Miami Dolphins Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

JaWuan James, OT, Tennessee – Round 1
James was a mega-reach by Miami and first-year general manager Dennis Hickey. In my final 2014 NFL Mock Draft, I had the Dolphins taking James in the second round, and that was generous according to some teams.

Two teams that drafted offensive tackles before Miami told they did not have a first-round grade on James. One of them had him in the third round. Another team that selected a few picks after Miami did not have a first-round grade on James either. That organization had him with a late third-round and early fourth-round grade. A team picking in the top 10 that was rumored to be in the tackle market told that they had a fifth-round grade on James. While that sounds extremely low, that team felt the only tackles worthy of a first-round pick were Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin. Another top-10 team said they had James as a second-rounder.

Other organizations had James as a second-rounder, thus in terms of talent, he should be a solid, but unspectacular, right tackle for Miami. The 6-foot-6, 311-pounder has athleticism for his size and also was a productive run-blocker for Tennessee. James is a reliable pass-protector who should reduce the pounding that Ryan Tannehill takes.

While James was a huge reach with the 19th overall-pick, he should become a dependable starting right tackle for Miami.

Most Likely To Bust

Billy Turner, G, North Dakota State – Round 3
This wasn’t an easy pick, and I’m not confident that Turner will be a bust. He was a 4-year starter who dominated his level of competition, but there have been a lot of small-school players drafted with quality picks who can’t make the jump to the NFL. For a recent example of a similar kind of player think of Jacksonville Jaguars bust Will Rackley.

It helps Turner’s chances of making a successful jump by moving inside to guard rather than staying at tackle. The 6-foot-5, 316-pounder has a body type that is better suited for guard.

One issue that could hurt Turner is being forced into the lineup before he’s ready. Miami’s offensive line was dreadful in 2013, and Turner is competing for a starting spot at guard. His prime competition could be Shelly Smith, a sixth-round pick by Houston in 2010. The Dolphins may force Turner into the lineup before he’s ready, which could lead to him becoming a bust.

Potential Boom Pick

Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU – Round 2
This was another tough decision. There isn’t any player from Miami’s draft class who I feel has true boom potential. I think the Dolphins’ 2014 NFL Draft could provide some solid players, but nobody will be a game-changer. Another serious possibility with this draft class is simply looking like a waste of picks in five years. I’m forced to pick one player as a possible boom and Landry makes the most sense.

There is a lot of talk that Miami wants to trade Mike Wallace and Dion Jordan. If the organization is successful at dealing Wallace, Landry could step into a starting spot across from Brian Hartline. Landry is a nice fit for Joe Philbin’s offense and could be a good contributor for Miami.

Landry was a gritty receiver for LSU and made a lot of tough, contested catches. While he competes for the ball, he doesn’t have elite speed to get separation. Landry (5-11, 205) isn’t overly big or physical either. Perhaps he has enough of a competitive edge to beat defenders with sheer ‘want to,’ but that is tough to predict. Landry looks more likely to be a solid pro than a boom pick, but in a weak Dolphins draft class, he could have the most boom potential.

Future Depth Player

Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia – Round 5
Lynch was a solid, but unspectacular, tight end for Georgia in his college career. The senior had 30 receptions for 459 yards with five touchdowns in 2013. The 6-foot-5, 258-pounder is more of a blocking tight end for the NFL who can contribute some receiving here and there. Lynch could help the Dolphins run the ball as the second tight end for their offense.

In the long run, Lynch doesn’t have the skill set to be a three-down starter in the NFL. He isn’t fast or athletic enough to be a real receiving threat. Lynch also has to beat out Dion Sims or Michael Egnew for a roster spot, but that isn’t a tall order. In time, Lynch should be a solid backup for Miami.

Walt’s 2014 NFL Draft Grades:

19. JaWuan James, OT, Tennessee: C- Grade
I loved the crowd reaction to this, as many of the people in the seats responded, “Who?” The Dolphins have loved JaWuan James all along, but there’s no doubt that this is a major reach. James might have been available at Miami’s second-round pick. I would give Miami a dreaded Millen grade under normal circumstances, but think about what happened last year. The Dolphins almost had to go offensive line to protect Ryan Tannehill, and with the top four tackles off the board (as well as C.J. Mosley and Ryan Shazier), they didn’t have much of a choice. I just wish Miami would have traded down.

63. Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU: B- Grade
The Dolphins showed a ton of interest in receivers during the pre-draft process, and it’s easy to see why. They had nothing beyond the inconsistent Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. That’s no longer the case, as Jarvis Landry will step in and likely become the team’s new slot receiver. I think this is a bit of a reach, but it’s nothing egregious.

67. Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State: B Grade
The Dolphins didn’t reach for a tackle this time. Billy Turner is a skilled left tackle who should be able to step in right away, given Miami’s offensive line woes. Turner figures to be an upgrade, though you could say that for many linemen. I actually had Turner going to Miami in the third round of my mock draft, so I believe this is the right range for him.

125. Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty: A- Grade
Someone in our Draft Day feature begged the Dolphins for more height in the secondary. He got his wish with the tall Walt Aikens. Cortland Finnegan is currently slated to start at corner for Miami, which has “disaster area” written all over it. Even though he’s a fourth-round pick, Aikens could end up starting over the anemic Finnegan at some point this season.

155. Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia: B Grade
The Dolphins had to find an intermediate target for Ryan Tannehill. Arthur Lynch makes sense in the fifth round. This isn’t a great pick, but it makes a lot of sense.

171. Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana: A Grade
The Dolphins were expected to choose a linebacker much earlier than this – perhaps even as high as the first round. It’s late for one, but it helps that Jordan Tripp provides great value. Tripp probably should have been off the board in the Round 3-4 range.

190. Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina: B- Grade
More receiving depth makes some sense. The range is also right, as Matt Hazel was viewed as a Round 6-7 prospect. I don’t feel strongly about this pick, one way or the other.

234. Terrence Fede, DE, Marist: B Grade
Terrence Fede was going to generate a good amount of UDFA interest, so the Dolphins just wanted to pick him before the draft ended. A fourth defensive end was a need for Miami.

2014 NFL Draft Team Grade: C . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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