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Dolphins Earn an ‘C+’ for Their Draft According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

The draft grades from ‘Draft Guru’ Mel Kiper Jr. are out, and one team that got an average grade is that of the Dolphins, who according to Kiper got an ‘C+’ for their collection of players over the two days.

Here’s what he had to say:

This has been an interesting offseason of change for the Dolphins, who have parted ways with several important players, including Ndamukong Suh, Mike Pouncey, Jarvis Landry, Jay Cutler and Julius Thomas. Yes, they’ve added Robert Quinn, Josh Sitton, Danny Amendola, Frank Gore and Albert Wilson, but there are still some sizable holes on the roster. I hear “culture” blamed, but at some point you have to be accountable for what’s on the field. I put the entire offensive line on my list of questions because no spot outside left tackle Laremy Tunsil should be set, and they needed depth at several other positions.

Snagging Minkah Fitzpatrick at No. 11 is a great value. I thought he was a top-five player in this class, but teams got a little scared because he doesn’t have a true position. He’s a little bit of a tweener who doesn’t have true safety measurables. The Dolphins just need to get him on the field. This is one of Nick Saban’s favorite players ever. Mike Gesicki (pick 42) is going to slot straight into Thomas’ spot, but he’s not going to block anybody. He’s a slot receiver with a big — and super athletic — frame, and he has good body control.

Jerome Baker (73) is a true cover linebacker with range who will be a core special-teamer and help out on third downs. As McShay pointed out, the defense has been shredded by tight ends, and Fitzpatrick and Baker help. Durham Smythe (123) is a better blocker than receiver. Kalen Ballage (131) is the guy to watch in this class. Surely Adam Gase doesn’t expect to play Gore on every down, and Ballage caught 82 passes in his career.

The one big question coming out of this draft: where was the quarterback? Miami is really going to go into the 2018 season with Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler as its top two QBs. I can’t give a “B” here.

Round/Pick Name Pos College
1/11 Minkah Fitzpatrick S ALABAMA
2/42 Mike Gesicki TE PENN STATE
3/73 Jerome Baker OLB OHIO STATE
4/123 Durham Smythe TE NOTRE DAME
4/131 Kalen Ballage RB ARIZONA STATE
6/209 Cornell Armstrong CB SOUTHERN MISS
7/227 Quentin Poling ILB OHIO
7/229 Jason Sanders K NEW MEXICO

Dolphins Snag Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick with the 11th Pick in the 2018 NFL Draft

The Dolphins got a player they probably never felt would be there at 11 on Thursday night, grabbing Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick with their first pick of the NFL Draft.

Dolphins Tell Ryan Tannehill He’s Their Starter at QB in 2018

The Dolphins haven’t ruled out trading up tonight if a QB slides in tonight’s NFL Draft, but they’ve also made clear to Ryan Tannehill that no matter what, he’s their starter for 2018, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports.

That news basically means that if they do draft a QB at some point in the first few rounds, he will likely sit back and watch what Tannehill does for at least the first season.

Dolphins Pick Up Fifth-Year Option on Wide Out DeVante Parker

The Dolphins have picked up the fifth-year option for wide receiver DeVante Parker, Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

It’s a move that’s mildly surprising considering Parker, the 2015 first-round pick, has been inconsistent over his previous three seasons.

Parker, who will earn about $9.3 million for the 2019 season, has 139 receptions for 1,908 yards and eight touchdowns for his career. He totaled 57 receptions for 670 yards and one touchdown last season.

Parker, tremendously talented but afflicted by injury and professionalism issues, has been somewhat of an enigma with Miami. Prior to last season former offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen and wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson both predicted big things for Parker, including a Pro Bowl appearance.

But Parker didn’t deliver, instead taking a backseat to fellow wide receivers Jarvis Landry, who was traded to Cleveland recently, and Kenny Stills. Landry had a career-best and league-leading 112 receptions while Stills had 58 receptions for 847 yards and six touchdowns, each registering as the second-best totals of his five-year career.

Dolphins One of Three Teams Who Have Reportedly Contacted Denver About the 5th Overall Pick

All the predictable suspects have called the Broncos about trading into their No. 5 overall slot in the NFL Draft, Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports.

The Miami Dolphins, who have the No. 11 pick, have called. The Buffalo Bills, who have the No. 12 selection, have checked in. The Arizona Cardinals, who have the No. 15 pick, have phoned.

All three teams need a quarterback and they know the Broncos, with their No. 5 draft selection, may well be in a position to have the last of the Big 4 quarterbacks available.

The Big 4 QBs: Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen. Perhaps in that order, perhaps not.

Dolphins Could Be Thinking Kicker in Upcoming NFL Draft; Workout Auburn Kicker Daniel Carlson

Last season Cody Parkey was the kicker for the Dolphins, hitting on 21-of-23 field goals, and making 26-of-29 extra points for a team which went 6-10 for Adam Gase.

Kicker is a position the team might want to take a long look at in the upcoming NFL Draft, and one player that they have already had their eyes on is Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson.

A kicker is a player that can make or break your roster, and when placing bets at netbet.co.uk you always have to take in account a solid placekicker that can win or lose you games.

That brings us to Carlson, a player who with Auburn was very good at clutch kicks when the games were on the line. Dolphins special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi went to have a workout with the draft prospect, and according to the Miami Herald, the kicker performed very well.

How high up in terms of kicker is Carlson? Most draft boards have him along with Florida’s Eddy Pineiro, and it would benefit the Dolphins to have both of them high on their list to fill the position.

Carlson had an outstanding career for Auburn, going 23-of-27 on field goals in 2015 and 28-of-32 in 2016. He struggled some last season, as he missed eight field goals, going 23-for-31.

From 50 plus yards out Carlson was for 4-for-8, but in his college career he made 13 field goals from past 50 yards, something that has to be appealing for the Dolphins if they are going to make the move and draft the kicker.

Carlson was the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year and first-team all-conference selection in 2016 and 2017, and league’s leading scorer in both seasons. He garnered Lou Groza Award finalist honors for the third straight year. He was a second-team Academic All-American as a junior.

According to NFL’s Scouting Profile, Carlson “Has ideal size. Good leg strength making 13 career field goals of 50-plus yards at a clip of 62 percent. Good approach speed with desired get-off speed to kick. Made 90 percent of his kicks from 39 yards out and under. Made 89.7 percent of his career kicks on the road. High touchback rate on kickoffs. Had eight punts as a freshman and might be able to get you out of the game at that position if needed.”

When it comes to Pineiro, he was 17-of-18 on field goals last season, and he hit two field goals from 50 plus yards, another guy that will have the Dolphins eye come draft night.

Adam Gase Says Dolphins Housecleaning Was Decided Upon After Buffalo Loss

Thursday morning, coach Adam Gase went after effort, blasting some of his players for going through the motions in a 24-16 loss at Buffalo that essentially ended the slim hopes this team had of turning around its season, Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post reports.

The Dolphins were coming off a resounding 27-20 upset of New England when they traveled to upstate New York and were flattened by the Bills, triggering a three-game losing streak as a 6-10 season ground to a halt.

“That game at Buffalo just seemed like a 20-hour game,” Gase said on Joe Rose’s show on WQAM-560AM. “I was just waiting for us to turn the corner and really get going and nothing was working for us. There was no swagger, no attitude, and it was disappointing to see. It wasn’t everybody. You turn on that tape, there are guys that stand out noticeably as far as their effort and their play that was extremely high, and they were giving everything they had. We just did not have enough guys doing that.

“That’s why we felt like we needed to change some things around.”

It was a stinging swipe by Gase, the likes of which we hadn’t heard since he blasted players’ study habits following the 40-0 shellacking at Baltimore in October.

Since Gase did not mention names, it’s natural to wonder whom he was criticizing.

Dolphins Gab 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: USC QB Sam Darnold

The hype for USC quarterback Sam Darnold has b3en growing by leaps and bounds the last few weeks, to the point where many feel he’s going to be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft in April.

At 6-4, 220 pounds, he’s got the look of a player who with some time learning could be a very good to excellent quarterback in the NFL, but time will tell when he might get that chance.

In his final season at USC, Darnold threw for 4143 yards, with 26 touchdowns to go along with 13 picks. This after throwing 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions the season before.

Here’s a look at Darnold and what various places are saying about him in our latest scouting report.

Walter Football

Strengths:
Naturally accurate passer
Fits passes into tight windows
Excellnt ball placement
Throws a catchable ball
Pocket presence
Has poise
Advanced anticipation; instinctive thrower
Throws with good timing
Can accelerate his throwing motion
Quality arm strength
Pushed team to wins
Good internal clock
Mobility
Throws very well on the run
Throws accurately off platform
Displays some feel in the pocket
Not easy to sack
Can hurt defenses on the ground
Can make all the throws required
Can pick up yards on the ground
Threads passes into tight windows

Weaknesses:
Ball security
Too many interceptions
Too many fumbles
Had some confidence issues in 2017
Doesn’t secure the ball well when getting sacked
Good enough not doesn’t have elite arm strength
Throwing mechanics are a bit unorthodox
Needs to start games faster

Summary: Darnold took college football by storm during the 2016 season, and even though he wasn’t eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft, the redshirt freshman had scouts buzzing about his pro potential. After a 1-2 start to the 2016 season for USC, Darnold was made the starting quarterback. For his debut season, he was an extremely efficient passer who led the Trojans to a 10-3 record. Darnold lost his first-ever start against a good Utah team, but after that he led his team to ripping off a nine-game win streak to close out the year, including impressive wins over Colorado, Washington, and a comeback Rose Bowl win over Penn State. Darnold completed 67 percent of his passes in 2016 for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The 2017 season was more of a mixed bag for Darnold. The redshirt sophomore completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,143 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He had an up-and-down season with too many turnovers – fumbles were a particular issue beyond the interceptions. Darnold also made some beautiful anticipatory throws with excellent accuracy in just about every game.

There is a lot to like about Darnold as a future starter in the NFL. First and foremost, he is an accurate pocket passer who throws with good ball placement and is very precise in the short to intermediate part of the field. Darnold has excellent anticipation to know when and where receivers are going open. With his feel and timing, Darnold hits receivers on the run, leading them to picking up yards after the catch. He also regularly will throw receivers open and help them to find space to beat tight coverage. Darnold is a natural rhythm thrower who would fit best in a West Coast system to maximize his ability to throw accurately in the short to intermediate part of the field. He is a smooth precision passer who can be deadly when he gets into a good groove.

Darnold is comfortable in the pocket, but also has the ability to move around to buy time. While he is not a running quarterback, he is functional to avoid sacks and will move around to help his offensive line and receivers. Darnold made a number of really nice plays during the past two years when things went off script as he got creative to move the ball for his offense. Routinely, Darnold would buy time with his feet and then make an accurate throw downfield with the rush closing in on him.

The Drafster

In my eyes, Sam Darnold is a very odd prospect. Talked about as a number 1 overall draft pick. Talked about as the best Quarterback coming out of college this year. However, I am not seeing any of this. When I watch Darnold, I see one of the most streaky Quarterback play I think I have seen in awhile. At time looks very hesitant to throw, missing an opportunity. Other times he looks too eager and makes a bad decision. He has his good moments, but then a play later he will have a combination of bad plays. Moving in the pocket too early and too often, inconsistent accuracy, and staring down a play for too long are major turn offs to me.

The first thing I notice about Darnold when watching him is that he seems to ignore his dump off routes. He seems so locked in on making a big play, he forgets about the guys that are 5 yards away from him. I can respect wanting to make a big play for the team, but after staring downfield for eternity it’s time to hit your shallow routes. At least LOOK at them to see if they are open. There is no shame in taking an easy three to five yards. Not every throw has to get the crowd on their feet.

The second thing I notice is how much he likes to move around in the pocket. And that is just not his style. I get running to avoid a sack, but too many times I saw him run with a clean pocket. Multiple times he would take off to the outskirts of the pocket, making it easier for defenders to get off their block. He seems to just panic unless he has the cleanest pocket one could possibly have. If he would stand tall in the pocket and deliver, his accuracy issues would go down as well. His deep balls are inconsistent, and the times he does go to dump it off, those are not always pretty either. His best throws come from his 10-15 yarders. Which always happen to be when he stands his ground.

I will say though, 4th quarter Sam Darnold seems to be a better player than in other quarters. He reads the field better, has better ball placement, and doesn’t try to run around as much. It just seems something clicks a bit better for him during the 4th. Like he has calmed down. He just needs to be able to play similar to that all game if he is gonna be the number 1 overall pick this upcoming draft.

I think Darnold has a lot to work on. Personally there are 4 other Quarterbacks I would take before drafting him. He does good things, unfortunately, his good things just are not consistent enough and are overshadowed by his flaws. I believe if he can work on sitting in the pocket longer instead of trying to escape right away (while not holding the ball for too long), a lot of his issues will start fading. I think Darnold will have a real rough start to his career, but if keeps his confidence and keeps fixing his game, it will work out for him in the long run.

Cover 1 Scouting Report

Strengths:

Darnold’s entire game is predicated upon his ability to create. Darnold is an athletic player; he is able to pull the ball down and gain chunks of yardage with his legs. His agility and change of direction catch many defenders off guard.

That is why offensive coordinator Tee Martin built an offense that maximized his legs. USC ran a heavy dose of run pass options (RPOs), a concept that gave Darnold many options pre- and post-snap, and he absolutely flourished. On a majority of their plays, Darnold had the ability to give the ball to star running back Ronald Jones, keep it as a runner, or throw it to one of his many weapons outside. This multi-dimensional structure of a play was obviously super productive. His decision making was very good all season, especially on these RPOs. He can process the coverage, find the conflict defender, and distribute the ball quickly.

But what is often overlooked is the accuracy and velocity needed on these kinds of concepts. At times, after the mesh with the running back or play fake, the passing lane is cluttered with defenders coming downhill to defend what they perceive to be a run. Once they realize that it is a pass, they immediately try to get their hands up in the passing lanes. Darnold makes these throws look easy. Standing at 6’4? and 220 pounds, he is able to place the ball in optimal locations, allowing his weapons to make plays.

At the next level, Darnold is going to make his money in the short area. While his elongated release and sloppy footwork will cause issues at times, something I will cover later, it isn’t an issue from 0-9 yards. That bodes well for Sam, because that is where football is won and lost on Sundays. His mechanics aren’t an issue because he is throwing in rhythm and not having to worry about mechanics.

According to SportsInfo Solutions (SIS), Darnold’s short game is phenomenal. From 0-9 yards, he had the highest completion percentage (75.4%), the 4th-most passing yards (1,534), 12th-most touchdowns (10), the 3rd-highest yards per attempt (7.6), and the 5th-highest rating (107.2).

Weaknesses:

As productive as Darnold was over his 27 games at USC, he has some serious flaws that need to be addressed, the first of which is turnovers. Darnold threw 22 interceptions over two years and added another 20 fumbles. This lack of ball security will get you benched quickly.

While the offense surrendered an average of 2.14 sacks a game and a grand total of 30 sacks in 2017, he admitted that he was pushing it too much.

Many of his turnovers are linked to his mechanics. Darnold has some of the worst mechanics I have ever seen from a quarterback. Let’s start with his delivery. Typically, a quarterback with an elongated delivery like Darnold’s will struggle at the next level. From the time he begins his delivery to the time of release is often the difference between a tight window completion and an interception. Defensive backs are just too good on Sundays. If he is slightly late anticipating a throw and needs to drive a pass, the split second longer that it takes to release the ball due to his delivery could lead to an interception, much like it did versus Washington State. The safety bails post-snap, baiting Darnold to throw the speed out as he gets the 1-on-1 coverage. The defensive back reads the route, breaks, and picks him off.

What Matt Miller says about Darnold – Ranking him as the #1 QB on the board

1. Sam Darnold, USC

A two-year starter at USC, Sam Darnold is widely praised for his toughness, football IQ and leadership. A coach with the Trojans told me Darnold only cares about football and not the benefits of being a star quarterback. He did turn the ball over 22 times in 2017, which should at a minimum send scouts back to the tape to find the context of each turnover. But Darnold’s tangible and intangible traits are tops in the class.

Scout’s Quote: “Crystal clean off the field. Smart, poised, tough, accurate. He might be the only one that could work in Cleveland because he won’t let the pressure go to his head.”

Coach’s Quote: “The release and turnovers bother me, but he has the makeup to be good. He’s better than [Mitch] Trubisky was last year but he’s not on the level of [Carson] Wentz or Jared [Goff].”

Scout’s Comparison: Tony Romo, retired

Darnold impressed at his Pro Day, throwing in the rain back on March 21st