2017 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins Mid-April 7-Round Mock Draft

The 2017 NFL Draft will soon be upon us, which means it’s time to take a look at another Miami Dolphins mock draft.

With the 2017 NFL Draft fast approaching, we’re starting to hear a ton of buzz about what teams are planning to do come next Thursday. How much of it is legitimate and how much of it is simply a smokescreen or misinformed draft-speak? It’s still hard to tell. With some of the rumors floating around, it’s time to take another stab at a Miami Dolphins mock draft.

Pre-Draft workouts are nearly complete. There’s a lot of the buzz surrounding the Miami Dolphins coming out of these workouts surrounds the safety position. The team is rumored to have interest in Jabrill Peppers, Obi Melifonwu, and a handful of other top prospects at the position.

Will the Dolphins take a chance on Peppers, a guy who has a ton of talent, but may not have a clearly defined position in the NFL? Are they more interested in the UConn prospect who is, by all rights, a solid safety but has some glaring holes in his game? Or is all of this just a smokescreen and the team plans on addressing their needs at guard or linebacker?

We’ll have to wait until Thursday to find the answer, but until then, let’s see how the draft could shake out with another Miami Dolphins mock draft.

Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Round 1: Jabrill Peppers, S – Michigan

Right off the bat, I want to get this out of the way and state firmly that this is not the direction that I would go in the first round. There’s a lot to like about Jabrill Peppers, and from an athletic standpoint he’s one of the more impressive prospects available. The opinions on how successful he can be in the NFL vary wildly, however.

On one side, you have guys like Tyrant Scouting’s RTFootballScout saying that Peppers has the talent to play nearly anywhere you place him, on either side of the ball. On the other hand, you have guys like Bleacher Report’s Chris Simms saying he’s “the draft’s most overrated prospect.”

Personally I don’t think either one of those stances is entirely accurate, but I lean more towards Simms’ point of view. I think that Peppers has the potential to be a very good player in this league, I’m just not sure where he fits into the Dolphins, or any other team’s, defensive scheme. I don’t entirely trust that he has the ball skills to play either the safety or nickel cornerback positions, and he doesn’t have the size to play linebacker at the NFL level.

It may be a somewhat controversial take at this point in the draft process, but I would stay away from Peppers in the first round if I was an NFL decision maker. When simulating this mock draft, however, he was the best player available that addressed a need. Talk about having your hands tied.

Miami Dolphins

Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Round 2: Raekwon McMillan, LB – Ohio State

Round 2 is where this draft starts to get back on the rails for the Dolphins. I’ve written about the Dolphins need at the linebacker position so many times that it’s starting to make my head spin. But it’s tough to ignore how poor the position played last season. The team did work in the offseason to sure up the position, but that’s not going to preclude them from drafting a linebacker.

I think the team drafts one earlier, rather than later. In the second round, Raekwon McMillan would be a big win for Miami. In most other draft classes, McMillan would be a first-round prospect. He’s likely going to fall to the second round, however, thanks to the likes of Reuben Foster, Haason Reddick, and Zach Cunningham.

The Dolphins need guys who are going to be solid against the run. That’s exactly what McMillan would bring to the team. There are better linebacker options if you’re looking for coverage skills, but the Dolphins weren’t terrible against the pass in 2016. The linebackers were good in that regard down the stretch, but the woes in the running game take precedent. McMillan provides an instant upgrade to a rush defense that was near the bottom of the league in 2016.

Nov 19, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers guard Josh Boutte (76) and center Ethan Pocic (77) and quarterback Danny Etling (16) in action during the game against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium. The Gators defeat the Tigers 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Round 3: Ethan Pocic, OL – LSU

Following one strong pick with another one, we have the Dolphins finishing a solid Day 2 of the 2017 NFL Draft by addressing another glaring hole, the offensive line. As I said in my last Miami Dolphins mock draft, the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about is the health of center Mike Pouncey. When Pouncey was healthy last season, the Dolphins offense was clicking and running back Jay Ajayi had his best production.

But Pouncey missed a large chunk of the season with a re-aggravation of his hip injury from the previous season. Pouncey’s hip, at this point, will likely never been fully healthy again. He could fall prey to the injury bug again in 2017. The question becomes, “How many more injuries can Pouncey take before he’s done?” And what do the Dolphins do at center when he breaks down for good?

The Dolphins can answer those questions, and the questions at the guard spot simultaneously with LSU’s Ethan Pocic. Pocic’s natural position is at center. However, during his time with the Tigers he got experience at each position along the line. Were the Dolphins to draft him, I could easily see him sliding outside to guard opposite Jermon Bushrod while he waits for his name to be called at center.

Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Round 5: Tanoh Kpassagnon, EDGE – Villanova

This mock draft gets off to a shaky start on Day 1. But after a strong Day 2, we start the final day off strong again. This time addressing a position that isn’t one of need yet, but will be in the near future, defensive end. Cameron Wake is coming off a season that should have seen him lock up Comeback Player of the Year awards. Andre Branch turned in a very solid year and re-signed with the team.

In free agency, the Dolphins executed a trade with the Los Angeles Rams to bring in William Hayes for practically nothing. But those moves won’t, and shouldn’t, mean the team doesn’t draft with the future in mind. Wake only has so many seasons left in him, and Hayes is also on the wrong side of 30.

Enter Villanova’s Tanoh Kpassagnon. As much as I’m looking forward to hearing someone have to pronounce his name at the podium, I’m more excited to see what he could bring to the Dolphins front seven.

Kpassagnon will be a project in the NFL. But that’s pretty much par for the course when you get to the late rounds of the draft. He has potential, and the look of an NFL defensive end. He’s not strong when asked to play inside. But with a bit of coaching up, Kpassagnon could do some real damage in Miami’s “wide 9” scheme.

Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Round 5: Damontae Kazee, CB – San Diego State

The Dolphins secondary got off to a shaky start in 2016, but as the season went on the cornerbacks started to show a lot of potential. 2016 second-round pick Xavien Howard showed that he’s developing quite nicely after starting the season banged up. Byron Maxwell showed flashes of the cornerback he was back in his days in Seattle. Tony Lippett also showed flashes in his transition from college receiver to NFL cornerback.

Cornerback isn’t exactly a position of need for the Dolphins, but adding depth and competition is never a bad thing. With that in mind, grabbing San Diego State’s Damontae Kazee in the fifth round to compete with Lippett as a nickel cornerback would strengthen an already decent position. Kazee had strong production with the Aztecs and showed great ball skills, setting a school record for interceptions.

Kazee doesn’t have the size that the Dolphins would like to see from someone at the cornerback position. He also ran slower than you would like to see from the position. But his ball skills are undeniable. At the end of the day, playing cornerback is about how well you can defend the ball. That’s something Kazee excels at. 17 interceptions is hard to argue with

Nov 28, 2015; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive tackle Charles Walker (97) against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. The Sooners defeated the Cowboys 58-23. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Round 5: Charles Walker, DT – Oklahoma

The fifth round continues to be kind to the Miami Dolphins in this mock draft, with the team picking up a player who, with some different luck, and an attitude adjustment, would be looked at much higher than he currently is. Oklahoma’s Charles Walker has all the physical tools to be a dominant defensive tackle at the next level. He’s strong in both his upper and lower body. He’s got great size. And he has the potential to be a disruptor on the inside.

Production was a big issue for Walker, however. Thanks in part to a concussion suffered after just four games last season, from which he never recovered, Walker’s production numbers are questionable. Walker really only had one year of solid production, his sophomore year of 2015. But in that season, he flashed a lot of traits to get teams excited about what he could become.

The biggest issue that’s going to drive Walker down draft boards, and likely why he’s able to be picked this low, are his motor issues. Like Malik McDowell, there are some serious questions about how much desire Walker has to be out on the field when things aren’t going perfectly. Unlike McDowell, however, Walker doesn’t have the elite potential. When you throw in the injury concerns, he’s a much riskier prospect.

But it’s a risk I’d take with a third pick in the fifth round. The Dolphins need someone to pair with Ndamukong Suh to help out in the run game, and to give offensive coordinators nightmares in the passing game. At his best, Walker can be that guy.

Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Round 7: Aviante Collins, OT – TCU

With their final pick in this Miami Dolphins mock draft, the team comes back to the offensive line. Depth was a big issue along the line last season. It’s been a huge issue in past seasons. As of right now, it’s a huge issue coming into the 2017 season. Adding Pocic in the third round is a great start. Adding another capable body would turn a question mark into a strength.

TCU’s Aviante Collins isn’t a top prospect by any stretch of the imagination. He’s a project that, for a seventh-round pick, could pay some large dividends. Collins played both left and right tackle in college, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him kick inside to guard at the next level.

Collins doesn’t have a great stance for an offensive lineman, and his technique is lacking in a big way. But if the coaching staff can make things click for him, and correct some of his bad habits, he could push Anthony Steen and Kraig Urbik in a couple of years — assuming they’re still with the team by then. Collins isn’t going to compete for starting reps. But with a year or two of coaching, he should be a solid backup/spot starter.

There you have it, folks. A really solid Miami Dolphins mock draft from top to bottom. If this is how it were to shake out a week from now, I would have almost no complaints. Almost.

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