Miami Dolphins 2012 NFL Draft Report Card: Grades for Every Pick

Scott AltmanCorrespondent IApril 28, 2012

Miami Dolphins 2012 NFL Draft Report Card: Grades for Every Pick

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    Few teams were under more pressure than the Miami Dolphins entering the 2012 NFL draft

    With a fanbase on the verge of revolt, Jeff Ireland had to produce a draft class that would please the masses—and he did. The Dolphins drafted their quarterback of the future, a potential franchise offensive tackle and a pair of Miami Hurricanes. 

    But this draft wasn't a total success. 

    Jeff Ireland took some major gambles, and this draft class has boom or bust potential. Overall, I'm giving the Dolphins a B+ grade for their efforts this weekend. 

    Now, here's an individual grade for each of Miami's draft picks. 

Round 1: Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M

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    There's no doubt the Dolphins reached for Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall pick, but he has the physical tools, mental makeup and demeanor of a franchise quarterback. 

    Tannehill provides a fresh face for this disgruntled fanbase to believe in, and he just might be the quarterback who will finally fill Dan Marino's shoes. 

    There are few better situations for Tannehill to step into. He'll have the opportunity to sit and learn behind veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard; play under his former head coach, Mike Sherman; and develop under the watchful eye of Joe Philbin, who oversaw the growth of Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn. 

    Had the Dolphins traded down, I would've felt comfortable giving this pick an A. However, using a top 10 pick on such an unproven quarterback is a very risky move—one that could set the franchise back for years. 

    Grade: B+

Round 2: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford

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    Given Jake Long's cloudy future with the Dolphins and the offensive line's struggles, Jonathan Martin was a deus ex machina. 

    A few months ago, analysts were talking Martin up as a top 10 pick, but concerns about his strength and foot quickness knocked him into the second round. Despite his shortcomings, Martin has the potential to become a franchise offensive tackle. 

    If the Dolphins manage to re-sign Jake Long, then he and Martin could form the league's best duo of offensive tackles. 

    Grade: A

Round 3: Olivier Vernon, Defensive End, Miami

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    For the first time in seven years, the Dolphins drafted a Miami Hurricane. 

    Olivier Vernon is a fierce and overpowering pass-rusher who was suspended for a large chunk of the 2011 season due to his involvement in the Nevin Shapiro scandal. However, he possesses a rare combination of strength (31 bench press reps at the combine) and athleticism (ran a 4.66 40 at Miami's pro day). 

    I know the fanbase loves this pick, but Vernon's size is disconcerting. He's only 6'2", which makes him undersized for a NFL pass-rusher. Vernon has the skill set to compensate for his lack of size, but he'll have to put in some serious work to reach his potential. 

    Grade: B

Round 3: Michael Egnew, Tight End, Missouri

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    The Dolphins finally drafted an athletic, seam-threat tight end. 

    Unfortunately, I think they drafted the wrong one. 

    Jeff Ireland traded down in the third round and scooped up Missouri's Michael Egnew, a highly productive, speedy tight end. It's almost a stretch to call Egnew a tight end, though. He was rarely asked to block in Missouri's offense, and he struggled in the combine's blocking drills.

    Essentially, he's a one trick pony.  

    Egnew needs to get considerably stronger, or he'll only be able to play on obvious passing downs.  

    Grade: C+

Round 4: Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami

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    Was Lamar Miller the biggest steal of the draft?

    Like Jonathan Martin, Miller was once heralded as a first-round pick, but concerns about his durability and inconsistency knocked him all the way down to the fourth round. 

    Shortcomings aside, Miller has 4.3 speed and a stocky 212-pound build—an uncanny physical combination. Miller also exhibited great toughness by playing through a shoulder injury last season, and he has solid hands—a key attribute for a West Coast offense running back.

    With Reggie Bush entering the final year of his contract and Daniel Thomas coming off of a disappointing rookie season, this was a tremendous pick.

    Grade: A+ 

Round 5: Josh Kaddu, Outside Linebacker, Oregon

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    With such little depth, the Dolphins had to double down on pass-rushers. 

    After scooping up Olivier Vernon in the third round, Jeff Ireland took a flier on Oregon's Josh Kaddu in the fifth. Kaddu is a 6'3", 239-pound outside linebacker who wasn't overwhelmingly productive at Oregon, but he has the tools of a disruptive, situational pass-rusher. 

    At the very least, Kaddu will be a solid special teams contributor. 

    Grade: B

Round 6: B.J. Cunningham, Wide Receiver, Michigan State

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    Surprisingly, the Dolphins waited until the sixth round to address one of their biggest needs: wide receiver. There, Jeff Ireland selected Michigan State's B.J. Cunningham. 

    Cunningham was very productive at MSU, catching 79 passes for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He specializes in running quick, short slants and racking up yards after the catch, which makes him a picturesque West Coast offense wide receiver. 

    He is an average athlete who struggles to separate from press coverage, but with some grooming, Cunningham could eventually work his way into Miami's wide receiver rotation. 

    Grade: B+

Round 7: Kheeston Randall, Defensive Tackle, Texas

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    Paul Soliai is only signed through 2013, so this was an opportune time for the Dolphins to draft another developmental defensive tackle. 

    It's tough to gauge what the Dolphins plan to do with Kheeston Randall. He has the size and skill set to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 or defensive end in a 3-4, but he doesn't boast any elite traits. 

    Grade: B-

Round 7: Rishard Matthews, Wide Receiver, Nevada

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    The Dolphins traded back into the seventh round to draft Nevada wide receiver Rishard Matthews. 

    Matthews is raw and doesn't boast any outstanding traits, but he reeled in 91 receptions for 1,364 yards and eight touchdowns.

    He's a physical wideout who can rack up yards after the catch, and although he doesn't have top-end vertical speed, he can occasionally slip behind secondaries. Matthews also has value as a return specialist, and he'll be an exciting player to track in training camp. 

    Grade: A-