Grade : B
Round 1 Pick 19 – Ja'Wuan James OT
Round 2 Pick 63 – Jarvis Landry WR
Round 3 Pick 67 – Billy Turner OT
Round 4 Pick 125 – Walt Aikens CB
Round 5 Pick 155 – Arthur Lynch TE
Round 5 Pick 171 – Jordan Tripp LB
Round 6 Pick 190 – Matt Hazel WR
Round 7 Pick 234 – Terrence Fede DE
After failing to make the playoffs last season and undergoing the Richie Incognito scandal, the Dolphins came into the 2014 perhaps needing to do more in the NFL draft than any other team in the NFL. Have they been successful though?
Given the 58 times that quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked in the 2013 season, the offensive line was always going to be a massive area of need for the Dolphins. Free-agency signing Branden Albert was a big boost at left tackle but the right tackle position still needed investment.
With pick 19, the Dolphins looked to solve this problem by drafting Ja'Wuan James. After the likes of Lewan and Zach Martin had failed to make it down to the Dolphins (there was never any chance of Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews making it to pick 19) the Dolphins had to reach and take James in the first round.
In truth taking James in the first round is not great value for the Dolphins but sometimes you have to suck it up and draft for need. James should do a job at right tackle. Against Jadeveon Clowney last season he managed to stop the number one draft pick from registering a single sack. He is also a decent enough run blocker.
After attempting to protect Ryan Tannehill with the first pick they set about stocking up on draft picks by trading down twice. First with the Chargers for a fourth round pick and then with the 49ers for a fifth round choice. Ending up with the 63rd pick, the penultimate of the second round, the Dolphins found excellent value by drafting wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
Landry may not have got the same hype as Odell Beckham Jr, but he is still an excellent passing option for the Dolphins offense who caught 77 passes for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013. Landry is a good route runner who doesn't slow down as he made his breaks. Even more importantly he has a safe pair of hands. If you throw the ball to him it tends to stay caught. Getting Landry late in the second round whilst adding draft picks is great value.
The Dolphins put one of those extra picks to use by selecting corner back Walt Aikens. At 6'0 and 205 pounds Aikens has the size and strength to challenge the new crop of super-tall wide receivers. He also has elite speed, running the 40-yard-dash in 4.42 seconds at his pro-day. He was available in round 4 due to the rawness of his technique and some off the field issues that landed him in jail for two weeks. As a big, fast CB though Aikens could be just what the Dolphins secondary needs.
With the second extra pick they got in via trading down in round two the Dolphins got linebacker Jordan Tripp in the fifth round. Tripp's best asset is his speed and motor which allows him to quickly chase players down in the field. At Montana Tripp racked up 195 tackles in 2012 and 2013 with 7.5 sacks. If he can deliver anything approaching that for the Dolphins then he will have been a very successful draft selection.
Overall, the Dolphins played the draft about as well as they could by grabbing the best right tackle available and then trading down to grab as many picks as possible. Even better they seemed to have picked players in the later rounds who have a good chance of making an impact sooner rather than later. Whether they have improved enough to make the playoffs though remains to be seen.
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