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 nine of the “Miami Dolphins potential first round draft picks.”
2017 Draft: Tony Iosso’s Mock Draft 2.0 (Post Combine)
2017 Free Agency: Looking at the NFL’s biggest winners and losers
Dolphins News: Miami’s finest moment of 2016
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3. 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 every down player for the Miami Dolphins.
2. Forrest Lamp –Offensive Tackle/Guard — Western Kentucky
Still in need of at least one new starting offensive guard, the Miami Dolphins will likely need to address this issue during the NFL Draft. While the team could continue to add veteran players, their age will not give the team a long term solution. Drafting former Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp will.
Given his lack of overall length, Lamp is almost certainly going to be a guard in the NFL. That said, he does have four years worth of college starting experience at tackle, making him versatile. With Miami’s offensive line being pretty thin last season, Lamp would give the Dolphins a player that can shift positions based on overall need.
Likely to be available when the Dolphins make their first round selection, Forrest Lamp is a player that would address a long term issue for this Miami Dolphins team. Protecting starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
1. Zach Cunningham — Linebacker — Vanderbilt
Retaining his spot atop my list, Zach Cunningham looks to be falling 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.
With Lawrence Timmons, Kiko Alonso, and Zach Cunningham in the linebacking corps, the Miami Dolphins would see vast improvement over 2016. If Cunningham is on the board when the Dolphins make their first round pick, I would be shocked if he is not the player taken.