2018 NFL Draft: Mel Kiper selects a safety for Miami Dolphins in three-round mock

Derwin James of the Florida State Seminoles reacts after a play against the Mississippi Rebels during the Camping World Kickoff in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Safety? We’re talking about a safety?

With the understanding that the well-compensated safety duo of Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald did not translate as well to the regular season as it did the practice fields, the Miami Dolphins have so many needs more pressing than safety.

With the understanding that Miami would really love to add an excellent young athlete who can play deep and in the box and cover tight ends and blitz the quarterback, there seem to be so many gaping holes that just need to be addressed.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper went with a very good player — safety Derwin James of Florida State — with the 11th pick in his three-round mock draft. And this is not to speak a bad word about James, but — safety?

“While Miami has filled a few roster holes, some remain, including both linebacker spots, as well as at offensive guard and safety,” Kiper wrote.

Well, Miami does have two starting linebackers returning, in Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso. And Miami has two players who appear capable of playing safety in the NFL. And three players who have started at guard in the NFL.

So it’s one thing to say that James’ talent is just too good to pass up and that defensive coordinator Matt Burke will find an artful way to turn a puzzle into a Picasso. It is true that playing McDonald in more of a hybrid role would give Burke a unique flexibility.

But personally, I would be more likely to buy in on this strategy if Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick surprisingly fell to Miami. Fitzpatrick has played the unique “Star” position at Alabama and he is likely to be a star in the NFL, at corner, safety, or both.

What might worry me about the James pick is that, according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, James’ weakness is that he can make slow reads and thus react slowly. His scouting report indicates James also needs better anticipation in coverage. Miami really needs to add an athletic linebacker (or hybrid safety) who is very good in coverage.

According to James’ YouTube highlight video, he is the “hardest hitting safety in the ACC.” Miami has hard-hitting safeties.

In Kiper’s draft, in which he makes all the picks he thinks would be best for each club, Miami would pass on Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, son of former Dolphins Ferrell Edmunds. This would be a mistake. Tremaine Edmunds is going to be an NFL stud.

Kiper’s draft doesn’t really lay out great for Miami as some players of interest are off the board: Josh Allen (1), Josh Rosen (3), Baker Mayfield (5) and Roquan Smith (9). Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea would also have to be considered in that spot, if available.

In the second and third rounds, Kiper goes for Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington and Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker.

Wide receiver is not a position of need. Washington is only 5-foot-11 and has top-end speed but is also built like a running back. It would be a luxury pick, considering the presence of Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant.

In Kiper’s draft, Miami passes on Georgia running back Sony Michel of Plantation. Running back is a greater need and we think Michel would be a much more logical selection. Other players Kiper passes on as pseudo-Dolphins general manager: tackle Brian O’Neill, defensive tackle Harrison Phillips and tight end Mike Gesicki.

Baker, the Ohio State linebacker, is an intriguing prospect, and it would be appealing to reunite him with his former teammate, McMillan. Baker is “fluid and fast” and “rangy” and can “handle premium athletes in space,” according to NFL.com’s Zierlein.

That works for the Daily Dolphin. We would endorse this pick.

Miami has so many needs to fill on draft day. The balance between drafting for need or talent, and adding a player who is more likely to help right away as opposed to develop, is one of the most fascinating aspects of the draft.

The big show begins in about two weeks, on the night of Thursday, April 26.

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