Miami Dolphins: Morgan Moses

The NFL draft is finally here! But we can’t let the day go by without one last look at projections from around the league before the real event takes place at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Longtime ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. provided his final 2014 mock draft Insider on Thursday. We’ve examined his picks since the NFL combine and now Kiper has made his definitive projections on what the Miami Dolphins will do tonight.

Let’s examine Kiper Jr.'s final prediction for Miami:

Selection: No. 19

Kiper’s pick: Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee

Analysis: James is a late riser up the draft boards. Few people projected him this early into the first round until a week or two ago when it became apparent other offensive tackles are projected to go higher. A perfect example is Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin. He was the favorite for Miami at No. 19 since February. Now, many draft experts believe Martin won’t make it past 12. That has opened the door for second-tier offensive tackles like James to go in the top 20. James is a solid prospect, but he’s not the 19th best player in this draft. Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said all along that they would take the “best available player” in the first round. If they take James at No. 19, chances are that talk was fluff and Miami was set on reaching to fill a need. However, James is a natural right tackle who could start in Week 1. The need is so great on the offensive line that the pick would make some sense. Still, I believe trading back and trying to get a player like James or Virginia’s Morgan Moses later in the first round works better for Miami.
ESPN.com held its annual reporter mock draft on Tuesday. Each team reporter made a first-round selection representative of what is expected in Thursday’s NFL draft.

The Miami Dolphins entered the draft with the No. 19 overall pick – but it didn’t stay that way for long. By the end of the night, I traded Miami’s pick to the New Orleans Saints in an effort to acquire more selections later in the draft. The eventual pick was Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses at No. 27.

Here is how the entire scenario came to fruition:
  • I initially had no intentions of trading my first-round pick. I was confident players on our draft board would be available at No. 19. But ESPN.com Saints reporter Mike Triplett contacted me over the weekend with significant interest. He had an eye on a pair of wide receivers as his top two targets for New Orleans: Brandin Cooks and Odell Beckham Jr. Neither player was a target for the Dolphins. So it made it fair game to discuss a trade.
  • In our discussions, I mentioned to Triplett my desired targets at No. 19 were offensive tackle Zack Martin and middle linebacker C.J. Mosley. Those were the only two players the Dolphins would not trade the pick for. But if both are off the board, I’m all ears. From there, we discussed compensation.
  • Initially, I asked for New Orleans’ first-round pick (No. 27), third-round pick (No. 91) and two fifth-rounders (No. 167 and No. 169) for the No. 19 overall pick. After some negotiation Saturday, we settled on New Orleans’ first-, third- and sixth-round (No. 202) picks. The trade, of course, was conditional and based on whether Martin and Mosley were off the board for Miami and Cooks or Beckham were still available for New Orleans.
  • The draft board played out perfectly to work out the trade. Martin was taken No. 16 overall by the Dallas Cowboys and Mosley was taken No. 17 overall by the Baltimore Ravens. Beckham was taken at No. 18 by the New York Jets, but Triplett and the Saints still wanted Cooks and made the trade.
  • The best available players on my board in order were Moses, USC receiver Marqise Lee and Nevada offensive lineman Joel Botonio after 19 picks. I was fairly confident as least one of these players would fall to 27. It turns out I had a choice of Moses and Botonio with the Saints’ former pick, and I took Moses to fill the right tackle spot at No. 27. I felt much better taking Moses later in the first round and acquiring two additional draft picks, as opposed to taking Moses at No. 19. The Dolphins now have a second-round pick and two third-rounders to build their team on Friday. It was a good day of work as Miami’s mock general manager.

Will a similar scenario play out for the Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey this week during the real NFL draft? We will find out Thursday evening.
The 2014 NFL draft is finally upon us. After weeks of speculation, smokescreens and reports, the moment of truth has arrived for all 32 teams to make their final decisions that could impact their presents and futures.

The Miami Dolphins hold the No. 19 overall pick and still have several needs to fill. First up, we have perhaps the team’s biggest need on the offensive line.

Updating need: Right tackle

Analysis: The Dolphins’ complete makeover of their offensive line this offseason is not complete. After signing left tackle Branden Albert and guard Shelley Smith in free agency and extending Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey for a fifth year in 2015, Miami still has a gaping hole at right tackle. In-house candidates include veteran backup Nate Garner, 2013 third-round pick Dallas Thomas and free-agent pickup Jason Fox. All three have question marks for various reasons. Garner is a career backup who is versatile but isn’t special at one position. Thomas remains a raw prospect still trying to learn the NFL game and Fox had injury issues with the Detroit Lions and is out to prove he can be durable in Miami. The Dolphins will be looking to add a right tackle to the mix with this group – and it could come as high as the first or second round. Candidates such as Notre Dame’s Zack Martin, Virginia’s Morgan Moses, Nevada's Joel Bitonio and Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio are all possibilities with the first two picks. That way, a top-rated offensive tackle can compete with the players currently on the roster to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s front side.

Need-O-Meter (Scale of 1-to-10): 9
One of the worst-kept secrets in this year’s NFL draft is the Miami Dolphins will draft offensive linemen. There is a strong chance Miami will dedicate at least two of its six draft picks this year on fixing the position.

The Dolphins are in the process of completely making over the offensive line. Miami could have four new starters next season after the departures of tackles Bryant McKinnie and Tyson Clabo in free agency and guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry due to last year’s bullying scandal. Jonathan Martin, who began the 2013 season at left tackle, was traded after leaving the team in late October due to the harassment.

Miami could only do so much in free agency. The Dolphins signed starting left tackle Branden Albert and guard Shelley Smith. But another guard position and right tackle remain wide open entering next week’s draft.

Top prospects such as Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan are expected to be off the board when the Dolphins select at No. 19. Therefore, former NFL head coach and ESPN football analyst Jon Gruden shared his thoughts on this year’s second tier of offensive tackles in a recent conference call:
“Morgan Moses at Virginia is a very interesting guy to me. They've had a history of left tackles come out of Virginia. Moses is a kid that played one year at left tackle. He was a right tackle for a couple years. Joel Bitonio at Nevada is an interesting player. A fifth-year senior, been around, worked hard. I think he has some position flexibility, can play right, left or go inside. I like Zack Martin at Notre Dame. He might be my favorite linemen in this draft – 52-time starter, captain, really excelled at the Senior Bowl, drill work. Cyrus Kouandjio at Alabama, interesting player. Had some knee issues. I believe he's rounding into health. Massive person with experience on the left side. There's a number of interesting big people in this draft. I think last year we had three tackles go in the top five. So we got a lot of good quality offensive linemen coming into pro football here.”

The Dolphins are expected to have interest in all of these prospects. Martin is the top target at No. 19 of this group. But Moses and Bitonio also are possibilities in the second round.

Look for Miami to not only look for offensive linemen in the early rounds, but also in the middle and late rounds, as well.
We are about one month away from the 2014 NFL draft, when the Miami Dolphins will be on the clock with the No. 19 overall pick. The Dolphins still have some well-defined needs despite making several upgrades in free agency.

Several players in recent weeks have been linked to the Dolphins at No. 19. But ESPN.com draft expert Todd McShay provided his latest projection for Miami on Thursday, and it’s not a player you would expect.

Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Wednesday from around the Web:
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes hazing will be a thing of the past for the Dolphins.
Morning take: Everyone will watch Miami closely this year after its high-profile bullying scandal rocked the NFL. The Dolphins of all teams must be on their best behavior.
  • Greg Rosenthal of NFL.com takes a look at the teams which signed the most new players.
Morning take: The Dolphins are in the top 10 with 10 new players. New general manager Dennis Hickey is doing a lot to put his footprint on Miami’s roster.
  • Cody Straham of Rant Sports examines Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses’ chances to land with the Dolphins.
Morning take: Moses has the size and is a bit of a project. I think there are better options available in the first and second round.
Morning take: Keith Byers, Troy Drayton and Louis Oliver all discuss their experiences. This is a special time for prospects to get drafted. But it’s all business after that.

NFL combine takeaways: Miami Dolphins

February, 24, 2014
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The 2014 NFL combine is reaching its final stages. It was an interesting year with plenty of good stories and developments.

Here are a few that stood out for the Miami Dolphins:
  • The Dolphins clearly have a huge need on the offensive line. Therefore, that was a group I paid close attention to last week. Fortunately for the Dolphins, there are some stud prospects at offensive tackle. Jake Matthews of Texas A&M and Greg Robinson of Auburn were as good as advertised. But the left tackle who really impressed me with his athleticism was Michigan’s Taylor Lewan. He ran the fastest 40 time for offensive linemen at 4.87 seconds. Lewan has good acceleration and smooth, fluid footwork, which is key for a left tackle. Lewan may be out of Miami’s range at No. 19 unless the team is willing to move up.
  • Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin did about what I expected at the combine. He’s not going to wow you with measurables and athleticism. His body typed looked more like a guard at the next level. Martin is an effort player with good intangibles such as leadership, and that doesn’t show in workouts. Martin is one of the players projected to be a strong target for Miami.
  • Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam said he would welcome the opportunity if he was drafted by the Dolphins. Sam is on pace to become the first openly gay athlete in the NFL. Credit Sam for saying the right things, but I don’t believe Miami is the best fit right now for Sam. The Dolphins are coming off a huge bullying controversy that included anti-gay slurs in their locker room, according to the Ted Wells report. Miami is working to clean up its locker room environment, but I don’t believe the team is ready to handle another major media storm in its locker room. Also defensive end is arguably the deepest area of the team. Miami has Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Dion Jordan and Derrick Shelby, who are all capable players at the position.
  • Miami also is in need of a running back, and I liked what Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde had to say during combine interviews. The burly tailback described himself as a “violent” runner who is workhorse. He wants the ball 20 times a game and often got it at Ohio State. The Dolphins were 26th in rushing last season. Neither Lamar Miller nor Daniel Thomas proved they can handle the load. Hyde would be a strong second-round pick for Miami if he falls that far.
  • I was not impressed with Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses. He had a disappointing combine and looked sloppy at times. Moses is a raw prospect who entered the combine projected as a late first-round pick. But I would scratch him off Miami’s list at No. 19. I view him more as a second-round option.

Poll Friday: Dolphins mock draft

February, 21, 2014
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With the NFL combine underway in Indianapolis, this is a good time to focus on May’s NFL draft.

So here is our latest “Poll Friday” question on the Miami Dolphins: Who should the team draft at No. 19 overall? Stocks will rise and fall in the next few months, but teams have a good handle on needs and which prospects should go in the first round.

SportsNation

Who should the Dolphins draft at No. 19 overall?

  •  
    53%
  •  
    30%
  •  
    4%
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    13%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,104)

Will the Dolphins draft Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin? He’s a smart, hard-nosed player with good leadership. These are all qualities the Dolphins will be looking for in the draft. Martin also has the versatility to potentially play guard at the next level.

What about Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio? The Crimson Tide’s offensive line has been dominant the past several years, and Kouandjio was a big part of that. The Dolphins certainly need offensive tackles. Miami starters Bryant McKinnie and Tyson Clabo are unrestricted free agents.

Or should the Dolphins select Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses? He’s not considered as stout a prospect as Martin or Kouandjio. But Moses fills a major need at offensive tackle if others are taken off the board. You can also vote whether the Dolphins should draft another player not listed.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Or you can send me a message via Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL.

Walker's Dolphins Draft Watch: 1.0

January, 23, 2014
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The NFL draft is months away. But it's never too early to discuss how the Miami Dolphins must improve their roster.

There will be months of evaluations, workouts and stocks going up and down among college players. But here are ESPN.com's Dolphins page's early top five matches for Miami with the No. 19 overall pick.

1. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Analysis: Miami starting offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are both free agents. Jonathan Martin, a 2012 second-round pick, also is not expected back following Miami's recent bullying scandal. That makes a first-round tackle like Kouandjio a target for Miami. It's hard to go wrong with an Alabama offensive lineman. Alabama's run blocking and pass protection has been arguably the nation's best for the past three years, and Kouandjio was part of that.

2. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

Analysis: Miami's running game was 26th in the NFL last year. Hyde is the top running back prospect in the draft. It's a natural link. Hyde was productive for Ohio State last season with 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is a big, physical runner, which Miami lacked last year. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were not the answer for the Dolphins last year.

3. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Analysis: Martin doesn't have the physical gifts of Kouandjio. But Martin gets the most of his ability and fits the mold of a "Joe Philbin guy." He's a hard worker and former team captain at Notre Dame. Martin may have position versatility to play guard at the NFL level, as well. The Dolphins' coaching staff values players who are good at multiple positions.

4. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Analysis: Miami starting safety Chris Clemons is an unrestricted free agent and replaceable. The Dolphins need a playmaker on the back end to pair with Reshad Jones, and Clinton-Dix has that potential. Clinton-Dix has good instincts, awareness and also can cover well, which the Dolphins lacked at safety last season. Re-signing corner Brent Grimes and drafting Clinton-Dix would make for a stronger secondary for Miami in 2014.

5. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia

Analysis: If you can't tell by now, the Dolphins need offensive tackles. Moses is another prospect with potential, but he's more of an unfinished product than Kouandjio and Martin. Moses may be better suited at right tackle than left tackle. But it doesn't hurt that Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was part of the coaching staff that recruited Moses to the University of Virginia.

Periodically, we will update this with our 2.0 list as we continue to get closer to the NFL draft.
The Senior Bowl practices are underway in Mobile, Ala.Unless you're the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks, this is the biggest thing going for NFL teams this week.

The Miami Dolphins have their scouts and personnel department in Mobile. Here are five college prospects the Dolphins can have their eye on:

1. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia

Thoughts: The Dolphins desperately need offensive linemen -- and particularly offensive tackles. Miami starters Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are both free agents. Jonathan Martin also is expected to be traded or released following the team's bullying scandal. That makes a big tackle prospect like Moses attractive. It also doesn't hurt that Moses has ties to new Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who was part of the coaching staff that recruited Moses to Virginia.

2. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Thoughts: Martin is an experienced left tackle who has good leadership and started 52 games in his career. He's played in many big games and shouldn't be afraid of the big stage. Martin doesn't have the same physical gifts as Moses but brings a lot of intangibles. He may also offer versatility as a guard, which is also a position of need for Miami.

3. James White, RB, Wisconsin

Thoughts: White had a productive year in the rugged Big Ten conference. He rushed for 1,444 yards and 13 touchdowns for Wisconsin, which is a school known to churn out quality running backs. White also is a Ft. Lauderdale native and would be happy to return home. Although not huge, White is durable and productive.

4. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

Thoughts: The Dolphins have yet to hire a general manager. But there is a decent chance that new GM will take a flier on the quarterback. Yes, Ryan Tannehill has done enough to earn a third consecutive year as a starter. Tannehill has some tools and potential. But Tannehill was a top pick of former GM Jeff Ireland, not the new GM. It wouldn't be surprising if Miami's next head of personnel takes a mid-to-late round quarterback of their own to develop on the roster.

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