As the countdown to the 2017 NFL Draft continues to wane, teams are scrambling to finalize their draft board for the three-day shopping trip.
For the Miami Dolphins, most are subscribing to the theory that the team should take a defensive player with its first round pick. With the exception of 560 WQAM host Alex Donno, who “loves lamp” – Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp – and wants the Fins to upgrade their O-Line, the majority says “defense”.
Add ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay to the list of folks who think Miami should keep adding pieces to improve its defense.
McShay held a conference call Tuesday and outlined what he believed the Dolphins’ needs are going into the draft.
“I think the Dolphins’ needs on defense are outside linebacker, cornerback and safety,” McShay said. “They need a linebacker who can cover in my opinion…I think [they should] try to take a linebacker in the first or second round.”
The Dolphins did upgrade their linebacker corps this offseason, re-signing Kiko Alonso and picking up free agent veteran middle linebacker Lawrence Timmons from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Timmons is a lay-up to be Miami’s starting linebacker in 2017, kicking Alonso out to the weakside (outside) linebacker spot – but there’s still a void at the other outside linebacker spot.
Miami owns the No. 22 pick in the first round and should have their choice of linebackers if they subscribe to McShay’s – or this reporter’s – theory.
Vanderbilt All-American linebacker Zach Cunningham’s name has been thrown around as a player that should be available in the second half of the opening round and would provide value for the pick.
McShay, however, has a different player in mind.
“When you look at pick No. 22, [Florida linebacker] Jarrad Davis makes a lot of sense,” McShay said. “Because he is a guy that can cover and has the athleticism.”
“From a talent standpoint, Davis is a first round player. From an intangible standpoint, he’s top five in the class. He’s a player that loves the game. You can see the passion and the energy that he has for the game when you study him on tape,” McShay added.
“Then you talk to people in Florida’s program and scouts that have evaluated him and there’s nothing but positives when it comes to him.”
Davis has been a rapid riser on late mock drafts, beginning as a strong second round pick to a player that is creeping into the middle of the first round.
As far as Miami’s other defensive needs – specifically cornerback – McShay thinks the team can wait until late on the second day or even on the third day of the draft.
“The can take an offensive lineman in the second, and hopefully you’re able to take a cornerback in the third or fourth that can come in and do some sub-package stuff right away and develop into a solid contributor for you,” McShay said.
“Cornerback and safety are so deep this year – they could go after a Damontae Kazee from San Diego State or Ahkello Witherspoon, an off the radar corner with exceptional size, from Colorado or Rasul Douglas from West Virginia or Cam Sutton from Tennessee…the third and fourth round has a lot of good value at the cornerback position.”