2018 NFL Draft: Mel Kiper explains Dolphins’ quarterback options

Would the Dolphins spend a pick on Kyle Lauletta? (Getty Images)

If everyone is operating under the assumption that the top four quarterbacks in next month’s NFL Draft are out of the Dolphins’ reach at No. 11, it’s time to sift through contingency plans.

The first task is figuring out what position to address with such a high pick, and the second is to determine whether there’s a worthwhile quarterback later in the draft. With regard to the latter, they could push that decision to the 2019 draft depending on who’s available to them this year.

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper is among those who believe the first four quarterbacks will go in the top five picks, so he has Miami drafting Florida State safety Derwin James in the first round.

As far as quarterbacks go, he’d push for the Dolphins to take Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta in Round 2 or 3.

“You don’t want to force the quarterback pick at No. 11 unless you feel Lamar Jackson’s worthy of being that high of a pick,” Kiper said this afternoon. “I have him going No. 15 to Arizona. If you’re looking for a second- or third-round quarterback that’s intriguing to me, it would be Kyle Lauletta from Richmond.”

Kiper also suggested Western Kentucky’s Mike White as a possible second- or third-rounder and he likes Marshall quarterback Chase Litton, who turned pro after his junior year, in the late rounds.

He sees a high ceiling for Litton, if a team is willing to “put him on the shelf for a couple years.” That would require the Dolphins to roll along with David Fales or Brock Osweiler as the backup to Ryan Tannehill this season. Tannehill’s contract is up after 2020.

“Had he gone back to Marshall and had a big year, he probably would have been a second-round pick (in 2019),” Kiper said. “Now you may be able to get a guy like Litton in the fifth or sixth round.”

He would do something like that rather than punt until next season, when the quarterback class is more unpredictable than it was this year.

“You don’t know what’s going to be there next year,” Kiper said. “I mean, Drew Lock out of Missouri and Clayton Thorson out of Northwestern—You don’t know how that group’s going to develop. Brian Lewerke of Michigan State.

“These guys (in the 2018 class) were highly rated coming into this year. They didn’t just come out of the blue and magically appear.”

Kiper likes Lauletta for the Dolphins ahead of Mason Rudolph, who is thought by some to be a potential late-first-round selection.

Despite playing for the Richmond Spiders in the FCS, Lauletta has been impressive in the lead up to the draft. He’s 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and looks like a savvy passer who can improvise and function under duress.

He had 28 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions last season, completed 64.9 percent of his passes and averaged 340 yards per game.

“Watching him at Richmond and the way he played at the Senior Bowl, he just didn’t seem to be in awe of anything,” Kiper said. “He just fits in, goes out there and competes. The level (of competition) didn’t bother him coming out of the I-AA ranks. I like Kyle Lauletta. That’s a guy in the second or third round could be viewed as this year’s version of Jimmy Garoppolo.”

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2018 NFL Draft: Mel Kiper says Senior Bowl big for possible Dolphins target Baker Mayfield

Everything Mayfield does will be heavily scrutinized. (Getty Images)

There’s a wide range of possibilities for the Dolphins with the No. 11 pick in this year’s draft, which will be the highest they’ve chose since taking Dion Jordan third overall in 2013.

While ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper currently has them taking Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchy, the Dolphins will thoroughly analyze the quarterback prospects and need to strongly consider taking one. As of now, they go into next season with Ryan Tannehill and David Fales.

Unless Miami trades up, the quarterback most likely to be available at No. 11 is Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. Dolphins vice president Mike Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier will get a good look at him at the Senior Bowl next week, and it’s a critical opportunity for Mayfield to prove he can carry himself professionally.

“Baker, we’ll be watching very closely to see how he handles himself all over the place because you want him to be the CEO of your football team,” Kiper said on a conference call this afternoon.

Regarding his on-field work, which includes a week’s worth of practices, Kiper added, “Baker’s gotta do what Russell Wilson did. He needs to show that despite not having ideal height, he didn’t have many passes batted down at the line and he can do the job against the great talent that’ll be down there.”

Mayfield and Wyoming’s Josh Allen will be the two most prominent quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, though Allen is thought to be a top-five pick and well out of the Dolphins’ range. Kiper currently has Allen going No. 1 to Cleveland and Mayfield headed to the Redskins at No. 13, which means he sees Miami having a crack at Mayfield and passing on him in favor of bolstering the offensive line.

If the Dolphins took McGlinchy, they could move him to guard or keep him at tackle and install Ted Larsen and Jesse Davis as their guards.

Mayfield, who is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and will be 23 when the draft takes place, had an incredible run at Oklahoma. In three seasons, he completed 69.8 percent of his passes, averaged 307.3 yards per game and totaled 119 touchdowns against 21 interceptions. He threw a pick once every 55.1 pass attempts.

The flipside is that Mayfield often appears out of control emotionally on the field and had an embarrassing arrest for allegedly being publicly intoxicated and fleeing police last February.

The Dolphins haven’t fared well drafting quarterbacks in their recent history other than taking Tannehill eighth in 2012, and even he has yet to fully validate being picked that high.

Miami came up empty on Pat White (second round, 2009), Chad Henne (third, ’08) and John Beck (second, ’07) in the past decade or so. It also selected Brandon Doughty in the seventh round two years ago, and he has yet to play a game.

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Mel Kiper: Dolphins should’ve drafted Zach Cunningham over Raekwon McMillan

Raekwon McMillan isn’t versatile enough for Mel Kiper’s taste. (Getty Images)

At the time the Dolphins took linebacker Raekwon McMillan in the second round of the NFL Draft, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper seemed very down on the decision. He went far enough to say it would’ve been a good pick if this was still 1985.

When asked today for a little more explanation on that critique, Kiper didn’t back down. He said Miami should have gone with Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham, who went to Houston three picks later, in that spot.
Continue reading “Mel Kiper: Dolphins should’ve drafted Zach Cunningham over Raekwon McMillan”