Due to COVID-19, the NFL canceled a lavish draft event planned for Las Vegas. The league also stopped allowing college players to visit NFL facilities and forbade teams from even using their own training centers. However, the draft is still scheduled to take place this Thursday, April 23 at 8 p.m.
The Miami Dolphins have three picks in the first round — numbers 5, 18 and 26. Will they take the best guy available at five, knowing they have later picks? And will that guy be Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or Utah State’s Jordan Love?
If I had to guess right now, based on what I’ve heard in the past 24 hours, here’s how I think the Dolphins are leaning.
45% – Jordan Love
43% – Tua Tagovailoa
12% – Justin Herbert
Ultimately, I believe it will come down to whoever Brian Flores wants.
— Matt Cannata (@CannataPFN) April 18, 2020
This tweet from NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport is a very interesting piece of information.
I had a GM tell me, “The media is wronger about mock drafts this year than you guys have ever been.” Point being, players are going to be taken in places no one expects. https://t.co/oyDHSndqkl
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 17, 2020
Rapoport, like ESPN insider Adam Schefter, is very plugged into the NFL and claims an NFL general manager told him the media is more wrong than ever with mock drafts. This made me think that Tua might not go as high as expected in the draft.
To check this out, I decided to take a look at the Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator and evaluate the first round with a “best player available” approach. A mock draft simulator is used to take control as a “virtual GM”. In this scenario, I’m the new Miami Dolphins general manager.
The first thing I wanted to consider was the way the board would fall for the Dolphins. In this simulation, the New York Giants at number four went against the media and picked Clemson Swiss army knife Isaiah Simmons. And the Detroit Lions didn’t trade down.
This meant if the Fins wanted Tua at five, he was all theirs. But that’s not what happened. Instead I, as the Dolphins, picked: Tristan Wirfs, University of Iowa, Offensive Tackle.
Luckily for the Dolphins, this elite offensive tackle falls from the potential number four pick to a measly number five selection. PFN insider Tony Pauline lists Wirfs as a “tremendous college right tackle with potential on the left side.” This is perfect for the Dolphins because the team gets to draft a tackle from an offensive line school in Iowa that produced Los Angeles Chargers starting tackle Bryan Bulaga, Baltimore Ravens legend/guard Marshall Yanda, and Washington Redskins tackle Brandon Scherff.
Wirfs’ future in the NFL will be good as long as he can continue to develop and handle the speed at the next level. Wirfs looks to be a guy who can anchor the Dolphins’ line for the next 10 to15 years.
*Other potential picks on the board: Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon QB Justin Herbert, Georgia OT Andrew Thomas, and Louisville OT Mekhi Becton.
QUICK BOARD EVALUATION:
Now I gotta admit, I was stunned the simulator showed Justin Herbert being selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at number 14. It seemed so unlike them. It’s a move that would 100% be criticized. Then the Los Angeles Chargers selected Tua with the number six overall pick. At this point, Dolphins Twitter would be on fire. If the real draft follows this simulation, I can almost guarantee you a tweet with “what a wasted season” would be sent by the time pick number six from the Chargers is made.
One thing to note before I reach the number 18 overall pick: This is what Pauline said on his “Mailbag” on April 17: “After speaking with several sources close to the situation, they re-iterated that the Dolphins do like the Utah State QB and have liked him for a while, which I have reported now for almost two years. Remember, the Dolphins were scouting Love even before he was draft-eligible. At the same time, they were also heavily scouting Oregon Ducks QB Justin Herbert.”
So at number 18, the Dolphins take: Jordan Love, Utah State, quarterback.
In our make-believe world, the team takes the best player available for its needs. Love has been an interesting prospect to watch develop throughout his college years and would be a high-risk/high-reward pick for the team at 18.
“the only quarterbacks that ever throw these balls is aaron rodgers. and jordan love just showed that he can make that throw also.” pic.twitter.com/YulDVkbC46
— josh houtz (@houtz) April 19, 2020
This throw from Love is an absolute dime. Love falls to pick 18 in a perfect scenario for the team, but as Pauline noted in his mailbag, “They speculate that it would either be with the 18th selection or a trade up from that spot to secure their future franchise quarterback. Of course, if the Dolphins take a position player with their fifth pick on Thursday night, their plans will become a bit more clear.”.
Maybe things aren’t what they seem with Tua but this statement is likely true. If team reps indeed pick BPA at number five, they will reveal their plans to either move up or sit and wait for their guy at 18. The pick could also very well be Herbert. He is an alleged target of the Fins’ and has been for a few years now.
QUICK BOARD EVALUATION:
Man let me be clear, I do not envy the position of Chris Grier going into Thursday’s NFL draft. So far Grier has selected a future OT starter in Wirfs, his QB of the future in Love, and now the board falls to him with an insane talent selection. The waiting game pays off.
There comes the simulated trade between the Las Vegas Raiders and the New Orleans Saints, who don’t surrender a 2020 draft pick. Raiders general manager Mike Mayock decides to accept a deal to move down and acquire a future second-round pick. Saints head coach Sean Payton gets a steal at pick 19 with Florida Gators cornerback C.J Henderson. He has the potential to be an elite corner in the NFL and would line up opposite Marshaun Lattimore for the Saints. If anyone can get the tackling out of Henderson, it’s the Saints. He’d also join former teammates Alex Anzalone and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson with the Saints.
With the number 26 pick, the Fins take: K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU, linebacker
This pick took me a long time to make. On one hand, D’Andre Swift was on the board and could be a potential stud in the NFL. On the other, running backs don’t go in the first-round anymore. Plus there were more valuable running backs later in the draft, i.e J.K Dobbins from Ohio State, Cam Akers from Florida State, and La’Mical Perine from the Florida Gators.
I decided to go with the hot hand in Chaisson because the defense would have fun with him as an edge rusher. The issue with Chaisson has been injuries and size. If he can continue to show promise, he would become a dominant pass-rusher for this young team.
K’Lavon Chaisson is a special football player. This is such a simple play, but I haven’t seen a Falcons EDGE play the run this well in who knows how long pic.twitter.com/zSGRLHnoAE
— Avery Collins (@smhavery) April 16, 2020
All of Andrew Thomas’ meaningful pass-blocking snaps against LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson (2019)
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) April 19, 2020
However, there are two sides to Chaisson. He can be dominant, and he can be dominated. A guy like Brian Flores could get the most out of Chaisson. This might mean the departure of former first-round pick Charles Harris.
With the board falling in my favor, I made a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for Pick #32 and selected: Grant Delpit, LSU, safety
The Gators fan in me despises the back-to-back LSU picks, but it’s a no-brainer in my mind. In the trade I gave up:
It might be a lot to move back into the first round, however, coach Flores gets a guy who was a consensus top-five pick before the 2019 season.
There’s normal free safety range.
Then there’s Grant Delpit’s range.
His elite range is his calling card. Having both Minkah Fitzpatrick and Grant Delpit in the same secondary would be the definition of a “no fly zone.” pic.twitter.com/GixPLmOkQ3
— Derrick (@derrick_daKidD) April 19, 2020
Delpit provides so much to the defense and though a down year tanked his stock, he will fall to a team in the late first-round or early second. This will take the pressure off of him to be elite on day one. Getting Delpit in the late first round would be a steal for the Dolphins and would round out the first round in outstanding fashion. This would be a draft that Dolphins fans would learn to love for years to come.