Despite ending the season much sooner than anyone would have wanted, it is now time to turn our attention to most fans second most favorite time of year. The NFL Draft. For the Miami Dolphins, this will present a chance for the team to build on their playoff campaign from 2016.
Defense continues to be the biggest need for this team heading into the draft. With the unit expected to be improved upon through free agency and the draft, this makes Miami’s selections slightly more prevalent to change.
With the Draft now just over two months away, I know it may be a little early to be looking towards the draft. But with the college football season now over, all that remains in the evaluation process is the combine and individual workouts for certain players. So without further ado, we present the fourth edition of the “Miami Dolphins potential first round draft picks.”
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3. Taco Charlton — Defensive End — Michigan
Remaining again as my third place pick, Taco Charlton may become the most consistent player to be featured on this list. While the NFL Combine and individual workouts could have an effect on where Charlton eventually ends up, I can’t preach enough about the Stephen Ross factor when it comes to this pick.
Despite being used mostly as a defensive tackle last season at Michigan, Charlton has the measurables of an NFL defensive end. Considering that he also racked up 9.5 sacks last season in a system that featured his rotation in and out, Charlton’s number were extremely impressive.
Playing under former NFL Head Coach Jim Harbaugh at Michigan should also help him out here. Again, throw in the Ross-factor and this pick begins to make the most amount of sense for how the Miami Dolphins will go in the first round. If Charlton has a solid combine and workout session, expect to see him move up this list.
2. Zach Cunningham — Middle Linebacker — Vanderbilt
Moving back into this list, I have gone back and forth with this pick over the last few weeks. On one hand, no one can discount how well Kiko Alonso played last season as the team’s middle linebacker. Leading the unit as a whole, I would hate to see Miami hurt Alonso’s production by moving him to an outside position.
That said, it’s hard to argue with the talent that Zach Cunningham possesses. Solid at tackling and reading plays, Cunningham has both the mesurables and instincts you love to see from a middle linebacker. Proving in college that he can both play in a spy/coverage type role while also getting to the backfield, Cunningham is a top five linebacker in this draft.
With Cunningham’s stock looking to be in the mid-20’s of this years draft, there is even a shot that the Miami Dolphins could trade back and still end up with Cunningham. Because he is both extremely talented and fills a need for this team, Cunningham could end up number one on this list in the coming weeks.
1. O.J. Howard — Tight End — Alabama
While the tight end position is nowhere near the biggest hole in the Miami Dolphins roster, it would be hard for the team not to select O.J. Howard is he is avaliable. One of the most undervalued players in this draft, Howard possesses all the skills that coaches look for in a starting tight end.
Even though he was not utilized by the Crimson Tide on a regular basis, Howard still remains as a first round selection. In total, Howard has speed, size, strength, and football IQ, something very few prospects possess. Coming into the NFL, Howard should be a day one starter and a top tight end in this league in the coming years.
Is Howard more valuable than a first round cornerback? You bet. With the cornerback class being extremely deep this year, the Dolphins could easily solve the issue by selecting a corner in the second round while also adding an extremely talented offensive weapon in O.J. Howard.