With the NFL Draft just over a week away, speculation and smoke screens are running rampant and it seems like everyone is hearing and saying different things to those around the NFL. Projections, mock drafts, trade rumors and more are always things that define this time period. The ultimate question as a Miami Dolphins fan is who are the Dolphins really targeting? Only the decision makers and scouts involved in the organization are really in the loop, but here are some likely targets the Dolphins may have this year.
Kevin White, West Virginia | 6'3" 215 lbs.: White is arguably the best receiver in the draft, and the Miami Dolphins would have to trade up in the draft to acquire him. While the price may be heavy, doing so would give Ryan Tannehill a great weapon to work with. Think of White as a much more polished Cordarrelle Patterson in terms of athletic ability, but with an ability to consistently win jump balls and out-muscle cornerbacks for tough catches. His run-after-catch ability is great as well and would give the Dolphins offense a lot more options.
Amari Cooper, Alabama | 6'1" 211 lbs.: Cooper is easily the most NFL ready receiver in the draft and maybe the most ready player overall. What sets Cooper apart is his superb route-running and his ability to create separation and make tough catches. Cooper isn't a super athlete and won't out jump anyone to make a spectacular grab, but he a good athlete and should make an instant impact. He is very similar to Sammy Watkins from last year, and the Dolphins, once again, would probably have to trade up to the top ten to draft him.
DeVante Parker, Louisville | 6'3" 209 lbs.: Tracking Parker's draft stock has been interesting, as many people have different opinions of him. He's been projected to go anywhere from right outside the top five picks to the high teens, low 20s. What can't be argued is his great ability to make a contested catch and go over a corner and get the ball. Parker doesn't have blazing speed, but has enough to chew up any cushion a corner gives him. He can be lackadaisical in his route-running though, which leads to more contested catches than is necessary. He reminds scouts of Hakeem Nicks when he came out. If he is there at 14, when the Dolphins pick, he might be a real possibility.
Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri/Oklahoma | 6'5" 237 lbs.: Arguably the most talented receiver in the draft, Green-Beckham draws comparison to Calvin "Megatron" Johnson and Randy Moss when they came out in the draft. Green-Beckham has almost identical measurables to Megatron and he reminds scouts of Moss because of his immense talent, but off the field problems. Even with his great size, he still ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, and can out-jump any corner or safety that might line up against him. His route running is nowhere near what it should, but with good coaching combined his athletic ability, he should be able to catch on quickly. It is questionable if the Dolphins would draft him with the 14th overall pick, but they could trade down and pick him, or wait until the second round. Either way, Green-Beckham is very talented, and might be worth the risk.
Marcus Peters, Washington | 6'0" 197 lbs.: Peters is arguable the best pure cover corner in the draft this year, but like Green-Beckham, has some serious character concerns that push him down the draft board. With the Dolphins in need of a good corner, Peters might be a consideration here, but he would have to prove that he can stay clean off the field. Peters is a physical corner who can play press or off-man coverage and still win. In almost any other draft, Peters might not be there for the Dolphins at 14, but because of his character concerns, he might be on the board when it’s time for the Dolphins to turn in their card.
Trae Waynes, Michigan State | 6'0" 186 lbs.: Waynes is the best corner in the draft. With his great ability to be a press cover corner and redirect receivers off their routes or play in a zone, Waynes would be a great addition to the defense. He is an intense, tough corner, who won't get beat very often, but who is also very versatile. He was asked to cover on an island most of last year for the Spartans, so he clearly has the ability to stick with guys. The problem is, he most likely won't get to the Dolphins at 14. If he does though, the Dolphins would have to strongly consider picking him in that spot.
Byron Jones, Connecticut | 6'1" 200 lbs.: Jones took the league by storm after his ridiculous combine performance, setting a world record long jump, and then turning around and running a sub 4.4 40-yard dash at his pro day. Jones is an athletic freak, who has great recovery speed and good anticipation of routes. He is average in man-to-man, but due to his great athleticism, is a great zone cover corner. Because the Dolphins like running zone, he would be a great fit. He has been shooting up the draft boards but there is a slight possibility that he is there for the Dolphins in the second round. If he is there, the Dolphins would be hard pressed not to take him as he would fit well with what they do.
Landon Collins, Alabama | 6'0" 228 lbs.: With the Dolphins in need of a safety because of Louis Delmas' injury concerns, Collins could be a very good fill-in and eventual replacement at the starting safety position. Pairing Collins with Reshad Jones would make for a very good tackling and versatile safety duo on the back end. Collins is a very good in the zone coverage and reads the eyes of the quarterback well. He is a force in the run game, and he wraps up the ball carrier very well to limit yards after the catch. While is isn't the fastest safety ever, he does have decent speed to not get beat in deep zone coverage. He has good enough feet to stick with tight ends and some slot receivers. Collins could very well be had at the 14th overall pick. While safety isn't a dying need for the Dolphins, if guys like Cooper, White, Parker, Peters, Waynes, or Green-Beckham are gone, it might be very hard for the Dolphins to pass up on him.
Eric Kendricks, UCLA | 6'0" 232 lbs.: Despite his size, Kendricks has proven to be a very good, productive linebacker. He is very intelligent, diagnoses plays very well, and it is very hard to fool him. He slides very well and does a good job of getting off blocks to tackle the running back. Because of his athleticism, you'd expect him to have more tackles in the backfield. While he is not the athlete that his brother Mychal (Philadelphia Eagles) is, he has more than enough to compete on the NFL level. Scouts compare him to Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner. He is versatile enough to play either middle linebacker or will linebacker. He has enough speed to be an effective coverage linebacker as well. While the Dolphins probably won't pick him in the first round, he should be a serious consideration in the second round, and he would help bolster a linebacker core that is still thin from this off-seasons' moves.
Denzel Perryman, Miami | 5'11" 236lbs.: One of the knocks on Perryman is his size, but despite that, he is one of the strongest linebackers in the draft, leading the linebacker group at the combine with 27 bench press reps. While he isn't a great athlete, Perryman is a disruptive force in the running game. He sheds blocker very well, and once he diagnoses a play, he can wreck a run play. He is not very good in coverage because of his lack of athleticism, but he will be a great two down middle linebacker in the NFL. Perryman should be drafted in rounds two or three and it might be smart for the Dolphins to trade down in the second to be able to pick up a third that they lost and maybe pick Perryman with either one of those two picks.
Tevin Coleman, Indiana | 5'11 207 lbs.: Coleman was one of the most productive running backs in college football last year, running for over 2,000 yards on less than 300 carries. Coleman has great, breakaway speed, running a 4.39 40-yard dash at his pro day. Coleman has exceptional burst through the hole and can outrun guys to the end zone, but he is also a very violent runner who has no problem running in-between the tackles. Scouts say he is a carbon copy of now Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden. Coleman would be a very good addition to this Dolphins offense, and he could pair very well with Lamar Miller. Coleman is projected to go in the second round, and if he is there when the Dolphins are on the clock in the second round, it might be smart to give him some consideration.
Jay Ajayi, Boise State | 6'0" 221 lbs.: Ajayi is probably the most versatile back in the draft this year. His ability to run in-between the tackles, bounce it to the outside, pass block, and catch the ball is very interesting. With soccer in his background, Ajayi has very good feet and is very good at making guys miss once the ball is in his hands. Ajayi is the cliche "jack of all trades, master of none." He does a lot of things well, but nothing exceptionally. Ajayi would still be a very good addition to the Dolphins offense, as he could bring a lot of versatility and options. He has enough power to be a goal-line option, but also enough speed and agility to be a very good zone-blocking scheme runner and pair well with Miller. Ajayi is also an option in the second round, and the Dolphins could very well have him on their radar as head coach Joe Philbin loves players who can do multiple things.
David Cobb, Minnesota | 5'11" 229 lbs.: Cobb is the quintessential power running backer. He will definitely not wow you with his great speed or burst, but his power, balance, and ability to break tackles is impressive. Cobb gained 54 percent of his yards last year after contact, which goes to show what kind of power he has. Cobb is also a very good goal-line back, and does a good job of finding the right hole to run through. While he might not be an every-down back, he could be a very good complimentary back and pair well with Lamar Miller. Cobb is rated anywhere from rounds three to five. If he is there for the Dolphins fourth round pick, they shouldn't think twice about considering him.
Tre Jackson, Florida State | 6'4" 330 lbs: Jackson is a big guard with a lot of power. While he might not be the most athletic guard, he certainly has enough athleticism to be an effective pulling guard if asked to. Jackson has powerful hands and has the ability to move guys in the running game and does a good job of getting to the second level. In terms of pass blocking, he is pretty good at moving his feet, but he can be beat by faster defensive tackles. Overall Jackson, paired with Billy Turner and Mike Pouncey, could really be a very good run blocking interior offensive line and open up holes for the running. If Jackson is there in the second round, the Dolphins might consider him depending on what they did with their first pick.
Ali Marpet, Hobart & William Smith (DIII) | 6'4" 307 lbs.: Marpet might be the biggest project of the draft, as he has to transition to the power and speed of the NFL from DIII college football, but he also might have one of the biggest returns of any draftee as well. Marpet might be one of the most athletic offensive lineman in the entire draft. He is a perfect for the zone-blocking scheme, which is what the Dolphins run. Marpet does a good job of hand placement and has good leg drive in the run game. In the passing game, he does a good job of moving his feet and staying with guys. He showed he was stronger than a lot of people thought he was by benching 225 pounds at the combine 30 times, but he could still use more strength in his lower body. Marpet might be a project and not be ready his first year in the league, but going forward, he might be worth wait. He has had draft grades from rounds two to four, but if the Dolphins really want him, they might have to take a chance on him in the second round. If they did trade down sometime in the draft and pick up a third, then that might be the best place to pick.
This column was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter: @SethAFisher
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