Miami Dolphins Best Case Scenario NFL Draft Targets: Offensive Line Continues To Be Priority

After making a blockbuster trade acquisition for Tyreek Hill, the Dolphins don’t have much draft capital to work with. Their first draft pick doesn’t come until #102 overall, and they rank last in Tankathon’s draft capital power rankings. However, this is a deep draft class, and there will still be several players still available in the third round who could immediately impact their team. In this article, I’ll break down the Dolphins’ remaining team needs and best-case scenario draft targets for the team.

Dolphins Offseason Round-Up

In their blockbuster move for Tyreek Hill, the Dolphins sent a first-round pick, second-round pick, and fourth-round pick in 2022 and a fourth-round pick and sixth-round pick in 2023 to the Chiefs. That left them without much draft capital to work with, but it also landed them a six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who’s one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL.

In addition to Hill, the Dolphins had a handful of other offseason acquisitions. Terron Armstead, one of the league’s top offensive tackles, was signed to protect Tua Tagovailoa. Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert provide speed to the backfield, while Mike Gesicki was retained on a franchise tag. Connor Williams will also provide a better baseline of solid play along the offensive line.

Biggest Remaining Team Needs

Interior Offensive Line: Even after signing Connor Williams to play offensive guard, the Dolphins could use some help on the interior of the offensive line. Austin Jackson, a 2020 first-round pick, has been a relative bust, while Michael Deiter is a mediocre option at center. Robert Hunt has panned out more as a second-round pick, but the Dolphins need to continue investing draft picks into their offensive line, particularly on the interior.

Linebacker: The Dolphins resigned Elandon Roberts, Duke Riley, Sam Eguavoen, and Brennan Scarlett to one-year deals as unrestricted free agents. They still have Jerome Baker under contract, but none of those players are high-end options. The linebacker spot isn’t a high-value position. However, the Dolphins could still stand to add some speedy sideline-to-sideline tackling or coverage ability in the middle of their defense.

Running Back: While the Dolphins signed Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert over the offseason, they should still be looking for a long-term starter at running back. Mostert has struggled to stay healthy and is only under contract for this season. With those two signings, we can understand the types of traits Chris Grier and new head coach Mike McDaniel value in their running backs.

Best-Case Scenario Targets at #102

IOL Zach Tom, Wake Forest: The Dolphins have reportedly had a pre-draft meeting with Zach Tom, and he would be a great fit for Mike McDaniel’s offense. Tom graded as an elite athlete with a 10.0 Relative Athletic Score (RAS) as a center, 9.93 as an offensive guard, and 9.59 as an offensive tackle. His closest RAS comparisons (entirely based on athletic measurables) were Rashawn Slater for an offensive tackle, Joel Bitonio for an offensive guard, and Creed Humphrey for the center. That’s some incredibly elite company to be in.

Tom played offensive tackle at Wake Forest, but at 6’4”, 304 lbs, and with short arms at 33.25 inches, many scouts believe he’s better suited on the interior. He has the agility and mirroring ability to stick at offensive tackle long-term, and PFF tagged him with the highest pass-blocking grade in all of the FBS last year. Whether the Dolphins would rather play Tom on the inside or at tackle would be a conversation for a later date, but his elite athleticism and high-end collegiate production would make him a steal in the third round.

RB James Cook, Georgia: Another one of the Dolphins’ pre-draft meetings was with Cook, and it’s easy to see why he would be a strong fit in their offense. At 5’11”, 190 lbs, Cook is much more of a scatback than someone who’s ever going to see 250+ carries in a season. However, that doesn’t reduce his value, especially in an offense that likely wants to play with a committee approach in the backfield. He would have the upside to be an every-down back if he can bulk up even a little bit without losing his big-play speed.

Cook is an elite athlete, particularly with his 88th percentile 4.42-second 40-yard dash. He somewhat ironically compares favorably to Tevin Coleman, a player McDaniel is quite familiar with in terms of RAS grades. Cook is a tremendous pass-catcher who will be a constant mismatch against linebackers in coverage. In the college football semifinals, Cook had four catches for 112 yards and a touchdown against a top-end defense in Michigan, and he has elite receiving potential in the NFL.

LB Brandon Smith, Penn State: One of the premier athletes in this entire draft class, Brandon Smith earned a 9.97 RAS with his combine measurables. His closest RAS comparison is Von Miller, one of the best defensive players of this generation. Unfortunately for Smith, his production never lived up to that athleticism at Penn State as he didn’t play with the level of aggression you’d hope for at his size, and he played out of control too often. Smith’s processing speed, footwork, and awareness all need work.

Fortunately for the Dolphins, Smith’s lack of technical mastery means he could still be on the board when they finally make their first selection in the draft. Why not take a swing on the athletic upside for a team suddenly lacking significant draft capital? Smith could fill several roles in the Miami defense as a Will linebacker and sub-package pass-rusher, especially given his natural capabilities in coverage. Defensive coordinator Josh Boyer has extensive player development experience and could get the most out of Smith.

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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