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Miami Dolphins: Round 1 Big Board Ahead of the Combine

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Miami Dolphins: Round 1 Big Board Ahead of the Combine
Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

The draft is still a few months away, but every NFL team—including Miami—has already started ranking each and every prospect on its board. Rankings and projections will change frequently as we inch closer to draft day.

Essentially, the "big board" is a mock draft based on team-specific needs.

The following 25 prospects are ranked according to the Dolphins' needs and the prospects' overall skill sets. Keep in mind, there will be players on the board that will not be available when the Dolphins make their first pick. That won't stop the Dolphins from ranking them and hasn't stopped me either.

Here are the top 25 prospects on the Round 1 big board for the Miami Dolphins:

 

1. OT, Jake Matthews

The former Texas A&M Aggie is expected to be the first offensive lineman off the board. Matthews is quick off the snap and has phenomenal upper-body strength. His reach and mobility have helped him develop into the top pass-blocker in this year's draft.

The All-SEC and All-American left tackle is 6'5" and 305 pounds. He is projected as high as second overall in some mock drafts.

 

2. OT, Greg Robinson

Robinson possesses all of the characteristics you look for in an elite NFL lineman. He's big, fast and has impressive body control for a man his size. Even at 6'5" and 320 pounds, Robinson has surprisingly quick feet and long arms to help corral outside charging defensive ends.

The former Auburn Tiger made a career out of mauling defensive linemen. What may be most promising about Robinson is that it is widely believed he has only scratched the surface of his potential, having only played offensive line since 2009.

 

3. OT, Cyrus Kouandjio

Kouandjio has quick hands and is very explosive off the ball. He may possess the best lateral movement and footwork ability of any OL prospect. 

He is a good pass-blocker and an even better run-blocker. Alabama relied on Kouandjio to be the lead blocker on the majority of its running plays. Kouandjio's mobility is astounding for someone who is 6'5" and 310 pounds.

Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com has Kouandjio projected 19th to the Dolphins.

 

4. OG, Zack Martin

Notre Dame's iron man started a school-record 52 consecutive games for the Irish. Martin's versatility allowed him to start 37 games at left tackle before moving inside to left guard.

Martin's quickness off the snap, core strength and lateral agility would be his greatest strengths. His length makes him better suited as an NFL guard rather than a tackle.

Martin is 6'4" and 308 pounds. He could even be the Dolphins' first-round draft choice. His ability to smoothly transition from tackle to guard makes him an even more appealing prospect.

 

5. OT, Taylor Lewan

Lewan is considered the third-best offensive lineman in this class (Dane Brugler, Rob Rang and Derek Stephens, NFLDraftScout.com via CBSSports.com). He stands 6'7" and weighs 315 pounds.

Lewan made 28 consecutive starts at left tackle for Michigan and was the 2012 Rimington-Pace Award winner (top OL in the Big Ten). He is a former AP and Walter Camp first-team All-American and has drawn comparisons to former Dolphin Jake Long.

 

6. TE, Eric Ebron

Ebron is a quick and agile tight end with the ability to blow past most linebackers. At 6'4" and 245 pounds, Ebron makes a big target for any quarterback and has great footwork to avoid defenders after the catch.

He has experience playing in the slot position as well as on the line of scrimmage. His strength and explosiveness off the line give him an edge when he has been asked to block larger defensive linemen, although he was not asked to block much while at UNC.

In 2013, he set UNC records for single-season receptions (62), single-season receiving yards (973), career receptions (112) and career receiving yards (1,805) by a TE (Dane Brugler, CBSSports.com).

 

7. OT, Antonio Richardson

Richardson brings a unique blend of size, agility and power. At 6'6" and 327 pounds, Richardson is arguably the most physically imposing of all the OL prospects.

He has shown surprising quickness off the ball and his tree-trunk-like legs give him a solid base in pass protection. Richardson may have the best hands of any OL in the draft, grabbing onto defenders and imposing his will.

His footwork has drawn some concerns at times and may drop him out of the first round, depending on how he performs at the combine.

 

8. TE, Jace Amaro

Considered the second-best tight end and 30th overall prospect, Amaro is 6'5" and 260 pounds. He is a tough and powerful runner after the catch and bringing him to the ground has proven difficult.

As a junior at Texas Tech, Amaro recorded six 100-yard games and set the NCAA record for most receiving yards in a single season by a tight end with 1,352 (CBSSports.com).

He is a late first-round projection.

 

 9. LB, Khalil Mack

The 6'3", 248-pound linebacker out of Buffalo set an FBS record with 75 tackles for a loss and 16 forced fumbles during his career (CBSSports.com). Mack has proven to be both an effective pass-rusher and run-stopper.

He has struggled at times in pass coverage but has good closing speed. Mack has an excellent swim move and a powerful upper body. He is a powerful tackler and has great field vision.

Mack is a versatile player with experience all over the front seven. He needs some work on his pass coverage technique but is incredible against the run and generating a pass rush.

 

10. WR, Sammy Watkins

Watkins is considered by many to be the No. 1 receiver in this draft class. The former Clemson Tiger burst onto the scene as a freshman when he recorded 2,276 total yards and 13 touchdowns. He was named a first-team All-American as a true freshman.

Watkins has great acceleration and makes good decisions on the field. He knows how to properly follow blocks, and his initial move off the line allows him to make early separation and break down the field. He has shown great coordination and is an effective route runner.

Watkins is a bit undersized for a prototypical receiver. At 6'1" and 205 pounds, the dynamic receiver could benefit from adding a few more pounds of muscle to his frame.

 

11. DT, Louis Nix

Nix is 6'2" and 345 pounds, but he moves like a much lighter man. He has surprising quickness for such a large individual. His explosiveness and lateral movement are big parts of why he is projected as the top DT prospect.

Nix has shown good play recognition and is great at bull-rushing offensive linemen back into the pocket. He has an above-average swim move and strong hands. He needs to improve against a double-team as he was often ineffective when doubled.

 

12. LB, Anthony Barr

Barr has been incredible in the open field, using his amazing agility and acceleration to pursue ball-carriers before punishing them with big hits.

He is projected by some to be the first LB selected on draft day. Barr has a unique combination of size and athleticism. He did struggle at times against the run but has been very effective against the pass.

Barr is more suited for a 3-4 defensive scheme than a 4-3.

 

13. OG, Xavier Su'a-Filo

Su'a-Filo finished his UCLA career with a streak of 38 consecutive starts. The 6'3" and 305-pound guard was named first-team All-Conference in 2013.

He has good core strength that allows him to defend well against a bull-rush. He has good quickness, a strong upper body and a solid lateral move which helps him in pass protection.

 

14. DT, Ra'Shede Hageman

Hageman's build has drawn comparisons to J.J. Watt and John Henderson. He is 6'6" and 318 pounds with great length.

Hageman was a force on the line for Minnesota. He consistently pushed opposing linemen deep into the backfield and has played a number of positions on the defensive line.

Hageman has struggled locating the football and just has average speed.

 

15. CB, Justin Gilbert

Gilbert led the Big 12 last season with seven interceptions, a valuable trait given that the NFL has become a pass-heavy league. Gilbert is 6'0" and 200 pounds and may be the best prospect in the class when it comes to pure athleticism.

Gilbert has incredible speed and field vision, allowing him to run side-by-side with opposing receivers while still eyeballing the quarterback. He has good hands and great leaping ability. He is built like a prototypical NFL corner and has great acceleration.

He may have to adjust his playing style at the next level to avoid penalties. He is known to be very aggressive in pass coverage and has shown an unwillingness at times to come up and make a tackle against a run.

 

16. CB, Jason Verrett

Verrett was a junior college transfer for the TCU Horned Frogs. He helped anchor arguably the best defense in the Big 12 last season and was named first-team All-American.

At 5'10" and 176 pounds, Verrett shows great tenacity and a willingness to step up and make a tackle on a running play. His most desirable trait would have to be his ability to bait the quarterback and perfectly time his break on the ball.

Verrett is projected as the 32nd overall prospect.

 

17. DT, Timmy Jernigan

Jernigan had just 16 starts for the Florida State Seminoles but made a huge impact. He was named first-team All-ACC and helped FSU win the BCS National Championship. Once he declared for the draft, Jernigan told ESPN's Joe Schad, "I feel I am the most versatile defensive lineman in the draft. Some team will get an athletic, hard-working lineman who attacks, plays smart and doesn't come off the field."

The 300-plus pounder is surprisingly light on his feet and shows good lateral movement. He has good awareness and has been effective at shedding a double-team. Jernigan has good upper-body strength but could benefit from improving his pre-snap anticipation.

 

18. WR, Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham is a great athlete that has shown great acceleration and reliable hands. His leaping ability and reach give him a large catching radius. 

He has an incredible cut move and may be the most dangerous receiver in the draft after the catch. He has great timing, footwork and vision which allow him to break away from defenders and make big-time receptions.

At 5'11" and 193 pounds, Beckham would benefit from putting on a few more pounds of muscle.

 

19. LB, C.J. Mosley

The 6'2" and 235-pound Mosley is widely considered the top linebacker in this class. He has good footwork and solid tackling form, which allow him to battle through crowded areas and bring down the ball-carrier. 

Mosley has great play recognition and a very high football IQ. Rarely did this Crimson Tide defender make a mental error. His athleticism, instincts and strength give him the ability to play both inside and outside linebacker.

 

20. FS, Calvin Pryor

Pryor was a key figure in the rejuvenation of the Louisville football program under former coach Charlie Strong. The junior was a two time All-Conference selection and is considered the 28th overall prospect.

In his final season at Louisville, Pryor totaled 70 tackles, of which 5.5 were for a loss. He also had three interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Pryor is 6'2" and 208 pounds, and he may not be a household name but is considered by many to be the hardest-hitting safety in this draft class.

 

21. FS, Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix

Clinton-Dix is projected as the top free safety prospect in this class. He has long arms and good speed which makes him an ideal deep-ball defender. He is an explosive player who provides solid run support.

He is a physical and hard-hitting defender with great leaping ability. When he isn't punishing receivers, he is snatching balls out of the air. His aggressive style of play has made him vulnerable at times to misdirection and play-action passes.

 

22. WR, Mike Evans

At 6'5" and 225 pounds, Evans is the prototypical NFL receiver. He is very physical and uses his size and strength to overpower defenders. He provides good downfield blocking and is great at boxing out defenders on jump balls.

His size makes him an excellent red-zone target and he has shown reliable catching ability. He is not a very quick receiver, but his power, leaping ability and hands make him an ideal weapon in the passing offense.

Evans may struggle at the next level because he is unlikely to be able to physically dominate defenders like he did in college. His lack of explosiveness off the line limits his playmaking ability on anything but a downfield pass.

 

23. CB, Darqueze Dennard

The 5'11" and 195-pound Michigan State Spartan is considered the top cornerback prospect for this class. He was a first-team All-American and winner of the Thorpe Award, given annually to the best defensive back in college football.

Dennard is a physical defender best suited for man-to-man coverage. He has the speed and acceleration to run with receivers and is physical enough to come up in run support.

Dennard has shown great body control once the ball is thrown and even better timing. He has been prone to holding penalties from his tendency to grab receivers running down the field.

 

24. WR, Marqise Lee

Lee is considered the third-best receiver in this class. He has explosive speed and acceleration which makes him difficult to cover in the open field. He has a good stutter step and has greatly improved as a route runner. 

He has good elusiveness and vision. Lee has been compared to Victor Cruz because of his smaller frame and playmaking ability. Lee has battled injuries throughout his career, which brings about questions concerning his durability. 

 

25. TE, Austin Seferian-Jenkins

At 6'6" and 276 pounds, Seferian-Jenkins is one of the largest tight end prospects in this class. He shows good quickness and body control for a man his size. His long arms and steady hands make him a nightmare matchup off the line.

He is a solid ball-carrier and good route runner. He could benefit from becoming more physical. He truly is a more finesse player than you would expect given his size. Seferian-Jenkins has been compared to Marcedes Lewis.

There you have it—the Dolphins big board from my perspective. A lot will change between now and draft day as the combine runs its course and free agency picks up. One thing is for certain: The Dolphins have a tough road in front of them and cannot afford any mistakes in free agency or on draft day.

All stats courtesy of CBSSports.com unless otherwise noted.

 

 

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