Miami Dolphins Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor – Round 2
The Dolphins had a huge hole at corner entering the 2016 NFL Draft. Brent Grimes left the team in the offseason and the position was a weakness even before Grimes departed. Miami had used some picks on the position previously, but those haven’t worked out, and the Dolphins needed some long-term starters at one of the most important positions on the field. The organization was fortunate to land Howard in the second round.

In sampling teams, there was a some variety in draft grades for Howard. One team had a first-round grade on him. A few others had a second-round grade, while one had a late second- to early third-round grade. Scouts say they weren’t expecting Howard to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft, but when he did, they studied him for their reports and were pleasantly surprised, labelling him a talented cover corner. In 2015, Howard totaled 42 tackles with 10 breakups and five interceptions. He snagged four picks as a sophomore.

Howard (6-0, 200) has the size and speed to line up on the outside. Given Miami’s weakness at the position, he should see the field quickly, and I think it won’t be long before Howard is a solid starter for the Dolphins.

Most Likely To Bust

Leonte Carroo, CB, Rutgers – Round 3
I really liked what the Dolphins did in the first two rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft, but I think Round 3 got away from them as they took some flawed players. Carroo was the second of those selections, and according to sources from other teams, he was a serious reach. Other teams had Carroo graded in the middle of the final day of the draft, and not only for off-the-field issues, but also for problems with his skill set translating to the NFL. I think Carroo has serious bust potential.

Scouts from other teams felt that Carroo (5-11, 217) is is stiff and tight as a route-runner. Part of that could be from his thick build. At the Senior Bowl, Carroo showed a lack of speed and inability to achieve separation from cornerbacks. Thus, I could see Carroo being a disappointment because he could struggle to get open in the NFL with better cover corners challenging him.

Carroo also had a domestic assault arrest in 2015. After a loss, he reportedly picked up his girlfriend and slammed her on a concrete surface. Thus, Carroo has off-the-field issues as well.

Due to the Dolphins’ depth chart, I have a hard time seeing Carroo getting a lot of playing time. He isn’t fast or fluid enough to be a slot receiver in my opinion. The Dolphins have Jarvis Landry established at one spot with 2015 first-rounder DeVante Parker as the other starter on the outside. I don’t think that Carroo is going to beat out either of them or veteran Kenny Stills for playing time.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Carroo never breaks through and ends up being a wasted third-round pick for Miami.

Potential Boom Pick

Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss – Round 1
I have to give credit where credit is due as Miami executed a tremendous first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The team traded down from the eighth-overall pick before the draft, acquiring two veterans. I thought that was a bad move, but it turned out to be genius because the Dolphins then had the luck and intelligence to land the best player in the 2016 NFL Draft with the 13th selection. Obviously, they were aided by the video of Tunsil smoking marijuana in a gas-mask bong that was released right before the draft, but still they were astute enough to take Tunsil when he fell to them. Tunsil was the top talent in the 2016 NFL Draft and has the makings of a franchise left tackle.

Tunsil is a true franchise left tackle who is ready to start in the NFL immediately. He has phenomenal athleticism and quickness. Tunsil is very fast with picture-perfect knee bend to mirror and stop speed rushes around the corner. He has natural strength in his base to hold up against bull rushes, and he is a rock solid pass protector. In the ground game, Tunsil gets movement at the point of attack. He plays with good leverage and keeps his defenders from making the play. Tunsil is extremely fast to fire to the second level to hit blocks on linebackers while also showing the agility to hit perimeter blocks downfield. Tunsil has great size and the frame to get bigger as he ages as well.

The Dolphins have had offensive line issues for years, and Tunsil could be the backbone of an excellent offensive line. Ja’Wuan James should settle in at right tackle with Mike Pouncey leading the line at center. When Tunsil is ready, veteran Brandon Albert can go back to playing guard.

Landing Tunsil was such a huge steal for Miami, and I think he could end up being a huge boom pick as one of the best left tackles in the NFL.

Future Depth Player

Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama – Round 3
Drake has the skill set and the running ability to be a starter in the NFL, but I think his brittle nature is going to keep from staying on the field for that kind of role. At Alabama, Drake gave proof that he was made of glass, suffering a broken ankle among other breaks over the past few seasons. However, being a backup who contributes as a runner or receiver but doesn’t have a huge amount of touches could protect Drake and get more out of him in the NFL. Miami has second-year pro Jay Ajayi ready to be the starter, and Drake could be a solid No. 2 back. I think Drake lacks the durability to ever be a feature back, but he could be a very good complementary back.

Walt’s 2016 NFL Draft Grades:

13. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss A+ Grade
How did the best player in the draft (according to some) fall to No. 13? I’ll be shocked if Laremy Tunsil is on Twitter ever again.

This is a slam-dunk A+. I suppose Miami isn’t the most ideal environment for Tunsil, but his talent level is unquestionable. He’s a franchise left tackle with an All-Pro skill set, and Miami will need one once the injury-prone Branden Albert moves on. Taking Tunsil here is a no-brainer. The risk is well worth the reward, and this could end up being the best pick in the entire 2016 NFL Draft.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

38. Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor C+ Grade
This would’ve been a great pick had the Dolphins not traded for it. With lots of cornerbacks available, I don’t think they needed to do that, however. Why surrender resources to do something like that? Having said that, I’m not giving Miami a poor grade, as a C+ seems about right. Howard should be a good player for them, and he’s filling a big need for sure.

73. Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama B Grade
This may seem odd, but there were some teams that liked Kenyan Drake better than Derrick Henry. The Dolphins were actually one of them. Miami tried to sign C.J. Anderson in free agency, but the Broncos matched the tender. Kenyan Drake could be a solid replacement for Lamar Miller.

86. Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers D Grade
I have no issues with Leonte Carroo, outside of his character concerns. He runs routes very well and could be a solid pro. The range also makes sense. So, why the “D” grade? Because the Dolphins surrendered 2017 third- and fourth-round selections to acquire this pick in order to take him. That’s a little ridiculous, especially when considering that Carroo doesn’t really fit a need.

186. Jakeem Grant, WR/KR, Texas Tech B- Grade
Miami hadn’t picked for 100 selections, so its fans might be frustrated to see another receiver. I wouldn’t expect Jakeem Grant to play much offense, however. He’ll compete to be the team’s primary return specialist. With his speed, he could be a good one.

204. Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State B Grade
Fifty more picks to grade! Jordan Lucas was one of the top athletes at his position in the entire 2016 NFL Draft. He’s worth a sixth-round choice just based on his upside, but he wasn’t picked higher because he wasn’t very productive at Penn State.

223. Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky B Grade
The Dolphins might be able to groom Brandon Doughty into being their next No. 2 quarterback behind Ryan Tannehill (or whoever replaces him). Doughty doesn’t have the tools to be an NFL starter, but he might be able to become a solid reserve.

231. Thomas Duarte, TE, UCLA A- Grade
I mocked Thomas Duarte to the Dolphins in the fifth round, but despite his solid athleticism, I can’t say I’m surprised that he dropped to the seventh frame. Duarte played receiver at UCLA, but he’ll have to transition to tight end or H-back in the pros. Duarte does have a high amount of potential, however, and I could see him becoming a matchup nightmare of sorts in Miami’s offense.

2016 NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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