Dolphins draft versatile Tony Lippett with their final pick
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) With their final pick in the draft, the Miami Dolphins selected a receiver and cornerback.
Tony Lippett is both.
Michigan State’s most valuable player in 2014 was the last of five picks Saturday by the Dolphins. The 6-2, 192-pound Lippett played offense, defense and even special teams in the Cotton Bowl last season.
The Dolphins plan to try him at cornerback.
”In some ways it’s a projection,” general manager Dennis Hickey said, ”but you saw him play at a high level against quality opponents.”
Lippett worked out as both a receiver and cornerback for NFL scouts. He started two games last year at both positions, and started five games at cornerback as a freshman.
But he spent most of his college career at receiver, making 149 catches and scoring 16 touchdowns.
”I don’t really have a preference,” Lippett said. ”I’m an athlete. I feel like I can play on other side of the ball. I just want to get a shot to play.”
If Lippett had to cover himself, who would win?
”It would be 5-5,” he said with a chuckle. ”I would catch five balls, and I would knock five balls down.”
Lippett was one of four picks in the fifth round by Miami. The others: Memphis cornerback Bobby McCain, Boise State running back Jay Ajayi and Minnesota safety Cedric Thompson.
In the fourth round, the Dolphins selected Arizona State guard Jamil Douglas. They took Louisville receiver DeVante Parker in the first round Thursday, and added Oklahoma nose tackle Jordan Phillips in the second round Friday.
With the addition of Parker, the Dolphins completed a revamping of their receiving corps. Ryan Tannehill’s targets this year will also include newcomers Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings and holdover Jarvis Landry.
”We feel it’s a talented group that brings a lot of different things to the table,” Hickey said. ”We have a lot of different type weapons that complement each other well, and a really good quarterback. We’re excited to see them all on the field at the same time.”
Ajayi gives Tannehill another potentially intriguing weapon. Last year he became the first player in FBS history to gain at least 1,800 yards rushing and 500 receiving in a season.
But he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in 2011, and doubts about lingering effects hurt his draft status. Ajayi said he thought would be selected sooner, and will enter the NFL with a chip on his shoulder.
”I’m extremely healthy and ready to go,” he said. ”I’m ready to prove a lot of people wrong and prove the Dolphins right.”
The Dolphins weren’t dissuaded by legal problems Ajayi and Douglas had in college.
When Douglas was a freshman, he and a teammate were arrested on suspicion of second-degree burglary involving the theft of two laptop computers and video-game equipment from a dorm room. The charges were reduced and Douglas performed community service.
Ajayi was arrested on a misdemeanor charge for stealing sweatpants in 2011.
”We judge each player and situation on an individual basis,” Hickey said.
While Lippett provides depth in the secondary, the Dolphins want McCain to compete for a starting job at cornerback opposite Pro Bowler Brent Grimes. The other candidates are veteran Zack Bowman and holdovers Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.
McCain is only 5-9, and his small stature kept him from being drafted sooner. But he made 11 interceptions in his final 22 starts and Memphis, and scored four times in his career on interception returns.
Douglas, who started 40 games at Arizona State, is expected to compete for a starting job at left guard against veteran Jeff Linkenbach and holdover Dallas Thomas. The Dolphins need improvement from their offensive line after Tannehill was sacked an NFL-high 139 times over the past three years.
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