MIAMI – Giving out instant draft grades is a silly exercise. If most of the people that analyzed the draft were so good at evaluating talent, they'd be making millions of dollars working in NFL front offices.
So let's do it anyway!
I give the Dolphins an A-minus for their 2017 draft. I know your first reaction may be something like "what a homer." And maybe you're right. But I feel as though the Dolphins were the beneficiaries of some good fortune and some solid scouting and made out quite well in this draft.
In the first round, the Fins chose Charles Harris, an explosive pass rusher out of Missouri. We almost always hear GM's say "this is the guy we wanted," but when Chris Grier said it immediately following the pick, I believe him.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald had already reported that Harris was one of two players the Fins had targeted at that spot (the other being Derek Barnett from Tennessee, who went 14th overall to Philadelphia). Grier said the Fins wanted Harris so badly, in fact, that they began ignoring late in the process so they didn't tip their hand to other teams. The Fins even went so far as to cancel Harris' predraft visit.
The Fins also got some local intel on Harris from Hurricanes Defensive Line coach Craig Kuligowski. Kuligowski coached Harris at Mizzou before joining UM last offseason. Harris was at his best under Kuligowski's teaching in 2015 when Mizzou ran more of an attacking-style defense.
Harris will need to get stronger to be successful against the run at the next level. But he will immediately improve the Fins pass rush as a rotational defensive end and is a perfect heir to take over for Cam Wake when he retires (if that ever actually happens).
The Fins nabbed Ohio State inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan in the second round. Perhaps they could've traded down and taken him later, but why risk it if he's your guy? And he was clearly the Dolphins' guy. McMillan is very instinctive and was a strong leader on a successful Ohio State defense. It'll be interesting to see if he ends up playing the middle linebacker spot or an outside linebacker spot both this year and in the future.
Miami grabbed Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley in the third round. Tankersley is tall and athletic, surprising many with a blistering 4.40 40-yard dash time at the combine despite standing 6'1''. The Fins love big corners and Tankersley certain fits the bill. He will need to avoid being so "handsy" in the NFL, as he was called for far too many pass interference penalties in college.
The Fins made a shrewd move to grab guard Isaac Asiata in the 5th round. Miami traded up twp spots to make sure they secured their man, in exchange for only dropping 10 spots at their next pick. Asiata is a "mauler," as Grier said, and will compete for a spot on the Fins' OL immediately.
The Fins added defensive tackles with their next two picks: Davon Godchaux out of LSU and Oklahoma State's Vincent Taylor. Miami ranked 30th out of 32 NFL teams against the run in 2016 and they clearly want Godchaux and Taylor to compete for spots in the rotation to help keep their linemen fresh late in games.
Finally, Miami drafted wide receiver Isaiah Ford out of Virginia Tech in the 7th round. Full disclosure: I'm biased here. I watched every game Ford played for three years. With that said, Ford was the steal of the draft. He fell to the 7th round because of underwhelming testing numbers at the combine (he only ran 4.61 40-yard dash), but turn on the game film and any concerns about speed go away. Ford knows how to play the receiver position. He knows how to manipulate coverage, he has great hands and he runs crisp routes. The Fins are currently set at their top 3 WR spots, but Ford will immediately compete for playing time behind them.
Mike Tannenbaum says you can't really evaluate a draft for at least three years. And he's right. But this way-too-early draft for the Fins seems to have come up aces.