2017 NFL Draft: 5 First-Round Targets Miami Dolphins Should Avoid

Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Derek Barnett (9) and Texas A&M Aggies offensive lineman Avery Gennesy (65) in action during the game at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeat the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft has a ton of talent, but the Miami Dolphins need to steer clear of these five players in the first round.

There’s no shortage of talent available in the 2017 NFL Draft class, on both sides of the ball. The defensive side of things is particularly deep this year, and the Miami Dolphins still have a lot of holes to fill if they want to capitalize on a surprising 2016 season. That said, not every player is right for the team, even at their positions of need. Today we’ll look at five players the Miami Dolphins should steer clear of with their first round pick.

This list is going to be about players that I have seen regularly mocked to the Dolphins in the first round by various draftniks. It’s also going to contain players that I have seen fans clamoring for around Twitter. Who you won’t find on this list is players who have no business being drafted in the first round, players the Dolphins would have no shot at anyway. Or players who will likely be off of most teams’ draft boards thanks to off the field issues, such as Joe Mixon.

On the contrary, these are five guys who are going to make some teams very happy. They are guys with a lot of talent and who should be first- or early second-round selections when the draft rolls around. But they are guys who I feel Miami should pass on for various reasons. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the list.

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5. David Njoku – TE, Miami

The first player on my list of prospects Miami should steer clear of in the first round is Miami Hurricanes tight end David Njoku. I think that Njoku is going to be a very good player in the NFL. The gap between him and O.J. Howard isn’t as large as some people think. He’s going to make some team very happy for many years.

The problem that I have with the Dolphins selecting Njoku in the first round is that tight end is just not a position of need for this team. In the offseason, the Dolphins signed former Tennessee Titans (and former Dolphins) tight end Anthony Fasano to handle a lot of the blocking responsibilities of the position.
For the playmaking aspect of being a tight end, the Dolphins went out and traded for former Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas. For Thomas, coming to Miami will be a reunion with the coach that oversaw his most productive seasons in the NFL. If Thomas can remain healthy, it’s exciting to think about what he could do back in Gase’s offense.

The Dolphins have so many needs at other positions on both sides of the ball that spending a first on a luxury would be a complete waste. Njoku is one of the top talents available in this draft, but he’s simply not right for the Miami Dolphins, especially with such a premium selection.

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4. Garett Bolles – OL, Utah

Depending on who you ask, Utah’s Garett Bolles is the top offensive lineman available in this draft. Some people like Cam Robinson, Forrest Lamp, or Ryan Ramczyk more. But regardless, nearly every agrees he’s in the discussion. Bolles will certainly be a first-round selection, and the offensive line is a need for the Dolphins. However, Bolles is the wrong way to go for a number of reasons.

Bolles tape is impressive and there’s a lot to like about his game. He’s a good athlete and is solid in both pass protection and run blocking. He’s strong in his technique, and he moves very well for an offensive lineman. But all of that comes with just one year of production. He’s looked good, but do you trust that that’s who he is, or is it an aberration?

The other big red flag with Bolles is his age. By the time the 2017 season starts, Bolles will already be 25 years old. And he came out of school a year early. Bolles at this point in his development is who he is. He’s not likely to develop much more physically, and that’s a potential issue at the NFL level. Moreover, at that age he’s going to be pushing 30 at the end of his first contract.

Bolles is going to be a good offensive lineman in the NFL. Is he going to be great? I’m not convinced. How long is he going to be good? At his age, no one could possible say for certain. The Dolphins need offensive linemen, but there’s better value than Bolles. Lamp is a no-brainer if he’s still on the board, but there are some good under-the-radar tackles and guards to be had in later rounds.

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3. Taco Charlton – EDGE, Michigan

A position of strength as of right now for the Miami Dolphins is the EDGE position. Cameron Wake is coming off one of the more impressive seasons imaginable after an Achilles injury. On the other side, Andre Branch is coming off of arguably the best season of his career. They are solid.

But behind those two, there isn’t much to speak of. Depth is a real issue. As is the fact that Cam Wake is another year older and will start slowing down at some point. It’s only a matter of time before a position of strength becomes a weakness.

Lucky for Miami, the 2017 NFL Draft class is deep along the defensive line. There’s a plethora of talent at both the tackle and end positions. One likely to hear his name called on Day 1 is Michigan’s Taco Charlton. Aside from having a great name, Charlton is also a pretty good football player. Of the five guys on this list, he’s the one that I would be most okay with Miami drafting. But I still wouldn’t take him with the 22nd pick.

Charlton has a really nice first step. He couples it with a deadly spin move that allows him to beat tackles off the edge. The problem is that he’s become overly reliant on the spin move. It’s become his only move to beat a tackle inside.

Had the Dolphins lost Andre Branch in free agency, I would be more on board with the Charlton selection. But with Branch still in Miami and Wake still playing at a high level, an edge-rusher isn’t a high priority. It’s a position that needs depth. If that’s all you’re looking for, don’t waste a first-round pick. There’s plenty of depth in the later rounds.

Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

2. Jabrill Peppers – S, Michigan

Though I had the Dolphins taking him in the first round of my latest 7-round mock draft, Jabrill Peppers is one prospect I feel is being massively overrated. There’s a lot of buzz that Miami really likes Peppers, and on the surface there is a lot to like about the safety from Michigan.

Peppers has crazy versatility. He lined up at linebacker last season for the Wolverines, even though his natural position is as at safety. He has also seen limited time as a cornerback and would likely play some nickel at the next level. Where Peppers’ versatility and athleticism really kick in is in the special teams phase. Peppers is a dynamite return man.

Much like with Njoku, what Peppers does best is something that Miami just doesn’t need. With both Jarvis Landry and Kenyan Drake on the roster, the Dolphins don’t need another return specialist. However, unlike Njoku, I don’t believe in Peppers’ abilities at the position he’ll be drafted to play.

To me, the Peppers selection reeks of another Ted Ginn pick. Ginn has since proven to be a productive player in this league. But when he was taken in the first round by the Dolphins, that was simply not the case. He was selected as a return specialist the team hoped could develop into a wide receiver. Ginn eventually did, but it wasn’t until much later. Peppers has that feel to me. The potential is there, but I just worry it won’t be realized.

Dallas Cowboys

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1. Derek Barnett – EDGE, Tennessee

If your evaluation of a prospect is based solely upon the stat sheet, then Tennessee’s Derek Barnett is a no-brainer. If he’s available at 22, you’re running to the podium. Barnett was ultra-productive during his time with the Volunteers. His domination of what is thought of by most as the toughest conference in college football is impressive. But stats rarely, if ever, tell the full story.

If you dig a little deeper and watch Barnett critically, you find that he’s a fool’s gold prospect. He blows you away with his production numbers and makes you believe that he’s got what it takes to be productive at the NFL level. But the tape and his athletic testing paint a completely different picture. One that I would stay far away from if I were the Dolphins.

First thing’s first, as of right now Barnett isn’t a three-down defensive end. He’s an outright liability in the running game, as he has a complete pass rusher mindset on every play, regardless of situation. He often loses sight of the ball carrier on both rush and screen plays. That’s not the kind of help Miami needs right now, unless it’s from an elite pass rusher who can fill Cam Wake‘s shoes in a few years.

Unfortunately, that’s not Barnett either. Barnett doesn’t have anything to speak of in the way of power moves right now. He has the frame to possibly develop them, but right now it’s a non-factor in his game. He also doesn’t have the elite-level athleticism to win without adding power moves to his repertoire. The Barnett of today is good, but not good enough that I’d take him in the first round.

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