The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?
To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.
Today, we continue PFR’s Impact Rookie series with his insight on the Miami Dolphins’ draft class:
Well, I must say, the folks in South Beach surely know how to make draft day proceedings interesting. On Day One, they somehow managed to walk away with a player most had been calling the best prospect in the draft – Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Tunsil slid to the Dolphins at No. 13 due to a myriad of off-field issues back in college that was capped by a social media disaster (love your head gear, Laremy, but in the NFL, you have to wear a Riddell model).
The Dolphins entered the draft with eight selections and went home with the same, but they played a little bit of musical chairs in swapping out draft slots before they were done. They even ended playing doing ping-pong with the No. 186 overall selection in round six. Miami had first made a deal with Minnesota, sending two mid-round 2017 slots, along with pick No. 186 to the Vikings in order to move up and select Rutgers receiver Leonte Caroo with the draft’s 86th pick (round three). As the draft continued, the two teams again came to a deal – this time, Minnesota returned that No. 186 selection to South Beach for the No. 196 and No. 227 overall choices. They then used that choice to snatch another receiver, taking Texas Tech’s Jakeem Grant.
After an entertaining and active draft weekend, here are the Dolphins rookies that I expect to make a mark in 2016:
First Round – Laremy Tunsil, OT (Ole Miss, No. 13 overall)
The new Miami coaching staff is looking to make major changes to their offensive front wall and Tunsil, if he lives up to his college hype, could be that unit’s foundation, much like high-priced veteran Ndamukong Suh is for the defensive line. Despite some poor decisions in life, there is no questioning Tunsil’s talent, but now comes the task of getting him into the lineup from Day One.
The coaches have slotted the rookie into the left guard spot, lining him up next to a man he will eventually replace at left tackle – Branden Albert. Gone from the first unit is 2015 left guard starter, Dallas Thomas. The team also signed New Orleans castoff, Jermon Bushrod. If the former Saint has anything left in the tank, he gives the Dolphins left side of the line three capable bodies to move around, if injuries do occur during the season.
Continue reading about Tunsil and the rest of the Dolphins’ rookie class..