Kelly: Carving Out Roles for Dolphins 2024 Draftees | Opinion

The Miami Dolphins needed to draft a young defensive tackle to ease the departure of Christian Wilkins and Raekwon Davis, but took a pass rusher instead.

Miami needed to add an offensive guard to replace Robert Hunt, who signed with the Carolina Panthers as a free agent, but selected a developmental left tackle instead.

The Dolphins needed to add a third receiver who could complement Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, but traded into the fourth round of the 2024 NFL draft to take yet another speedy tailback, and then added two slot receivers in the sixth and seventh round.

If there’s one thing the Dolphins have made clear with the 2024 NFL draft, it’s that South Florida’s NFL franchise is willing to sacrifice today with the intent of building the team of tomorrow.

Who knows what Chop Robinson, Patrick Paul, Jaylen Wright and the rest of Miami’s 2024 draftees will become once Miami’s coaches start polishing their jaw dropping athleticism (Robinson), length (Paul) and speed (Wright).

Maybe they’ll serve as the pillars of this franchise in three seasons, leading Miami in sacks, rushing yards and anchoring the offensive line. If that’s the case then Miami’s 2024 draft approach helped the team flourish.

But if they fail to blossom in the first two seasons, and aren’t viewed as core players by the 2026 season, we’ll have wasted another draft cycle.

Here’s a vision for each of the Dolphins’ 2024 draftees.

1 (21) Penn State pass rusher Chop Robinson

With Jaelan Phillips (Achilles tendon) and Bradley Chubb (ACL) questionable for the start of the regular season because of the injuries they suffered late last year, Robinson might be called on to start opposite Shaq Barrett as Miami’s edge players. The biggest concern is whether he can set the edge against the run. If he can’t expect him to become a third down, pass rushing specialist.

2 (55) - Houston offensive tackle Patrick Paul

Paul’s a work in progress from a technique standpoint, but he possesses an impressive frame (6-foot-7, 330 pounds) and functional strength (30 reps of 225 pounds), which hints he’s got a high ceiling if his poor hand use is cleaned up. He’ll likely spend his first season watching and learning from Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead, and will potentially push Kendall Lamm for the swing tackle role. The hope is that in a year Paul will be ready to replace Armstead, who has flirted with retirement the past few seasons.

Feb 1, 2024; Mobile, AL, USA; Offensive lineman Patrick Paul of <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Houston;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Houston</a> (76) faces off against defensive lineman <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Jordan Jefferson;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Jordan Jefferson</a> of LSU (99) during practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports Vasha Hunt/Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

4 (120) - Tennessee tailback Jaylen Wright

Even though Wright’s a home run threat every time the ball is in his hands, he’s a patient runner with the ability to change directions quickly without losing speed. Unlike most young backs, he’s solid when it comes to pass protection, which gives him a chance to contribute immediately. The odds of Wright leapfrogging over Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane on the depth chart are slim, but he could potentially dislodge Jeff Wilson, Salvon Ahmed and Chris Brooks for the third back role. His draft standing likely helps him make it onto the 53-man roster without issue.

5 (158) - Colorado State pass rusher Mohamed Kamara

Kamara is an undersized pass rusher who is already low to the ground (6-foot-1, 250 pounds) and possesses an impressive bend that helps him get around offensive tackles. He produced 30.5 sacks and 45.5 tackles for loss during his five seasons at Colorado State. But he’ll be blocked by elite athletes in the NFL.

The hope is that he’ll serve as an immediate rotational player, especially in the week, or months Miami’s forced to play without Phillips and Chubb, and can make a contribution on special teams. He’ll eventually compete with Cameron Goode, who is rehabbing a torn patellar tendon injury, for a roster spot.

(6) 184 - Virginia receiver Malik Washington

Washington was rated the 13th best receiver by’s evaluators, and projected as a third day pick by most evaluators. He played at Northwestern his first four seasons before having a monster season at Virginia, catching 110 passes, which he turned into 1,426 and nine touchdowns. Washington’s catch total is filled with a high number of quick-game throws and short out routes that allowed him to use his contact balance to stack plenty of tough yards after the catch. He’ll compete with Braxton Berrios and River Cracraft for the role as Miami’s primary slot receiver, and must edge out Erik Ezukanma for one of the five or six receiver spots on the 53-man roster.

6 (198) - California safety Patrick McMorris

McMorris has decent size (6-foot, 207), respectable speed (4.53 in the 40-yard dash) and adequate strength (14 reps of 225 pounds), and moves with a fluidity in coverage. He played all three safety spots during his career at San Diego State and California, which he transferred to in his final collegiate season. The biggest concern about McMorris is supposedly all the tackles he’s missed, and the excessive number of broken tackles he’s allowed to leak out. He’ll compete with Elijah Campbell for the role as Jevon Holland and Jordan Poyer’s primary backup.

7 (241) - USC receiver Tahj Washington

Washington is a small (5-foot-10, 174 pounds) slot receiver who feasts on option routes, and can serve as a kick returner. He’s at his best when working against zone coverage. He’s not extraordinarily fast (timed at 4.52 in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, but led the Trojans with 59 receptions, 1,062 receiving yards (18.0 per catch) and scored eight touchdowns in 13 games last season. He’ll be competing with Washington, Berrios and Cracraft for playing time as Miami’s slot weapon.