MDD Staff Writer: Neal Driscoll
We are roughly three months away from the 2012 NFL draft which makes it early to project which players go to which teams in the draft. The Miami Dolphins are especially tough to predict as they have hired a new head coach and there is no certainty who he brings in as part of his coaching staff. It is particularly tough on the defensive side of the ball as it is not clear whether the Dolphins plan to run a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense and certain players will project very well in one scheme but not the other.
In this article I am going to give you ten names in the 2012 NFL draft that I think the Dolphins could draft and are a good fit for the team.
I am going to go on a limb here and say that that there is a 75% chance or greater that one of these ten names will indeed be the player selected by the Miami Dolphins with either the 8th or 9th pick in the draft (Coin Flip pending with Carolina).
David DeCastro was one of the men responsible for protecting the draft’s best player Andrew Luck and he did that at a high level as well as open holes for the Stanford running attack. David DeCastro is the most complete guard prospect I have seen since Steve Hutchinson and a legitimate top ten selection in this draft. DeCastro is more than solid in pass protection which is why he rarely gets beaten by his opponent. If there was one word I would use to describe DeCastro it would be “tough”. The Dolphins need a major upgrade at the guard position and DeCastro’s flexibility allows him to play either left or right guard which could slide Richie Incognito into his more suitable position as a right guard. Drafting DeCastro wouldn’t be the sexy pick but he sure would give the Dolphins an offensive line to be proud of as DeCastro would be working with Jake Long and Mike Pouncey who are both pro-bowl players.
Jonathan Martin-Offensive Tackle-Stanford
I don’t know if there was a player in the nation with more pressure than Jonathan Martin who was responsible for protecting Andrew Luck’s blind side. Martin possesses ideal size for an offensive tackle in the NFL and he plays with a great burst off the ball and with natural bend. Martin will need coaching to improve his technique and is more suited as a left tackle which is a position filled by Jake Long. I am confident he could make the move to right tackle but there is a better option who I will discuss next.
Riley Reiff-Offensive Tackle-Iowa
As a left tackle prospect, the massive Riley Reiff would struggle initially at the NFL level but if the Dolphins drafted Reiff it would be solely to play right tackle. At this position I envision Reiff as consistent pro-bowl player. The combination of Jake Long and Riley Reiff as the bookends at offensive tackle would give them the best pair in the entire league and in my opinion it’s not even close. Reiff is an absolute mauler in the run game and he plays the position with a mean streak that any team will covet. His strongest skill is his ability to seal the edge by pushing defenders inside, anchoring, and driving the players into the ground. I know the idea of drafting an offensive linemen isn’t keen to the Dolphin faithful but Riley Reiff is the best option of them all if the team decides to go O-Line in round one.
Alshon Jeffery-Wide Receiver-South Carolina
The Dolphins hiring of Joe Philibin leads me to believe that the offense is going to open up and we will see a lot of 4-5 receiver sets. The Dolphins current receiver core is good but could use an upgrade. Edmond “Clyde” Gates rookie season was rough as he only caught 2 passes for 19 yards, Brian Hartline is better in the slot of in my opinion isn’t starting material. Jeffery is another big bodied wide receiver standing at 6”4 but there are major concerns regarding his speed and size. Jeffery is drawing comparisons to USC’s Mike Williams due to his body type which indicates he might put on some weight in the future. There are also questions regarding the forty times that Jeffery will run and it’s no secret that Alshon doesn’t possess elite speed. In my opinion the game tape doesn’t lie and we have seen Alshon Jeffery make big plays for a few years now with the recent torching of Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard being the most recent display.
Justin Blackmon-Wide Receiver-Oklahoma State
Speaking of wide receivers, Justin Blackmon is the best in a deep class and if he falls to the Dolphins they should pounce on the pick. One might say I am crazy for seeing Justin Blackmon falling but remember he isn’t in the same class as AJ Green or Calvin Johnson and if teams such as St. Louis and Cleveland pass there is a good chance he could fall to the Dolphins. A receiver core consisting of Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, and now Justin Blackmon would be lethal. Blackmon is coming off of a monster 2011 campaign catching 121 balls for 1522 yards and 18 touchdowns and if those numbers don’t impress you I don’t know what will.
Courtney Upshaw-Outside Linebacker-Alabama
The Dolphins need a pass rusher opposite of Cameron Wake and if they remain in a 3-4 defense Courtney Upshaw is the best there is at doing so in the entire draft. Upshaw isn’t a one trick pony who simply can rush the passer and offer nothing more as he is a COMPLETE player. Doesn’t have the size of elite pass rushers such as Demarcus Ware, Jason Pierre Paul, Aldon Smith etc. but he plays with a non-stop motor and has an arsenal of pass rushing skills that allow him to get to the quarterback. Upshaw had a good senior year racking up 9.5 sacks and even intercepting a John Brantley (Florida Gators) pass for a touchdown. Upshaw would replace Koa Misi as a starter immediately and the Dolphins defense would be even more dangerous.
Quinton Coples-Defensive End-North Carolina
I might be the only one but I have Quinton Coples as the best defensive player in this draft. If the Dolphins move to a 4-3 defense and Coples is on the board they shouldn’t waste any time in selecting him. Coples has amazing athletic ability for a guy of his size and he can take over a football game. His statistics aren’t going to jump out at you and scouts question whether he has a consistent motor but with proper coaching this guy has the talent to be a star. The Dolphins defensive line would consist of Quinton Coples-Randy Starks-Jared Odrick-Cameron Wake if they make the switch to the 4-3 defense and I see a defensive line with the ability to take over games.
Trent Richardson-Running Back-Alabama
I know Reggie Bush is coming off a nice 2011 season but again he didn’t finish a full 16 game schedule healthy plus he is only under contract for one more year. Trent Richardson is the best running-back prospect since Adrian Peterson and should have an “AP” like impact at the next level. Richardson rarely goes down after initial contact and possesses elite vision that allows him to see holes that many backs miss. He has great speed and a second gear which allows him to outrun linebackers and safeties. Richardson may be the best blocking running back I have ever scouted and his ability to pickup the blitz is remarkable. His 2011 season at Alabama was magical as he rushed for 1679 yards and 21 touchdowns. If Richardson is available when the Dolphins are on the clock there is no question who the best player available will be at that time.
Brandon Weeden-Quarterback-Oklahoma State
Drafting a 29 year old quarterback this high in the draft is a MAJOR risk which is why the Dolphins should explore trading down, acquiring an additional 2nd round draft selection, and select Weeden. Weeden is as pro ready as any quarterback in the entire draft and that includes Mr. Luck from Stanford. Weeden can make every throw at the NFL level, has command of the huddle, and approaches the game the right way. Weeden is a proven leader and is capable of starting from the day he is drafted. The Dolphins could gamble and see if Weeden could fall to them in round two but I have seen this gamble bight them in past. Weeden had a Heisman worthy 2011 season throwing for 4,727 yards, 37 touchdowns, and only 13 interceptions. Weeden is a far better prospect than Jake Locker and Christian Ponder who were both top twelve picks in the 2011 NFL draft.
Robert Griffin III-Quarterback-Baylor
Coming of a 2011 season that won him the Heisman Trophy it goes without saying that Robert Griffin the 3rd AKA “RG3” is the type of player than can electrify a fan base. RG3 threw for 4,293 for 37 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 2011. He is a dual threat who can make plays with his feel as well as his 644 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns over the course of the 2011 season would indicate. Griffin has all the tools to be a very successful quarterback at the next level but for the Dolphins to move into a position to draft him it will cost them a 2013 1st and 2nd round pick in addition to their 1st round selection in April’s draft. That is a steep price to pay to move up for any player and one I doubt the Dolphins would be willing to pay.