The Miami Dolphins had the most picks going into the NFL Draft. Best believe they desperately needed it after fielding a team last year that might have been a .500 team in the XFL.
But even with a lack of talent on the roster in 2019, the Dolphins finished the season 5-4 in their last 9 games. Brian Flores seems to have been able to get the locker room to buy into his culture. He had always said that the Dolphins are not tanking. But that was hard to stand by once the organization shipped out 2018 1st round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick an All-Pro in 2019, and Laremy Tunsil a 2019 Pro Bowler also a 1st round pick in 2016.
In any case, the Dolphins came into the Draft with the intention to fill out a roster lacking talent. They began Day 1 of the Draft with three picks in the 1st round. The months leading to the Draft, had many conflicting reports over what the Dolphins wanted to do.
While “Tanking for Tua” was the mantra of every Dolphins fans going into and during the 2019 season, once the season ended Justin Herbert started to garner hype. Eventually Herbert leaped-frogged Tua in many mock drafts across the industry.
As the Dolphins got on the clock for their 1st pick, the 5th overall in the draft. Many experts were holding their breaths as this was the murkiest pick headed into the draft. Eventually Goodell said the pick: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama. This pick had the most upside in the whole draft.
Tua has Hall of Fame potential from the get-go, while his medicals are the only reason the Dolphins were able to pick him up at number 5 without having to trade any of their other assets. They felt comfortable with what the team doctors saw.
For their next pick in the 1st round, 18th overall, the Dolphins picked up the 20 year old USC tackle Austin Jackson. This may have been a slight reach, seems that the Dolphins see an extremely young player with all the physical tools to be at the very least a serviceable starting tackle in the league for many years to come, and at most an All-Pro player.
In the late portion of the 1st round the Dolphins traded back with the Packers in which they received the Packers 1st round pick along with a 4th rounder.
With the Packers 30th overall pick the Dolphins drafted Noah Igbinoghene, a cornerback from Auburn. If the Austin Jackson pick was seen as a slight reach, this was a Stretch Armstrong like reach.
But at least the Dolphins remained consistent with their picks, Igbinoghene is a very similar type of prospect as Austin Jackson. Igbinoghene was recruited as a wide receiver who was converted into a DB, he has tremendous physical talent both of his parents are former Olympic athletes in track and field. He is at his best when playing man and mirroring his assignment.
With 2 Pro Bowl level cornerbacks (Xavien Howard, Byron Jones), the Dolphins will most likely place Igbinoghene in the slot position. In a passing league you can never have enough defensive backs.
That was the Dolphins 1st round, the oddest thing was that the Dolphins whose leading rusher last year was Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yes, the Quarterback. Did not pick up a running back with a couple highly touted ones available at 30 such as D’Andre Swift or Jonathan Taylor.
But the Dolphins had two more picks in the 2nd round. While D’Andre Swift got drafted 4 picks ahead of the Dolphins first 2nd round pick, Jonathan Taylor who was Mel Kipers 3rd best running back in the whole draft was available. And the Dolphins also passed on him opting for another offensive lineman, Robert Hunt from Louisiana-Lafayette. Hunt played both guard and tackle in college, which gives him tremendous value for a team that allowed the most sacks last year.
Some feel that he can sit a year to better learn the tackle position or he can be an instant starter at the guard position. He is a mauler, I expect him to fill into the guard spot beginning the 2020 season barring injury.
With the second, 2nd round pick the Dolphins had decided to go with a defensive tackle, Raekwon Davis from Alabama. A solid pick, Davis does have some character concerns but may compliment last year 1st round pick Christian Wilkins really well. Davis can fill gaps, and has shown in college before that he can get to the quarterback.
To sum up rounds 3-7 quickly.
Round 3, 70th Overall; Brandon Jones (S)
Round 4, 111th Overall; Solomon Kindley (OL)
Round 5, 154th Overall; Jason Strowbridge (DL)
Round 5, 164th Overall; Curtis Weaver (Edge)
Round 6, 185th Overall; Blake Ferguson (LS)
Round 7, 246th Overall; Malcolm Perry (WR, RB, QB)
Some of the later round picks really stood out to me. Specifically Curtis Weaver and edge rusher from Boise State. He was Pro Football Focus’s 11th best available player going into day 2. The Dolphins managed to get him on day 3. While he did have conditioning issues, he was still highly productive 18.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks.
The Dolphins also managed to get Matt Breida via trade with the 49ers for a 5th round pick (153rd overall). Matt Breida who is 25 years old and was part of one of the best rushing attacks last year. Brian Flores said the trade for Breida was thinking outside the box to fill a need in the running back position.
The last player taken by the Dolphins is a swiss army knife of a player. Malcolm Perry from Navy, is an athlete in more than one position. He has played receiver, running back, and even quarterback for Navy. He is undersized but he does allow for some fun trick play packages. This is what a 7th round pick should be taking a flyer on someone who has a team first mentality, with big play potential.
Miami has improved as much if not more than any other team this offseason, considering what they have done in both free agency and the draft.
This is not the optimistic part, for the ever crushed Dolphins fan soul. The optimistic part is that this is the 1st year of the rebuild. In the 2021 NFL Draft the Dolphins have two 1st round picks, and two 2nd round picks.
With the tyranny of Tom Brady over the AFC East gone, and Bill Belichick not picking up a QB in the draft. The AFC East seems to be wide open.
Alex Vargas is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network. Follow him on Twitter @theskepticAlex.