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]

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

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2018 NFL Draft: Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki talks with Dolphins

Penn State’s Mike Gesicki already has the Dolphins’ attention. (Getty Images)

Early in his time at Penn State, Mike Gesicki’s role at tight end was in jeopardy because he was having a bad time with drops. That wasn’t promising for his future at the school or his chances of one day turning pro.

But Gesicki didn’t let that derail him. He dove deep into the problem with his mind bent on burying it. He spent hours doing tennis ball drills, caught around 300 balls each day at practice and reached a point where he was confident his hands would never be a liability again.

“It was three years ago, but it seems like forever now,” he said. “I just did whatever was in my power… My last two seasons were much better. It’s very rewarding to see the hard work pay off.”

Over his junior and senior years, Gesicki became one of the most surehanded targets in Penn State’s offense and totaled 105 catches, 1,242 yards and 14 touchdowns to turn himself into one of the best tight end prospects in this year’s NFL Draft class. He is widely considered to be a top-five player at his position.

Naturally, that interests a team like the Dolphins, who haven’t had an impactful tight end in years. Their most productive player at that spot last season was Julius Thomas with 41 catches for 388 yards and three touchdowns. The year before it was Dion Sims at 26, 256 and four.

With Thomas not expected back and there being limited choices in free agency, it’s time for Miami to draft a tight end and develop him into a weapon. It’s one of the main things that’s been missing from this offense during Adam Gase’s two years as head coach.

Gesicki, 6-foot-5, 242 pounds, is a good possibility. The Dolphins would likely have a shot at him in the second round with the 42nd pick and got started on their evaluation process by sitting down with him at last month’s Senior Bowl.

Gesicki described the meeting as in-depth and efficient, with team representatives getting straight to the point about what kind of player he is. He fielded questions about what plays he’d call on certain downs and distances and what defenses he’d expect to face in some situations.

“They were putting me to the test a little bit,” he said. “I’m getting to know them and they’re getting to know me.

“Ryan Tannehill’s a great quarterback. He’s proved that. And with their receivers, they have a lot of talent. If you add one guy here and one guy there that can make a difference, it’d be awesome.”

With the hands issue in the past, Gesicki’s goal leading up to the draft is to show teams he’s a capable blocker.

“Some people question my ability to do so,” he said. “I have a great desire to do it, I’m strong enough to do it and I’m big enough to do it.”

The Dolphins have never taken a tight end in the first round—second-rounder Jim Mandich at No. 29 in 1970 was the closest—and aren’t likely to do so this year. They have the No. 11 pick overall, which appears to be a reach for even the best tight ends in this year’s class.

South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert, South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst and Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews are thought to be the top-five tight ends, too, but it’s possible none of them will be first-round picks. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper has Andrews as the first one off the board at No. 29, and colleague Todd McShay likes Goedert going first at No. 31.

The consensus among draft gurus is that this is a year stocked with good tight ends, not great ones.

That said, Miami would be more than happy with a good one. The only tight ends currently expected to be on the roster for the upcoming season are A.J. Derby (37 career receptions), MarQueis Gray (27) and Thomas Duarte (none). The team also must decide whether it wants to bring back 33-year-old Anthony Fasano, who hasn’t said whether he intends to keep playing.

Those circumstances make it clear the Dolphins need to prioritize tight end in the draft, and Gesicki’s already got their attention.

[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]

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

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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2006 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins’ Jay Cutler is only relevant quarterback

Cutler as a rookie at Denver Broncos photo day. (Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA—It looks ridiculous now, but at the time it didn’t seem so crazy for the Cardinals to choose Matt Leinart over Jay Cutler in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Arizona had the No. 10 pick, and Rose Bowl hero Vince Young was already off the board. Leinart looked the part as well as anyone, standing 6-foot-5 and coming from powerhouse USC. He’d won the Heisman as a junior and was on the cusp of leading the Trojans to a second straight national title before Young upended them with a last-minute touchdown.

So Arizona went with Leinart, leaving Cutler sitting there for Denver. He was the only one of the three to work out at the Combine that year, and it paid off for him by vaulting himself into the top tier of quarterbacks.

Cutler was overlooked in part because he played at Vanderbilt. (Getty Images)

While it didn’t work out long-term in Denver, where he made the Pro Bowl his third season, Cutler is the unquestioned king of the 2006 quarterback class.

It’s not so strange that the third quarterback chosen ended up being the best of the bunch; that kind of outcome happens all the time. What’s odd about the 2006 quarterback class is that Cutler was the only one who turned out to be anything.

His career stats going into this year–139 games, 32,467 yards and 208 touchdowns—thoroughly blow away anyone else chosen that year. He more than tripled Young’s yardage total and quadrupled his touchdown passes, plus he’s played more than twice as many games as any other quarterback from his class.

Young lasted six years, fizzling as a starter well before that, and Leinart held on one season past that. They started 50 and 18 NFL games, respectively. Leinart turned up in a DirecTV commercial three years ago mocking what a bust he was.

The rest of the group includes long-time backups Tarvaris Jackson, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Whitehurst and Kellen Clemens–the last one is the only one still in the league–as well as Brodie Croyle.

For what it’s worth, the Dolphins had the 16th pick that year and selected Jason Allen out of Tennessee.

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Rookie Charles Harris: Miami Dolphins fans ask me to hit Tom Brady

Miami Dolphins draft pick Charles Harris smiles as he speaks during a news conference, Friday, May 5, 2017, at the team’s NFL football training facility in Davie, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Miami Dolphins rookie defensive end Charles Harris notes every sack counts the same and every quarterback goes down the same way, but he hears the fans that want him to take down a certain New Englander.

“Shout out to all the Miami Dolphins fans,” Harris, Miami’s first-round draft choice, said at his introductory news conference Friday. “They’ve been telling me over and over, ‘You’ve got to hit (Tom) Brady.'”

Harris will wear number 90 for Miami, after donning 91 at Missouri.

“I got number 90,” Harris said. “I haven’t worn that. Mr. (Cameron) Wake got 91, so I’m going to take one step down, but I guess it’s only right. I’m the little brother. Number 90. Number 91.”

Harris, attending Miami’s rookie mini-camp, has yet to meet Wake. But he hopes soon.

“He texted me,” Harris said. “That was the biggest thing I’ve got. I’m pretty excited to finally meet the legend, in person. I’m going to be the little brother he can’t get away from. In every way, shape and form, I’m going to make sure I take after him. I want to be the best. I want to learn from the best.”

Harris is confident in his abilities, but says he plans to take a humble approach in his first season, as he rotates in with veteran ends Wake and Andre Branch.

“A humble mindset,” he said. “A willingness to learn. I think things are going to be a lot different, coming into a new system. So it’s an open mindset, willing to learn and willing to adjust.”

Defensive end Charles Harris #91 and defensive lineman Jordan Harold #55 of the Missouri Tigers celebrate after sacking quarterback Daniel Epperson #11 of the Delaware State Hornets during the game at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Harris said he’s willing to play any position (he may slide inside to defensive tackle in pass-rush situations).

“Whatever they want me to get better at, whether that’s stopping the run or working on my pass rush,” Harris said. “Technique. Stance. All shapes and form. Whatever they want me to improve, that’s what I’m going to do. On the field. Off the field. Things like film study that you can improve in. Strength and conditioning.”

Harris said the most eye-opening realization since he landed in South Florida was how hot, sunny and humid it is. He’d better get used to it.

And he’d better get used to questions about high expectations.

“Coming out of high school I was a zero star (recruit ),” Harris said. “So I know how it feels to be at the bottom. I feel I have the same mindset now. I feel like another player, another rookie. I’m working my way from the bottom. I can’t come in with the mindset of I’m a first rounder, I’m this or that. So I’m willing to learn, willing to adjust, willing to get better.”

Former Missouri defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski (now an assistant at Miami) says Harris’ best attribute may be how important football, and achieving success at football, is to the pass-rusher.

Why is football important to Harris?

“It’s just intrinsic,” he said. “I just want to be the best. Nobody told me to. I didn’t have a mother or father telling me to pick up this ball. Or go run as fast as you can. That’s just me. I feel I am blessed with a mindset to want to be the best and want to get better. That’s why it’s important to me. I have the opportunity. Why not capitalize on it? The Dolphins took a chance on me so it’s time to make that investment pay off.”

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Reflections on the Miami Dolphins roster post free-agency, draft

Dolphins can only hope Charles Harris is Cam Wake-like

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Never too early! Eight potential Miami Dolphins draft targets for 2018

Florida State safety Derwin James reacts during a game vs. Ole Miss in Orlando last season. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

We at the Daily Dolphin feel your pain — withdrawal symptoms caused by the fear you might not see Mel Kiper or Mike Mayock for months. Yes, the 2017 NFL draft is history … but the 2018 draft sure isn’t.

So even though it’s ridiculously early, and even though some of you might post really mean comments pointing this fact out, we’re going to hit you up with a list of players the Dolphins might be interested in a year from now in the first round.

With sharp eyes you’ll notice that even though the Dolphins went heavy on defense in this year’s draft, the list below isn’t defense heavy, it’s defense exclusive. The thinking on that comes from breaking down the offense:

Quarterback: Assuming Ryan Tannehill continues on the upswing under Adam Gase.

Running back: Assuming Jay Ajayi stays healthy and hot.

Receiver: Assuming they get a deal done with Jarvis Landry and assuming DeVante Parker learns how to take care of his body.

Offensive line: Assuming the nucleus of Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James at tackle and Mike Pouncey at center are healthy.

This does two things: 1) Makes an incredible amount of assumptions; and 2) Leaves a question at guard, and I cannot justify going for a guard in Round 1.

So, in no particular order, here are eight players to watch next season.

S Derwin James, Florida State

Maybe Dolphins fans should root against James popping up in Davie. He’s such a hot prospect, the only way Miami might get him is by having a bad season or giving up a ransom to trade up. GM Chris Grier loves DBs with size, and James is listed at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds. He’s versatile enough to cheat up to the line of scrimmage and rush the passer. It will be interesting to see how James rebounds in 2017 after suffering a meniscus tear and missing most of the 2016 season. The fact he still was considered a team leader while hurt and made every road trip indicates he’s the kind of football lover who earns major points with Grier.

S Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

Harrison can remind you of Reshad Jones, a blur who flies into your TV picture and flattens people with the kind of hits a 6-3, 216-pound safety can deliver. Harrison broke up seven passes last season and was credited with 86 tackles, second on the Crimson Tide. He had a 55-yard pick-six against Tennessee in which he jumped a route, displaying ability to quickly read a play and bait quarterbacks. Harrison also tied for the team lead with eight tackles in kickoff coverage.

S Chase Hansen, Utah

At 6-3 and 216, he’s in a similar mold to James and Harrison. The Dolphins could start getting a scouting report on Hansen by checking with guard Isaac Asiata, their third-round pick this year and a fellow Utah Ute. Hansen tied for sixth in the Pac-12 with 90 tackles, including 7.5 for loss. He had 12 passes defensed and nine pass breakups. He also takes the ball away, recording four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. Hansen, an ex-QB, suffered a season-ending leg injury in November 2015 but came back to start all 13 games last year. He served a church mission in Australia.

DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson

Will Jordan Phillips become the Jordan Phillips the Dolphins expected him to be when they took him in Round 2 in 2015? If not, Wilkins might be an option to join Ndamukong Suh up front, assuming Wilkins doesn’t play himself out of Miami’s draft range. Despite splitting time between end and tackle in his college career, Wilkins (6-4, 310) has piled up eye-opening numbers in just 16 starts: 140 tackles, 17.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks. He even caught a touchdown pass on offense.

DT Vita Vea, Washington

Vea, who has been compared to Haloti Ngata, is very large (6-5, 344) and smart (second-team Academic All-Pac-12). For what it’s worth, Vea doesn’t pile up huge numbers. In two seasons, he has 39 tackles, 6.5 for loss and five sacks. (Then again, Suh doesn’t have massive stats.) Vea flirted with declaring for the 2017 draft, when he was considered second-round material, but he figures he can climb into Round 1 with a strong season.

DL Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama

Hand has been only a part-time starter, which might be a concern if not for the fact he’s at football factory Alabama. He had 21 tackles, 3.5 for loss last season and shows versatility at 6-4, 280. Hand is an upbeat type who went around “interviewing” teammates during the college playoffs.

LB Cameron Smith, USC

Smith has nice size (6-2, 245) and always seems to find the ball, making 83 tackles to lead the Trojans last season. When Smith was in the fourth grade, he was playing youth football against eighth-graders. That unwillingness to grow into roles continued at USC, where he enrolled a semester early after completing his high school requirements. Naturally, he debuted as a true freshman, leading the Trojans with seven tackles against Arkansas State and becoming the first starting USC inside linebacker as a true freshman in 37 years.

CB Tarvarus McFadden, FSU

Eight interceptions. McFadden, seeing the first extended playing time of his career, tied for the most INTs in the country last season and piled up honors while proving he can be a difference-maker. His interceptions came in eight different games, including one in the end zone against Miami’s Brad Kaaya. FSU trailed 13-3 in the third quarter at the time but won 20-19. His interceptions were the most by a Seminole since ex-Dolphin Terrell Buckley had 12 in 1991.

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Miami Dolphins pick up Ja’Wuan James’ fifth-year option

2017 NFL Draft: Picks go smooth and “easy” for Dolphins

How would you grade the Miami Dolphins’ late-round NFL draft picks?

Miami Dolphins’ draft all about defense

Reflections on the Miami Dolphins roster post free-agency, draft

Dolphins can only hope Charles Harris is Cam Wake-like

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10 Players Miami Dolphins passed on in NFL Draft

Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster hurts people. Here is is doing his thing in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Tampa, Florida. (Getty Images)

In three years, it will be interesting to look back and see if the Miami Dolphins wish they would have selected any of these players, all of whom they could have selected in the 2017 NFL Draft:

Miami selected Charles Harris, DE, Missouri, ahead of…

Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama, 1st round, 31st pick, San Francisco 49ers

Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA, 1st round, 26th pick, Atlanta Falcons

Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan, 1st round, 28th pick, Dallas Cowboys

David Njoku, TE, Miami, 1st round, 29th pick, Cleveland Round

Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky, 2nd round, 38th pick, Los Angeles Chargers

Analysis: If it had been stated after this year’s college football national championship game that Foster would be available at number 22, it would also have been stated that the Miami Dolphins would feel they received a Laremy Tunsil-like Godsend. An aggressive, tough, physical, slobber-knocking linebacker would seemed to have been a perfect fit, but Miami went for the edge rusher and passed on the player with some off-field concerns. If Foster ends up as another Patrick Willis, some folks could, you know, possibly bring that up in the future.

Miami selected Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State, ahead of… 

Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut, 2nd round, 56th pick, Oakland Raiders

Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt, 2nd round, 57th pick, Houston Texans

Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado, 2nd Round, 60th pick, Dallas Cowboys

Dan Feeney, G, Indiana, 3rd Round, 71st pick, Los Angeles Chargers

Analysis: It will be interesting to see how McMillan handles outside linebacker, if in fact, he begins his career there as opposed to the inside, where he mostly played at Ohio State. It will also be interesting to see how Cunningham, taken just three spots after McMillan, develops in Houston. Cunningham may be a bit faster, but most evaluators did see McMillan as the more sure tackler. And Miami needs more sure tackles in 2017. Melinfonwu, an athletic freak, could have been slotted in an immediate starter opposite Reshad Jones.

Miami selected Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson, ahead of…

Dorian Johnson, G, Pittsburgh, 4th Round, 115th pick, Arizona Cardinals

Analysis: The Dolphins could have grabbed a guard in the first round (Forrest Lamp) or second round (Dan Feeney) or third round (Johnson) but as we all know, you can find a quality NFL-caliber starting guard at Publix. OK, just kidding. Maybe not Publix. But count Miami among the teams who feel you can find good-enough guards in the second or third wave of free agency. And the fourth or fifth round of the NFL Draft. They’re banking on veterans Jermon Bushrod and Ted Larsen to stay healthy and perform capably and fifth-rounder Isaac Asiata to be a mean, nasty, mauling discovery.

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How would you grade the Miami Dolphins’ late-round NFL draft picks?

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Reflections on the Miami Dolphins roster post free-agency, draft

Dolphins can only hope Charles Harris is Cam Wake-like

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2017 NFL Draft: Todd McShay picks through Miami Dolphins’ class

Isaac Asiata was a solid pick, per McShay, but he would’ve gone for an o-lineman earlier. (Getty Images)

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay had some questions about the Dolphins’ draft class last week, and one of those would have been taking an offensive lineman earlier than the fifth round.

Miami, with a long-term and possibly short-term need at guard, picked defensive players in each of the first three rounds before drafting Isaac Asiata at No. 164 overall.

“Isaac Asiata has mauler qualities and he kinda makes sense with them kicking Laremy Tunsil out to left tackle this year,” McShay said today. “They bring in a guard that’s a better run blocker than pass blocker at this point. He can certainly compete for one of the guard spots… Maybe earlier I would’ve taken an offensive lineman, but Asiata has a chance to win a starting job and if he does, it all worked out.”

McShay was very high on Miami taking defensive end Charles Harris in Round 1, though he had him slotted to go seven picks later at No. 29.

One of his main question marks was the selection of Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley in the third round, who he believed to be a later-round talent.

“But that’s the value they had on him, and they needed to add another corner to the mix,” he said. “He’s got straight-line speed, and I think he fits their scheme.”

Here’s the full draft class:

1st round, No. 22: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
2nd round, No. 54: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
3rd round, No. 97: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
5th round, No. 164: Isaac Asiata, G/C, Utah
5th round, No. 178: Davon Godchaux, DT, LSU
6th round, No. 194: Vincent Taylor, DT, Oklahoma State
7th round, No. 237: Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech

[2017 NFL Draft: Picks go smooth and “easy” for Dolphins]

[Miami Dolphins’ draft all about defense]

[Reflections on the Miami Dolphins roster post free-agency, draft]

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Reflections on the Miami Dolphins roster post free-agency, draft

Quarterback DeShone Kizer of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is chased by linebacker Raekwon McMillan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

If this works out how the Miami Dolphins plan it, defensive end Charles Harris, linebacker Raekwon McMillan and cornerback Cordera Tankersley will all make significant impacts in their careers.

If not necessarily as rookies.

If this NFL draft works out how the Dolphins plan it, perhaps Harris is a limited-role, pass-rush specialist now, under the wings of Cameron Wake, before eventually replacing him.

And perhaps McMillan plays in more-likely-than-not run downs as a third linebacker, on the outside, before eventually replacing Lawrence Timmons as the man in the middle.

Same goes for Tankersley. As he refines his skills as a professional corner, perhaps Tankersley doesn’t start this season, but learns behind Byron Maxwell, a fellow Clemson Tiger, before replacing him as early as the 2018 season.

Miami needed to re-load, nah, let’s call it like it is, re-build, a defense that had big names up front (Wake and Ndamukong Suh) that way too often were chasing down running backs from behind last season.

We’re calling Miami’s draft a “B” (in truth, it’s absurd to grade a draft before three years) which means there weren’t many reaches by general manager Chris Grier, nor many immediately identifiable strokes of genius, unless Isaac Asiata blooms into a Pro Bowl guard or Isaiah Ford not only makes the team but flashes brilliance in the preseason.

Here are some post-draft thoughts I’m anxious to learn more about this spring and summer:

Is sixth-round guard Isaac Asiata actually the draft prospect most likely to start? 

Asiata will get a chance to compete with Jermon Bushrod and Ted Larsen, and that’s good. The Dolphins particularly like that Asiata brings a nasty demeanor, something last year’s early-season, reserve linemen did not. So, yes, he is probably more likely to start (barring injury) than Miami’s picks in Rounds 1, 2 and 3.

Are the Dolphins now better equipped in 2017 to stop the run?

The Dolphins say it remains to be seen, but they feel they’ve added parts who can help. William Hayes via trade. Lawrence Timmons via free agency. Raekwon McMillan via the draft. And they say they’ll make some adjustments with a new defensive coordinator. Can’t wait to learn more about that.

Will Charles Harris have more sacks than Andre Branch as a rookie? 

Harris averaged eight sacks over the last two seasons at Missouri. Branch has averaged 4.6 over the last four seasons, including 5.5 last season. The guess here is that Harris has some growing pains as a rookie. Former Missouri end Shane Ray had four sacks as a rookie and eight last year. Sounds about right. Slight edge Branch.

Will either of the late-round defensive tackles push Jordan Phillips?

Drafting interior defensive lineman with consecutive picks in the the fifth and sixth round should send a message to Phillips. Of course, the coaches have been trying to send messages to Phillips since his arrival. Such a mercurial talent. If only he delivers more consistency and comes closer to reaching his potential.

• Will Cordrea Tankersley be as handsy as Byron Maxwell?

Man, the pundits were all over Miami’s third-round pick on draft night. They say that like Maxwell, he’s prone to holding or pass interference penalties. Look, this guy is big and fast and athletic and confident. There’s a lot to like. Miami wants their corners to challenge receivers. They obviously felt it was a scheme fit. It wouldn’t seem likely he’d emerge as a starter by opening day and push Xavien Howard to the slot, but…

• Will Raekwon McMillan play enough to justify his second-round selection?

Consider former Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee, who started nine games for the Jets as a rookie last season. It took him a while to get things cranked up and the same should be expected of McMillan. It would seem Lawrence Timmons would start out in the middle and McMillan can be slowly broken into the league in a part-time role. If that happens, a rush to judgement declaring McMillan a bust should not occur.

• Will Nate Allen hold down safety until T.J. McDonald is eligible to play?

The Dolphins filled many needs on draft night and it’s debatable how high safety should have been on that list, but they didn’t choose one. Miami feels Nate Allen can hold things down until T.J. McDonald is eligible to return from suspension after eight games. There is some depth with Michael Thomas, Walt Aikens and A.J. Hendy. With the injury departure of Isa Abdul-Quddus and injury return of Reshad Jones, Allen’s level of safety production will be an under-the-radar storyline in the preseason.

• How much have the Dolphins improved overall? 

This is, of course, the most important question of all. At first glance, it doesn’t appear Miami’s roster is appreciably better — or worse — than the one they lost to Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs last season. Miami has added competition and added depth, especially on defense.

The Dolphins’ resurgence as a program was a bit ahead of schedule last year, but the trio of Mike Tannenbaum-Chris Grier-Adam Gase felt so good about how things were trending, their primary off-season mission was to retain and/or lock up players like Kenny Stills, Andre Branch, Kiko Alonso and Reshad Jones.

The Dolphins didn’t lose too many key parts this off-season. It could be argued Brandon Albert was Miami’s biggest contributor to depart (via trade to Jacksonville), while players like Mario Williams and Dion Jordan were really additions by subtraction.

The Dolphins feel they’ve added veterans like Timmons, Julius Thomas and Ted Larsen who can make significant contributions this season, while also providing leadership to a team that overall is still fairly young.

In the draft, Miami added players who may not start right away, but who Grier made clear, are projected as eventual starters for the Dolphins.

Since the season ended, Miami is comfortable it has added players who fit the culture, fit their scheme and can help the franchise continue its climb into AFC championship contending relevance.

As Grier said: “It’s up to them to prove us right.”

[2017 NFL Draft: Picks go smooth and “easy” for Dolphins]

[How would you grade the Miami Dolphins’ late-round NFL draft picks?]

[Miami Dolphins’ draft all about defense]

[Reflections on the Miami Dolphins roster post free-agency, draft]

[Dolphins can only hope Charles Harris is Cam Wake-like]

[PHOTO GALLERY: 2017 NFL Draft, live from Philadelphia]

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Dolphins’ AFC East rivals look to find value on Day 3 of NFL Draft

Deatrich Wise Jr. #48 of the Arkansas Razorbacks celebrates after sacking Anthony Jennings #10 of the LSU Tigers in the second quarter of a game at Razorback Stadium on November 15, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Tigers 17-0. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Day 3 of the NFL draft is when scouts earn their money. Though the day was relatively quiet for the Miami Dolphins’ AFC East rivals, let’s take a look at the final day’s draft recap for the New York Jets, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.

In the fourth round, with the 131st overall pick, the Patriots took defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. from Arkansas. The 6’5” lineman has huge arms and hands, and his father, Deatrich Wise Sr., played in the Canadian Football League.

After not making a selection in the fifth round, the Patriots used their lone sixth-rounder on Conor McDermott, an offensive tackle from UCLA and a standout basketball player in high school.

>> Bills take record-setting receiver, Patriots get on the board in Day 2 of NFL Draft

With their first pick on Day 3, the Jets took wide receiver Chad Hansen from California 141st overall. NFL.com compares Hansen, who ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, to Jaguars wide receiver and former University of Miami standout Allen Hurns.

New York also took Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett in the fifth round. The Navarre, Fla., native turned in top-five Combine times in both the 20-yard and 60-yard shuttle drills.

The 38th pick of the fifth round netted the Jets 6’3”, 248-pound defensive lineman Dylan Donahue from West Georgia. He finished as a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award, which is given to the best lineman in Division II.

The Jets stockpiled sixth-round picks, selecting running back Elijah McGuire from Louisiana-Lafayette and Michigan cornerback Jeremy Clark, who suffered a season-ending knee injury as a senior in Ann Arbor.

>> Dolphins’ AFC East rivals opt for LSU defensive backs in first round

With their third and final sixth-round selection, the Jets took Ole Miss cornerback Derrick Jones, who started just three of the nine games that he played for the Rebels in 2016.

The Bills took Matt Milano, a linebacker from Boston College, in the fifth round Saturday. Milano’s 24 bench-press reps were tied for third-best among linebackers at the Combine. He also won the Central Florida Defensive Player of the Year award in 2012 while playing for Dr. Phillips in Orlando.

Buffalo also took quarterback Nathan Peterman from Pittsburgh with the 171st overall pick. Believed to have been one of the best quarterback available on Day 3, Peterman threw for 2,855 yards and 27 touchdowns in his senior season.

With their lone pick in the sixth round, they drafted Boise State outside linebacker Tanner Vallejo 195th overall.

[2017 NFL Draft: Picks go smooth and “easy” for Dolphins]

[How would you grade the Miami Dolphins’ late-round NFL draft picks?]

[Miami Dolphins’ draft all about defense]

[Reflections on the Miami Dolphins roster post free-agency, draft]

[Dolphins can only hope Charles Harris is Cam Wake-like]

[PHOTO GALLERY: 2017 NFL Draft, live from Philadelphia]