Grading the Draft - Miami Dolphins

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Chris Tripodi

Draft Analyst Writer

The Dolphins were rumored to have interest in a quarterback at No. 11 but with the top four gone, they pivoted to another area many expected them to address in the draft -- the secondary.

Round 1 (No. 11 overall): Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

Round 2 (No. 42): Michael Gesicki, TE, Penn State

Round 3 (No. 73): Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State

Round 4 (No. 123): Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame

Round 4 (No. 131): Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State

Round 6 (No. 209): Cornell Armstrong, DB, Southern Miss

Round 7 (No. 227): Quentin Poling, LB, Ohio

Round 7 (No. 229): Jason Sanders, PK, New Mexico

UDFA: Jalen Davis, CB, Utah State; Lucas Gravelle, LS, TCU; Connor Hilland, OG, William & Mary; Gregory Howell, RB, FAU; Greg Joseph, PK, FAU; Claudy Mathieu, DE, Notre Dame (OH); Michael McCray, LB, Michigan; Anthony Moten, DT, Miami; Jamiyus Pittman, DT, UCF; Quincy Redmon, EDGE, Fairmont State; David Steinmetz, OL, Purdue

With reported target Baker Mayfield long gone and Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen also off the board, the Dolphins grabbed the top-rated defensive back remaining in Minkah Fitzpatrick. With Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald entrenched at safety, it’s likely that the versatile Alabama product will play corner in Miami. Better in zone coverage than man-to-man, Fitzpatrick may not hit the ground running depending on how Miami uses him, but he’s a solid run defender who has the all-around upside to be an excellent starter wherever he settles in.

Julius Thomas was cut in February, opening a hole at tight end that Miami filled with Penn State’s Michael Gesicki. The former volleyball player seems likely to open the season as a starter and will be an immediate weapon in red-zone and jump-ball situations thanks to his 6-foot-5 frame and pass-catching skills, although his blocking is still a work in progress.

The Dolphins addressed their defense again in the third round with Jerome Baker, a small (6-foot-1, 234 pounds) but athletic (4.53 40-yard dash) linebacker who comes with coverage deficiencies and would fit best on the weak side of Miami’s 4-3 alignment. Kiko Alonso has stayed healthy the past two seasons but another injury would open the door for Baker to see some snaps, and Baker also provides insurance if Raekwon McMillan doesn’t return to full strength.

Offensive depth was the priority in Round 4 with Durham Smythe and Kalen Ballage. Smythe is a solid all-around tight end who never produced much as a receiver but has the blocking ability to complement Gesicki nicely. Ballage is a 6-foot-1, 228-pound receiving back with upside as a runner, but he played behind UDFA Demario Richard at times at Arizona State due to his inconsistency as a runner. He has the upside to be a third-day steal, and his receiving ability gives him a rotational-back floor if he never develops on the ground.

Cornell Armstrong was a reach in the sixth round, as we didn’t even have him rated in the priority free-agent tier. Quentin Poling profiles similarly to Baker and is destined for special teams or the practice squad. Jason Sanders has a strong kickoff leg and made all but one of his extra points the past three season but also went 25-for-35 on field goals during the same stretch.

Scooping Michael McCray after the draft might prove more fruitful than any of Miami’s final three picks, as McCray is a strong two-down linebacker who stacks well against the run and could develop into a solid backup and special teamer. Both Claudy Mathieu and David Steinmetz have growth potential and could be nice developmental stashes on the practice squad.

Analysis: Whether bypassing quarterback was due to their belief in Ryan Tannehill or simply how the draft board fell, the Dolphins did a nice job finding value and filling roster holes in the first four rounds. While their final three picks were UDFA quality, Miami added five prospects who could help right away, and both Fitzpatrick and Gesicki should play big roles from the start. Grade: B