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Grading the Dolphins draft class!

Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books it is time for us here at to grade the Miami Dolphins draft class. We know, we know it’s far too early to do such and we truly won’t know what this class is until at least after one full season. Yet it’s a rite of passage to grade a draft within a few days of the draft ending so here are the Miami Dolphins draft grades from staff members Tom Ernisse, Bret LaGasse, Mike Oliva, and Bobby Melendez.

Bret’s Grade: A-

All the posturing from the Dolphins claiming to be “interested in Baker Mayfield” paid off, with Minkah Fitzpatrick falling to the Dolphins. Minkah is a true leader and changes this defense, not just the secondary. He is the Swiss Army knife that allows this team to adapt to different looks. He is my favorite pick of this draft. Getting James Baker from Ohio State was a good move, as he offers ability like first rounder Roquan Smith, but was had in the 3rdround. The Dolphins doubled up on defense to address their coverage concerns, but they also doubled up on tight end, which should pay dividends immediately. I didn’t see Gesicki as a fit, due to his poor blocking, however, the Dolphins countered that by drafting Durham Smythe. They give themselves flexibility at TE, much like the Eagles had in Ertz and Celek. Lastly, Kalen Ballage was the perfect running back to add to the Dolphins. He compliments Drake very well, offering the same kind of ability out of the backfield. The only reason I give them an A- for how they handled this draft, is because they did not grab a WR late in the draft. I do like how they rounded out the draft with special team’s additions.

Mike’s Grade:  B

Through the first 4 rounds of this draft I thought the Miami Dolphins hit a grand slam. From Minkah Fitzpatrick to Mike Gesicki to Jerome Baker to Smythe and Ballage I think the Dolphins added guys who in year one and game one will contribute on the field right away in defined roles. Heading into the draft the Dolphins needed to address linebacker and tight end and they doubled up on both positions which was very wise. I believe both tight ends will see significant playing time in 2018. While they aren’t Gronkowski/Hernandez for the Pats they are both guys who will contribute immediately.  Fitzpatrick is a jack of all trades and I think will find his home at free safety in Miami. A leader, a beast on special teams, and someone who can anchor the secondary for years to come make that a home run pick in round 1. Some of the late round picks in this draft do make you scratch your head. Cornell Armstrong wasn’t even viewed as a draftable player by most “experts” and you can’t even find scouting info of him online which is amazing because you know everything is on the internet. Quentin Poling we don’t know how he will translate to the NFL coming out of Ohio (not Ohio St, just Ohio) and then selecting a kicker in round 7 who was inconsistent prevents me from giving this draft an A grade. Still overall a very solid draft for the Dolphins.

Bobby’s Grade: B

This was a very solid draft for the Dolphins, not moving any picks and sticking to their board. Minkah Fitzpatrick, a player who can do it all but most importantly is a leader on the field and off of it, his character is without question his best trait. When the Dolphins drafted Gesicki at 42, I sighed a bit to be honest because I didn’t see him as a fit due to the fact he didn’t offer much as a blocker. As a receiver, he’s on the top of this class – he can spread defenses and beat you in the redzone but can offer nothing as a blocker. Miami fixed that in fourth round by taking Durham Smyth, one of the top blocking tight ends in college football. Gesicki and Smyth together are two of my favorite draft picks of this class, they should make an immediate impact day one on Miami’s offense. Jerome Baker with Poling gives Miami want they didn’t have before, speed linebackers who can help in coverage assignments. I liked the Kalen Ballage pick for the Dolphins, Ballage runs hard and fast, and is a very good receiver out of the backfield – he reminds me a little of former Dolphins back Damien Williams. This was a very solid draft for the Dolphins but the reason I gave them a was because of their final picks, CB Cornell Armstrong and Kicker Jason Sanders. Armstrong is a headscratcher for me, I believe better picks were left on the board for Miami such as receiver Braxton Berrios or if they wanted to go corner, FSU’s Tarvarus McFadden would have been the better option over Armstrong. Another headscratcher was the Sanders selection, Eddy Pineiro was still on the board and was the most dependable kicker in college football last year and the Dolphins decided to go with the big leg but inaccurate Sanders out of New Mexico. Again though, a very solid draft for Miami – I project three starters from this group and three contributors in year one.

Tom’s Grade: B-

For the first time in many, many years, the Dolphins had a plan for this draft and stuck to it. The QB hype had everyone, including myself, believing this would be the year the Dolphins started to look towards the future.  Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen was the talk out of Miami for months leading up to the draft.  Draft night comes, neither QB was selected. While Rosen was there for the taking, Arizona snuck into 10 to land him.  I am starting to believe it was a smoke screen to make the Bills and Cardinals panic and to move up to get their guy.  It worked.  With Minkah Fitzpatrick in the fold, the Dolphins have a young man who has excelled at the highest level and played for a coach, maybe the greatest college coach of all time (and still an awful NFL coach who left his team behind) that thinks of him highly.  The selections of Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe signal a much-needed change to the TE corp that has lacked any such talent since Charles Clay.  That says something (he isn’t that great.) The Dolphins also filled needs at OLB with Jerome Baker, who I believe is his job to lose in camp.  I love his tape.  Kalen Ballage is the one to really watch in this class.  He can learn from Frank Gore and understand the work ethic to make him be a solid contributor.  Although it was in round 7, not selecting the kicker from Florida was a head scratcher.  Jason Sanders connected on only 71% of his kicks.  Unless someone else comes along, this move may hinder our special teams.  All in all, I liked this draft.  I still wish they had addressed QB.  Taking one every year until you get one right should’ve been the approach.  I believe there are 4 starters (Fitzpatrick, Baker, Gesicki and Smythe) and solid contributions from Ballage.  The other guys will have to fight and claw to make an impact, but this was a great draft to changing the culture, as well as the depth of the franchise.

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