(CBS Miami)- With free agency behind us and the draft just over a week away, the team needs for the Dolphins have been brought into clearer focus. General manager Chris Grier addressed needs at corner (Byron Jones), linebacker (Kyle Van Noy, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Elandon Roberts), defensive end (Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah), running back (Jordan Howard) and guard (Ereck Flowers).
The biggest area of concern is of course, quarterback where Ryan Fitzpatrick is still slated to play this year, but obviously isn’t the long-term answer. The chatter has been all about the team taking Alabama signal caller Tua Tagovailoa, but there are some who believe they should go another direction. So, to wade into all of this, and what the experts think the Dolphins should do with their other two first round picks, let’s round up all the most recent mock drafts.
Pick #5READ MORE: FIU President Mark Rosenberg Resigns, Cites Health Issues
Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (trade up to #3)
It’s clear that the Dolphins need a quarterback of the future. For months last fall, the clear answer seemed to be Tagovailoa. And, in Wilson and Trapasso’s scenarios, that remains the case. While a trade up to No. 3 may be necessary in order to keep Tagovailoa away from other QB-needy teams who are thinking about a similar jump, it’s clear Tua is thought of as the top option by some.
The biggest question is his durability. In his time at Alabama, Tagovailoa had tightrope procedures on each ankle to alleviate high ankle sprains, then had surgery to fix a dislocated hip late last year. And, earlier this week, former NFL executive Michael Lombardi told the Miami Herald that Tagovailoa had suffered a previously undisclosed broken wrist. The medical reports have been good so far and he looked strong in his taped pro day, but the questions remain.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports)- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Mel Kiper (ESPN)- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
It is those questions about durability that have left the door open for the Oregon senior Herbert to enter the conversation here. Kiper acknowledged in his latest mock draft that there’s been recent buzz about Herbert to Miami and he is leaning that way because of that buzz and the durability concerns.
The 6’6″ 237-pound Herbert is more of the prototypical NFL quarterback than Tagovailoa. And, prior to the emergence of Tagovailoa in 2018, he was considered a potential future No. 1 overall pick. He was solid in his last two seasons with the Ducks, completing 526 of 832 pass attempts (63.2%) for over 6,600 yards and 51 touchdowns versus just 17 interceptions. He also adds some running ability though not on the level where teams will be drawing up designed runs for him.
This question, Tagovailoa and his arguably higher ceiling but more injury concerns vs. Herbert’s solid play and fewer durability concerns is the one that will dominate conversations over the next week. It will likely lead to the pair of QBs being compared to each other throughout their pro careers.
The picks here are all over the place showing the variety of needs the team still has. Interior defensive line (Kinlaw), offensive tackle (Becton), and receiver (Ruggs III). The interesting move is trading up to snag Becton at No. 13. He shined at the Combine and is unlikely to still be around at 18. The team does have the most draft capital of any team in the league but two trades up in the first round (moving up to #3 above) would likely cost quite a bit.
Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)- Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Mel Kiper (ESPN)- Javon Kinlaw, DT, South CarolinaREAD MORE: Code Red Lockdown Lifted At South Plantation High
Kinlaw is a monster on the interior of the defensive line, generating 15 tackles for loss and 10 sacks from the tackle spot for the Gamecocks the last two seasons. At 6’5″ 324-pounds in Indianapolis, he would provide a strong interior duo alongside last year’s first round pick Christian Wilkins.
Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)- Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville (Trade up to #13)
The 6’7″ 364-pound Becton stunned observers when he posted a 5.1 40-yard dash at the Combine in Indianapolis. Already considered among the top tackles in this year’s class, that performance vaulted him up draft boards even further. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com has compared him to former Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowler Bryant McKinnie. With the team likely taking their quarterback of the future this year, shoring up that offensive line will be necessary. How much would it cost to get up to 13 and take Becton and is it worth the expended extra draft capital is the question.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports)- Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The team’s need at receiver is pretty clear. Former first round pick Davante Parker had a breakout year in 2019 but outside of that, the corps was led by veterans Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns along with undrafted free agent Preston Williams. None of the three surpassed 500 yards. All three are capable options, but adding another receiver in this year’s loaded class can’t hurt.
Ruggs, if he falls to this point, would certainly provide an electrifying option. At 5’11” 188-pounds, he’s on the smaller side but his speed is unquestioned. Ruggs III ran the top 40 at the Combine (4.27) and backed that explosiveness up with a 42 inch vertical and a 134 inch broad jump. The biggest question is his production (he grabbed just 40 receptions each of the last two years) but, the Crimson Tide’s receiving corps was extremely crowded. Fellow prospect Jerry Jeudy is likely to be a first rounder and Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle could very well be next year.
Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)- Josh Jones, OL, Houston
Jones is considered to be the best available offensive lineman outside of the top five guys. Like Becton, this pick would be looking to address the protection of whatever QB they select with their top pick.
Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)- Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
The back end of the defense is pretty well solidified with the addition of Byron Jones to pair with Xavien Howard and safeties Steven Parker and Reshad Jones. Still, if McKinney is available here, he’s an upgrade over both current safety options. McKinney started all 28 games the last two seasons for the Tide making 169 tackles, 11.5 for loss, with six sacks and five interceptions. The biggest question is overall athleticism as he ran a 4.63 at the Combine, on the slower side for safeties.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports)- Ezra Cleveland, OL, Boise State
This one is a bit of a surprise. CBSSports.com’s rankings have Cleveland in the 50s but Prisco has him going in the first round. Granted, if the top five tackles are taken, one could easily justify taking Cleveland here in an attempt to solidify the line. But, the team also has and early second round pick that they could hope Cleveland makes it to.
Mel Kiper (ESPN)- Antoine Winfield Jr., S, MinnesotaMORE NEWS: Broward Public School Teachers Getting Raises
Ballhawk. Easiest way to describe Winfield Jr. who picked off seven passes this past season for the Golden Gophers. Slightly undersized at 5’9″ 203 pounds, Zierlein compares him to former Pro Bowler T.J. Ward. If this were to happen, or if Winfield gets selected in the first round, he and his father would have the distinction of being the first father-son duo to be selected in the first round in NFL history.