Dolphins’ Pre-Draft Position Breakdown: Defensive Line
With the NFL Draft less than three weeks away, it won’t be long before the Miami Dolphins are “on the clock”. After a 10-6 season that saw the team reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the Dolphins are looking to add pieces to help them get back there.
As the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia nears, we continue a series that takes a look at each position for the Dolphins and how that might affect what Miami does in the draft. The draft will be held from April 27-29.
We took the weekend off, but we closed last week by looking at the big uglies on the offensive side of the ball. Now, we transition to defense and the guys up front:
Dolphins’ Picks by Round
Round 1: No. 22
Round 2: No. 54
Round 3: No. 97 (Compensatory)
Round 5: No. 166, No. 178 (Compensatory) and No. 184 (Compensatory)
Round 7: No. 223 (from Los Angeles)
Projected Starter(s): Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Phillips, William Hayes
The starting defensive line for Miami should be solid, even with the team losing guys like Jason Jones, Mario Williams and Earl Mitchell. The problem is that Cameron Wake is the team’s best pass-rusher and he’s 35 years old. With Mitchell gone, youngster Jordan Phillips will likely be the starter on the interior to go with Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh.
Notable Depth: Andre Branch, Terrence Fede
The defensive line is a position where the Dolphins aren’t very deep or young. Andre Branch should be a valuable piece this year for Miami, just as he was last year and could compete with free agent acquisition William Hayes for the starting spot. At defensive tackle, the Dolphins could definitely use some more bodies.
Last Three Picks at Position
Jordan Phillips: Round 2, No. 52 overall in 2015
Terrence Fede: Round 7, No. 234 overall in 2014
Dion Jordan: Round 1, No. 3 overall in 2013
Draft Probability: High
With the exception of Dion Jordan, the team’s highest pick since Jake Long, in 2013, defensive line hasn’t been a high priority in the draft. As a result, the Dolphins have had to rely heavily on free agency up front. Expect that to change this year with Miami using either a first, second and/or third round pick to address the position. Miami is thin on the interior and aging on the exterior and must do something to address this concern.
Mike Ferguson is a sports writer and reporter for several publications and the Pro Football Spot lead writer for the Miami Dolphins. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson