Miami Dolphins Complete 7-Round Mock Draft Final Version
There have been a number of changes that make that draft unrealistic at this point, especially as you get into those middle rounds. As the first few picks change, it alters the rest of the draft dramatically.
Only four out of 11 players in this are the same from that previous mock, and only one of those are in the actual same draft slot.
Like the earlier mock, I didn't make any trades here, because they're extremely difficult to pull off on draft day and even harder to predict with any accuracy.
There are a few things that have changed, which forced me to make a new mock draft.
The first is that I'm less and less certain Justin Pugh will be available at No. 54 overall, where I had him going in that other mock, and I'm extremely certain now that D.J. Hayden won't be there at No. 42.
The other big change is that Johnathan Franklin's stock has (very deservedly) risen. There is no way he lasts until the fourth round, where I considered him a steal in the last mock.
With all of those things in mind, here is my final shot at a mock draft before the actual draft starts on Thursday night.
1 (12): Tyler Eifert
This is the first of the four players carried over from my last mock, but the only one still in the exact same draft slot. I am a huge fan of Tyler Eifert. I think he will be a great NFL player very quickly, and he happens to be perfect for Miami.
Other positions, like cornerback, running back and defensive end, are extremely deep this year, and I am not a fan of drafting a guard this high when you already have three capable starters already.
You can read a more in-depth article here about my argument for Eifert here, but it really boils down to a few things. First, he provides a good value at a position of need for Miami, as there will be more quality players at other positions of need available later on in the draft.
Also, Eifert brings a skill set that the Dolphins desperately need. They currently don't have a starting receiver or tight end over 6'2" and no tight ends on the entire roster who can block even a little.
Eifert's ability to block and also go over the middle, make tough catches and win jump balls will make him an immediate favorite of Tannehill's.
2 (42): Justin Pugh
Previously, I had the Dolphins taking Justin Pugh with their second pick of the second round, but I think they're going to need to use the first one if they want him.
I think Menelik Watson (of whom I am not a huge fan anyway) will be gone by now, which leaves it to either Terron Armstead, Kyle Long or Pugh at this spot. I like Pugh better because he's far more experienced than the other two.
Pugh is a little on the short side. Therefore, even though he started in 34 career games at left tackle for Syracuse, he would be better suited on the right side for Miami.
But Pugh is an intelligent, athletic, experienced leader who would step right up and be solid from the start, which is extremely important for Tannehill's development and the offense in general.
Check out the slide on Pugh in my previous mock draft for a little more about why I prefer Pugh over the other options at tackle.
2 (54): Darius Slay
In the last mock I had Miami addressing its hole at cornerback with D.J. Hayden at No. 42 overall, but it's almost a guarantee that he's going to be gone by then.
Darius Slay would be a heck of a consolation prize. He's been mocked to Miami a lot before, and for good reason. He's got prototypical cornerback size at 6'0", 192 pounds and is extremely athletic.
He ran a blazing 4.36 40-yard dash at the combine, which put to rest any concerns about his straight-line speed. He is an aggressive corner who plays all-out and isn't afraid to hit and get physical with receivers.
He could be a great fit as Miami's No. 2 corner opposite Brent Grimes. He could potentially take over for Grimes in 2014 if the veteran doesn't work out.
3 (77): Robert Alford
I like the idea of taking two cornerbacks in a row here because this is such a deep class. I think it would be foolish to waste a first-round pick on a corner in this draft when you could potentially get two corners here who may very well end up being just as good as the first-rounder.
Robert Alford is a perfect fit for the Dolphins because he will excel in zone coverage, which Miami plays more often than not. He played at Southeastern Louisiana, so he flew under the radar until a great performance at the Senior Bowl.
The biggest knock on Alford is his size, as he stands at 5'10" and weighs in around 188 pounds. His biggest asset, however, is exactly what the Dolphins will be looking for as a fit for zone coverage.
He is extremely quick and moves well in tight spaces. His backpedal is smooth, and he changes direction effortlessly. He has great instincts, which combined with his agility make him perfect to play as a nickel or No. 2 corner in zone.
3 (82): Brandon Jenkins
I had Florida State's Brandon Jenkins going one pick earlier in my last mock draft, but I think I can get away with moving him back five spots.
He could really be a phenomenal third-round value for the Dolphins at a position of underrated need. Jared Odrick was drafted as a 3-4 defensive end, not a 4-3. He didn't register a single sack playing from the defensive end position last year.
Olivier Vernon has potential, but not enough that I'd be comfortable tabbing him as a solid every-down starter in 2013 and beyond. Jenkins, because of his Lisfranc injury, will go a lot lower than his talent would dictate.
He is a quick-twitch athlete who can get to the quarterback in any number of ways. If he regains his explosiveness, he'll be a great pass-rusher opposite Cam Wake.
4 (111): Jon Bostic
Jon Bostic is a strong linebacker who shows up to play every weekend. Just take a look at this hit at the beginning of Florida's 2013 bowl game against Louisville.
He may not be great in coverage, but he brings a mean streak and physical style that will fit right along with Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe.
Bostic also really helped his draft stock when he ran a shockingly fast 4.61 40-yard dash, which was among the tops for inside linebackers. He doesn't look that fast on tape, but it shows that the athleticism is there.
The tough linebacker is a chiseled 6'1", 245 pounds and plays downhill and attacks the ball-carrier. He has good instincts and led Florida with 94 tackles last season. He could be a great addition to the Dolphins' linebacker corps.
Miami currently lacks depth at linebacker and could use a guy like Bostic, a real hammer who will come in and give it his all every play.
5 (146): Mike Gillislee
Fellow Florida Gator Mike Gillislee could join Bostic on the Dolphins and also help boost a position in need of depth. Taking advantage of a deep running back class, Miami could find a really talented player here.
Running back has become devalued with the rise of the passing game. Plenty of NFL teams have shown over the past few years that mid-to-late-round backs can succeed in the NFL, a la Alfred Morris and Darryl Richardson.
I am not high on Daniel Thomas at all and wouldn't mind seeing him get traded on draft day. Even if he doesn't get moved, I don't see him having much of a future with the Dolphins at all. He's slow and injury-prone and shouldn't be a major factor moving forward.
Gillislee could come in and be a great complement to Lamar Miller. Gillislee isn't a big, strong power back, but he has an athletic frame, coming in at 5'11", 208 pounds.
He didn't get a lot of touches until his senior year, when he proved his worth with 1,152 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 244 carries. He brings a good mixture of quickness, balance and power, which would make him effective as Miami's No. 2 back in 2013.
5 (166): Dustin Hopkins
I moved this pick back just one slot, from 146 to 166 because there are really two top kickers who will be pursued early: Dustin Hopkins and Caleb Sturgis.
I think Hopkins is the better of the two and would take him if given the choice. If he is already gone, however, I would be perfectly fine with Sturgis (making it three Gators in a row).
But this still holds true to the point that I made in my last mock and also have been adamant about in the comments on my own articles and those of others as well: The fifth round is where you need to take the best kickers.
I have seen so many mocks on this site and others that have the Dolphins taking Hopkins or Sturgis in the seventh round. Then they use this other fifth-round pick to grab another solid player and it makes their mock look that much more impressive.
However, as I've said before, the two best kickers in the 2012 draft were taken 161st and 171st overall, and Pro Bowler Blair Walsh was taken 175th.
Miami would be smart to grab Hopkins or Sturgis, because they are paying Dan Carpenter $2.5 million to be an average kicker. Getting Hopkins at 166 to replace him at a fraction of the price would be a fantastic move.
7 (217): John Boyett
I previously had Cooper Taylor and Ray-Ray Armstrong as my two "project" picks in the seventh round who could possibly contribute at safety for the Dolphins in the future, but that was before I learned more about John Boyett.
I was lucky enough to get assigned to do a scouting report for Boyett, and I came away extremely impressed by him.
Boyett was an extremely productive safety for three years at Oregon before deciding to undergo season-ending knee surgery at the beginning of his senior season to fix partial tears in both of his patella tendons, through which he had played previously.
The injuries are an obvious major concern, but Boyett's talent is undeniable. He's a little undersized but makes up for it with his incredible instincts and toughness.
Boyett is solid in coverage due mostly to his elite instincts, but he is known for the bone-shattering hits that he delivers routinely. He loves to get his helmet on the ball and is eager to lower his shoulder and break up a play or lay out a receiver.
Miami could be getting the steal of the draft if Boyett is still around at this pick.
7 (224): Conner Vernon
The Dolphins went from having wide receiver as arguably their biggest need to one of their strongest positions after signing Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson.
So while I think other positions need attending to earlier in the draft, taking a shot on a receiver in the seventh round wouldn't be a bad idea. After Wallace, Gibson, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, there aren't any guarantees to make the roster.
Marquess Wilson is a popular pick here, because his height and athleticism give him the looks of a high-ceiling No. 1 receiver in the NFL. But Joe Philbin doesn't like guys with any character questions. Wilson is also a poor route-runner, which is crucial for the West Coast offense.
Enter Conner Vernon, an ultra-productive receiver from Duke, of all places. He has just average height and speed, but is the ACC's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards.
Vernon is extremely technical in his route-running and changes direction smoothly. He also has phenomenal hands and could end up being a possible replacement for Davone Bess, who will be a free agent next offseason.
7 (250): Jordan Rodgers
During the NFL draft process and especially as we get closer to the draft, I think people get a little too high on late-round picks after they start hearing their names a few times.
There's a reason these guys are being taken after 200 other players already have been selected. There's a chance they'll make the roster, but after that, very few players taken in the sixth and seventh rounds go on to becoming productive NFL players.
So at 250, after addressing needs throughout the draft, I feel like Miami might as well take a flier on Aaron Rodgers' younger brother. If nothing else, the bloodline makes him somewhat intriguing.
But while the younger Rodgers' is only 6'1", he is athletic like his older brother and possesses similar leadership and character traits, which give him some upside.
At worst, he would provide a little competition for Pat Devlin as Miami's third-string quarterback. At best, he could become a backup in a couple years and maybe have a little value in a trade.