They say hindsight is 20/20, but for the Miami Dolphins, in trading their first-round pick as part of a package for star receiver Tyreek Hill, the foresight may have been just as clear.
If the Dolphins, before trading for Hill, had their eyes set on a receiver with that selection they previously held at No. 29, many of the top names would’ve been gone anyway. Six wide receivers were taken before that pick — USC’s Drake London, Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, Alabama’s Jameson Williams, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks and Penn State’s Jahan Dotson.
If the trade never would have been made, the receiver options remaining at 29 would’ve been led by North Dakota State’s Christian Watson and Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore. Prospects with potential, sure, but no match for the certainty that Hill presents as a Pro Bowl selection in all six of his NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s unfair to compare any of those kids to Tyreek’s skillset coming out,” Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said at last week’s pre-draft press conference. “He’s such a unique talent.”
All that to say, the Dolphins didn’t miss much with that top pick that was shipped to Kansas City for Hill, making the deal look even sweeter.
Now, there’s more waiting to be done when the draft continues with the second round at 7 pm on Friday night. Along with that first-rounder that originally belonged to the San Francisco 49ers, the Dolphins’ second-round pick, No. 50 overall, was also given up to the Chiefs, as well as a fourth-rounder this year, plus fourth- and sixth-round selections next year.
Miami isn’t slated to draft until No. 102, a compensatory pick at the end of the third round from the 49ers.
If the Dolphins don’t want to wait that deep into Friday night to add a rookie, they could always trade up to get into the second round if a prospect they grew enamored with in the pre-draft process slips. There were plenty of formidable players that fell out of Thursday night’s first round.
Take Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean, for one. A leader on the Bulldogs’ national championship-winning defense who possesses sideline-to-sideline speed, inside linebacker remains a position the Dolphins figure to target. The knock on Dean is that he is undersized (5-11, 229) and he may struggle to fight off blocks in the NFL, which is probably why he slipped out of the first round.
A trade up could be accomplished by sending that 102nd pick and some of next year’s draft capital, of which the Dolphins possess five picks in the first three rounds with two in the first round and two in the third. To get into range for someone like Dean, that second-rounder next year will probably be necessary, but at least Miami can keep its two first-rounders in 2023 at this point.
If the Dolphins want a linebacker that is more likely to remain available by their next selection, Dean’s Georgia teammate, Channing Tindall, is a possibility. Keep an eye on prospects like Wyoming’s Chad Muma or Penn State’s Brandon Smith.
With Miami essentially bringing back its entire defense, including four linebackers they re-signed amid their impending free agency, the Dolphins could look at centers available late in the third round. Grier said he liked the offensive line class.
“It’s a pretty good offensive line group,” Grier said last week. “I think there’s some talent all the way through from the tackles, the guards, centers, all the way in through the mid rounds. I think you can find some good quality players.”
Arizona State’s Dohnovan West, Kentucky’s Luke Fortner, Wake Forest’s Zach Tom and Virginia Tech’s Brock Hoffman are among centers Miami could look at to insert into the team’s new outside-zone blocking scheme to give Michael Deiter competition. Boston College center Alec Lindstrom was coached at BC by new Dolphins offensive line coach Matt Applebaum.
Grier also noted pass rushers in this draft when he spoke, so some mid-round edge defenders are a possibility. There’s a fine local product in Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto, who is a St. Thomas Aquinas graduate, that is projected to be around in the third.
The Dolphins already added running backs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert to the backfield that returns Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed. No tailbacks were taken in the first round, as expected, so all remain available entering Friday. Miami is unlikely to be in the mix for, say, Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker or Iowa State’s Breece Hall, but what if former Miami Central High standout James Cook, the Georgia alum who is Dalvin Cook’s younger brother, is available?
Any needs not addressed on Friday could still be tapped into on Saturday in Rounds 4-7. The Dolphins have a fourth-round pick and then have two seventh-rounders.
Aside from wide receivers, what else could the Dolphins have picked up at No. 29 had they not traded the choice away?
The other likelihood early in the draft process was an offensive lineman, any offensive lineman. Following free-agent pickups of top left tackle Terron Armstead from the New Orleans Saints and former Dallas Cowboys guard Connor Williams in March, that search appeared likely to wind down to the center position. Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum, the top center prospect in the draft, was selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the 25th pick.
Before the Armstead acquisition, tackles like Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann and Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele were names linked to the Dolphins in early mock drafts. Uneven Senior Bowl showingshowever, may have began their fall out of the first round that came to fruition on Thursday night.