After a solid draft in 2014, I was intrigued to see what Dennis Hickey would do in his second year as Miami Dolphins’ general manager. Alongside newly appointed vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum, the Dolphins had one of their best off-seasons in recent memory. Miami let go of several disappointing free agents signed by former general manager Jeff Ireland, and reeled in one of the biggest free agents in NFL History, Ndamukong Suh. Before the Dolphins could make a legitimate run at the Patriots and the AFC East crown, they would have to make the right decisions in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Ever since the Dolphins traded away Brandon Marshall they’ve desperately needed a true #1 wide receiver. Mike Wallace wasn’t a great fit with the Dolphins; he lacked size, passion, and overall, he wasn’t worth the money he was paid. Miami later trade Wallace to the Minnesota Vikings for a 5th round pick. While the compensation wasn’t great, the cap room, along with the inevitable hole it filled, made the move worth every penny.
Fast forward to Thursday night; Minnesota is on the clock. There was an obvious link between Vikings’ quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker, the two were teammates at the University of Louisville. Fortunately, the Vikings decided to pass on Parker, selecting Michigan St. CB, Trae Waynes. Miami would select DeVante Parker at #14. Had the Dolphins not traded Mike Wallace to the Vikings a month prior, who knows how the draft would have played out.
DeVante Parker possesses the size that Miami severely lacks at wide receiver. Parker runs crisp routes and high points the football better than any other prospect in the draft. He will bring a play-making ability that both fans and players alike, haven’t had in Miami for quite sometime. At 6’3, Parker is a rare breed at WR; possessing 4.45 speed. He uses his big body to create separation forcing defenders to work around him. His route running is good but has plenty of room for improvement. Parker has exceptional wing span, enabling him to come down with 50/50 balls in single coverage. With the addition of Parker, the Dolphins now have one of the best receiving cores in the NFL. Parker will be the Dolphins #1 wide receiver, opposite of Jarvis Landry. Look for he and QB Ryan Tannehill to develop chemistry early, resulting in an immediate impact from the star wide receiver.
2015 Projection: 65 catches, 856 yards, 8 touchdowns
After trading back with the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for two fifth round draft picks, the Miami Dolphins were on the clock and ready to make their second round selection. Although defensive tackle wasn’t a position of need, Jordan Phillips was the highest rated player on Dennis Hickey and Mike Tannenbaum’s draft board.
On film, Jordan Phillips is a big, big boy. Phillips has a quick initial burst and uses his big body to plug-in the holes. He uses his hands well to move defenders, tossing them around like sacks of potatoes. He should make an immediate impact in stopping the run, something Miami desperately needed to improve on after last season. Unfortunately, my biggest concern when watching Phillips play is his work ethic. He has a habit of taking plays off, something that must change if he’s willing to reach his full potential at the next level, but potential, Phillips does have. A sure first round draft pick that fell into the late second, Miami got themselves a steal. Phillips will benefit from playing alongside all-pro defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh.
Projection: 38 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
No one has been on their back more over the last three seasons than Ryan Tannehill. The poor bastard has been sacked a jaw dropping, 138 times. All of this, despite Miami pouring countless dollars and resources into the offensive line. One thing was apparent after playing out the 2014 season, Dallas Thomas has no business starting in the NFL. He’s a bum, a versatile career back up, nothing more.
Miami made the smart pick in the 4th round landing a player that should start immediately on the offensive line. Jamil Douglas is a quick, versatile offensive lineman, with the ability to make plays at the second level. Douglas has the power to move defensive lineman and the quickness to recover when defeated. Very rarely is he moved from his position, separating from blocks seems to be another issue.
With Brandon Albert coming off a torn ACL, the Dolphins could start Douglas at left tackle during the start of mini-camps; moving him back to guard when Albert returns. A hole that will likely arise in the next few seasons as Albert continues to age. When healthy, Miami bolsters one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. Protecting Tannehill is something the Dolphins severely needed, the acquisition of Douglas should help out immensely.
Projection: Lots of pancakes, large holes being created
With their first of four 5th round picks, the Miami Dolphins drafted a play-making cornerback. McCain, returned four interceptions for touchdowns in his career at Memphis. He will be expected to make an immediate impact on special teams, with the opportunity to win a starting job in the summer. McCain, is a natural athlete with great instincts when the ball is in the air. Miami is in desperate need of help opposite Brent Grimes. While McCain might never be that guy, the ability is there. It’s up to Dolphins’ defensive backs coach, Lou Anarumo to get the most out of McCain.
Projection: 22 tackles, 1 interception
Lamar Miller averaged 5.1 yards a carry in 2014. While those numbers are superb, the Dolphins needed a power back to compliment Lamar. Jay Ajayi was a projected 2nd/3rd round pick, who fell solely due to concerns with this knee. Landing Ajayi with the 149th overall pick in the draft is great value for the Dolphins. They needed a change of pace running back and they got one.
Ajayi will be the thunder to Lamar Miller’s lightning. He’s a powerful back that has the ability to make defenders miss with his quickness in the open field. Jay Ajayi should be penciled in to the #3 spot on the depth chart, with the ability to work his way into the #2 spot during pre-season. Damian Williams is a decent halfback, but the potential Ajayi has is unreal. He’s pissed he dropped to the 5th round and he’s going to prove the doubters wrong. Unfortunately, the Dolphins have a stud half-back, so wait your turn man.
The one thing Jay Ajayi does that Lamar Miller has yet to show is his ability to make plays in the passing game. Although the pro/college comparison is hard to have, Ajayi had 535 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2015. In comparison, Lamar Miller had 275 yards and 1 touchdown. Putting both these players on the field could cause mismatches all over the board. Ajayi and Miller should both have good seasons given the strength of the Dolphins o-line and even more impressive, the group of wide receivers. Jay Ajayi shows great quickness in the open field. He also has the ability to drive his body into defenders, picking up additional yards after contact. As a complimentary back, getting 10-12 carries a game and several opportunities in the passing game, Ajayi should make an impact year one.
Projection: 558 yards, 5 touchdowns
When the Dolphins drafted Cedric Thompson, I’m not sure even they were aware of the type of athlete they were getting. Thompson is a football player that has a knack for making plays in the open field. He’s a monster against the run and a nightmare in the passing game. Thompson has great range and the ability to move around the field fluently. On film, Minnesota made a habit of bringing Thompson into the box to stop the run. Having the extra body in the box made things more difficult for the offense. In the passing game, Cedric Thompson is great in coverage and plays the ball well in the air.
Thompson’s ability to make an impact in 2015 rests solely on the knee of Louis Delmas. Delmas finished the 2014 season on IR, resigning with the Dolphins in the off-season. Throughout his career, Delmas has only finished one 16 game season. Although it’s unlikely Thompson will start in 2015, he will get his chance to shine on special teams. Miami sorely lacks a presence opposite of Brent Grimes at corner, perhaps Miami will like Thompson’s coverage skills enough to give him a chance at corner.
Projection: 12 tackles
Tony Lippet is a big bodied wide receiver that the Dolphins plan to convert to defensive back. Looking around the division, it may be in Miami’s best interest to develop a corner back with some height. No one knows how the Lippet experience will play out. He’s an athlete though and he’s going to do whatever it takes to succeed in the NFL. Lippet would be lucky to make the Dolphins 53 man roster and is most likely to start the season on the practice squad.
Projection: Practice Squad