Dolphins 2014 Draft Picks: Results, Analysis and Grades
The 2013 season featured off-the-field drama and a late on-field collapse, so new general manager Dennis Hickey and incumbent head coach Joe Philbin will have to draft impact players to finally lift Miami past the mediocrity that has stricken the team for years.
From Thursday to Saturday, you'll find instant reaction to every move the Dolphins make over the next three days right here, so stick here for all of your Dolphins draft coverage. As picks spanning all seven rounds come in, we'll present the information and quick analysis you covet.
Round 1: Pick 19: Ja'Wuan James (OT, Tennessee)
The weeks of rumors that the Miami Dolphins would trade up for an offensive lineman proved false, as they stayed at the No. 19 overall pick and selected Tennessee offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James. They bypassed quarterbacks Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, showing faith in Ryan Tannehill.
An experienced tackle for Tennessee, James exhibited strong pass blocking skills as he faced off against top collegiate pass rushers such as Jadeveon Clowney and Dee Ford. Expect the Dolphins running game to get a boost as well, as James showed upside throughout his career as the strong side run blocker.
In selecting James, the Dolphins have filled their biggest need, right tackle. They could’ve waited until later in the draft to get a competitor to newly-signed tackle Jason Fox and former third round pick Dallas Thomas, but by taking James, they’ve ensured their offensive line will have depth for the first time in years.
When grading this pick, one must consider the gap in talent after the top four tackles. Miami could’ve easily missed out on James if they would’ve waited until their second day pick. By taking a James, Miami will get an instant starter, and another fresh face along their revamped offensive line.
Dolphins fans should be excited for the big former Volunteer, as the offense will be improved by this addition. The value wasn’t great, but the need was so big that Miami had to fill the need early. The biggest question of this pick; could Miami have traded down and still picked James? It's hard to say, with some tackle-needy teams right behind the Dolphins.
Round 2: Pick 63: Jarvis Landry (WR, LSU)
After filling their biggest need in the first round, the Dolphins decided to trade down from their original pick, No. 50 overall, to pick 57 overall, and then again down to No. 63 overall.
For moving down the first time, the Dolphins received a fourth-rounder (No. 125 overall) from the San Diego Chargers.
With the 63rd pick, Miami addressed another need by selecting LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
Landry is known for his extraordinary hands and route running ability, each of which the offense needs, considering Mike Wallace’s and Brian Hartline’s drop issues. He doesn’t have tremendous upside, and he’s not a great athlete, but his game isn’t dependent on great athleticism.
As mentioned earlier, the Dolphins also picked up a valuable extra fourth-round and fifth-round pick by moving down only thirteen spots.
So the Dolphins moved down 13 spots and picked up a fourth and a fifth round pick. Dennis Hickey is wheeling and dealing today.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) May 10, 2014
In between where Miami originally picked and ended up selecting, there were several talented receivers taken. Landry seemed to have been the top target all along, as the Dolphins decided to move down twice.
Miami received great value for moving down, and their selection of the former Tiger was a solid pick that could qualify as best player available.
Round 3: Pick 67: Billy Turner (OG, North Dakota St)
With the No. 64 overall pick, the Dolphins selected North Dakota State offensive tackle Billy Turner.
The Dolphins moved up from the 81st overall pick to the No. 67 overall by moving their original fourth-round pick, No. 116 overall to the Oakland Raiders.
Right after addressing the wide receiver position with Jarvis Landry in the second-round, Miami addressed the next biggest concern on the roster, offensive guard, where Turner told me, at the Senior Bowl, he prefers to play.
Turner is the ideal fit at right guard for the zone-blocking scheme. He brings quickness and strength that allow him to reach the second level of blockers with ease. There’s little doubt that Turner will be able to start for the Dolphins in year one.
Another benefit of Turner is that he played tackle in college, so if one of the new Dolphins tackles goes down (knock on wood!), Turner is capable of moving over and being productive.
Round 4: Pick 125: Walt Aikens (CB, Liberty)
The fourth-round of the NFL draft, loaded with talent, was kind to the Miami Dolphins. With the No. 125 overall selection, which Miami received from the San Diego Chargers via a trade on day 2, the Dolphins selected Liberty cornerback Walt Aikens.
By taking the 6’0”, 205 pound cornerback, the Dolphins grabbed one of the top cornerbacks available, and added a new dimension to the defensive back group.
As I’ve touched on before, Aikens has great size that will allow him to match up with any NFL receiver. He also has 4.42 40-yard dash speed, which is faster than any of the Dolphins’ current cornerbacks.
General Manager Dennis Hickey continues to fill holes on the roster with great efficiency, as the defensive backfield is now loaded with talent.
Aikens has all of the physical tools needed to become a very good starting, boundary cornerback. He will need technique work, and has to adjust to the speed of the NFL, but he fits the Dolphins zone scheme extraordinarily well.
Round 5: Pick 155: Arthur Lynch (TE, Georgia)
The Dolphins continue to take players that fill needs under Dennis Hickey, this time adding former Georgia Bulldog tight end Arthur Lynch at the No. 155 pick overall.
At No. 155, Dolphins draft Georgia TE Arthur Lynch.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) May 10, 2014
Lynch, at 6’4” and 258 pounds, has prototypical size for a tight end, which Miami lacked entering the NFL draft. Of the current tight ends on the Dolphins roster, only Dion Sims has that type of size and frame to be a full-time tight end, as Michael Egnew is more of a receiver playing tight end.
With Lynch, the Dolphins now have a potential well-rounded tight end. He’s an efficient blocker while in-line, and could be the best blocker in the class. His aggressiveness and willingness to attack defenders rivals offensive lineman.
Another positive of Lynch is his ability to get open on underneath routes. He won’t spread the field by attacking the seams, but Charles Clay can now do that, allowing Lynch to be the short-route specialist. With his quickness, he will be a move-the-chains player for years to come.
The Dolphins are getting an average athlete with Lynch, but he’s a consistent player. Of all the draft picks thus far, he has the lowest ceiling, but also the ability to instantly make an impact on the field.
Dennis Hickey continues to check needs off the shopping list by adding Lynch, and has three more selections on day 3.
Round 5: Pick 171: Jordan Tripp (OLB, Montana)
With their second 5th round pick, No. 171 overall, the Dolphins bolstered their linebacker core by selecting former Montana star Jordan Tripp.
Jordan Tripp was a tackling machine at Montana. Fluid athlete, good instincts & straight-line speed. Projected as OLB.— Robi (@Robi2184) May 10, 2014
Tripp is a 6’2”, 234 pound outside linebacker that had a terrific NFL combine, bursting on to everyone’s radar with his great athleticism. He has great speed, both short area and distance, able to make up for mistakes of teammates.
After watching the Dolphins weak-side linebacker Philip Wheeler make a ton of mistakes last season, Tripp was brought in to challenge and eventually replace him.
This pick was from an earlier trade with the San Francisco 49ers, so Tripp is essentially a free flyer for the Dolphins. Taking a high-potential player with a free pick is a shrewd move, Mr. Hickey.
Once again, another need is addressed with a player that could see the field in 2014, but likely is going to battle for a starting spot in 2015. This is an easy to grade selection.
Round 6: Pick 190: Matt Hazel (WR, Coastal Carolina)
Entering the sixth round, the Dolphins have done well to fill roster needs. All but one draft pick has been a team captain while in college, placing an emphasis on character. These picks haven’t been low upside for the most part, however. Dennis Hickey has been adding considerable talent throughout this draft, and he continued with his latest selection.
With the Dolphins sixth round pick, No. 190 overall, the Miami Dolphins selected Coastal Carolina receiver Matt Hazel.
At pick No. 190, Dolphins draft CCU WR Matt Hazel.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) May 10, 2014
Hazel is similar to former Green Bay Packers receiver and new Oakland Raider receiver James Jones, as he is a polished route runner that has been productive everywhere he’s been.
At 6’1, 198 pounds, Hazel brings size and versatility to the Dolphins receiving group. He can lineup as the No. 2 receiver on the outside or in the slot as a precision route runner.
It is surprising Miami selected Hazel, but as Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post speculated recently, Miami could be looking to move on from their veteran receivers after 2014.
Considering the haul Miami has pulled in so far, I would’ve liked to have seen the Dolphins take a quarterback or defensive lineman. However, I like Hazel quite a bit, and this is a good value. This was a solid, but unspectacular pick.
Round 7: Pick 234: Terrence Fede (DE, Marist)
With their last selection in the 2014 NFL draft, No. 234 overall, the Miami Dolphins selected Marist defensive lineman Terrence Fede.
At 6’3”, 276-pounds, Fede is a defensive end prospect that physically fits the profile of an NFL defensive end. At his pro day, he registered impressive physical benchmarks, and with the Dolphins utilizing analytics more under Dennis Hickey, it is likely that Fede tested as a prospect that could become an NFL-caliber contributor in time.
The seventh-round of the draft should never be weighed heavily, as it is usually where teams take chances on guys that end up on a practice squad.
Fede may not make the active roster in 2014 because their defensive line is loaded with quality veterans, but expect him to become a practice squad player they develop, in hopes he is a true diamond in the rough.
I would’ve preferred Miami to take their top rated quarterback here, as they need a backup to replace Pat Devlin, but they will soon be talking to undrafted free agents, so maybe they have one in mind that they’ll sign.
All combine results and height/weight information courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.
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.