Miami Dolphins 2023 NFL Draft – Small Class, but Solid Talent

Miami Dolphins NFL Draft

Kansas City, MO – With the NFL Draft being a yearly tradition for fans to see who will be the next stars of the league, the Miami Dolphins were no exception.

The issue for Miami was that their method of building their roster to what it is now revolved around sending most of their picks in the draft in exchange for top talent. So, the Dolphins draft was short but still provided the team with some playmakers that might make a difference in the season to come.

Where’s all the Picks?

With only four total picks in the draft, including no first-round picks at all, Miami’s draft didn’t start on day one. At one point, the Dolphins actually had two first-round picks available for this year’s draft.

The first pick was forfeited after the NFL found that Miami had tampered with the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tom Brady, along with the head coach of the New Orleans Saints at the time, Sean Payton, prior to the beginning of the 2022 season. The second pick was sent to the Denver Broncos in exchange for linebacker Bradley Chubb.

In addition, the trade for wide receiver Tyreek Hill last year sent the Kansas City Chiefs a bunch of draft picks in the 2022 draft. They also gifted a fourth and sixth-round pick in this year’s edition. Miami also sent a fifth-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for running back Jeff Wilson. The Los Angeles Rams got a third-round pick in exchange for cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

As crazy as it seems to have only four total picks in the draft, this was the same amount of picks Miami had in the 2022 draft. Also with no first-rounders. One thing is for certain – the Dolphins have been following the strategy of trading young talent for the latest stars in the league very closely for a while now.

Day Two of the NFL Draft

Miami finally began their NFL Draft with pick number 51, in which they selected cornerback Cam Smith from South Carolina Gamecocks.

Smith was a four-star prospect who spent all four years in college at South Carolina. He declared for the draft as a redshirt junior. In total, he racked up 69 tackles, six interceptions, and 24 pass breakups during his time with the Gamecocks. Smith arguably had his best game against the ranked Tennessee Volunteers in November 2022 when he recorded seven tackles.

Despite mainly playing as a corner, Smith also played the nickel position. He’s a disruptive menace in the backfield according to scouts. Smith has only ever missed four games due to injury.

While it seems surprising to draft a cornerback like Smith, considering the depth Miami already has in the position, (Jalen Ramsey, Xavien Howard, and Noah Igbonoghene) a bit of youth that’s not injury-prone can ensure talent like that stays on the field the whole season.

33 selections later, Miami’s second pick of the draft was Devon Achane, a running back from the Texas A&M Aggies.

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel has made it clear with players like Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Raheem Mostert that speed is the name of the game on offense.

“I mean, speed we generally like around here,” said McDaniel in a press conference with reporters. “But I think it’s more of you feel like there’s a fit in terms of a guy fitting within your existing team. You’re always keeping in mind that you’re adding players to the team and really think that that group in particular, the running back room for us is very important.”

With that said it makes sense that Miami took Achane. The junior back ran the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds, the fastest of all rushers available in the draft. In all three years with the Aggies, he racked up 2,376 rushing yards along with 21 rushing touchdowns. His success on the field earned him a spot in the 2022 All-SEC First Team.

Achane was occasionally a slot receiver and kick returner for Texas A&M. It’ll be interesting to see how much work he does for Miami outside of the running back position as well. In any case, he joins Mostert and Jeff Wilson as the main backs for the Dolphins.

It’ll also be interesting how this affects Miami’s chances of signing Dalvin Cook. He’s the pro bowl back from Minnesota that’s been on their radar for a while now.

Day Three of the NFL Draft

With the 197th pick in the sixth round, Miami selected tight end Elijah Higgins from the Stanford Cardinal.

Don’t get it twisted. Higgins was listed as a wide receiver in the draft, but Miami immediately designated him as a tight end. The position change may be based on his size, listed as 6’3 and 234 pounds.

As talented as the previous two picks were, Higgins was the biggest necessity for the offensive weapons available. Despite all the flashy running backs and wide receivers on offer, the tight ends room for Miami is small. Mike Gesicki, who was their main tight end last year, signed with the New England Patriots in the offseason. That leaves Durham Smythe and Tanner Conner as the main tight ends for Miami at the moment.

Playing all four years at Stanford, the senior back brings a solid skill set to the Dolphins. While the numbers don’t stand out as much as the other players drafted, Higgins was a solid blocker for Stanford. This is something that critics called Gesicki out on.

Considering the lack of depth at the spot, Higgins could be seeing snaps very early. If he can help protect Tua Tagovailoa while catching passes from time to time, he could prove a late-round gem for the Fins.

The last pick for Miami in the draft was offensive lineman Ryan Hayes from the Michigan Wolverines.

Certainly, not an eye-opening pick, but a solid offensive lineman is always a great pick for any team. Still, Miami’s offensive line has been mixed with how they’ve protected their quarterback in 2022.

Hayes was a two-year starter for the Wolverines that played at the left tackle spot. Miami could move him around. His offensive line coach in Michigan was Brett Ingals, who was an offensive assistant for the New Orleans Saints, when offensive lineman Terron Armstead, a current lineman for the Dolphins, played for the Saints.

Conclusion

Overall, Miami’s draft class is small but solid. With only four players selected, there’s not much to say about draft depth. Is it worth it for the likes of Hill, Chubb, Wilson, and Ramsey? I think so.

The position players they chose bring attributes that can make them fit nicely into the 53-man roster. Whether it’s the handling of Cam Smith, the speed of Devon Achane, the blocking of Elijah Higgins, or the strength of Ryan Hayes, everyone has something to contribute.

With that said the two biggest positions I felt the Dolphins needed to address in the draft were the tight end and O-line categories. And yes, the Dolphins did just that. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if the players they chose late in the draft can break out into stars. It’s uncommon for late-rounders but has happened before.

The Dolphins are currently in the process of signing undrafted free agents. The official schedule for the 2023 season should come out in early May.

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