2018 NFL Mock Draft: Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser | Version 2.0

Any team looking for linebacker help at the top of the NFL Draft will look at Tremaine Edmunds. (Getty Images)

With the bulk of free agency done, the next step around the NFL is attacking needs in next month’s draft.

Some of those priorities have changed based on player movement over the past few weeks, and that could prompt more picks being traded. Based on the current draft order, here’s where it looks like everyone is headed:

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern Cal
The top four quarterbacks keep shifting without a clear-cut leader of the group, but Darnold looks like the best choice for the Browns as of now.

2. New York Giants: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Allen’s got the biggest arm of this year’s quarterbacks, and the Giants can’t pass him up with Eli Manning being 37.

3. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Jets didn’t give up three second-round picks to take a non-quarterback here. If it’s Mayfield or Rosen, look for them to bite on Mayfield’s electric playmaking.

4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
There’s always a chance the Giants or Jets could become infatuated with Barkley and believe him to be an immediate game-changer, but if not, the Browns will scoop him up.

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
It’s not that surprising to see four of the top five teams needing a quarterback. That’s why they’re in this position.

6. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
The Colts are going to look like geniuses. They got great value from the Jets to switch spots and they’ll still end up getting the guy they wanted.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
Fitzpatrick is hands down the best defensive back in this year’s class, and the Buccaneers need help in the secondary. Perfect match.

8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Bears will be tempted to jump on wide receiver Calvin Ridley here, but Nelson will be a big help on their offensive line for years to come.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Jimmy Garoppolo is going to love this pick. The 49ers need weapons, and this is an explosive threat on the outside.

10. Oakland Raiders: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
As Jon Gruden revamps the Raiders, he’ll be happy to see the best left tackle in the draft fall to him at No. 10.

11. Miami Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
With the best quarterbacks out of the question, the Dolphins would be smart to trade down. If they don’t, bringing in a top-tier linebacker is the best way to help themselves.

12. Buffalo Bills: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Miller would be an immediate starter for the Bills, who just traded left tackle Cordy Glenn.

13. Washington Redskins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Washington’s defense isn’t good enough to win as is, but Smith would be a big boost in the middle.

14. Green Bay Packers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Green Bay always needs cornerback help and it’ll spend its top pick on one for the second straight year. Maybe that’ll fix the problem.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Cardinals have a ton of needs, including quarterback, but getting someone as talented as Vea this late in the first round is big.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Kirk has the chance to be the outstanding slot receiver the Ravens need after they weren’t able to swing a deal for Jarvis Landry.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Payne would join a Chargers defensive line that already has Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram coming off the edges.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Richard Sherman will be watching this pick closely. Seattle needs to come up big with his replacement.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio
It’d be great fortune for the Cowboys if Davenport lasts this long in the draft, and their pass defense could use the help.

20. Detroit Lions: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
Detroit will be thinking defense-first with new coach Matt Patricia, and he gets the chance to groom a quality pass rusher.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
With offensive tackle addressed via the trade with Buffalo, the Bengals get secondary depth by taking Hughs.

22. Buffalo Bills: Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist
The Bills could consider Mason Rudolph or Lamar Jackson here, but the consensus is that would be a big reach.

23. Los Angeles Rams: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Evans would provide the Rams a big hitter in the middle of their defense as they try to take the next step.

24. Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez, G, Texas-El Paso
Anything this team can do to fortify its offensive line gives it a better chance of contending in 2018. The Panthers are chasing the Eagles, Saints and Vikings, at minimum.

25. Tennessee Titans: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Williams is a good fit for the Titans because he’s capable of playing tackle or guard for them this season. He’s probably a tackle long-term.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
This is roughly the range where the top tight ends should start going, and Goedert is the best of the bunch.

27. New Orleans Saints: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Unless they sign former Dolphin Ndamukong Suh, the Saints will like getting Bryan in this spot.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Cornerback isn’t a pressing need for the Steelers, but this part of the draft is about taking the best available talent.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
With their quarterback plans firmed up, the Jaguars bring home Jacksonville product Hurst as a burly tight end.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
This team already has most of what it needs to compete for a spot in next year’s Super Bowl, and adding a corner is prudent.

31.  New England Patriots: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The Patriots need to find the next Tom Brady, even if they don’t need him right away. Rudolph would be fortunate to land in this situation.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
This is the best talent still on the board, and a team like the Eagles won’t feel pressured into trying to fill starting lineup holes via the draft.

[New Dolphins WR Albert Wilson finally starting from “front of the pack”]

[Former all-pro RB DeMarco Murray to visit Miami Dolphins]

[Column: Ex-Dolphin Mike Pouncey was loyal to the end]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL Draft: Teams line up for top QBs, forcing Dolphins to shift focus

Lamar Jackson is a more realistic option for the Dolphins than the top four prospects. (Getty Images)

MIAMI GARDENS—It doesn’t matter which of the top quarterbacks the Dolphins like in this year’s NFL Draft if none of them are still around when it’s their turn to pick.

There was already some uncertainty about whether any of the big four would last long enough for Miami to get one at No. 11, and the past week has only made things worse. None of the teams ahead of the Dolphins landed coveted free agent Kirk Cousins, who signed a massive contract with the Vikings, and the Jets cemented their chances by trading with the Colts to move from sixth to third.

That deal makes it highly likely that four quarterbacks—Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield—will go in the first five picks. The Browns go first and fourth, the Giants are second, followed by the Jets and the No. 5 selection belongs to Denver.

All four of those teams badly need a quarterback, and unless one of them suddenly goes a different direction or one of those draftees slides, the only opening for Miami to get in the game is to make an offer for one of Cleveland’s picks. Had the Jets or Broncos signed Cousins and taken themselves out of the running, it would’ve increased the Dolphins’ overall chances and left them a second option of trading up to Indianapolis’ spot.

It cost the Jets three second-round picks to jump three spots, which puts the market price for a theoretical leap from 11th to fourth way out of the Dolphins’ reach. The Browns could essentially hold an auction, too, if the quarterback-deficient Bills (No. 12) and Cardinals (No. 15) showed interest.

If the Giants, Jets or Broncos becomes so enamored with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, for example, it’s possible one of the quarterbacks would hang around until No. 11. The teams picking at Nos. 6-10 all have young quarterbacks and are not thought to be looking for one in the first round this year.

However, Buffalo and Arizona would still be a threat to leapfrog the Dolphins in a trade.

With quarterback likely doubtful in the first round now, the Dolphins’ first-round interests could spin off in a variety of directions. If they can get an elite wide receiver like Calvin Ridley, they can move on from DeVante Parker and dodge his $10.9 team option for 2019, and it’d be hard to turn down a top-notch lineman like Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson or Mike McGlinchey.

There’s also a need a linebacker, where Miami could consider Roquan Smith from Georgia or Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds.

Tight end has been a glaring need on the Dolphins’ roster for years, and it’s long past time to draft one high. They’re in the awkward position, though, of No. 11 being too early to reach for one in this class but their second-round pick at No. 42 being too late to have first choice.

One ideal scenario for the Dolphins would be trading back into the 20s, which probably allow them to choose between Dallas Goedert and Hayden Hurst.

Miami can’t abandon drafting a quarterback altogether, and waiting until the late rounds to take a flyer on somebody isn’t good enough considering the team’s current situation at the position.

The Dolphins have Ryan Tannehill under contract for three seasons, making this the opportune time to bring in a player who could develop behind him and eventually replace him. If that prospect doesn’t develop as planned, Miami can try again in the 2020 draft.

But even if the team doesn’t feel the need to plan ahead for potentially moving on from Tannehill, it can’t allow itself to endure a repeat of last summer’s situation. When Tannehill went down in training camp, the only options were 33-year-old Matt Moore, completely unproven David Fales and practice squad player Brandon Doughty.

Adam Gase didn’t feel great about plowing ahead with Moore as his starter, so the team regrettably spent $10 million to lure Jay Cutler out of retirement.

“I think it’s really hard for quarterbacks to stay healthy for 16 games,” Gase said at the NFL Combine. “It’s a physical game. These guys are taking some shots, and a lot of times they don’t see them coming and that’s when the injuries occur. If we can get into a situation where we have two guys that we feel confident about, that’s going to benefit us.”

It’s especially a concern with Tannehill, who hasn’t played since December 2016 and has gone through two knee rehabilitations in the past year or so. Unless the Dolphins are fine with the idea of Fales, who re-signed last week, as their backup, they need to address the position early in the draft.

The next tier of quarterback prospects is highlighted by 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, who played at Boynton Beach High School before starring at Louisville. He’s got mobility, which Gase believes is a necessity, but his throwing mechanics need significant work.

Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph is another impressive passer and he might be a little more NFL-ready than Jackson. Rudolph is 6-foot-5, 235 pounds with good pocket presence and a quick release.

Rudolph and Jackson seem likely to be on the board when the Dolphins pick at 42nd. If they wait longer than that to secure a contingency plan at the most important position on the field, both now and for the future, they’re taking a big risk.

[New Dolphins WR Albert Wilson finally starting from “front of the pack”]

[Former all-pro RB DeMarco Murray to visit Miami Dolphins]

[Column: Ex-Dolphin Mike Pouncey was loyal to the end]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL Draft: UCLA’s Josh Rosen has talent, but personality draws questions

It’s possible Josh Rosen will still be around at No. 11. (Getty Images)

The critics have found plenty to nitpick about UCLA’s Josh Rosen, who stands as one of the top four quarterbacks in this year’s NFL Draft class.

He’s too mild-mannered.

He’s highly intelligent, which ESPN’s Trent Dilfer referred to as “almost a curse for him.”

He comes from money.

He used to play tennis. Somehow that’s a negative even though no one can explain why.

It seems like he doesn’t love football enough. Rosen’s really heard enough of that one.

“If we didn’t like football, no matter how talented we are, we wouldn’t be in the position that we all are in,” he said at the NFL Combine. “I love football with all of my heart and soul. If I didn’t, I just don’t think I would’ve been able to make it through the grind of college.

“Football is an unbelievable team sport, and that’s what’s so cool about it is that I’m not playing exclusively for my own passions, I’m playing for all of my teammates. It’s cool when you can throw a touchdown at the Rose Bowl and turn to the sideline and see 120 of your best friends jump in joy… You’re playing for them.”

Surely some teams still aren’t convinced, but it’s hard to deny all that Rosen offers as the future of a franchise. If he’s available when the Dolphins pick at No. 11, he’s going to be tough to bypass.

At one point, he was touted as a candidate to go No. 1 overall to the Browns, but that projection has faded thanks in part to a report that he didn’t want to play for Cleveland (Rosen denied that) and the rise of Allen and Darnold. ESPN Todd McShay currently has him going 15th to Arizona, with the Dolphins opting for Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield instead.

Rosen threw 59 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions in three seasons for the Bruins, completing 60.9 percent of his passes and averaging 311.3 yards per game. He’s got ideal size at 6-foot-4, 226 pounds, and his mechanics are well-polished. He’s got the intelligence and skill to make him arguably more suited to start right away than any of the other prospects at his position.

Miami needs a quarterback like that to serve as Ryan Tannehill’s backup this year and work toward challenging him for the starting job over the next few seasons.

Rosen didn’t seem like he was sweating about whether he impressed the Dolphins or any other team in Indianapolis. In his mind, what he did on the field should speak for itself.

“I think I’m the best quarterback here,” he said. “I think I can diagnose defenses and put the ball where it needs to be and make quick decisions.”

Some teams will view him as having exactly the kind of levelheaded approach necessary to play quarterback in the NFL, while others will see his demeanor as unenthusiastic.

For his part, Rosen accepts that coaches will have different interpretations of his personality and doesn’t intend to contort it to be what he thinks they want to hear. If a team thinks the way he handles himself doesn’t fit its locker room or doesn’t like that he’s “not really a big rah-rah guy,” he understands them passing on him.

“That’s for the teams to decide because teams are looking for different kinds of personalities and all different kinds of guys,” he said. “I’m not gonna present a fake image of myself… You have to be yourself, you have to be authentic and you have to show that you’ve learned and grown over the years.

“I’m trying to show who I really am, not who I’m trying to be. I want them to draft me. I don’t want them to draft someone they think they’re getting and then not get that guy. I think that’s also what your teammates want.”

[Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says he won’t require players to stand for national anthem]

[A look at 2018 NFL Draft prospect Roquan Smith]

[Former Dolphins sweat out Jarvis Landry contract drama]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL Draft: ESPN’s Todd McShay breaks down top quarterbacks

Josh Allen is gaining traction. (Getty Images)

The pecking order among the quarterbacks in this year’s NFL Draft is taking shape. Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield have all firmly established themselves as first-round picks, and Lamar Jackson and Luke Falk are trying to break into that tier.

At the very top, it looks like Darnold and Allen are in the lead. The Dolphins are highly unlikely to have a chance at either of them unless they trade up from No. 11.

Darnold was the only one of the top four who didn’t throw at the NFL Combine last week, opting instead to do so in a more comfortable environment at Southern California’s pro day. Allen and Mayfield benefited themselves by doing so, according to ESPN analyst Todd McShay.

“Of any of them, Josh Allen seemed to surprise some people with how good he was on the board and how effective he was just interacting and just getting to know him a little more,” McShay said. “There are some people who came around on him, if you will, and were impressed by what he did when the cameras weren’t on.

“Then, obviously, his throwing session, we expected an impressive throwing session, but he couldn’t have performed a whole lot better than he did on the field that day.”

Allen has proven himself to have the biggest arm of the group, but there are issues with his accuracy and concerns about how he’ll do making the jump out of a small program like Wyoming, which doesn’t face nearly the level of competition his peers have.

As far as Mayfield and Rosen, McShay has Mayfield ahead at the moment. In his latest mock draft, he had the Dolphins taking him over Rosen at No. 11 and Rosen sliding to No. 15.

“Josh Rosen didn’t have his best day throwing the ball; from varying people in the league who I talked to, I didn’t get any negative reports about his interviews,” McShay said. “I got a lot of reports that said he was really good, but it’s a 15-minute interview and it’s tough to glean a lot from that, and I got some that said he was OK. Nothing really negative there.

“Baker Mayfield, I thought, was really consistent throwing the football and, from most people I talked to, he was really good in meetings.”

[Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says he won’t require players to stand for national anthem]

[A look at 2018 NFL Draft prospect Roquan Smith]

[Former Dolphins sweat out Jarvis Landry contract drama]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL Combine: Former quarterbacks weigh in on top prospects

Josh Rosen was fine in the QB-WR drills, but not overwhelming. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS—The quarterback-receiver drills are always one of the highlights of the NFL Combine, and sometimes they cause a ripple of overreactions.

This year, with three of the top four quarterbacks throwing plus former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, the sessions mostly reinforced what everyone already thought.

A small group of media was on hand at Lucas Oil Stadium for the workouts Saturday morning and it included former NFL quarterbacks Jim Miller and Brady Quinn. Both work as analysts now after spending a combined total of nearly two decades in the NFL. To read The Post’s notes from those sessions, click here.

The Dolphins were in attendance, too, and are considering a quarterback with the No. 11 overall pick. Depending on what happens over the next month or so, they might need to trade up if they want one of the big four: Wyoming’s Josh Allen, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Southern California’s Sam Darnold and reigning Heisman winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma.

Quinn and Miller were largely impressed by Allen, who showed in throwing drills he’s clearly got the strongest arm of the top-tier guys. Both described him as an “effortless” thrower. While he’s not as polished as Rosen and Mayfield, there’s a belief that his mechanical issues are mostly are correctable.

“He’s lackadaisical on his drops because he knows he has the big arm to overcome it,” Miller said. “Everybody talks about his accuracy issues—a lot of that is his footwork. If you noticed even (Saturday), he missed to his left on a couple throws… But when he throws to his right, he has no issues at all. So that tells me it’s more of a footwork-hip issue.

“Again, I think he relies on his arm too much, but the upside is tremendous with him. There’s no doubt about it.”
Quinn was impressed by Allen’s quick release, but pointed out his inconsistent accuracy, particularly on some short throws. He seemed to think Allen has the most pure talent, but Rosen is the most pro-ready passer as of now. He sees almost no flaws in his throwing mechanics.

It’s a much different story for Jackson, who played at Boynton Beach High School before going to Louisville. His accuracy and mechanics have been picked apart throughout the past year, and he admitted teams are right to be concerned about it. He’s been working hard to fix those issues, but he’s still got a lot to do.

“Lamar doesn’t use his lower body,” Quinn said. “He would have a stronger arm, or it would look stronger (if he did).”

Miller and Quinn both pointed to some positives about Jackson as well, and Miller especially liked his deep ball.

Each had an under-the-radar prospect they’re high on, too. Quinn likes Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, who was fine but not great in the throwing session. Falk is projected to be a mid-round pick.

“This kid’s good,” Quinn said. “Compact motion. He’s got good touch.”

For Miller, it was LSU’s Danny Etling, who transferred there from Purdue. He’s likely to be a very late pick, but could be worth taking.

“He actually had a really good day,” Miller said. “I want to go back and look at him. His long ball, his arm, his accuracy, his drops were where they should be. His timing and rhythm were pretty good.”

[The Dolphins claim they want Jarvis Landry back, but do they really?]

[The latest on where the Dolphins stand with RT Ja’Wuan James]

[Miami Dolphins DE Charles Harris gets a chance at a starting job in 2018]

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2018 NFL Combine: Who shined, struggled in quarterback-receiver drills?

Josh Allen threw some impressive deep balls. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS—The quarterback-receiver passing sessions at Lucas Oil Stadium certainly aren’t the final word on how this year’s NFL Draft class stacks up, but it further clarified what some of the top players at both positions have to offer.

The Dolphins, who are considering a quarterback at No. 11 overall and would be in the market to add a receiver if Jarvis Landry leaves, had full representation for the drills. Adam Gase, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree were in attendance.

At quarterback, Wyoming’s Josh Allen left no doubt he’s got the strongest arm in this year’s group. While his overall accuracy was hit-and-miss, he showcased his best attribute in when they worked on deep balls down the left side of the field. He got everyone’s attention with a perfectly placed 65-yard throw.

When asked about his personal quarterbacks coach claiming he can throw it 90 yards, he said that’s not quite true, but “he’s not too far off.”

Allen was easily the star of the morning session as Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold opted not to participate.

“I’m going to throw at my pro day,” Darnold said. “I think that’s a good opportunity for teams to be able to look at how I can spin it. I’m going to be throwing to guys I’ve played with. Given all the information I had, I thought that was the best decision.”

He was the only one of the top four prospects who voiced concerns about throwing at the Combine. Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield were full participants in the afternoon session.

“I mean, ball is ball,” Rosen said. “That’s what we do is we throw the football, so coming in here, I thought, ‘Why not?’”

There was a clear gap between the tier of Rosen, Mayfield and Allen and the rest. Mason Rudolph, Luke Falk and Lamar Jackson—all considered second- or third-round possibilities—couldn’t match the sharpness of the top passers.

Louisville’s Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner out of Boynton Beach High School, threw in the morning session and reaffirmed teams’ concerns about his throwing accuracy.

Jackson had a bad overthrow on an out route and underthrew two balls in the ensuing mid- to long-range drill before finally connecting on a brilliant pass in stride to Oklahoma State’s Marcell Ateman.

Jackson had some timing issues, throwing late and behind receivers, on various routes and even when he was in sync, the location of his throw wasn’t ideal. When they went to the 50-yard deep routes where Allen excelled, Jackson’s first attempt was wobbly and well short of his receiver. He was much better on the second try and connected on the third as well.

Jackson faced concerns about his accuracy head-on and knows it’s something he needs to fix.

“If you look at film, I notice that myself,” he said. “I’ve been working on it… I feel that’s why they’re doubting me right now.”

Rosen and Mayfield didn’t do much to distance themselves from each other. Mayfield was more accurate overall, especially on shorter throws, but Rosen outdid him on the deepest throws. His highlights were a bomb to Southern Methodist’s Trey Quinn and a nicely placed 60-yard pass to Alabama’s Calvin Ridley. Mayfield’s throws lagged during that drill.

The day before the drills, Mayfield proclaimed himself, “the most accurate quarterback in this draft, by far.”

Among the less heralded prospects, Virginia’s Kurt Benkert showed good accuracy on short-range passes and Texas Tech’s Nic Shimonek and Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta had nice moments in deep ball work. None were consistently impressive, though.

While the emphasis is always on the quarterbacks during these sessions, the receivers are under evaluation as well. None looked better than Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, a 5-foot-11 prospect projected to go late in the first round.

He ran a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash Friday, then followed it with an exceptional showing in drills. More than anything, his hands stood out as the best among any receiver who participated.

When Kirk hit the gauntlet of catching seven quick passes while running across the field, he did it with machinelike skill. Each pass stuck in his hands with no double-clutching as he breezed through that drill like it was easy.

He played slot at Texas A&M and has the classic skillset to do so in the NFL, but also believes he can be an outside threat.

Ridley is widely thought to be the No. 1 receiver in this year’s class, but wasn’t nearly as impressive as Kirk in the gauntlet. One of his runs got derailed by a dropped pass, and he couldn’t recover quickly enough to get to the next throw.

[The Dolphins claim they want Jarvis Landry back, but do they really?]

[The latest on where the Dolphins stand with RT Ja’Wuan James]

[Miami Dolphins DE Charles Harris gets a chance at a starting job in 2018]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL Combine: Top QB prospects love Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase

Adam Gase is quite popular with this year’s quarterback prospects. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS—The NFL Combine is really about prospects convincing the horde of team representatives that they’re worthy of being picked, but the Dolphins have been making a strong impression on the players as well.

That’s especially true when it comes to the quarterbacks, an area coach Adam Gase considers his specialty. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got Dan Marino walking around the Indiana Convention Center as part of Miami’s scouting delegation as well.

While Marino has a significant role within the team, including heavy day-to-day involvement with the staff during the season, any quarterback the Dolphins draft will be working most closely with Gase. That sounds good to many of them. The backwards hat, the overflowing confidence and simply being 39 years old make for a persona that’s going over well with this year’s class.

“I get along very well with him,” said Wyoming’s Josh Allen, a likely top-10 pick who has met with Miami several times. “He’s a younger guy and he’s got a really good personality. He’s a super positive guy. I’m meeting with him tonight, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Allen, Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma, Sam Darnold of Southern California and UCLA’s Josh Rosen are the consensus top four quarterbacks in the draft. Gase made a special trip to the Senior Bowl to watch Mayfield, Allen and a few other quarterbacks, but Rosen and Darnold said they haven’t formally met with the Dolphins yet.

Mayfield might be the closest to Gase in terms of personality. His defiant personality might turn some teams off, but it’s more likely to endear him to Gase.

“I think we related a lot, mindset-wise on offense,” Mayfield said. “He’s a smart guy. There’s a reason he’s a young coach and he’s that successful.”

Gase’s reputation goes beyond his last two seasons with the Dolphins and the fact that Ryan Tannehill put up some career numbers in his one year playing for him. He also guided Jay Cutler to one of his better seasons in 2015 with Chicago and worked with Peyton Manning for three seasons in Denver.

Quarterback wasn’t a pressing need for the Dolphins last year, so it’s unlikely they took a hard look at any of the top prospects. They ended up not drafting anyone at the position.

This year is different. Even with Tannehill expected to be back to full strength from knee surgery well in time for the start of training camp, Miami needs to secure a reliable backup to avoid the situation it had last summer. When Gase didn’t feel totally comfortable going into the season with Matt Moore as the starter, the team shelled out $10 million for Cutler that ultimately proved to be poorly spent money.

A high draft pick this year could develop into Tannehill’s backup and eventually his replacement. He has three years left on his current contract, which is just the right amount of time for the Dolphins to get a handle on the ability of someone they might pick up in this year’s draft.

Gase has typically been part-coach, part-buddy with his quarterbacks, a relationship dynamic that make sense considering he’s not drastically older than the players. Manning is actually two years older than him, and Cutler is close enough in age that they could’ve gone to school together.

“He’s a younger guy for sure, which is always fun,” said Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, who is projected to be a second- or third-round pick. “You naturally have more of a connection to someone like that.”

Western Kentucky’s Mike White, perhaps a mid-round pick, knows of Gase mostly through former teammate Brandon Doughty. He also happens to be a Dolphins fan from growing up in Broward County.

The Dolphins drafted Doughty out of WKU in the seventh round two years ago, and even though he’s been stuck on the practice squad the entire time, he’s had nothing but good things to relay to White about Gase.

“You can tell he’s a quarterback guy,” White said. “If I ever got the chance to play for him and learn under him, it would be an unbelievable experience—just being able to pick his brain more than anything because you can tell he’s a very knowledgeable guy.”

Lamar Jackson, a Boynton Beach High School product who won the 2016 Heisman Trophy at Louisville, is another option for the Dolphins in one of the early rounds. He painted Gase as “real cool… a laidback, chill guy.”

It’s a safe bet that no one ever used those words to describe his predecessor.

[The Dolphins claim they want Jarvis Landry back, but do they really?]

[The latest on where the Dolphins stand with RT Ja’Wuan James]

[Miami Dolphins DE Charles Harris gets a chance at a starting job in 2018]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins arrive at NFL Combine with many needs

Sam Darnold is thought to be one of the top four quarterbacks in this year’s class. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS—The NFL Combine presents an intriguing checkpoint for the Dolphins as they try to rework their roster following a 6-10 season that left everyone in the organization questioning themselves.

This week in Indianapolis, the team will have a large delegation that includes coach Adam Gase and general manager Chris Grier. They’re tasked with evaluating more than 300 players who will be doing drills and sitting down for interviews this week, and that should sharpen their focus on how they plan to proceed with their stock of seven picks in April’s draft.

Any priority lists they make here will be written in pencil considering free agency is right around the corner. The moves Miami makes when the market opens March 12 could alter what it believes it needs to find in the draft.

The biggest issue for the Dolphins is to determine the best possible way to handle the No. 11 overall pick. If they keep it, they should be in range to land one of the top four quarterbacks in this year’s class: Wyoming’s Josh Allen, USC’s Sam Darnold, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and UCLA’s Josh Rosen.

All of those players will be in town for the Combine, but ESPN reported Darnold will not throw. The others are expected to do so Saturday.

The Dolphins already got an up-close look at Allen and Mayfield in the Senior Bowl. Gase flew in specifically to see them, and executive Dan Marino was on hand for that as well.

The supposed experts are all over the place in how they rank the quarterback prospects, illustrating how difficult it might be for teams to sort them out. There’s also the issue of whether most analysts are overlooking 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, who starred at Boynton Beach High School before going to Louisville.

Furthermore, the needs of teams currently picking ahead of the Dolphins could change between now and April. The Broncos or Jets would be unlikely to spend a top-10 pick on a quarterback if they sign Kirk Cousins or trade for Nick Foles. The Colts might feel less certain about Andrew Luck’s future by then, which would put them in the mix for a quarterback at No. 3.

The Dolphins don’t feel pressed to find an immediate starter given their expectation that Ryan Tannehill will be back to full strength for the upcoming season, but they hope having this high of a selection is a rare opportunity, so this might be the time to strike. If a first-round pick can be a capable backup this year and good enough to ultimately overtake Tannehill, that would be an ideal outcome for Miami.

If the Dolphins trade the pick, a possibility vice president Mike Tannenbaum was quick to mention after the season, or aren’t sold on any of the top four quarterbacks, they could address other needs first and look to add a passer in the middle or late rounds.

Beyond short-term and long-term concerns at quarterback, this figures to be an offense-heavy draft for the Dolphins. They need a promising, dynamic tight end. They might need a receiver because of the sluggish start to DeVante Parker’s career and the tenuous status of Jarvis Landry. And, as usual, they need help on the offensive line.

Grier’s philosophy is to prioritize talent over needs. He’s not likely to sketch out a draft plan that has the team taking a tight end in the second round, a lineman in the third and a linebacker in the fourth, for example. If an exceptional guard is available when the Dolphins pick at No. 42, Grier would generally jump on him regardless of where the depth stands at other positions.

There are countless moving parts as the team tries to square away its draft board and many of the twists and turns can’t be predicted. But the Combine represents a big step in the Dolphins’ process of informing themselves about the tough choices they’ll face over the next two months.

[Dolphins feeling good about where they stand at cornerback–for now]

[Miami Dolphins players react to Parkland shooting]

[The Palm Beach Post‘s first 2018 NFL mock draft]

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2018 NFL Mock Draft: Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser | Version 1.0

UCLA’s Josh Rosen is the current frontrunner among this year’s quarterbacks. (Getty Images)

Free agency comes first, but NFL teams are already deep into their 2018 draft preparation. The college all-star games were last month, and the NFL Combine is two weeks away.

Click here for the Dolphins’ full stock of picks.

While free agent signings will change the needs for some teams and there’s always a possibility of trades going down, here’s an initial projection of how the draft will go:

1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Browns’ best way out of being the NFL’s laughingstock is to get a quarterback, and Rosen is the most polished of the bunch.

2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern Cal
Some analysts believe Darnold is the most talented quarterback in this draft class, so he’s a fine consolation prize here.

3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
The Colts expect Andrew Luck to be return to being their franchise quarterback, taking them out of that market and heightening their interest in an elite pass rusher.

4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Running backs’ value has dropped over the last few years, but Barkley is a game-changer like Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette.

5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Quarterback would be the move for the Broncos in this spot if they aren’t able to secure Kirk Cousins or another proven player.

6. New York Jets: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
With no obvious No. 1 quarterback in this year’s class, the Jets might end up feeling quite lucky to land Allen.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
Fitzpatrick came in as one of the top high school recruits in the nation and lived up to it, helping Alabama reach three national title games along the way.

8. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Chicago’s offense is young, and its biggest question mark is the development of quarterback  Mitchell Trubisky. This will help.

9. Oakland Raiders*: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Oakland’s pass defense got lit up all last year, and no team had fewer interceptions.

9. San Francisco 49ers*: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
There’s a lot of debate about how the offensive tackles stack up this year, but McGlinchey is a prudent pick for San Francisco.

11. Miami Dolphins: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
If the Dolphins end up with a shot at one of the top four quarterbacks in the draft, they have to pounce. If they’re all gone, linebacker Roquan Smith makes sense.

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Smith, 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, left school a year early after being named an all-America selection and winning the Butkus Award.

13. Washington Redskins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The Redskins believe they’ve already upgraded their offense, and spending a first-rounder on their middling defense.

14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Cornerback has been a pressing need for the Packers the last several years, and Jackson was one of the best in the country last year.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh
Arizona has a lot of problems and badly needs a quarterback. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, there’s not one worth taking in this range.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist
Sutton is a big pass catcher who would fit well in Baltimore’s offense. The Ravens might also be thinking about a quarterback for the long term, but there isn’t one here.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The addition of Payne would give the Chargers one of the most fearsome defensive lines in the league with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram already in place.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
Seattle faces questions in its secondary going into the upcoming season and has to plan for replacing Richard Sherman.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Davenport is possibly a top-10 talent, so even if defensive end isn’t Dallas’ biggest need, he’s too good to bypass.

20. Detroit Lions: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
Defensive end is a clear need for the Lions, and they can get a guy here who posted 13.5 tackles for loss last year.

21. Buffalo Bills: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Buffalo is in a unique position with back-to-back picks and could always trade one of these. If the Bills keep both, they should use them to strengthen their defense.

22. Buffalo Bills: Harold Landry, LB, Boston College
Landry would’ve likely been a first-round pick a year ago after setting a school record with 16.5 sacks, but opted to return for his senior season.

23. Los Angeles Rams: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
The Rams are out to prove their 11-5 surprise last year wasn’t a fluke, and tightening up their pass defense is a smart play.

24. Carolina Panthers: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Panthers have a lot of weapons offensively and need better blocking up front to make the most of them.

25. Tennessee Titans: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
It’ll be interesting to see whether the run on tight ends waits this long. If it does, that certainly helps the Dolphins’ chances of getting one at No. 42.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Hurst is better than the 26th overall prospect, but other teams’ needs will make him slide to the Falcons here.

27. New Orleans Saints: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Slot receiver is a position of interest for the Saints this offseason, and Kirk would be a good pick if they’re unable to lure someone like Jarvis Landry.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Like Hurst, James is probably better than this but teams picking ahead of the Steelers have other priorities. This should be a favorable landing spot for him anyway.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is one of the most electric players in the draft, and few teams need a jolt at quarterback more than Jacksonville.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, G, Ohio State
The Vikings have been known as one of the league’s stronger offensive lines lately, but there was a dropoff last season. Price could play center as well.

31.  New England Patriots: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The Patriots have been in the Super Bowl three of the last four years and don’t have a ton of needs. Rudolph can be the eventual replacement for Tom Brady or a trade asset.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Philadelphia had one of the best linebacker corps in the NFL last season, but might not be able to keep it intact because of the salary cap. Evans should be ready to start right away.

* – The Nos. 9 and 10 slots will be determined by a coin flip between the Raiders and 49ers.

[Dolphins feeling good about where they stand at cornerback–for now]

[Dolphins’ Kenyan Drake was third-most elusive running back in NFL]

[Eagles borrowed Super Bowl trick play from Dolphins’ OC]

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2018 NFL Draft: Is Baker Mayfield the next Johnny Manziel?

Baker Mayfield isn’t Johnny Manziel, and that comparison seems unfounded to him. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins should have a chance at one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft if they want one, and adding one behind Ryan Tannehill makes sense this year.

The big question for Mike Tannenbaum, Adam Gase and Chris Grier is whether they believe strongly enough in the quarterbacks sitting there to use the precious asset of the No. 11 pick on one of them. One prospect who appears to be on their radar, Baker Mayfield, raises some concern when it comes to personality.

That seems to remind people of former draft bust Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy, went No. 22 to the Browns and was an instant debacle because of alcohol, drugs and off-field lifestyle.

“I think he’s going to be a really good player, and if anything, people can compare him to me, but he can learn from what I did wrong,” Manziel said this week on a Barstool Sports podcast. “He can try and take something that I did and make it a positive for him.”

Does Mayfield really need to learn from Manziel? The biggest issues Mayfield’s had were a misdemeanor arrest in college and some flamboyant antics during games. When asked about the Manziel comparisons at last month’s Senior Bowl, Mayfield seemed irritated by the connection.

“Everybody wants to portray me as the bad boy and the Johnny Manziel stuff, but no, I love the game of football,” Mayfield said. “There’s no doubt about that. I’m an emotional player. I’ll do everything it takes to win.

“I love being around my teammates and I love leading and having responsibility… I came down here to play the game and show them that I love playing it.”

Mayfield added that he saw no problem with ending up with a team like the Dolphins, situated near so many temptations and nightlife options.

[An NFL Draft solution to the Miami Dolphins’ guard problem]

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