With the conclusion of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine today, the perception of this year's draft selections became a bit more crystallized. Some players surprised, others disappointed and still many sat right in the middle.
The Miami Dolphins, and their 55-man roster that was in attendance, understand the importance of the combine. For a team like Miami, which has nine picks overall and five in the first 82, nailing this draft is the difference between playoff contention and another half-decade wallowing in mediocrity.
With a multitude of needs, the Dolphins have a lot of holes to fill. The combine showed that there's a lot of depth in this year's draft class, so the Dolphins should be licking their proverbial chops.
Before we dive into our first post-combine mock draft, let's lay out a few assumptions this article has made:
- Miami hits on one of the big free-agent receivers; whether it was Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings or even Dwayne Bowe is unimportant.
- Sean Smith stays put in Miami, finally re-signing a deal that's more in line with his performance.
- Jake Long and Reggie Bush are out.
- Randy Starks is franchise tagged.
- Brian Hartline, Anthony Fasano and Chris Clemons are re-signed.
With those assumptions out of the way, let's dive right in.
Note: All Combine statistics courtesy of NFL.com
Pick: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
NFL.com Grade: 88.0
I'm still not completely sold on Cordarrelle Patterson at No. 12, and with the depth at wide receiver, Miami can easily wait until the second and third rounds to pick up a quality player. And with Dee Milliner unlikely to drop to the Dolphins, that brings us to Dion Jordan.
The freakishly athletic defensive end out of Oregon started out at receiver for the Ducks before being moved to tight end, and ultimately switching to defense. He was a top performer in many categories, including a 4.60 40-yard dash and a 4.35 in the 20-yard shuttle.
While many think Jordan will be used best as an outside linebacker, I don't see any reason he can't flourish at defensive end in Miami's 4-3 set. At 6'6" and 248 pounds, he would need to add some weight, but his athleticism will be the factor that puts Jordan over the edge.
Miami desperately needs additional pass-rusher to help take some of the weight off Cameron Wake. With a mentor like Wake and proper training, the Dolphins could find one of the NFL's next great pass-rushing threats in Jordan.
Pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
NFL.com Grade: 86.2
Even with Sean Smith returning to Miami, the Dolphins are in need of a guy who can share top corner duties.
Enter Xavier Rhodes.
After an impressive combine performance, which saw Rhodes notch a 40.5 in the vertical jump and 132 inches in the broad jump, Rhodes garnered fresh attention and began his ascent up draft boards.
What I like most about Rhodes, though, is his physicality. At 6'1" and 210 pounds, he's a big corner who excels in press coverage. In case you haven't noticed, the Dolphins don't offer much in the way of brutal corners. Rhodes could add an entirely new dynamic to Miami's secondary.
Like wide receiver, this draft appears to be teeming with talented corners, so Miami should be able to snag Rhodes in the second round. If so, they'll acquire a guy who can immediately start opposite Smith—and possibly take his job in a season or two.
Pick: Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
NFL.com Grade: 83.8
The Dolphins need a couple of wide receivers to aid young Ryan Tannehill's development. If Miami's receiving core was akin to a drought-stricken village in dire need of rain, the 2013 wide receiver class must resemble a sloshing monsoon.
While not top-heavy, this year's class of receivers has a lot of meat in the middle. Miami can grab any one of a handful of players and likely find quality, but I've been impressed by Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton for some time now.
The 6'0", 204-pound Bulldog performed well at the combine, showing off an impressive 33-inch vertical and 4.01 20-yard shuttle time.
Patton may not be a true blazer like so many of his peers, but he possesses enough straight-line speed to create separation and take advantage of lulling defenders. The Dolphins want a guy who can stretch defenses.
Patton can stretch defenses.
He's got circus-catch ability and can practically dance on the sidelines. And while he may not have every skill necessary to become an elite wideout, Patton can certainly be a very good receiver for the young Dolphins offense.
Pick: Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio State
NFL.com Grade: 77.05
Fragel didn't start out his collegiate career as an offensive tackle. Rather, the former Buckeye played his first three years at tight end.
Don't let that deter you, though. Fragel can get after defensive linemen with the kind of ferocity you want out of an intimidating tackle. Fragel's huge frame (6'8", 308 lbs) is appealing, especially once you realize the guy still has room to grow.
Fragel's athleticism should draw the Dolphins' attention, however. He's got the quickness to thwart speedy pass-rushers and protect the edge. If he can bulk up while maintaining his agility, he could fulfill his tremendous upside by morphing into a dominant tackle.
With Jake Long out of Miami, Jonathan Martin can stay put at left tackle and grow into a solid blindside tackle. With Fragel taking over at right tackle, Miami's offensive line suddenly doesn't look so bad.
Pick: Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
NFL.com Grade: 79.0
Miami secured its blocking tight end by re-signing Anthony Fasano (remember the first slide of this article), so the next goal is to find a tight end who can actually frighten defenses.
Assuming Miami doesn't fill this need in free agency with Jared Cook or Dustin Keller, Gavin Escobar in round three would be an ideal fit.
Escobar is a big body who can stretch the seam like a wideout. He routinely beats defensive backs with his massive stride and is a physical presence in tight coverage. Just like current-NFL standout Jimmy Graham, Escobar comes from a basketball background, no doubt where he picked up some of his athleticism.
Escobar's biggest weakness is that he isn't a very good blocker. But then, that's not why the Dolphins are drafting him. Escobar looks like the kind of tight end Charles Clay has yet to become and the kind that Michael Egnew could only dream of being.
Pick: Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
NFL.com Grade: 68.55
What do the Dolphins lack? Speed.
What is Marquise Goodwin really good at? Running really, really fast.
Just check his remarkable 4.27 40-yard dash, a time that's second only to Chris Johnson's 4.24 time in 2008.
The Dolphins take Goodwin in round four and suddenly they've got one of the fastest players to ever suit up in the NFL. How's that for speed?
In case you're still not sold, Goodwin can do more than just sprint at extremely high velocities. His hands are solid, he's not afraid to go over the middle and he can make defenders miss. He'll need some work to expand his route tree, but he's got the kind of talent that fits the "secret weapons" category nicely.
Beyond receiving, Goodwin adds another potential runner to Miami's offense. This would benefit the Dolphins' plans to implement some read option into their offense next year, as Goodwin could always be another outlet for defenses to track.
Pick: Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida
NFL.com Grade: 70.3
Like it or not, Reggie Bush is on his way out of Miami. That means the Dolphins feel safe enough lining up with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas in the backfield next season.
I don't. Well, I don't feel good about one half of that lineup. Daniel Thomas has spent his two NFL seasons either injured or putting forth mediocre performances on the field. Miami needs something more to back up Miller.
Mike Gillislee could be that answer. It may be a stretch to say Gillislee will last until the fifth round, but with a weak running back class and not much apparent need around the league at the position, it's conceivable.
Gillislee only had one season as a starter in Gainesville, but he made the most of it. He's a tough runner with a stout frame who isn't afraid to drive into defenders and churn out extra yards. He's a solid pass-blocker, with just a few small issues to shore up in that regard. Assuming Miller doesn't improve as a blocker, Gillislee could shoulder that load.
Running back may not seem like an immediate need for Miami. But the Dolphins don't lose much taking Gillislee here, and they possibly luck into a very solid, young running back tandem.
Pick: Brandon McGee, CB, Miami
NFL.com Grade: 60.1
McGee is a very intriguing corner. He's got great speed, allowing him to keep up with the fastest receivers. His recovery speed is also top-notch, and he uses his hands well to attack receivers and blockers.
Yet, his draft stock is held back by an inconsistent senior season and only adequate size. Still, his attributes are evidence of his ability and upside.
McGee has the makings of a solid third or fourth corner who could eventually grow into a starter for Miami.
Pick: Earl Wolff, S, N.C. State
NFL.com Grade: 63.4
Would you blame me too much if I selected this guy solely because of his name?
Thankfully, that's not the case. His name's awesomeness aside, Wolff's abilities at strong safety are impressive. He's a fierce tackler who can punish receivers and his days of playing running back in high school have gifted him with startling quickness and hustle.
His athleticism was on display at the combine, as he was a top performer in all four workouts in which he performed, including a 4.44 40-yard dash and 39.0 inch vertical.
The knocks against Wolff are his smallish size (5'11", 209 lbs), tendency to miss out on more difficult interceptions and susceptibility to fail tackles against big backs. Wolff must address these areas if he wants to start in the NFL, but his upside suggests he may be able to do so.
Even with Miami re-signing Chris Clemons, picking Wolff makes sense. He provides many things: A solid backup, a potential future standout and, if nothing else, a motivator for Clemons to get better.