The Miami Dolphins' 2016 draft is in the books. The team got better last week by adding eight draftees in addition to undrafted rookies.
This also means there will be more competition for roster spots in Miami. Here are the players impacted by Miami’s newest draft class:
Analysis: No one expected the Dolphins to land top-rated offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil at No. 13 overall. But a social media video that dropped last Thursday and character red flags plummeted Tunsil’s stock. However, that was Miami’s gain. The team isn’t concerned about Tunsil’s past and comfortable with the selection. He was No. 2 on the Dolphins’ draft board and will provide an immediate upgrade on the offensive line. The question is whether Tunsil will play tackle or guard? Miami is mum on those plans for now, but an educated guess is Tunsil will move inside and allow Branden Albert and Ja’Wuan James to stay at their natural positions. That means Thomas or Turner, who both struggled last year, will sit on the bench this year.
Analysis: Cornerback remains a major question mark for the Dolphins. Starter Byron Maxwell is coming off a bad year as a No. 1 corner with the Philadelphia Eagles and the starting role opposite Maxwell is wide open. That is why the Dolphins traded up in the second round to land Baylor cornerback Xavien Howard. He’s a big, physical corner who fits the prototype. However, Miami needs Howard to be a quick study and avoid a steep learning curve. Lippett and McCain, a pair of 2015 draft picks, will compete with Howard, who is the favorite.
No. 3: Receiver Kenny Stills
Analysis: Opportunity knocked for Stills when the Dolphins let former starting receiver Rishard Matthews walk in free agency this offseason. But the Dolphins added competition among the receiver group with third-round pick Leonte Carroo. The rookie is a confident and mentally tough player with good hands and ball skills. He will push Stills for playing time and contribute on special teams. But this pick could be more for 2017, when Stills becomes a free agent. In 2014, the Dolphins selected Jarvis Landry in the second round when they had two high-priced starters in Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. But Landry showed his worth right away, and Miami was willing to move on from the two veterans the following year.
No. 4: Running back Jay Ajayi
Analysis: Ajayi’s stock went up after the Dallas Cowboys selected tailback Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4 overall. The Dolphins showed interest in Elliott during the pre-draft process and would have put Ajayi on the bench. However, Miami didn’t draft a running back until the third round in Alabama’s Kenyan Drake. He is more of a change-of-pace runner and receiver, which means Ajayi is still the favorite to start. Both runners are going to share carries regardless. But this is a good opportunity for Ajayi to establish himself as an NFL starter.