Miami Dolphins Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
May 28, 2013

Solid Starter

Dallas Thomas, G, Tennessee – Round 3
This pick made complete sense since Thomas is a great fit for Miami. The Dolphins wanted an upgrade over John Jerry at right guard. The big, heavy Jerry (6-5, 345) is a poor fit for Miami’s zone-blocking scheme and head coach Joe Philbin has been critical of his weight and conditioning. Thomas (6-5, 305) is a quick athletic lineman who has two years of experience starting at left tackle and one year at guard.

Thomas should immediately push Jerry for playing time. If Thomas comes back quickly from his shoulder injury and performs well in training camp, Miami could possibly trade Jerry for a draft pick. It would make sense for the Dolphins to get something for the veteran if they are eventually going to move on from him anyway. If Jerry does drop enough weight to stick in Miami, Thomas could replace veteran Richie Incognito, who turns 30 before training camp. The Dolphins also get nice flexibility if they have an injury at left tackle, since Thomas could move there to help out in a pinch.

Thomas should be a real long-term asset as a zone-blocker and pass-protector. He projects to being a good interior pass-protector for Ryan Tannehill after protecting the blind side of quarterback Tyler Bray for one of the SEC’s top offensive lines. Thomas’s skill is very necessary to compete in a division that features standout defensive tackles like Vince Wilfork, Marcel Dareus and Muhammed Wilkerson. Plus, the Jets added Sheldon Richardson in the 2013 NFL Drafft. Thomas looks like a solid starter who, in the long run, could form an excellent interior offensive line with Mike Pouncey.

Most Likely To Bust

Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida – Round 4
The Dolphins signed a few veteran linebackers in free agency, so they didn’t need to draft Jenkins. He looks like he will be a depth player and special teams contributor. Jenkins has a ton of athletic ability, but never produced up to his potential in college. He is extremely fast and doesn’t have bad instincts, but he never became the play-maker he was expected to be.

Many were surprised that Jenkins entered the 2013 NFL Draft because he missed a lot of time with injuries last season. Jenkins was a small and fast linebacker who played in the 220s in his early seasons. Jenkins was approaching 240 in 2012 and now is over 240 pounds. Adding the weight was understandable from the perspective of him improving his ability to defend at the point of attack. Scouts told that the added weight made Jenkins look more stiff in his pre-draft workouts.

It will be interesting to see if Jenkins can maintain his speed at the heavier weight. He had a lot of tweeks and minor injuries in college, so staying healthy has been a challenge.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Jenkins continues to struggle with injuries in the NFL. He could still be a weapon on special teams. Miami has some young linebackers, so Jenkins could have a hard time seeing the field. It wouldn’t be surprising if years from now the view of this pick is that it would have been better off being spent somewhere else.

Potential Boom Pick

Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon – Round 3
It was a real shock when the Dolphins traded up from the 12th pick to the third-overall selection for Jordan. There was some thought that Miami could draft a defensive lineman, but moving up that high to take the first defensive prospect selected was an extremely bold move that wasn’t predicted by anybody.

The Dolphins could end up having a Jason Taylor-like edge-rusher in Jordan. The Oregon product is a phenomenal athlete with the ability to drop in pass coverage or rush the quarterback. He is extremely fluid with rare movement skills to play in space. Jordan (6-6) should continue to fill out his frame if he is going to log a lot of snaps at defensive end. If he is going to play mostly outside linebacker, he could play in the 250s or 260s.

Jordan could play 4-3 outside linebacker similar to Von Miller with the Broncos, or he could add the weight to be an end. If the Dolphins go to a 3-4 defense, Jordan is the prototypical outside linebacker. He really is a mold of clay for defensive coordinators to build an elite edge-defender. Jordan’s speed and athletic ability means he could potentially become one of the top edge-defenders in the NFL.

Future Depth Player

Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida – Round 5
The Dolphins got a great value pick with Gillislee as he could easily have gone a few rounds earlier. He was mostly a backup to Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps while at Florida, but when Gillislee became a starter as a senior, he was one of the better running backs in the SEC. Gillislee ran for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012. He also did a superb job as a pass-protector and is very adept in blitz protection.

Gillislee could be the third-down back to spell starter Lamar Miller in the short term. Daniel Thomas and Miller figure to get the majority of carries for now, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Gillislee gradually increases his work load. He is a tough runner who has a burst to get into the secondary. Gillislee enters the NFL with little wear-and-tear from college. His fresh legs could prove to be very valuable late in the 2013 season.

It made sense for the Dolphins to add another running back for depth after they lost Reggie Bush in free agency. If Miami suffers injuries to Miller and Thomas, Gillislee is capable of carrying the load. He looks like he will provide the Dolphins with excellent depth as soon as his rookie season.

Walt’s 2013 NFL Draft Grades:

3. Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon: B- Grade
Dion Jordan!? Wow. Everyone assumed the Dolphins would be moving up for Lane Johnson, but they shocked the world with the Oregon pass-rusher. I love Jordan as a prospect, but I don’t know how he fits into Miami’s defense. Do the Dolphins plan on moving to a 3-4? If so, I love this pick and will improve this grade, assuming they didn’t give up too much. If not, and if Miami surrendered a ton of resources to jump up to No. 3, it’ll be close to a D.

Update: The Dolphins gave up the 42nd pick. I thought they’d have to surrender more to move up to No. 3, so this isn’t so bad. I’m still confused about the scheme fit though. I may come back to this grade.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

54. Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State: A Grade
I’m not sure why the Dolphins didn’t trade this pick or what in the world they plan on doing at left tackle, but Jamar Taylor is a great pick from both a value and needs standpoint. Miami had a hole at cornerback and filled it nicely with Taylor, who was considered a first-round prospect by some.

77. Dallas Thomas, G/OT, Tennessee: B Grade
If the Dolphins think they have their solution at left tackle with Dallas Thomas, they’re sorely mistaken. Thomas is more of a guard than a tackle. With that in mind though, Miami did need to upgrade John Jerry at guard, and Thomas fits both the draft range and the blocking scheme.

93. Will Davis, CB, Utah State: B- Grade
Will Davis probably could have been taken a bit later than this, but it’s not a major reach or anything. Davis is the second cornerback the Dolphins have chosen in the 2013 NFL Draft, but they needed two considering the uncertainty with Brent Grimes and his torn Achilles.

104. Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida: B+ Grade
Another linebacker? Well, the Dolphins needed one for depth, as they cut just as many players at the position as they signed. Jelani Jenkins is a talented linebacker who could have gone a bit earlier than this.

106. Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State: B Grade
The Dolphins signed Dustin Keller this offseason, but they needed a long-term solution at the position because the Keller deal was for only one year. Miami also had to find more of a blocking tight end because Anthony Fasano is gone. This is a solid choice.

164. Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida: A Grade
Lamar Miller is currently projected to be the starting running back, so the Dolphins had to find someone to at least challenge him because he’s so unproven. Either Miller or Mike Gillislee should be able to emerge as the guy. I like Gillislee a lot; he’s a tough runner who should have gone earlier than this.

166. Caleb Sturgis, K, Florida: C+ Grade
I’m not crazy about drafting kickers this high either, but that’s more understandable than selecting punters because they actually score points. Dan Carpenter is unreliable, so Caleb Sturgis should be an upgrade.

250. Don Jones, S, Arkansas: B+ Grade
Don Jones received so much attention in pre-draft visits that I thought he’d go earlier than No. 250. The Dolphins will take him for needed safety depth.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: B- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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