Miami Dolphins Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina – Round 2
The Dolphins jettisoned Byron Jones while adding Jalen Ramsey this offseason, but they weren’t done adding cornerback talent, using their pick at No. 51 overall to select Smith. Immediately, Smith could help form a nice trio with Ramsey and Xavien Howard.

For the NFL, Smith is a press-man corner to play on the outside and line up against big receivers. Smith has very good ball skills, enough height, length, and good tackling. He is a gritty defender who uses instincts to be around the ball and can be very disruptive – see the 2022 Tennessee game. Smith tracks the pass well and shows a nice ability to play the ball. While Smith lacks twitch and explosion, he has long arms and is a perfect fit for playing press-man coverage.

The big issue with Smith is that he grabs too much. Until he fixes that, he could be flagged often in the NFL. There is no doubt that Smith should be protected from playing zone as a pro. He lacks twitch and the short-area burst necessary to be a good zone cornerback.

Here is how one area scout summarized Smith to, “He’s a good player, but lacks twitch and explosion. He grabs too much. He’s a man corner; the lack of twitch makes him a bad fit in zone. He’s really good in press man. His instincts and ball skills are pretty good.”

Miami should be able to mask Smith’s issues by having Howard and Ramsey take on the top two receivers from the opposition. While Smith may not have the twitch to be a boom-pick cover corner, he could turn into a solid starter for Miami over the next couple of seasons.

2022: Channing Tindall, LB
2021: Jevon Holland, S
2020: Noah Igbinoghene, CB
2019: Michael Deiter, G
2018: Jerome Baker, LB
2017: Raekwon McMillan, LB
2016: Xavien Howard, CB
2015: DeVante Parker, WR
2014: JaWuan James, OT
2013: Dallas Thomas, G

Most Likely To Bust

The Dolphins were without a first-round pick from their tampering punishment. Due to having fewer and lower draft selections, they did not land a player with true bust-pick potential.

2022: None
2021: Hunter Long, TE
2020: Brandon Jones, S
2019: Andrew Van Ginkel, LB
2018: Mike Gesicki, TE
2017: Cordrea Tankersley, CB
2016: Leonte Carroo, WR
2015: Bobby McCain, CB
2014: Billy Turner, G
2013: Jelani Jenkins, LB

Potential Boom Pick

The NFL stripped the Dolphins of their first-round pick as punishment for tampering. Miami just did not have the choices to select a player with true boom-pick potential.

2022: None
2021: Jaelan Phillips, DE
2020: Austin Jackson, OT
2019: Christian Wilkins, DT
2018: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S
2017: Charles Harris, DE
2016: Laremy Tunsil, OT
2015: Jordan Phillips, DT
2014: Jarvis Landry, WR
2013: Dion Jordan, LB

Future Depth Player

Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M – Round 3
The Dolphins were said to be in love with Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs, but he went as a top-12 pick, so Miami had to settle for a different speed back. While the Dolphins missed out on Gibbs, they landed a nice back who is a speedy option in the third round with Achane.

As a runner, Achane (5-9, 185) has the speed to present a real threat to rip off a big gain anytime he touches the ball. He has a first-step burst and accelerates through the hole before using his second gear to explode downfield for long gains. With his explosion, it looks like Achane gets a head start over everybody else on the field. Achane is not only fast in the open field, but he has moves to dodge tacklers and brings serious change-of-direction skills. He is a threat to tackle any carry to the end zone. Immediately, Achane will bring a big-play threat to the Miami offense and also could contribute as a returner on special teams.

On top of being an explosive runner, Achane can be a weapon as a receiver. He has soft hands and is a natural at catching the ball. Achane also is elusive in the open field and can rip off yards in chunks. He is too fast and shifty for linebackers or safeties to cover in man, so he provides an excellent mismatch and will be a third-down receiving problem in the NFL. Like all college backs, Achane will need some tutoring in pass protection.

Achane lacks the size and strength to be a three-down starter in the NFL, where he will have to be a backup change-of-pace runner. While Achane may not become a starter for the Dolphins, I think he could be a very good No. 2 back for them.

2022: Rik Ezukanma, WR
2021: Liam Eichenberg, OT
2020: Jason Strowbridge, DE
2019: Isaiah Prince, OT
2018: Kalen Ballade, RB
2017: Davon Godchaux, DT
2016: Kenyon Drake, RB
2015: Jay Ajayi, RB
2014: Arthur Lynch, TE
2013: Mike Gillislee, RB

Walt’s 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

51. Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina – B Grade
I think the Dolphins should have drafted an offensive lineman, given that they used a resource to acquire Jalen Ramsey. Still, a talented cornerback will be useful in the two matchups against Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers. Smith is a very talented player, but fell because of some character concerns.

84. Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M – B+ Grade
What a surprise, a disciple of Kyle Shanahan drafted a running back in the first three rounds! Devon Achane is not going to be a full-time running back, but he has explosive and great pass-catching ability, and he’ll serve as a dynamic weapon in Miami’s high-octane offense.

197. Elijah Higgins, WR, Stanford – B- Grade
I feel like the Dolphins had bigger fish to fry than receiver, but they’re at least getting a solid prospect at the position. Elijah Higgins has nice speed and an ability to separate. I had him in the fifth round.

238. Ryan Hayes, G/OT, Michigan – A Grade
The Dolphins desperately needed to address their offensive line. I thought Ryan Hayes had a chance to sneak into Day 2, so I love this value. Ryan Hayes has versatility as a tackle and guard.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: C-. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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