Despite ending the season much sooner than anyone would have wanted, it is now time to turn our attention to most fans second most favorite time of year. The NFL Draft. For the Miami Dolphins, this will present a chance for the team to build on their playoff campaign from 2016.
Defense continues to be the biggest need for this team heading into the draft. With the unit expected to be improved upon through free agency and the draft, this makes Miami’s selections slightly more prevalent to change.
With the Draft now just under two months away, we are closing in on the second best part of the NFL year. With the combine now over, the realtick towards the draft has begun. So without further ado, we present week eight of the “Miami Dolphins potential first round draft picks.”
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3. Jabrill Peppers — Safety — Michigan
With IQA’s future up in the air following the neck injury he sustained at the end of last season, Jabrill Peppers is a player that will fill two needs for the Miami Dolphins. Coming in as a day one starter at safety, Peppers would also fill the Dolphins must draft a Michigan player need for this years draft.
Possessing that ever popular Michigan connection with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, Peppers would also provide the Dolphins with a new starting safety or at the very minimum, someone the team could use to fill in for Reshad Jones when he is either injured or needs a breather. Add to this that Peppers can play multiple positions and he could be Miami’s ultimate swiss army knife.
Speaking out at the combine that he is a safety type player in the NFL, Peppers limited the fall he would have had should he had kept silent. Add in his impressive 40-yard dash time and Peppers would be a solid pick for the Miami Dolphins.
2. Charles Harris — Defensive End — Missouri
With Cameron Wake not getting any younger, the Miami Dolphins need to add the next generation of pass rushers to their roster. Developing for a season or two behind both Wake and Andre Branch, Charles Harris would provide the team with the pass rusher of the future for this team.
One area that could cause some concern is the lack of consensus on what Harris best position will be in the NFL. Currently rated as a defensive end, a 3-4 outside linebacker, and a 4-3 outside linebacker, I believe Harris will slot into a defensive end role.
However, despite this lack of consensus on what position he will play, one thing that is for certain is his ability as a pass rusher. Adding a player like him to the defense will immediatly help it improve during pass situations. After a couple of years, Harris should also be an everydown player for the Miami Dolphins.
1. Zach Cunningham — Linebacker — Vanderbilt
Moving back into this list for the first time in a while, Zach Cunningham could fall back down to the Miami Dolphins at pick number 22. Moving Kiko Alonso to the outside linebacker position, the Dolphins could bring Cunningham in as a new day one starter at middle linebacker. Such a move would improve their linebacking corps exponentially.
Seen by many as a top 20 pick, Cunningham’s talent makes it hard to argue with this evaluation. Solid at tackling and reading plays, Cunningham has both the mesurables and instincts you love to see from a middle linebacker. Proving in college that he can both play in a spy/coverage type role while also getting to the backfield, Cunningham is someone that could end up being one of the best players taken during this draft.
If Cunningham falls from where he once was thanks to the rise of some other players after the NFL Combine, Cunningham could eventually fall right into the grasp of the Miami Dolphins.