It's been overlooked due to bigger names and bigger deals, but the Miami Dolphins have navigated the offseason smartly and aggressively. They re-signed wide receiver Kenny Stills and defensive end Andre Branch, traded for run-stopping defensive end <a href="http://www.dolphinsjerseyofficial.com/shop-by-players-51-mike-pouncey-jersey-c-1_26.html">http://www.dolphinsjerseyofficial.com/shop-by-players-51-mike-pouncey-jersey-c-1_26.html William Hayes and tight end Julius Thomas, and signed inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons.
They're not without holes, though. They could use a good all-around linebacker, free safety is an issue, guard is unsettled, and they need some depth on the defensive line. In the SB Nation NFL writers' mock draft, Kevin Nogle from The Phinsider is here to start our day of picks on the defensive side of the ball.
22. Dolphins: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Nogle: This pick comes down to four options with the way the board fell. Miami either needs to pick up Haason Reddick at defensive end/linebacker, Jabrill Peppers as <a href="http://www.authenticpatriotsstore.com/shop-by-players-spencer-paysinger-jersey-c-1_49.html">http://www.authenticpatriotsstore.com/shop-by-players-spencer-paysinger-jersey-c-1_49.html a nickel cornerback/safety, Zach Cunningham as a potential day-one starter at linebacker, or Forrest Lamp to solidify the offensive line. Any of those four players would fill a need, give Miami a great player, and should excite the fan base (yes, even a guard).
It now just becomes: who does the team grade as the top of those four?
Reddick is clearly an option, but I have concerns due to his size, where he is not the typical defensive end or linebacker. That said, he is outstanding versatility-wise and athletically. If Miami can turn him into a linebacker, he should be able to work in coverage and sideline-to-sideline. He needs to add strength to be able to either set the edge on the outside or play the run up the middle, but he probably is a day-one starter on the defense and one that could find immediate success as the Dolphins work to scheme him.
Peppers is my personal draft crush this year, and <a href="http://www.authenticdolphinsjerseys.com/shop-by-players-mark-duper-jersey-c-1_38.html">http://www.authenticdolphinsjerseys.com/shop-by-players-mark-duper-jersey-c-1_38.html him sitting here on the board is definitely tempting. He could come in and immediately become the team’s nickel cornerback while he develops as a free safety to be paired with Reshad Jones’ strong safety play. Peppers also would give the team the punt/kick returner they need to replace Jarvis Landry in that role and push Jakeem Grant in those spots. If he adds more strength, the Dolphins could also look to move him into a tight end/running back coverage option from the linebacker position.
Lamp is the most common individual mocked to the Dolphins right now, and for good reason. This draft does not provide a lot of day-one starters on the offensive line, and Miami has a hole at guard. They could look to fill that with some combination of Anthony Steen, Ted Larsen, or Kraig Urbik, but drafting a rookie to come in and develop <a href="http://www.billsshopofficial.com/shop-by-players-andre-reed-jersey-c-1_4.html">http://www.billsshopofficial.com/shop-by-players-andre-reed-jersey-c-1_4.html with the rest of the offensive line would be a great move to, potentially, solve the protection of Ryan Tannehill and lane opening for Jay Ajayi. He also gives Miami a potential reserve center in case injuries bite Mike Pouncey again.
Cunningham is intriguing, because there used to be discussions of whether he would be there for the Dolphins at 22, and now it seems he is falling further and further back in mock drafts. He has been compared to Kiko Alonso at times, which would be an interesting pairing since Alonso is with the Dolphins now. He is one of those players that you look at and see issues that need to be fixed, but then you look at his game as a whole and he just gets things done.
As the draft clock continues to tick down on me here, I am going to send in my card with Reddick on it. His ability to come in and start right away, filling an obvious need, as well as his ability to cover tight ends and his instincts to find the ball carrier, gives him the nod here — even as passing over Peppers seems wrong to me.
Analysis: Like some teams earlier in this mock, you have to wonder if a team like the Dolphins will see all the available players that fill a need and decide to trade back. They could find a trade partner that wants to get ahead of the Houston Texans in a couple picks to get a quarterback. Regardless, going with Reddick is a smart move. He adds a level of toughness the Dolphins don't have at linebacker, and gives them a player who can rush the passer. He's behind Cunningham in terms of coverage ability, but more advanced in other areas.