The 2015 draft is now over and The Miami Dolphins finished the weekend with a solid draft, sticking to their board by drafting the best players available with their first two picks going wide receiver DeVante Parker from Louisville (Rd. 1 – 14) and nose tackle Jordan Phillips from Oklahoma(Rd. 2 – 52). The remaining picks (Rd. 4 – 115, Rd. 5 – 145, 149, 150, and 156) were used on positions of need with the selections of offensive guard Jamil Douglas, cornerback Bobby McCain, running Back Jay Ajayi, free safety Cedric Thompson and cornerback/wide Receiver Tony Lippett. They did not however draft a linebacker but one with have to assume they may try and sign a soon to be free agent or make a trade for one (LB Mychal Kendricks – Eagles?).
Let’s go over Miami’s draft picks and see where and how they fit on the Dolphins roster:
Round 1 – Pick 14: DeVante Parker/WR/Louisville
Analysis: The draft board fell in Miami’s favor with this pick as the two highest players on their board were Running Back Todd Gurley and Wide Receiver DeVante Parker. It would have been interesting to see where they would have gone if both were still on the board at Miami’s pick but after Gurley went 10th overall to the Rams, Parker became the easiest and best choice at 14. This gives Ryan Tannehill another weapon and completes the best receiving unit he has had in his young career with second year receiver Jarvis Landry, speedster Kenny Stills, veteran Greg Jennings, and tight end Jordan Cameron.
At 6’3 and 209 Ibs, Parker is a big bodied receiver who is a red zone threat who fights for the ball. Parker with a foot injury missed the first seven games of his senior season, after returning he caught 43 passes for 855 yards and five touchdowns in the final six games and was voted by a coach’s panel as a second-team All-ACC selection. He plays with outstanding body control. He has soft hands and elite concentration when called upon. He is comfortable with tight coverage and maintains focus on downfield throws despite contact with defenders. Produces explosive plays without break out speed. Works his way back to the ball and gets open during scrambles and recognizes when to adjust on routes over the middle. Maximizes his catch window through body control, extending his hands and positioning. Miami fans should be very excited with this pick and the potential this player has with this quarterback.
Round 2 – Pick 52: Jordan Phillips/DT/Oklahoma
Analysis: I was surprised with this selection and at first wasn’t sure how I felt about it but I after looked more into it and watched some tape of Phillips, I came away happy with it. This pick wasn’t a need pick, it was a “rich get richer” pick. The Dolphins had other needs that needed to be addressed such as guard, cornerback, and linebacker but chose to stay true to their board and draft the massive nose tackle from Oklahoma. The big knock on Phillips is that he takes too many plays off and disappears during stretches during games but he is also explosive and can dominate on plays as well. Phillips dominates at the point of attack and can take up 2 offensive lineman on some plays. He controls the run game which Miami struggled with late in the season.
I think this is great spot for Phillips and a better selection for Miami, I wouldn’t worry too much about Phillips taking plays off as he will be a rotation player in a strong defensive tackle unit starring Ndamukong Suh, Earl Mitchell, and A.J. Francis along with defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon at the right and left side.
Round 4 – Pick 114: Jamil Douglas/OG/Arizona State
Analysis: Miami saw a run on offensive guards before their pick at 114 and decided to snatch one up before the solid ones were all taken. Douglas played on the left side of Arizona State’s line at guard and tackle, starting 13 games at tackle for the Sun Devils. He will play guard in Miami and will compete with Dallas Thomas for the starting left guard spot. He has the athletic build with desired flexibility in his lower body. He is quick to recover to catch delayed blitzers and flashes promising quick-set that he will use to take an early lead in protection. He can pull, turn corner and find targets. He is an effective blocker in screen game with ability to adjust to moving targets in space.
Miami needed a versatile player on the line who can play multiple positions and they got it with Douglas. Does adding him make Miami comfortable with their front line? I don’t think so but I also think Miami isn’t finish adding pieces to the line and we could see some moves via trade or free agency (OG Evan Mathis – Eagles or La’el Collins – UDFA) before the start of pre-season.
Analysis: The Dolphins went cornerback with their 145th selection, filling another need but this player won’t be competing for the starting spot next to pro bowl corner Brent Grimes instead look for Bobby McCain to compete with Brice McCain for the nickel corner spot in the secondary. He is an undersized slot corner with instincts to anticipate and the ball skills to make some good things happen. He had 19 passes defensed and 11 interceptions over his last 22 starts. He adds depth to the position and can transition into the nickel slot corner spot going into the 2016 season after spending time behind the senior McCain.
Round 5 – Pick 149: Jay Ajayi/HB/Boise State
Analysis: I absolutely love this pick at this spot. I banged the table for Miami to draft Todd Gurley if DeVante Parker wasn’t there at 14 but it ended up working the other way. Running back isn’t a big need for Miami with starting back Lamar Miller but they did need a complimentary power back to help carry the load of the rushing attack with him. Miami can end up having one of the big draft steals with Ajayi as he was projected to go in the 2nd round but due to medical concerns with his knee, he dropped into the 5th round. Even with the injury concerns last season, Ajayi broke records becoming the only player in FBS history to rush for 1,800 yards along with 500 yards receiving in a single season. He was also tied for second in his school history for most career rushing touchdowns (50). I look for him to play with a chip on his shoulder and contribute big for this young offense.
Round 5 – Pick 150: Cedric Thompson/FS/Minnesota
Analysis: Another need filled here, adding youth and depth behind starter Louis Delmas. Miami resigned free safety Louis Delmas in the offseason after having a solid year for Miami in 2014 before his injury, this isn’t the first time Delmas has been hurt as was often injured during his time with the Lions. Thompson is a combination safety with above-average athletic traits and size, but plays with below-average instinct. He will benefit greatly sitting behind Delmas for a year like McCain at the corner position, learning behind the veteran and competing for the starting position going into the 2016 season.
Round 5 – Pick 156: Tony Lippett/WR-CB/Michigan State
Analysis: This is a project pick as Miami plans to use Lippett as a cornerback and not a receiver. In the Cotton Bowl win over Baylor, Lippett played receiver, cornerback and special teams. He was the team MVP and finished the 2014 season as both starting wide receiver and starting cornerback. Most of his catches were on first down. He is tall with good feet and with his long legs he creates yard after the catch. He can out jump and outreach most corners. As cornerback, targeted eight times for just 13 receiving yards with three passes defensed. He might see some playing time during the pre-season but will most likely be placed on the practice squad for 2015.
My Final Take: With little resources Miami had a very solid draft only missing out on drafting a linebacker who can help the depleted unit. The big takeaways though is that they found a solid receiver to grow and bound with their young franchise quarterback and pair with 2014 standout Jarvis Landry, drafted a big defensive tackle to strengthen a defensive line featuring Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake and possibly getting the steal of the draft with running back Jay Ajayi. The 2015 season will be very interesting in the AFC East with the Jets, Bills and Dolphins looking ready to challenge the reign of the Patriots in the division after each team put together strong off-seasons.