Miami Dolphins 2014 Draft: Aggregating Report Card Grades from Around the Web
The second step of the Dennis Hickey era in Miami has concluded with the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Dolphins weren't as aggressive this season as they were last season, deciding to pick players solely based on need as opposed to the big splashes they made in last season's draft.
Was this a good strategy? I'll let you know when I get to my draft grades, which are as arbitrary as the grades that we're going to go through today.
I say arbitrary because you can't really know what you're getting out of the players until you see them on the field. For proof of that, compare last year's grades to what we saw from last year's rookies.
Despite that, we do love draft grades because we love instant gratification. With that being said, here's a look around the web at how the Miami Dolphins Draft Class of 2014 was graded.
Alessandro Miglio, Bleacher Report: B+
We kick things off with Bleacher Report's own Alex Miglio.
Miglio was very positive about Miami's 2014 draft class, saying about top pick Ja'Wuan James:
"He might have been the least sexy pick of the first round and a reach by many accounts. In truth, the Dolphins got a starting-caliber right tackle, which they desperately needed. "
Miglio also discussed late second-rounder Jarvis Landry, stating:
"They also needed a No. 3 receiver—though it may not have been a top priority—and they got a good one in Jarvis Landry.
The 5'11", 205-pound receiver out of LSU is not a burner, but he is a smooth route-runner with great hands. Mike Mayock called him the "toughest wide receiver in the draft" during NFL Network's coverage, and he was a leader in the locker room at LSU."
Overall, Mr. Miglio seemed satisfied by the draft, even offering up praise for the Jordan Tripp selection, calling it a steal.
Rob Rang, CBSSports.com: C+
Rang's explanation centers around one question: Do the Dolphins feel closer to competing with New England after this draft? Based off the tone of the explanation of the grade, the best guess is that Rang doesn't feel they are.
Here are the gory details of his grade:
"The Dolphins checked off most of their areas of concern with a very logical draft but I don't know the club received great value at any of their selections, starting with Jawuan James at No. 19 overall. WR Jarvis Landry and TE Arthur Lynch are solid, pro-ready players but neither has the athleticism to ever likely more than complementary players in the NFL. Frankly, I'm more intrigued by the upside of the relative "small-schoolers" in Billy Turner, Walt Aikens and Jordan Tripp. James will start right away and Turner will develop into a starter relatively soon, as well, filling huge gaps in Miami's offensive line but are the Dolphins closer to overtaking the Patriots with this draft?"
This grade felt a bit like a backhanded compliment, something you would say to a C+ student.
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: C
Rang's Dolphins grade was a fair grade, even if I didn't exactly agree with it.
But Pete Prisco is that guy that said that thing.
What's that thing you might ask? Prisco doesn't like the Jarvis Landry pick.
Thus far, that has been the draft pick Miami made that has had the least amount of negative backlash. On the contrary, that pick feels like the most universally praised Dolphins pick in quite a while.
Prisco isn't a fan though, yet he didn't offer an explanation with his grade:
"They needed offensive line help, and they got it with two picks in the first three rounds on lineman. Question is: Did they get the right one in the first round with tackle Ja'Wuan James. I didn't like the pick of Jarvis Landry in the second."
No explanation, he just doesn't like the Landry pick.
I like it when you explain why you think it's a good or bad pick, especially one you don't like.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: B
Just like last year, in order to get to Mel Kiper's grades on the Dolphins, we have to go through James Walker.
The link to Kiper's grades are on Walker's piece. Why not just link to Kiper's grades? I know not everyone has ESPN Insider, but if you do, feel free to check them out.
Here are Kiper's comments on the Dolphins' draft:
“This was a really quiet draft class in terms of star appeal, but the Dolphins did a pretty solid job of hitting their biggest needs. Ja'Wuan James isn't a player many people know, but I thought he'd land here, and he did in a move that makes a lot of sense. The Dolphins need an immediate starter at right tackle, and that's James. Just plug him in and check it off. Jarvis Landry doesn't fill a major need at WR, but he's a really reliable target who catches absolutely everything. Billy Turner was a tackle at North Dakota State, but could fill another pretty big need they have at guard. ... This draft was aboutRyan Tannehill. Stop the constant sacks, give him a chance to take another step. I think Miami succeeded.”
This is a pretty fair summary of the Dolphins' draft. I can't say Kiper is wrong here.
Evan Silva, Rotoworld (NBCSports.com): B
So without further adieu, let's see how he trashes the team this time:
The James pick is perceived as a reach because most pre-draft mocks didn't have James in the top 32...
First sentence and already he's setting up the insult. Let's see where he goes from here:
...but the Dolphins had a first-round grade on him. So I can't kill the pick. Their evaluators liked what they saw. It isn't like they took a guy they gave a day-two grade at 19. James needs to improve as a run blocker, but will solidify Ryan Tannehill's strong-side protection. Pass pro was a huge problem for last year's Fins.
That took a direction we didn't expect, but I'm sure Dolphin-hater Silva has some not-so-nice things to say about Jarvis Landry, Billy Turner and Walt Aikens, right?
Landry is a stick-moving Hines Ward clone. A mauling college run blocker, Turner has every tool necessary to become a quality pass protector. My guess is Miami will start James at right tackle and Turner at right guard. Pairing rookie offensive linemen side by side worked out well for the 2013 Bears, who ranked No. 2 in the NFL in scoring. Aikens is a big, long press cornerback who could push for playing time quickly.
My apologies, I must have linked this to the wrong writer's grades. No wait, these are definitely Silva's grades.
Silva wasn't as complimentary on Arthur Lynch and Matt Hazel, explaining that Lynch doesn't do anything particularly well and that Hazel is a low-ceiling slot receiver, but he did rave about the Jordan Tripp selection.
In the end, it actually felt like for his gushing about the picks the team made, he might have actually graded them lower than he wanted to, and he gave them a B!
Thomas Galicia, Bleacher Report: B+ Average Grade: B
Averaging out the grades from around the internet (at least the five I gave you today), the Dolphins averaged a B draft.
It's an average I'm at odds with, for I see it as a B+ draft.
My only beef is with the Ja'wuan James pick, and not because of James himself (who will slide comfortably into the starting lineup), but because he could've been had anywhere between five to 10 picks later, along with an additional third-round pick.
The fact that two teams (the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns) traded up after the Dolphins were on the clock at 19 told me that there was a trade to be made. Odds are the Dolphins were spooked that James wouldn't be there, which is fair but also pretty cowardly. I would've taken my chances in that situation if only an extra third rounder was offered though.
The second day of the draft was my favorite day, as the Dolphins wound up picking not only my two favorite players in their draft class, but also two players who were among my top day-two prospects in the entire draft.
Jarvis Landry is going to quickly become Ryan Tannehill's favorite receiver, and the Anquan Boldin comparisons are actually very spot on. Those are the types of receivers that make for dynamic passing games.
Billy Turner has been one of my favorite players in this draft since the Senior Bowl, and it felt at times like it was destiny that he would be a Dolphin. If you have any doubts about him due to his coming from an FCS school, look up his tape against Kansas State, a game where he man-handled their defense. He'll be great as a guard, and could play tackle as well.
Walt Aiken adds size to the Dolphins secondary, something they will need, especially since Sammy Watkins will reside in the AFC East for the foreseeable future. Arthur Lynch reminds me of a bigger Charles Clay, and gives the Dolphins a red-zone target that can block.
I'll admit, I do not know too much about Matt Hazel and Terrence Fede, but I've heard good things about both. In Hazel's case, I like his size and route running, while Fede is a defensive end that will likely serve as an apprentice in 2014 and learning the ropes under Kacy Rodgers, which is always a good thing.
Then there's Jordan Tripp, who could very well take the job of either Philip Wheeler or Koa Misi. I like his upside.
Overall, it was a solid Dolphins draft that I would've given an A had they traded down in Round 1.