Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Depending on which 2012 NFL mock draft one wants to believe, the Miami Dolphins will draft either a quarterback, pass rusher, or wide receiver with the number eight overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Dolphins’ quarterback struggles have been written about ad nauseum and fans have clamored for a quarterback to be drafted and help the city finally move on from faded memories of Dan Marino. The Fins can’t draft either of the top two quarterbacks this year, but Ryan Tannehill could be the Fins choice.
It’s easy to see why the Dolphins and Tannehill are being linked in most mock drafts. Tannehill is a little raw, only 19 starts in college, but he has a big arm, can move out of the pocket, and has a solid growth potential at the position.
“While Tannehill isn’t a guy I’d endorse as an immediate starter, his ceiling is so high you can take him here [eighth overall pick] with a plan in place because of his rate of growth,” said ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. in his mock draft.
Tannehill’s athleticism has never been questioned. He’s 6’4” and weighs in the neighborhood of 222 pounds. On his pro day at Texas A&M, Tannehill wowed scouts by running the 40-yard dash in just 4.62 seconds.
In college at Texas A&M, Tannehill started his freshman season fighting for the quarterback job, but after he lost out, he switched to wide receiver. He caught 55 passes for 844 yards and five touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. As a sophomore, he caught 46 balls for 609 yards and four touchdowns while also serving as the backup quarterback.
During Tannehill’s junior year, he had 11 catches for 143 yards in the first six games. Then he was switched back to quarterback and led the Aggies to a victory over Oklahoma and wins over Baylor and Nebraska.
The biggest link between Tannehill and the Dolphins is Fins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. The new coordinator spent the last several seasons at Texas A&M and coached Tannehill through his time as an Aggie. If anyone knows Tannehill it’s Sherman, which helps the Dolphins evaluation process.
But, other mock drafts have the Dolphins leaning towards a pass rusher to line up opposite Cameron Wake. The need for a pass rusher may have been exacerbated in the past week after it became known Wake was willing to hold out to get a new contract.
Most draft experts have North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples. He’s got the measurables at 6’6” and 284 pounds to remind some of former Dolphin Jason Taylor. What remains to be seen is what kind of motor he will have in the NFL.
Coples dominated as a junior and then struggled the next season with what some scouts said was a lack of motivation to play on his part. He did have to play in a different position as a senior, which could have limited his play at times.
Still, he pulled down 17.5 sacks in his final two seasons while playing both defensive end and tackle. In 2011 alone, he had 59 tackles, 15.5 for loss, and 10 sacks.
NFLDraftscout.com has listed Coples as the top defensive end prospect in the draft. He ran a 4.78 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and if he can maintain or better that speed in the NFL, he could become a major beast off the edge in the vein of Julius Peppers and Mario Williams.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a desperate need for pass rushers, so if Coples falls to them, he could be the eventual pick for the Jags. If the Jags pass on him, the Dolphins may pounce on his current ability and his high ceiling in the future.
The final player most linked to the Dolphins in mock drafts is Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, who is flying up draft boards across the NFL. Floyd stands 6’3” and weighs 220 pounds and was a four-year starter at Notre Dame.
Floyd is taller, heavier, and faster than the likely first wide receiver to be taken in 2012, Justin Blackmon. Floyd was one of Notre Dame’s biggest recruits and had 48 catches for 719 yards as a true freshman. For his college career, he had 171 receptions for 2,539 yards and 28 touchdowns.
In his senior season, Floyd was almost unstoppable. He caught 95 passes for 1,102 yards and eight touchdowns.
The big question mark for the Dolphins if they are interested in Floyd is his intangibles. He was arrested three times on alcohol-related charges at Notre Dame, which is a major red flag for any player coming into the draft.
The Dolphins may not want to go down that road after the failed Brandon Marshall experiment. Floyd has said he learned from his mistakes, but it still may be enough to push the snakebitten Dolphins away from him.
There are other prospects that have been mentioned for the Dolphins including: South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram, who projects to an outside linebacker/defensive hybrid in the NFL; Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, and possibly others.
The NFL Draft will begin on April 26 at 8:00 p.m. when the Indianapolis Colts go on the clock with the first overall pick, which will be Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.