Miami Dolphins Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville – Round 1
The Dolphins traded Mike Wallace in the offseason and have a solid, but unspectacular, stable of receivers for Ryan Tannehill. Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings are solid pros, but Miami really didn’t have a No. 1 for its improving young signal-caller. Many didn’t think he would get there, but Parker fell to the Dolphins’ first-round pick, and it was an easy choice for general manager Dennis Hickey and head coach Joe Philbin.

Parker was the Cardinals’ No. 1 receiver for the past two years. A broken foot caused him to miss part of the 2014 season, but he still was very productive despite losing Teddy Bridgewater to the NFL. After missing seven games, Parker hauled in 43 catches for 855 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 209-pounder ran faster than expected at the Combine with a 4.45-second time in the 40-yard dash. That locked in Parker going in the top half of the 2015 NFL Draft.

As a player, sources said that Parker was quality receiving prospect, but they didn’t think he would be a dynamic No. 1 receiver in the NFL. They didn’t feel he has the speed to separate from good NFL corners. He can win 50-50 passes with his size, but he typically ran vertical routes and will need some work as a route-runner. In the NFL, I think Parker will be a solid receiver and a good starter, but I don’t believe he is going to be a boom pick or an elite receiver similar to Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant or A.J. Green.

Most Likely To Bust

Bobby McCain, CB, Memphis – Round 5
Given the Dolphins’ lack of a third-round pick, this was a tough choice. The majority of third-day picks don’t work out in the NFL, so this isn’t a bold statement. Of the Dolphins early picks from Day 3, I went with McCain because he has a size disadvantage that I’m not sure he will be able to make up for.

McCain has a great example of a short cornerback turning into a good pro with Dolphins veteran Ben Grimes though. But, Grimes is the exception and not the rule. McCain (5-9, 195) could struggle with bigger receivers, and that could send him to the slot in the NFL. Teams are moving their receivers around, so even in the slot, he could be in trouble.

The Dolphins made a number of other good picks on the third day of the 2015 NFL Draft, including offensive lineman Jamil Douglas and running back Jay Ajayi. McCain is the one who looks most like he could have issues translating to the NFL.

Potential Boom Pick

Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma – Round 2
There were a number of teams that felt that Phillips was worthy of going in the first round, so he could be a real steal for Miami on Day 2. The 6-foot-5, 329-pound Phillips is very fast for his size with a shocking burst at the point of attack. He has the size to overwhelm blockers and cause a lot of disruption at the point of attack. Phillips has a ton of upside for Miami to develop.

For Oklahoma, Phillips was a force in 2014. He didn’t have a huge stat line, but he was a load at the line of scrimmage who was constantly blasting his way into the backfield. Offensive linemen couldn’t move Phillips in the ground game, and he stuffed a lot of running lanes for the Sooners.

With Phillips’ athletic skill set, I think he could be a boom pick for Miami. Due to Miami signing Ndamukong Suh, Phillips is going to see a lot of one-on-one blocks, which could make him a real weapon for his defense. Offenses will be focused on Suh, so Phillips could be a surprise impact player quickly for the Dolphins. Miami also has edge rushers to help force quarterbacks to step up toward Phillips. This pick didn’t get a lot of attention in the 2015 NFL Draft, but I think it could be a real boom selection for Miami.

Future Depth Player

Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State – Round 5
You could easily make the argument that Ajayi should be the selection for boom pick or solid starter. I could see him being either for Miami. However in the short term, Ajayi should at least be a good No. 2 back to Lamar Miller. Ajayi is a tremendous receiver out of the backfield with the quickness to rip off yards in chunks. The 6-foot, 221-pounder also has good size to run the ball between the tackles. Perhaps Miami will let Miller leave in free agency after the season and make Ajayi the starter. The Boise State product is a great fit in the Dolphins’ offense. If Ajayi doesn’t become the starter in a year or two, he should at least be a really good No. 2 and backup running back.

Walt’s 2015 NFL Draft Grades:

14. DeVante Parker, WR, Lousville: A- Grade
The Rams and Vikings were considering DeVante Parker at Nos. 10 and 11, so this is a slight bargain for the Dolphins. Parker also fills a big need at receiver; Miami signed Greg Jennings, but he never factored into the decision of this selection. Ryan Tannehill already had his possession receiver in Jarvis Landry, but he had to have a legitimate No. 1 wideout at his disposal. Parker is projected to be a primary option, so I like this selection.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

52. Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma: C+ Grade
Wow, how many massive defensive tackles do the Dolphins need? Jordan Phillips is a massive man who happens to be very athletic for his size. The problem is that he doesn’t play football very well. I thought he might go in the first round, which would’ve been a big reach. He makes sense in this range, but I don’t like the scheme or need fit very much. The silver lining is that Miami moved down and picked up extra picks in the process.

114. Jamil Douglas, G, Arizona State: B Grade
The Dolphins spent a ton of energy talking up Dallas Thomas as a starting-caliber guard during the owners’ meetings, but they would’ve been foolish not to address the position in the 2015 NFL Draft. Jamil Douglas makes sense as an early Day 3 selection, so this is a nice choice by Miami’s front office.

145. Bobby McCain, CB/KR, Memphis: B+ Grade
Bobby McCain makes sense for two reasons. The first is that he’ll provide depth at the cornerback position, which is pretty thin in Miami. The second is that he’ll be a solid return specialist; he thrived in that regard at Memphis. McCain generated strong interest during the pre-draft process, so he projects as a solid pick in Round 5.

149. Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State: A Grade
Mike Mayock described Jay Ajayi’s knee as “bone on bone,” which would explain his drop to Round 5. He’s great value here though, as he would’ve gone in the second or third round had he been completely healthy. If Ajayi can get over his injury, he stands a chance of being a starter in this league.

150. Cedric Thompson, S, Minnesota: B Grade
More secondary help makes sense for the Dolphins. I’m not as excited about this fifth-round pick, but it makes sense, as Thompson fits the range at this juncture.

156. Tony Lippett, WR/CB, Michigan State: B+ Grade
Will the Dolphins use Tony Lippett at receiver or cornerback? That’s the question, and it’s interesting that they listed him as a defensive back upon making the selection announcement. Lippett will probably be better at corner, and Miami needs talented players at that position. I was told to put Lippett in the fourth round, so there’s some value with him here.

2015 NFL Draft Team Grade: B . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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