio Gates and Aaron Hernandez if you catch my drift. Allen is a good blocker to boot. The Clemson product should grow into a big seam threat in the NFL.
Round 3 - Pick: Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas
The diminutive Razorback brings big playmaking ability to the table. Adams is fast and shifty, a combination that should make him an excellent slot receiver and special teams player.
Davone Bess has performed admirably as the Dolphins' third receiver, but Adams is a big play threat when he gets the ball in his hands. His excellent Senior Bowl week may have propelled him into the second round and, if he runs a 4.35 40 at the combine, he will be gone well before this pick.
Wide receiver is not high on the team's need list, but Adams represents an upside the Dolphins may not be able to pass up early in the third round, if he lasts that long. Joe Philbin's offense employs many receivers, so they may view the position as a bigger need than anticipated.
Round 4 - Pick: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
The Dolphins may have to trade back up into the third round to snag Smith (in this fictional draft), who has good size for the position at 6'2" and 256 pounds.
Having to contend with the likes of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez twice a year—not to mention Dustin Keller and Scott Chandler—the Dolphins might want to capitalize on Smith's size in this position of need. Though he is not the fastest safety, he is a bit of a ball hawk, something Miami has lacked at the position.
Yeremiah Bell is not getting any younger, so replacing him sooner than later should be a priority.
Round 5 - Pick: Lucas Nix, OG, Pittsburgh
If the Dolphins have managed to get their first choice thus far (according to this mock), they have not addressed their needs along the offensive line. Enter Lucas Nix, a versatile lineman who is likely to play guard at the next level.
The 6'6" former Panther is a good run blocker, but he needs to work on technique to compete in the NFL. Drafting Nix gives the Dolphins some flexibility along the right side of the line—they could kick Vernon Carey back out to RT or give John Jerry a shot out there while letting Nix develop behind Carey, assuming they re-sign the latter.
Round 6 - Pick: Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
If excessive speeding was the worst off-the-field issue in the NFL, it would be a much happier place.
Harris's draft stock plummeted when he was suspended indefinitely for driving 118 mph on a suspended license, potentially setting him up to a big steal for a team willing to gamble on his talent.
Harris is a bit undersized at 5'11" and 165 pounds, and his penchant for the big play got him burned a few times in college. He regularly cashes in on those gambles, though, and the Dolphins have lacked playmakers in their secondary in recent years.
The former Duck is also a dynamic punt-returner, another area where the Dolphins have been found wanting. His draft stock is difficult to predict based on his off-field issues, but scooping him up this late would be a coup if he can get his head on straight.
Round 7 - Winston Guy, S, Kentucky
Guy is a versatile defensive back, having played both safety positions, cornerback, gunner and even linebacker during his college career.
He has good speed for a safety, and he is a good tackler. Again, the Dolphins have to find ways to compete with the likes of the growing tight end menace, so why not turn over every stone they can?
At the very least, Guy is ready to contribute on special teams while fighting for a spot on defense.
There was some real wishful thinking with the Harrison Smith pick, and Dwayne Allen has fallen off the radar a bit this draft season. Cliff Harris may have landed himself in the undrafted free agent pool after a poor pro day to go along with his turbulent off-the-field issues.
All in all, if Miami chooses not to address the quarterback position in the draft, however, this was not bad for a first crack. Adding an additional third rounder would allow Miami to possibly select another receiver to boot.
For the second consecutive offseason, a group of Twitter draftniks and draft aficionados gathered for a full, seven-round draft called Mock One with the goal of creating a realistic draft. In it, each team was represented by a "general manager" who presumably knew team needs and tendencies.
Mock One started the week of free agency, so team needs were a bit of a moving target. The Marshall trade happened after we started as well, so I was still without the extra third rounder.
Here are the results for the Dolphins, with brief comments on each pick:
Round 1, Pick 8 - Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
The Dolphins have been seeking a good pass rusher to pair with Cameron Wake. With Quinton Coples off the board, Melvin Ingram becomes the choice here. The stud from South Carolina will put the finishing touches on a top-six defense from a year ago.
Round 1, Pick 30 (from 49ers) - Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
Note: Traded picks 2.08, 4.08 and 7.08 to the 49ers for pick 1.30 and 7.30
The Dolphins pay a modest price to move up for Weeden, a quarterback whom many scouts think is third-best in this draft class and whose age is the only factor holding him back from top-15 draft status.
Round 3, Pick 9 - Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
Shipping Brandon Marshall off to the Bears in the middle of this draft dictated this pick. Quick is easily the best receiver available, a bit of a shock that he fell out of the second and so far into the third round. The big receiver from Appalachian State would make an immediate impact on this team.
Round 5, Pick 9 - Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
With the Dolphins increasingly looking like they will address the WR position in the draft, pairing Criner with Quick makes a ton of sense. Both were great value in the third and fifth rounds respectively.
Round 6, Pick 9 - Deangelo Peterson, TE, LSU
The Packers employed five tight ends last season. With just Anthony Fasano and Jeron Mastrud as true tight ends on the roster to go along with H-Back Charles Clay, Peterson becomes an upside/depth pick.
Round 7, Pick 30 (from 49ers) - Winston Guy, S, Kentucky
An underrated defensive back out of Kentucky, Guy is a versatile player, having played safety, cornerback and even linebacker at times. The Dolphins did well with Jimmy Wilson in the seventh round last year and could do the same with Guy here.
I felt the need to trade up for Brandon Weeden at the time, largely because I caught wind that Seattle might be looking to move up to the top of the second round. At the time, they had not signed Matt Flynn, so I thought it prudent to ensure I could draft Weeden.
The most interesting thing about this mock draft is the shifting needs based on free agency. Weeden was a bit of a premonitory pickup, since the Dolphins had not been spurned by Manning and Flynn yet, but when the wide receiver market dried up, I felt it necessary to take a couple of receivers.
Looking back on it, this is actually a highly feasible and palatable draft for the Dolphins, and I was still without the extra third round pick from the Marshall trade.
Trades were allowed here as well, and the results were interesting:
Round 1, Pick 27 (from New Orleans via New England): Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
When the Dolphins whiffed on Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn, it became clear they would target a quarterback in the draft. Trading back was a risky move, but one that ultimately paid off as their top target, Ryan Tannehill, fell to the bottom of the first round. Tannehill has the potential to become a franchise quarterback for the Dolphins, something they have sorely lacked over the past 13 years.
Round 1, Pick 30 (from San Francisco): Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Note: traded picks 48 and 74 to the 49ers for pick 30.
With Ryan Tannehill and a stockpile of draft picks in their pocket, the Dolphins sacrifice one of the picks they acquired from Chicago in the Brandon Marshall deal to move up and select Coby Fleener. The Stanford product is hands-down the best tight end prospect in the draft. He gives Tannehill a legitimate seam threat to pair with underrated, do-it-all Anthony Fasano. Miami felt the need to move up with the Giants and Colts ahead of them.
Round 2, Pick 42: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
Miami entered the draft with several clear needs, and a pass-rush specialist was one of them. With quarterback rising to the top of the needs list, Curry is an excellent consolation prize after choosing to wait it out at defensive end in the first round. Though not considered an elite pass-rushing prospect, the Marshall product possesses a high motor and locker room intangibles that will make him a leader on the Dolphins defense down the line.
Round 2, Pick 45 (from Dallas): Marvin Jones, WR, Cal
Losing Brandon Marshall via trade put a 6'4" hole at wide receiver for the Dolphins. At 6'1", Marvin Jones will not quite fill that hole, but the underrated Cal product fits in the Joe Philbin mold of wide receivers. Jones should immediately challenge for playing time, possibly giving the incumbent Brian Hartline a run for his starter money.
Round 3, Pick 70 (from Washington): George Iloka, SS, Boise St.
Note: traded picks 73 and 200 for pick 70
Cutting Yeremiah Bell was somewhat surprising, but the 34-year-old strong safety is a liability in coverage and his $4.5 million price tag was too much in the end. Here, the Dolphins select Iloka, third on their board at strong safety, to replace the aging veteran. At 6'3", the Boise State product has excellent size for the position to contend with the likes of Rob Gronkowski. He will compete with Reshad Jones to start, and there is a good chance he will win.
Round 4, Pick 104: Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
Taking McNutt gives the Dolphins a pair of receivers named Marvin in this draft, with Jones being taken in the second round. At 6'3", the former Hawkeye brings Miami the big-bodied receiver they lost in Brandon Marshall. He was a big producer at Iowa and will be Joe Philbin's Jordy Nelson in Miami.
Round 4, Pick 127 (from New England): Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
Miami could not resist taking Pierce here, who is pegged at the top of their board despite having a couple of needs elsewhere. The former Temple Owl will add depth to the running back position, which is relying on Reggie Bush in a contract year, injury-plagued Daniel Thomas, CFL import Jerome Messam, and Steve Slaton.
Round 5, Pick 148: Ryan Steed, CB, Furman
The departure of Will Allen leaves a potential hole at nickel back for the Dolphins, depending on where they want to play newly-acquired Richard Marshall. With Marshall being better-suited at free safety, Miami adds Steed here to compete with second-year defensive back Jimmy Wilson for the nickel back role. Though a bit on the small side for the position at 5'10" without elite speed to boot—the Furman product has good instincts and ball skills, and he is well-suited to play in the slot.
Round 6, Pick 201: Adam Gettis, OG, Iowa
Having filled just about every need they had going into this draft, the Dolphins finally turn their attention to the offensive line with their final pick. Although a bit raw and undersized for the position at 6'2" and 293 pounds, Gettis flashed incredible athleticism at the Combine. He will provide depth at the position as he develops.
In a world where general managers do not value Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden nearly as much as perceived in reality, this is as close to a perfect draft for Miami in both terms of personal preference and likely team strategy.
My goal at the time was to trade down and see if Tannehill made it past the Chiefs, which indeed happened. I then traded down again—pretty far this time, to No. 27—figuring I would lose out on Tannehill but be able to fall back on Weeden.
Inexplicably, Tannehill fell right into my lap at 27, and Weeden fell all the way to the fourth round. I was then able to fill other team needs at defensive end and wide receiver with relative ease.
The draft picture became clearer after the combine, as free agency dragged on for Miami. After whiffing on Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn, quarterback became a focal point for the Dolphins in the draft. Losing Brandon Marshall without replacing him whatsoever also signaled they would be looking to the draft for wide receiver help.
As such, these are the picks I made in the draft I drew up after free agency simmered down:
Round 1: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
The Dolphins need a quarterback. Or they do not, depending on what day of the week it is and who is talking.
Lately, information coming out of the Dolphins front office has been muddled, with reports coming one day saying Stephen Ross has mandated that Jeff Ireland find a franchise quarterback immediately, and Miami gushing about Matt Moore the next.
Then there is the fact Ireland and Joe Philbin had dinner with Tannehill the night before they attended his pro day.
Tannehill's draft stock remains eristical, with some scouts insisting he is not worth a top pick while an increasing number of others warming up to the former Aggie.
Whatever scouting opinions there are about him, draft buzz surrounding Tannehill is growing louder. He completed 60 of 64 passes and ran a 4.58 40-yard-dash at his aforementioned pro day, adding fuel to the fire that he will be a top-10 pick.
While there may be questions about his turnovers and a perceived inability to close games, Tannehill represents a potential franchise quarterback for Miami. They may have other needs, but landing a potential franchise player at the most important position may trump everything else.
Round 2: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
With Miami going all-in on Ryan Tannehill in the first round of this mock draft, the focus shifts to a pass-rushing specialist.
Curry had a monster Senior Bowl week, performing particularly well in the game. He was expected to continue that momentum into the combine but was disappointing to the point where Mike Mayock openly wondered if he was nervous.
He rebounded with a fantastic pro day, restoring his draft stock at the right time.
Curry may not belong with the elite pass-rushing prospects, but his intensity should put him close. The Marshall graduate has a motor unmatched by any other prospect in this draft class. This should make up for any lack of athleticism or small school concerns he may have, though questions about his athleticism should be put to rest after his pro day.
Because pass rushers tend to rise on draft day, it is possible that Curry winds up at the tail end of the first round. The Dolphins would do well to snag him with their second-round pick should he be available after taking a quarterback in the first round.
Round 3, Pick 1: George Iloka, SS, Boise State
It remains to be seen whether Miami will have Yeremiah Bell back after his dramatic release, but he will be 34 years old this season, so picking his replacement, whether for the present or future, is ideal if the right man falls to Miami.
Iloka fits that bill.
At 6'3", the Boise State product possesses excellent size for the position. With the evolution of the tight end position bringing us beasts like Rob Gronkowski, drafting a guy who can at least come close in size is a plus.
The big safety has experience at cornerback, giving him even more credibility in coverage. While he does not have blazing speed, he is big and athletic enough to hang with the big boys.
The Dolphins could very well go with a wide receiver with this pick, or they could wait...
Round 3, Pick 2: Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
... until the very next pick, which they obtained from the Bears in the Brandon Marshall trade.
Trading the mercurial receiver away rid the team of a big headache, but also left Miami with a 6'4" hole at the position. At just under that size, McNutt can step in and be the big-bodied receiver the Dolphins would be missing.
The former Hawkeye is not in the same elite class as Marshall, but he has great measurables and production coming out of Iowa. As a senior, he caught 82 passes in 13 games for 1,315 yards, which amounts to an excellent 6.3 catches per game and 16 yards-per-catch. He also caught 12 touchdowns.
McNutt is flying a bit under the radar of other receiving prospects. His unofficial time at the combine was 4.42, though it was adjusted to 4.54 officially. While that does not make him a burner, he still has good speed for his size.
Joe Philbin and the Green Bay Packers may not have taken big receivers often, but McNutt has about the same size and athleticism as Jordy Nelson, who was not too shabby for them last season.
Round 4: Matt McCants, OT, UAB
One position the Dolphins have not addressed via free agency or this mock draft yet is offensive tackle.
With Marc Colombo liable to be outplayed by a tackling dummy last season, Miami needs to improve at right tackle in a bad way. While there may be a plan in place to start John Jerry or Lydon Murtha, rarely does a draft go by where Jeff Ireland eschews the offensive line.
McCants did not have a very good Senior Bowl week, but having to go up against Quinton Coples, Courtney Upshaw and Melvin Ingram may have had something to do with it.
The big man has the tools to excel at the next level, but his quality of competition may just hurt his draft stock enough for Miami to snag him this late.
Round 5: Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest
Sticking with the wide receiver theme, the Dolphins will likely use two picks to bring new blood to the position.
Givens fits the Joe Philbin mold of wide receivers to a tee at 6'0" and 193 pounds. In fact, he is faster on a track than the average Philbin receiver, having run a 4.41 40-yard dash.
The Wake Forest product would finish shoring up a position rocked by the loss of Marshall. Truth be told, Givens has a much higher grade than the fifth round by many scouts, but the receiver position is so deep that he might fall here by simple virtue of oversupply.
Round 6: DeAngelo Peterson, TE, LSU
Joe Philbin wants a big seam threat, and he may not be satisfied with Anthony Fasano.
While coming away with a guy like Coby Fleener is ideal, the Dolphins have too many needs to spend a high draft pick at an already-stocked position.
Peterson comes into the draft with a lot of upside, but he is raw and has perceived motivational issues. He could have helped himself with a great combine performance, but he was quite average considering the top tight ends did not perform in all the events.
The LSU product is worth a shot late in the draft on upside alone, however. It is not far-fetched that he would fall this far in a relatively weak tight end class.
Round 7: Travaris Cadet, RB, Appalachian State
Miami actually has good depth at the running back position with Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas, Steve Slaton and CFL import Jerome Messam. Is there room for more?
A team can never have too many good running backs. Well, perhaps unless they have too many good running backs, like the New Orleans Saints. The Dolphins crop is not nearly inspiring as the one in Louisiana, however, so there is merit in turning over every stone where it is prudent.
Cadet is a versatile player in whom the Dolphins have shown interest this draft season. The local product was a dual-threat quarterback in high school, and he was a big contributor in special teams. The 6'1" running back has good size that could help him land a spot on the roster in the NFL.
The influence from the BR Community Draft is clearly evident here, with the top four picks having also been taken in said draft.
After relinquishing the reins for the Miami Dolphins for Mock Two, I took them again for Mock Three. This time around, each team featured a "war room," adding plenty of intrigue and complexity to the draft.
Here are the results for the Dolphins, with brief comments on each pick:
Round 1, Pick 8: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
The Eagles made this an easier decision for the Dolphins after trading up for Ryan Tannehill. Melvin Ingram is the best pass-rusher in the draft for Miami, a versatile end-linebacker hybrid who will fit in nicely opposite Cameron Wake in the hybrid 4-3 defense.
Round 2, Pick 10: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
While there are concerns about Jeffery's work ethic, he is a giant receiver with first-round talent. The Dolphins give their quarterback the big receiving threat they had lost when they traded away Brandon Marshall.
Round 2, Pick 22: Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech
Note: Traded picks 3.10 and 4.08 to the Lions for picks 2.22 and 5.19
The Dolphins are happy to take a guy they were eyeing with the 42nd pick. Hosley is an underrated cornerback because he is undersized, but he makes up for it with elite athleticism and playmaking skills. Hosley will fit in nicely as the nickel back and allow free agent signee Richard Marshall to play at free safety, where he is better-suited.
Round 3, Pick 19: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
Note: Traded picks 3.09 and 7.08 to the Cowboys for picks 3.19, 5.17 and 7.15
Joe Philbin loves seam threats, and Dwayne Allen will fit right in with Anthony Fasano and Charles Clay. The talented tight end out of Clemson has fallen off the radar a bit while Coby Fleener has stolen all the headlines, but the Dolphins are thrilled that he is still available this late.
Round 4, Pick 18: Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami
Note: Traded pick 5.10 and a 2013 4th round pick to the Cowboys for pick 4.18
Adding 6'5" Streeter along with 6'3" Alshon Jeffery and Dwayne Allen has loaded Miami with red-zone weapons with big upside. Although raw, Streeter has an early third-round grade from Miami and the opportunity was too good to pass up. Owning two third-round picks in the 2013 class gives Miami the flexibility to trade away a future fourth rounder.
Round 5, Pick 17: Dale Moss, WR, South Dakota State
Not finished upgrading the WR corps, the Dolphins select little-known receiver Dale Moss out of South Dakota State. At nearly 6'4" and 213 pounds, the small-school sleeper had an amazing pro day, running a 4.45 40 to go along with a 41.5" vertical leap, a 10'10" broad jump, and a 6.32-second 3-cone drill. Miami cannot pass up the former basketball player's freakish athleticism, even if he is a bit raw for the position.
Round 5, Pick 19: Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State
Hillman brings speed to the running back position as a third down back. Although slightly undersized, Hillman boasts excellent speed and has experience lining up at wide receiver. Considering Miami is going to do just that with Reggie Bush, the San Diego State product will make an excellent understudy.
Round 6, Pick 27: Shawn Loiseau, LB, Merrimack
After sticking with offense since the second round, Miami goes back to defense here. The hard-nosed, high-intensity linebacker out of Merrimack will make an excellent addition to Miami's special teams. Adding some depth to the linebacker corps this late is a plus.
Round 7, Pick 15: Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
With zero risk, Moore is an excellent flier to take with the final pick in Miami's draft. Although he lacks elite measurables—notably height at 6'0"—Moore is a highly accurate and intelligent quarterback, and he is a proven winner. There is no downside in taking a shot on the Boise State product here.
Drafting in a war room makes for interesting decision-making, particularly when all three co-GMs are in stark disagreement. It also forces you to think outside the box because the other GMs will have players on their boards who are completely off your radar.
One draft pick that came about because of this is Jayron Hosley. Not only would drafting him late in the second round be great value, but adding a good nickel back would really solidify the defense.
Cornerback is not thought about as a major point of need for the Dolphins, but with Richard Marshall moving to free safety—a better position for him—that would leave Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, and Tyrone Culver to compete for the strong safety job.
All in all, this was a good example of a draft for Miami that would not include a quarterback taken with a high pick.
These drafts provided an interesting blend of results, as team needs and player evaluations have been a bit of a moving target since the NFL Combine.
Out of all of these, the BR Community Draft is my personal favorite. Trading down twice was a big boon, as I felt like I hit a home run with every pick and still managed to land my quarterback of the future. Of course, it was also the most unrealistic of the bunch—trading down once is difficult enough, let alone twice, and with a divisional rival to boot.
Meanwhile, Mock Three provided insight into a draft where Jeff Ireland and Co. do not land a quarterback on the first two days. While it was a bit disappointing that Kellen Moore was the best available, Miami had a solid draft without addressing QB.
Which draft did you like best? Which is the most realistic? Share your thoughts in the comments below.