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The Miami Dolphins had picked the 5th year option of Ryan Tannehill original deal, and the Dolphins had already been in talks with Ryan, so it is not a surprise that the Dolphins and Tannehill have agreed to a 6 year/96 million dollar deal with 45 million guaranteed. I am glad to see Miami get the deal done, and I believe it is a solid deal for both sides. This now allows Miami to put their focus on extending DE Olivier Vernon, who will become a free agent at the end of the year if they choose to do so.
Miami recently completed their 1st rookie camp with their draft picks and undrated free agents, and I want to take a look at the draft picks that I believe could be contributors in 2015.
The 1st and most obvious one is 1st round draft pick DeVante Parker, the WR out of Louisville. Parker gives Miami that big body they have wanted in the Red Zone, but also gives the Dolphins a player that is dangerous after the catch, a player that can give you the valuable YAC, Yards After Catch. He has a big catch radius, which gives Ryan a little room for error when throwing to this talented wide receiver.
Next is 2nd round draft pick Jordan Phillips, the big DT from Oklahoma. Phillips reminds me a lot of Darryl Gardner, who came out of Baylor as a big, freakish prospect that had the saying tagged to him of looking like Tarzan and playing like Jane. Well, Gardner turned into a FORCE with the Dolphins and along with DT Tim Bowens, gave Miami a dominant set of defensive tackles. Phillips has that type of ability, but it up to him to give and bring that energy and take his game to the next level. There are several, young talented DT along with veterans Earl Mitchell and Ndamankong Suh, so Phillips should always be fresh. This kid could help give the Dolphins a young, dominant defensive front if he develops. He will be given every chance to do just that.
Then we get to a couple of 5th round picks that I think can provide immediate help. Boise State RB Jay Ajayi was projected to be a 2nd round pick, but dropped to the 5th round because of concerns of a bone on bone condition with his surgically repaired knee. The knee has not given Jay any issues since he had the surgery to repair the torn ACL 2011, and many think Ajayi is a gem of a deal in the 5th round, myself included. The kid runs with good power and vision and is very good in the passing game as well. He is that big back the Dolphins wanted, and combined with RB Lamar Milller, will give the Dolphins a potent 1-2 combo.
The other 5th round pick that I think can contribute is Memphis CB Bobby McClain. McClain will be used in the slot and in dime and nickel packages, and in this passing league that the NFL has become, you can never have to many cornerbacks. McClain is also a very dangerous return man, but the thing I like about Bobby is his ability as a cornerback. He is fiesty, aggressive and has very good ball skills, as he had 11 interceptions in his last 2 years with the Tigers. It's about Playmakers, on both sides of the ball. McClain is a playmaker.
The next group of prospects will contribute from a special teams standpoint, especially 5th round picks S Cedric Thompson of Minnesota and CB Tony Lippett of Michigan State. 4th round pick OLG Jamil Douglas of Arizona State will be given every opportunity to win the OLG spot as he will be competing with OLG Dallas Thomas for the starting position. Thompson joins a safety group that is deep, while Lippett is making the conversion from wide receiver and part time cornerback while at Michigan State, to a full time big cornerback for Miami. He will need to put in the work from a foot work and technique standpoint, but I like Lippett potential.
As I mentioned in my blog last Sunday, I expect all the members of the 2015 Draft class to make the 53 man roster for the Dolphins. The goal and the hope is that some of these kids can become contributors for the Dolphins in 2015. If the Dolphins can get 3-4 of their draft class to become solid contributors, this will be a very successful draft class.
We are now over a week removed from the 2015 NFL Draft and the Dolphins just completed thieir Rookie Camp this weekend. We have had a chance to hear the so called experts thoughts on how Miami did in this draft as well. It's now my turn to give my thoughts on how the Dolphins did in this draft as well as some thoughts on the UDFA signed immediately after the draft.
We know going into the draft, the Dolphins needed to address cornerback, wide receiver, offensive left guard, defensive tackle, safety and running back, in no particular order. With their 1st pick, the Dolphins took WR DeVante Parker of Louisville. In the 2nd round, in perhaps a surprise to some, myself included to some degree, the Dolphins took DT Jordan Phillips of Oklahoma. Most thought, myself included was that Miami would look to address that OLG spot at this point in the draft, with Hobart OLG Ali Marpet or South Carolina OLG A.J Cann possibly being a prime consideration. That said, the Dolphins released DT Randy Starks and lost DT Jared Odrick in free agency to Jacksonville. And while the Dolphins bought in perhaps the best DT in football, Ndamankong Suh, they still had a need for another DT. Phillips was a borderline 1st round player that fell into the 2nd round and he fit BPA for the Dolphins, who traded down from #47 to #52 with Philadelphia and acquired (2) 5th round picks from the Eagles.
Not having a 3rd round pick hurt in this draft, but Miami looked at the acquicision of WR Kenny Stills from New Orleans as the eqivalant of getting a 3rd round pick. In the 4th round, the Dolphins addressed the OLG position by taking OLT/OLG Jamil Douglas from Arizona State. Some have speculated that the Dolphins missed out on OLG Tra Jackson of Florida State, who went a few picks earlier to the New England Patriots. This very well could have been the case, but I'm sure Miami had a group of OL personnel they were interested in at this point, and the Dolphins did not take the alloted amount of time to make this pick, so this tells me this was a young man that was on the radar for Miami. Douglas is a very good fit for the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins use and has the versatility to play OLT in a crunch, as his senior year with the Sun Devils as spent at OLT.
Then we get to the 5th round. The Dolphins orginally had (2) 5th round picks, but after the trade with Philadelphia on Friday, they went into Saturday with (4) 5th round picks. With that 1st pick in the 5th, the Dolphins took the tough, fiesty playmaker from Memphis, CB Bobby McClain. His last 2 years with the Tigers, McClain had 11 interceptions. He is also dangerous with the ball in the return game as well. The 2nd pick in the 5th round bought the biggest bargin of the draft in RB Jay Ajayi from Boise State. Thought to be a 2nd round pick, Ajayi dropped to the 5th round due to concerns about a knee that is bone on bone. The Dolphins doctors have to be happy with what they saw, and if that knee holds up, the Dolphins get a player that can be an immediate contributor. With the 3rd pick in the 5th round, the Dolphins took FS Cedric Thompson of Minnesota. Thompson is one of those size, weight speed guys that just fits what the Dolphins want, as Thompson is 6'0, 208 lbs and ran a 4.38 40 at the Minneosota Pro Day. He is a guy that can provide depth and be a special teams demon. With the last pick of the draft for Miami, the Dolphins took WR/CB Tony Lippett of Michigan State, which in my mind is a very interesting pick. Lippett fits the mode of the bigger CB at 6'2, 192 lbs, with very good ball skills and footwork. He has to obviously do a lot of work on technique at the cornerback position, but this kid could potentially turn into a very good CB.
With the emphasis by the Dolphins to develop their own players, I fully expect every member of this draft class to be on the 53 man roster when the season begins. I can see WR Devante Parker, DT Jordan Phillips, RB Jay Ajayi and CB Bobby McClain be contributors in the 2015 season, with CB Tony Lippett possibly contributing as well. OLG Jamil Douglas will be given every chance to win the spot and Thompson will be a special teams contributor in my opinion, as the Dolphins do have good depth at the safety position.
Last year the Dolphins had RB Damian Williams, LB Chris McClain, DT Anthony Johnson and TE Gator Hoskins make the team as UDFA in 2014. I expect to see a few UDFA make the team in 2015 as well.
Some possible candidates to make the team are WR/KR Christian Jones of Alabama, LB Zach Vigil of Utah State, OLB Mike Hull of Penn State and ILB Jeff Luc of Louisville. Miami signed multiple UDFA linebackers since one was not drafted.
I would expect the Dolphins to add additional talent as teams look to cut players as we work our way to summer camp as well. Keep an eye on OLG Ron O'Leary of Dallas. He could be a casualty of the Cowboys beating the Dolphins out on OLG/OLT Ja'el Collins, who came down to Miami and Dallas and signed with the Cowboys. Another couple of names to keep an eye on are ILB/OLB Mychael Kendricks and OLG Evan Mathis of Philadelphia. Both were on the trading block and Mathis still could possibly get cut, although the latest was that HC Chip Kelly would not cut Mathis.
This was a very important draft for Miami to continue to build off of what was a very good off-season. Miami needed to keep that momentum going, and I thought they did a very good job of adding talent that can help the Dolphins in 2015. Some will question the Dolphins not addressing CB or OG in the 2nd round or the decision not to draft a ILB. That said though, overall the Dolphins did a very good job with this draft, and most that grade the draft thought Miami did as well. The lowest grade I saw was a C+ from Rotoworld's Evan Silva, the highest being an A from several experts. I give the Dolphins a B+.