Miami Dolphins 2014 NFL Mock Draft: 7-Round Predictions for the Dolphins
There is still some unfinished business, though, particularly with the rebuilding of the offensive line. The Dolphins have signed two new starters up front this offseason, but they have two more to go before the group is complete.
There are also some questions at other positions, particularly at running back, where both Daniel Thomas and the recently signed Knowshon Moreno will hit free agency next year.
With one pick in each round, the Dolphins have plenty of resources to address those needs and more. With help from FanSpeak, here is a look at the full draft, with my picks in the slides ahead.
Round 1, Pick 19: C.J. Mosley (ILB, Alabama)
The Dolphins signed linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler to big contracts last offseason, but they left the door open to sweeping changes at the position when their interest in free-agent linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was reported last month, per James Walker of ESPN.com. Beginning next year, the Dolphins can move on from one of them and get back some of that money.
Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley has the versatility to line up anywhere on the second level but projects best as either an outside or inside linebacker in a 4-3 defense.
He is considered by many to be the best linebacker in the draft class. CBS Sports' Rob Rang compares Mosley to Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David: "Like David, Mosley's combination of toughness, elite instincts and superb athleticism offer the versatility of lining up inside or out, and have enabled him to be one of the nation's top all-around linebackers."
There are some holes in his game. He can be too aggressive against the run, forgetting his gap integrity in his effort to make a play, which happened several times against Auburn. He has the natural coverage instincts and physical ability to keep up with tight ends and running backs in the passing game, although the aforementioned aggressive nature could put a bull's-eye on his back when he hits the NFL level.
Round 2, Pick 50: Antonio Richardson (OT, Tennessee)
The Dolphins have made a couple of additions to their offensive line, but they are still in need of a right tackle. They traded Jonathan Martin to the San Francisco 49ers and have still yet to re-sign either Tyson Clabo or Bryant McKinnie.
Antonio Richardson's nickname is "Tiny," but at 6'6" and 336 pounds, he is anything but tiny. He played left tackle at Tennessee, but he may need to switch to the right side in the NFL. While he lacks the ideal foot quickness to match up with the elite pass-rushers in the NFL, he has good balance and doesn't get knocked off his feet easily.
Where Tiny plays biggest is in the running game, using his size and strength effectively whether he is trap-blocking or creating a seal on the outside—although we didn't get to see him do much of the latter because Tennessee's offense was almost entirely out of the shotgun.
His game has some holes. He sometimes takes poor angles when blocking at the second level, and he was one of many offensive tackles to get eaten alive by South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. It's hardly a surprise, considering Clowney is the best defensive end in this year's class, but it's worth considering as we try to project his potential against NFL competition.
Round 3, Pick 81: Tre Mason (RB, Auburn)
Signing Knowshon Moreno to a one-year, "prove-it" contract could be a great move for the Dolphins. In a best-case scenario, he would, indeed, prove it and earn a long-term deal, like cornerback Brent Grimes last year.
Regardless, there are major question marks about the viability of running backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, who is scheduled to hit free agency next offseason.
Tre Mason could be described as a jack of all trades but a master of none. He has great vision to find the hole, and he hits it at full speed, using his quickness to elude defenders along the way. He has excellent stop-and-start quickness that allows him to watch as defenders brush past him before he hits that second gear and breaks off a nice gain.
He is a tough runner, absorbing contact and sometimes spinning off it. He is short and stocky with a low center of gravity and built-in pad level at 5'8" and 207 pounds.
Make no mistake: He can contribute in the passing game. He caught only 19 career passes at Auburn, but he flashed playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. Even if he doesn't contribute as a receiver, he is solid in blitz protection, and that can be just as important.
There's one concern: He has 535 combined touches in the past three years, so the tread may already be thin on those tires, but that also means he has even more experience against top-notch SEC competition.
Round 4, Pick 116: Will Sutton (DT, Arizona State)
The Dolphins signed former Texans defensive tackle Earl Mitchell to a four-year deal this offseason and brought back Randy Starks on a two-year deal, but with Paul Soliai leaving for the Atlanta Falcons and Jared Odrick entering a contract year, the Dolphins might be smart to replenish the depth chart.
Will Sutton is less Soliai than Starks, as he is considered more of a one-gap defensive tackle than a run-stuffer. He is a bit undersized at 6'0" and 303 pounds. CBS Sports' Rob Rang, however, compares him to another undersized defensive tackle—the Cincinnati Bengals' All-Pro Geno Atkins: "Having increased his sack production each of his three seasons in the NFL, the [6'1"], 300-pound Atkins has given hope to all undersized, quick-footed defensive tackles that they, too, can find a niche in today's pass-happy NFL."
Sutton's burst off the snap and arsenal of pass-rush moves help him get into the backfield in a hurry. As with most undersized defensive tackles, he can get moved off the ball or blocked to the ground at times when he doesn't play with sound technique.
As a fourth-rounder, though, he could be exactly the kind of rotational presence the Dolphins need to begin grooming, with Odrick potentially on his way out in the next 12 months.
Round 5, Pick 155: Anthony Steen (G, Alabama)
After getting their right tackle in the second round, the Dolphins still need another starting guard. It may not be considered ideal to find a starter in the fifth round, but Alabama guard Anthony Steen could at least compete for a starting spot.
He started three years for Alabama and earned experience against the top competition in college football in the SEC. He has a large frame at 6'3" and 314 pounds. He has short arms at 30.5", but he does a good job of getting his hands on linemen and keeping them at bay.
He's a road grader in the running game, but CBS Sports' scouting report indicates he "doesn't have as great an impact blocking downfield as he does within the box, appearing at times indecisive and late to recognize defenders approaching from an angle other than head-on." That makes him less than ideal as a fit in the Dolphin's zone-blocking scheme, but with coaching, those traits could still improve—even if his athletic upside is limited.
Round 6, Pick 190: Jeremy Hill (RB, LSU)
Is it necessary to draft a second running back? As mentioned earlier, Daniel Thomas and Knowshon Moreno are both set to become free agents next offseason, so the Dolphins should be cognizant of the future.
Per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins had reported interest in signing LeGarrette Blount as a free agent, and CBS Sports' Rob Rang says if a team wants to find a back similar to Blount in the draft, Hill would make a good choice:
Considering their size, punishing downhill running style and, unfortunately, character red flags, Blount is an easy comparison for Hill. Hill is a better athlete than Blount and boasts superior vision, lateral agility and speed, which could lead him to earning much more of a featured role in the NFL than the time-share Blount has played in most of his NFL career. With commitment, Hill could be the second coming of Steven Jackson.
They are also similar in that neither one offers much in the passing game. Hill has inconsistent technique in pass protection, lunging at defenders and losing sight of his responsibility.
There is some disagreement to his value, and some websites (including CBS Sports) suggest he could be taken much higher than this. For his limited versatility in the passing game, the Dolphins should only consider Hill if he is available on Day 3.
Round 7, Pick 234: Prince Shembo (OLB, Notre Dame)
Behind Wheeler, Ellerbe and Koa Misi, the Dolphins have some questions at linebacker. Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan have experience at the position, but it looks like the Dolphins plan on them being defensive ends in their 4-3 defense.
Prince Shembo may be somewhere in between, having played from a two-point and three-point stance at Notre Dame, but that will only give him more opportunities to make the roster. His special teams experience will also help him in his bid for a roster spot.
As you would expect from a potential late-round pick, he is not heavy on athleticism, but his toughness and competitive streak could lead him to success at the NFL level.