Miami Dolphins Mock Draft: Final 7-Round Predictions for 2012
My brethren, we have arrived.
This is the most important weekend of Jeff Ireland's career, but will he succumb to public—and perhaps internal—pressure and draft Ryan Tannehill? Will he pursue a second-tier option like Brandon Weeden or Kirk Cousins? Or will he focus on Miami's other needs instead?
We'll find out soon, but here's how I envision the Dolphins' draft unfolding.
Round 1, Pick 8: Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
There are four realistic possibilities for the Miami Dolphins with the eighth overall pick: Ryan Tannehill, Quinton Coples, David DeCastro and a trade-down.
Although it's the most favorable option, we can probably scratch trading down. According to one NFL GM, "Picks 3-16 are all trying to trade back." Smokescreen or not, there probably won't be a player on the board that inspires a team to trade up.
DeCastro is heralded as a "sure thing," but can the Dolphins justify drafting an interior lineman with a top-10 selection? Similarly, can the team justify drafting Ryan Tannehill, who is inexperienced and unproven, with the eighth pick?
Personally, I think Coples is the pick. He's a physical freak who was a dominant force at UNC. Concerns about Coples' motor are abundant and valid, but the Dolphins have one of the league's best defensive line coaches in Kacy Rodgers. He and a new defensive coordinator, along with Miami's veteran defensive linemen, should get Coples to give his all on every play.
Plus, Coples fills a huge need. Cameron Wake is the only pure pass-rusher on the roster, and the Dolphins desperately need to add another. Just imagine how fearsome Miami's front seven could become with Coples.
Round 2, Pick 42: Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech
The Dolphins will need some luck for this pick to materialize.
Stephen Hill is one of the highest-rated wide receivers in this year's draft class, and there's a good chance a team like the Texans or 49ers will select him at the tail end of the first round. However, he's also one of the biggest gambles in this year's class, which could cause him to fall into the second round.
Hill played in Georgia Tech's run-first option offense, and that hindered his development. He didn't run a traditional route tree and he often saw single coverage because defenses stacked the box to slow Tech's rushing attack.
Despite his non-traditional college background, Hill has sensational physical tools. He's 6'4", 213 pounds and ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. With his size, Hill can become an unstoppable deep-threat.
Other Georgia Tech wide receivers like Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas both overcame the transition that Hill faces. Hill needs time to develop, but the Dolphins have plenty of it. If he's groomed with patience, then Hill might emerge as the best wide receiver from this year's class.
Round 3, Pick 72: Brandon Boykin, Cornerback, Georgia
Even with Vontae Davis and Sean Smith on the roster, Miami needs to bolster its cornerback corps.
Smith is entering the final year of his contract, and NFL defenses need at least three or four quality corners to defend the growing number of pass-happy offenses.
Plus, the Dolphins ranked a lowly 25th in pass defense last year.
Brandon Boykin is an explosive athlete with experience defending wide receivers in the slot and on the numbers. He has already suffered two concussions, a broken leg and needs to bulk up, but he's a dynamic player offers huge upside as a cornerback and as a return specialist.
Round 3, Pick 73: Tony Bergstrom, Offensive Guard/Tackle, Utah
Now that the Dolphins are implementing a new offensive scheme, they will no longer target massive offensive linemen. Instead, Miami will target offensive linemen who are huge and athletic.
Utah's Tony Bergstrom fits Jeff Ireland's criteria to a T. He's 6'5", 313 pounds and has the versatility to line up at offensive guard and offensive tackle. Bergstrom was also a three-year starter and Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham called him a "leader of leaders."
Bergstrom will be a 26-year-old rookie, but that shouldn't deter the Dolphins from drafting him. He could step in as a starter within a year or two, which is pivotal considering Jake Long is slated for free agency next year and the Dolphins are strapped for cash.
Jeff Ireland has drafted two Utah Utes before (Sean Smith, Koa Misi), and I think he'll draft a third here.
Round 4, Pick 103: Cam Johnson, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Virginia
Because the Dolphins so desperately need pass-rushers, they will probably double down and draft two.
Cam Johnson is a perfect candidate for Miami to add alongside Quinton Coples.
His 6'3", 268-pound build should meet Jeff Ireland's size criteria and, more importantly, Johnson has the versatility to line up as a defensive end in a 4-3 or a stand-up outside linebacker in a 3-4, which makes him an ideal fit for Miami's hybrid defense.
Round 5, Pick 145: Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Wisconsin
Before you freak out, let me explain.
After months of discussing the same four quarterbacks (Tannehill, Weeden, Osweiler, Cousins), I've concluded that the Dolphins won't draft any of them. All four have major downside, and unless Miami can trade down and Tannehill or Weeden fall into the second round, I think the Fins will wait until next year to find their franchise quarterback.
The fanbase might quite literally revolt, but that won't affect Jeff Ireland. Why reach for a quarterback if the right one isn't there?
Instead, I think the Dolphins should wait until the fifth round and draft Russell Wilson. He has everything you want in a quarterback except ideal height.
Will he become the next Drew Brees? Probably not.
But Wilson could become the next Jeff Garcia or Doug Flutie—a quarterback who can win games when needed but never evolves into a franchise quarterback.
The Dolphins must add a quarterback to install behind David Garrard and Matt Moore, and Wilson makes the most sense. There won't be pressure to rush him into a starting job, so Wilson will have ample time to learn and transition.
He has the make up of a Grade-A backup, and who knows? Maybe he will become the next Drew Brees.
Round 6, Pick 196: Devon Wylie, Wide Receiver, Fresno State
What Devon Wylie lacks in size, he makes up in speed, explosiveness and versatility.
Wylie is only 5'9", 187 pounds, but he ran a blazing 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, the fourth-fastest of all wide receivers in attendance. He also displays phenomenal body control and elusiveness after the catch—key traits of a West Coast offense wideout.
However, Wylie's size is still a red flag. He will struggle to block bigger and stronger NFL cornerbacks, which is part of a wide receiver's job.
Ultimately, though, Wylie is worth a sixth-round flier. He has the potential to become a lethal slot receiver and is also a deadly return specialist.
Round 7, Pick 215: Jeff Adams, Offensive Tackle, Columbia
With their final draft pick, the Dolphins need to add more depth to their offensive line.
Columbia's Jeff Adams is an offensive tackle who will take a few years to develop, but he is worth the late-round investment. Adams has the anatomy of a NFL tackle. He's 6'6", 298 pounds, has great arm length and started three seasons for the Columbia Lions without missing significant time to injury.
Again, Adams needs a few years to develop, and like most development seventh-round picks, his chances of cracking a NFL starting lineup are very slim. But if he can make the necessary adjustments and play like he did at the East-West Shrine Game, he can at the very least earn a spot on the 53-man roster down the road.