Dolphins Truth Grades Our 2014 Draft

There are several factors to consider when grading the Dolphins recent draft. The “experts” have given us a grade of a B or B-

Offensive lineman Billy Turner could be the surprise find in the 2014 NFL draft.

in most estimates. Dolphins fans in some surveys gave us a C. We at Dolphins Truth feel that a B is a fair grade.

Let’s take a brief look at each player:

Ja’Wuan James in the first round is a good, safe pick. We need linemen, Desperately. Some fans yelled and
whined that we could have traded down and drafted James later. Perhaps. Maybe. Or another team might have grabbed James, leaving us with nothing. You take the best guy for what position you need, and in this case, it was James. A fine pick. Grade: A

Jarvis Landry in the second round was our first head-scratcher. Pundits were praising his athleticism and ball-catching ability, and that is great. But the question is: Do we really need another wide receiver? And do we really need to spend a 2nd-round pick on one? Initially, our answer was no. But it raised some issues. Mike
Wallace and Brian Hartline are locks. Gibson will be pack to play the slot. That leaves Rishard Matthews as the 4th receiver, and a few other guys from the practice squad. While Matthews showed some promise last year, he dropped a huge pass in the last Jets game that pretty much cost us the playoffs. Perhaps Philbin has that in mind. But we suspect the main reason for drafting Landry is Bill
Lazor. We suspect that Lazor has a plan and that he convinced Philbin/Hickey. That could be good, exciting news.

We are so desperate for quality linemen, so there has to be some reason for drafting a player in a position where we didn’t need anyone, right? Then again, we did the same thing last year and drafted an unneeded DE in Dion Jordan, who promptly became a third-string benchwarmer.  Grade C+

Billy Turner in the 3rd round is a good pick, because we got back to filling our need: linemen. It’s a bit of a risk because of his college play. Why does Dennis Hickey think Turner will be a good pro, when he wasn’t even good enough to play at AAA College level? Time will tell. The bottom line is that we would rather draft an AA lineman who is needed than an AAA Wide Receiver that we don’t need. Grade: B+

Walt Aikens in Round 4 is a pick that shouldn’t be necessary, but it was. Choosing a DB became necessary because the other DBs (except for Grimes and Finnegan) just aren’t good enough. Will Davis, Jamar Taylor, and Don Jones showed little, if anything, last season. Not sure who’s to blame for all this wasted talent…is it Philbin’s fault for not developing them, or the Personnel Department’s fault for over-estimating their skill? You would think that if you pick 3 decent CBs, one of them has to turn out to be good, right? You would think so, but it wasn’t the case. And that forced us to grab a DB in the draft. Aikens looks like he could fill in well for the departed Nolan Carroll.
Grade: B+

Arthur Lynch in Round 5. Bye bye, Michael Egnew. Bye bye.  Grade: B

Jordan Tripp in Round 5. We feel the Dolphins “need” at LB was over-emphasized. Yes, Wheeler and Ellerby and
Misi did not excel last year, but we cut them some slack. They are fine players who could easily rebound in their
second year all together. Jordan Tripp has potential, but he is not a better LB, right now, than anyone we have
on the roster? Why draft a LB who isn’t better than any of your current guys?  Grade: D

Matt Hazel in Round 6 is another sure-handed WR who will not get the ball thrown to him if Tannehill is on his
back. Can he catch a ball better than Mike Wallace? Of course not. A 6th Round WR from a tiny college will not
make the difference on the Dolphins, unless he comes in and dominates and earns his keep. Does Hazel have the
goods? Time will tell.  Grade: C+

And finally, Terence Fede in the 7th round. Apparently, Hickey and Philbin feel that Cameron Wake and Olivier
Vernon and Jarred Odrick are not good enough, so they wasted a pick on someone at a position where we are already
strongest and with great depth. A wasted pick. Why not take a chance on some giant offensive lineman in Round 7?
Grade: F


We really wanted to give this draft an A, but the fact that Miami only targeted two offensive linemen and wasted a
pick on a DE who will be cut forces us to be objective.

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  1. Even though your overall grade for our draft is fair the Landry pick was needed because Binns, Gibson, and Hartline are all coming off injuries and there is no insurance that any or all of them will be ready to go by training camp let alone 100% by the time the season starts. If you recall last year we were short on receiver depth going into the season and when the injury bug struck Gibson we were patrolling the waiver wire for help. Plus you can never have too many receivers being that it’s a pass happy league these days. Grade B for this pick also. As far as the Jordan Tripp pick I find it hilarious that you say we didn’t need another linebacker when our run defense last year was horrible simply because our middle and weak side linebackers were late at diagnosing plays pre-snap and at the point of attack. Wheeler is also weak in pass coverage. Tripp had a hundred tackles for Montana last year and is the kind of instinctual linebacker you need as he is effective at stopping the run and also excels in covering backs and ends out of the backfield. Grade B for this pick too considering that Tripp was projected to go 3rd or 4th round initially. I don’t know much about Hazel but he also exceled at the small school level. As far as the 7th round pick, most of those guys won’t make the roster anyway so that pick is a pure luxury pick that a GM can take a flyer on at any position. So actually you shouldn’t even be counting a 7th rounder towards a draft grade. We also signed three offensive lineman in free agency so drafting two more is enough to provide good competition in camp and ensure that we are rebuilt on the line and deep enough at the positions. If you notice all the small schools guys were like All-Americans as well as team captains and mostly high-character types. After the more serious needs were filled Hickey opted for guys who were high-impact regardless of competition level as opposed to big school players who had had minimal impact in spite of being highly-recruited. Plus he chose several guys with a reputation for being leaders. He’s trying to move past the foolishness of the scandal caused by your boys Incognito and Martin by putting more leadership in the locker room. That’s why I think James was drafted were he was and we didn’t risk trading down. Good all-around draft that addresses needs. B++

  2. Author

    Well, DolphGang isn’t far off the mark. We’ll still go with a B, but we can respect DolphGang’s B++.

  3. I just had this idea. This article should be stuck somewhere near the top of the page no matter how old it gets. This way as the season progresses, we can constantly debate and reassess our thoughts from before in the comments. 😉

    1. Author

      Love your idea. Remind us in a month or so as we get ready to see these new guys in their first pre-season game.

  4. Honestly it’s very hard to grade this draft until guys hit training camp. I do think that it hints that the Dolphins want to improve in running the ball out of 3 wide sets and here is how:

    Landry is an upgrade in versatility to the slot position. Besides his ability to make tough grabs in traffic, he was used effectively as a motion man to make big blocks to spring the run game at LSU in 3 wide sets. I think that is why he will overtake Gibson as the slot WR.

    Turner played LT well for a small school guy but it was his run blocking that really stood out as he mauls players at the 2nd level. With Sualo-Filo already off the board, the Dolphins took a guy that could contribute to our run game immediately that can also pass protect well, especially when put in between Albert and Pouncey at LG. If he works out as planned he has the ability to be a stud LG who could play LT in a pinch.

    Juwuan James- rather than take a chance on drafting a LT and converting them to RT, the Dolphins took the most proven RT in the draft, especially in pass protection. Add the fact that Moreno is very good in pass protection and Shelly Smith (good run blocker, below average pass blocker) can play RG and get help when needed.

    The vision seems to be a pass first, 3 WR offense with the ability to gain big runs and screens when the defense adjust by blitzing or playing nickel and dime. If Tannehill is the real deal he should have a big season. If not, at least we know what to target in the next draft. Its a make or break deal for Philbin depending on our QB. Could be an A graded draft or a C depending on QB play.

  5. With Jordan getting suspended that Fede pick looks better. Reports are he looks good

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