Miami Dolphins Mock Draft: Final 7 Round Predictions
With seven total picks and one in each round, Hickey has just enough picks to have an effective haul, but according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Hickey expressed interest in maneuvering to accumulate more picks. The best way to build depth on a roster is to hit on more picks, and more picks means a greater chance to find impact players.
Before the start of the combine, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock held a conference call with reporters and labeled the 2014 crop the deepest class he’s seen in 10 years (h/t Pro Football Talk’s Curtis Crabtree).
Don't forget to share your thoughts on what the Dolphins should do in the comments section below.
Without further ado, here are my projections for Miami in the 2014 NFL draft.
Note: All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.
Round 1 (Trade): Ja'Wuan James (OT, Tennessee)
The Dolphins have spent over $53 million this offseason on offensive line help between tackles Branden Albert and Jason Fox, along with guard Shelley Smith. Although drafting a lineman isn't considered sexy, more upgrades are needed so that incumbent quarterback Ryan Tannehill isn't sacked nearly 60 times again in 2014.
Quite frankly, the other top lineman might not be available by the time the Dolphins draft in the second round, so they need to take advantage of the available crop early, then focus on other needs.
That's why Tennessee's former right tackle, Ja'Wuan James, should be a target for Miami. With experience in both a man-power scheme (2012) and zone-blocking scheme (2013), James offers value and the ability to start early in his career. Standing 6'6" and weighing 311 pounds, James fits the prototype size that Joe Philbin often coached in Green Bay as the offensive coordinator.
For moving down into the late 20s, the Dolphins should receive a third-round selection, helping achieve Hickey's goal of acquiring more picks.
Round 2: Davante Adams (WR, Fresno State)
According to CBSSports.com's Larry Hartstein, "some Dolphins coaches aren't fans" of wide receiver Mike Wallace, who was signed to a massive $60 million contract in 2013. Whether or not that is a motivation tactic, the reality is that the Dolphins have three receivers returning from injury heading into the 2014 season (Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Armon Binns).
Davante Adams is a big, athletic receiver who can be a potential dominant playmaker outside. Tannehill has made strides with average receiver play in his first two seasons, but Miami needs a true No. 1 receiver. At 6'1", 212 pounds and almost a 40-inch vertical, Adams is a physical freak who adds a dynamic threat to a roster needing a shot of adrenaline.
Adams needs to develop his route running to become a complete receiver, but he and former Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr routinely connected on big plays downfield because of Adams' ability to catch the ball at its highest point. He is a smooth runner who is dangerous after the catch, which is something the Dolphins lacked in 2013.
Round 3 (From Trade): Charles Sims (RB, West Virginia)
Since I projected the Dolphins to move down in the first round, they have an extra pick in the third round and can afford to take the best player available.
Andrew Abramson of The Palm Beach Post reported that the Dolphins will be looking to add a running back at some point, and if Sims is available in the middle of the third, he is a great value.
Sims is a complete running back, showing a combination of great vision, good power, speed and receiving ability. Although Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno was brought in this offseason, he has an extensive injury history and only signed a one-year contract. Sims can come in and challenge incumbent starting back Lamar Miller for the second running back spot and potentially start in 2015.
Despite being at West Virginia for only one season, Sims was named a team captain in 2013, and the Dolphins have been searching to add high-character players throughout the 2014 offseason.
Round 3: Ross Cockrell (CB, Duke)
The Dolphins gambled when they let former starter Nolan Carroll depart via free agency to the Philadelphia Eagles and brought in former St. Louis Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan. Per ProFootballFocus.com (subscription required), Finnegan was the 110th-ranked cornerback in 2013. Suffice to say, he should face competition from more than 2013 draft picks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.
As I've examined before, Ross Cockrell is a terrific fit in defensive schemes that utilize catch-man coverage and has upside to improve in zone coverage. The Dolphins don't have much size in the secondary to compete with bigger receivers, so Cockrell, even at 6'0", can add a new toy for defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle to use.
As Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome mentioned, you can never have enough cornerbacks (via Jenny Vrentas of MMQB), and Miami should subscribe to that theory, considering they face Tom Brady twice a year, and the Jets and Bills are working feverishly to build a similarly potent offense.
Round 4: Zach Kerr (DT, Delaware)
With the departure of nose tackle “Big” Paul Soliai to the Atlanta Falcons in free agency, the Dolphins are left without a true 0-technique to eat up interior linemen when defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle wants to confuse the offense.
Enter Zach Kerr. At 6’1” and 323 pounds, he’s a mammoth waiting to be molded by Miami’s excellent defensive line coach, Kacy Rodgers.
Kerr can bring a dynamic to the Dolphins defensive front that Soliai never could, which is pass rush potential due to his quickness off the snap. Kerr isn’t just quick, as he uses his short stature well to take advantage of leverage and bully opposing centers back into the quarterback.
He isn’t a prospect without flaws, as Kerr’s motor isn’t always full-go, but since he will be a part-time player, he will have to play hard to stay on the roster.
Day-three draft picks are often determined by scheme fits and athletic upside, so Kerr would be a good value to Miami in the fourth round.
Round 5: Garrett Scott (OT, Marshall)
Looking at Dennis Hickey’s drafts in his role as pro personnel director for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team always double dipped at the position it needed most. With James presumably going to fill the hole at right tackle, Garrett Scott serves as a developmental player to be a backup tackle.
The Dolphins have expressed considerable interest in Scott and were the first of a few teams to bring him in for a private workout (per James Walker of ESPN.com).
Scott is a terrific athlete who has the agility to kick-step in pass protection with the best of offensive tackles and the quickness to reach the second level of defenders in run blocking. He’s a perfect fit for the zone-blocking scheme to which Miami is finally fully committed.
He needs time to add muscle and hand technique so he can anchor better against power rushers, but he can develop into one of the best offensive linemen in this draft.
Round 6: Carlos Fields Jr. (LB, Winston-Salem St)
Right now you might be thinking, who is this guy and where is he from?
As you’ll see in the video above (thanks to Emory Hunt of FootballGameplan.com), Fields is a high-upside player whom Hunt first noticed at a regional event and so kindly showed the world his abilities.
After seeing his highlight package, I reached out to his coaches so I could receive film. Suffice to say, I was blown away at his combination of size (6’1”, 229 pounds), speed (4.47 40-yard dash) and instincts. He can cover tight ends down the seam or running backs in the flats, providing three-down value.
Carlos Fields Jr/LB/Winston Salem; low 4.5's/high 4.4's at Wake Forest pro-day....— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) March 17, 2014
The Dolphins haven’t spent much of their time looking for a new inside linebacker, so it might be safe to assume that this front office and coaching staff feel comfortable with their starting linebackers. But depth is needed, and Fields can develop into an impact player at the position.
I graded Fields as a second-round value, but due to his small-school status and the devaluation of inside linebackers, expect Fields to be taken later on day three.
Round 7: Keith Wenning (QB, Ball State)
The Dolphins haven’t used a draft pick on a quarterback since taking Tannehill eight overall in 2012 and have two backups who are set to be free agents after 2014, so taking a developmental flyer is a great investment.
Third-stringer Pat Devlin has shown little progression throughout his limited action in preseason games and clearly has little to no upside. Upgrading him will be easy to do.
Wenning is a master-of-no-skills player, but he has no major faults to his game. He is accurate to all levels of the field despite not having a big, strong arm. He is sound mechanically, needing minor adjustments to his footwork. His career ratio of 89 touchdowns to 42 interceptions reflects the film; he’s a good game manager. As a backup, he’d fit well behind Tannehill.
Ian Wharton covers the NFL draft for Bleacher Report, specifically focusing on defensive backs. He also covers the Miami Dolphins for DraftMecca.com and FinDepth.com. You can follow and interact with Ian on Twitter @NFLFilmStudy.