Inside the War Room: Dolphins’ Options in 2014 Draft

June 6th, 2013

MDD Writer: John Blair

In this week’s Inside the War Room, John Blair previews who would make sense for Miami in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He also analyzes a player who is under the radar in University of the Cumberlands RB Terrance Cobb, the 2014 offensive guard class, answers this week’s reader’s question of the week and keeps you up-to-date on the latest news involving NFL Draft prospects.

A Very Early Miami Look

The Miami Dolphins have made some significant upgrades this offseason by bringing in players like DE Dion Jordan, WR Mike Wallace and TE Dustin Keller. These additions should help the Dolphins have a more successful season, and possibly make a playoff run. However, in order to consistently compete for the playoffs, they will need to add some more key players in the 2014 draft. The Dolphins appear set to address both the offensive line and the defensive line in the 2014 NFL Draft. Thankfully, there are several prospects that could make a significant impact for Miami.

The Dolphins’ weakest position going into the 2013 season is offensive tackle. This position will become even a bigger need if the Dolphins don’t re-sign right tackle Tyson Clabo after the season — assuming he has a quality year. I think it is very likely the Dolphins will target an offensive tackle in the first round, which should be a pick in the late teens to early 20s. One player that would make perfect sense for them would be James Hurst of North Carolina. Hurst is a very athletic player who could play both right and left tackle for Miami. If Hurst is gone by the time Miami picks, the team could also consider Seantrel Henderson of Miami (Fla.) or Zack Martin of Notre Dame.

Miami could also look to add an offensive guard in the draft — both Richie Incognito and John Jerry will be free agents next offseason. If Miami finds this to be a pressing need. they would be wise to take one of the top two guards in the draft, since this is not a very deep offensive guard class. The two players who are worthy of a first-round selection are Cyril Richardson of Baylor, and Gabe Jackson of Mississippi State. Richardson is a very physical blocker and he should develop into a dominate run blocker. Jackson is an outstanding athlete and has excellent mobility for a guy his size.

The last area the Dolphins could strongly consider in the first round is defensive tackle. Starting defensive tackle Randy Starks is a free agent after the season, assuming the two sides don’t agree on a long-term deal, making Starks play out 2013 on the franchise tag. Paul Soliai is also playing the final year of a two-year deal he signed in 2012. Miami would love it if Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix fell to them. Nix is the type of defender that can eat up blocks, which would really benefit Dion Jordan. If Nix is gone or does not enter the draft, the team could consider Deandre Coleman of California.

Miami also has other positions that could be needs going into the 2014 offseason, such as outside linebacker and secondary. However, look for them to continue their recent trend of taking linemen (three of the last four years) in the first round, and address their other needs in free agency or later in the draft.

Under the Radar

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has produced some solid players over the years. This list included former NFL players Jon Kinta, Derrick Ward, and Patrick Crayton. The NAIA also has some current players in the NFL including New York Jets DT Damon Harrison, who could have a significant impact for the Jets this year. The next NAIA player who will make an impact in the NFL might be Terrance Cobb of University of the Cumberlands.

Cobb is one of the most productive players in college football. Last season, he rushed for 1,991 yards and scored a very impressive 26 touchdowns. Cobb also has shown that he can make an impact on special teams, averaging 41.5 yards on kickoff returns last season. The NFL considers Cobb an NFL prospect with both National Football Scouting and BLESTO Scouting Service paying a visit to Williamsburg to scout this prospect, according to Cumberlands Head Coach John Bland.

When scouting Cobb, the first thing that stands out to me is his athletic ability. He has the ability to run through, over or around NAIA defenders. He also has outstanding balance, and bounces off of a lot of defenders. Bland told me one of the biggest positives with Cobb is his excellent vision. Another positive with Cobb are his measurables, with a 4.45 40-yard dash, 300-pound power clean, 450-pound squat, 500-pound dead lift and a 350-pound bench press; he has the strength and speed to play in the NFL.

The biggest concern with Cobb is the fact that he plays at the NAIA level. Another negative when it comes to evaluating Cobb is the fact that he plays the B-back in a double wing offense. This is an issue for me for two reasons, with the first reason being that he has not passed blocked very much in this offense. Last season, Cumberlands only threw the ball 203 times, and according to according to Rob Brandt of Victory Sports Network, Cobb was very rarely used in the passing game when Cumberlands did pass.  The other concern I have about him playing in this offense is that stats can be misleading for a player in this offense.

I currently have Cobb ranked as the 20th-best senior running back in the 2014 NFL Draft. I do think he could improve this ranking if he can be more of a threat in the passing game. An NFL team would be wise to use a late-round draft pick on him, or sign him as a priority free agent after the draft.

Previewing the 2014 Offensive Guard Draft Class

The offensive guard class is led by two outstanding prospects in Baylor’s Cyril Richardson, and Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson. Unfortunately, there are no standout prospects behind these two players, and overall this is not a very deep class.

Top Five

1. Cyril Richardson-Baylor

Richardson is one of the strongest players in the 2014 draft, with a 400-pound bench press and a squat of 665 pounds. He also has surprisingly good feet for his size. I could see Richardson sliding into the late part of round one.

2. Gabe Jackson-Mississippi State

Jackson is a very good athlete, who can pull and get to the second level. I also like his aggression, and how he finishes his blocks. He does need to improve on his explosion off the ball when run blocking.

3. Anthony Steen-Alabama

In 2012, Steen was the only member of the Alabama offensive line not to allow a sack or get a penalty. This is very impressive especially when you consider Alabama had three high draft picks in Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker and Barrett Jones on their offensive line.

4. Spencer Long-Nebraska

Long has come a long ways since coming to Nebraska as a 250-pound walk-on defensive lineman.

5. Ryan Groy-Wisconsin

Groy has outstanding size at 6-5, 317 pounds. He also has the ability to play offensive tackle.

Intriguing Prospects

John Urschel-Penn State

Urchel is an extremely smart player, who is very sound fundamentally.

Will Ferrell-Hampden-Sydney

Ferrell plays offensive tackle at Hampden-Sydney, but will have to move inside if he is to make it in the NFL.

Armand Jenifer-Johns Hopkins

Jenifer and Ferrell are two D-3 prospects who will get looks from NFL teams. More than likely both players will be signed as free agents.

Thomas Ashcraft-SMU

This will be Ashcraft’s first season at SMU after transferring from Texas earlier this week. Ashcraft has imposing size at 6-5, 315 pounds, and should be one of the top linemen in C-USA this season.

Reader’s Question of the Week

Who could the Dolphins look at as a developmental quarterback in this year’s draft? – Jeff via Twitter.

While the Dolphins are obviously set at the quarterback position with Ryan Tannehill, there is no better currency to have in the NFL then a good, young backup quarterback. This is so valuable because they can be traded for high draft picks later down the road. If Miami was to draft a quarterback to develop it would be late in the draft. A quarterback that might be still available in the sixth-round area that could possibly develop down the road is Bryn Renner of North Carolina. Renner is a tough competitive kid, with an NFL caliber arm. He tends to force some passes, and will need to work on his decision making skills. I also really like Stephen Morris of Miami, but think he will go in the fourth- or fifth-round area. The Dolphins do have a developmental arm in Pat Devlin, who could be the long-term backup and keep them from adding one late if they want to keep his services.

Notes

Center Mike Sellers has transferred from the Citadel to Florida A&M. He is considered one of the top FCS centers in the 2015 draft. … QB Phillip Sims is no longer enrolled at Virginia. He will most likely transfer to an FCS school for the upcoming season. … According to Brad Hoiseth of JCGridiron.com, former Notre Dame QB Everett Golston is looking at going to junior college at Riverside City College. … WR Erik Lora was named Ohio Valley Conference Male Athlete of the Year last week. Lora had 136 catches for 1,664 yards last season. I currently project him as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. … Former Kansas CB Tyler Patmon has transferred to Oklahoma State. He will be eligible to play this season. … Tennessee DT Daniel McCullers has lost close to 20 pounds this offseason. … Arkansas coaches have had DT Bryan Jones add 10 pounds during this offseason. … The following senior NFL Draft prospects were named to the 2013 Phil Steele Preseason 1st team All-American Team: OG Cyril Richardson, OT Taylor Lewan, OT Jake Matthews, DT Will Sutton, OLB CJ Mosley, OLB Kyle Van Noy, OLB Anthony Barr, CB Jason Verrett and all-purpose player Dri Archer.

You can follow John Blair on Twitter at ITWR1

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