2014 NFL Draft: 5 Late-Round Sleepers the Miami Dolphins Should Target
5 Sleepers Miami Dolphins Should Target in the Late Rounds of the NFL Draft
Although free agency hasn't started yet and draft plans for a team will change based on who they do and don’t sign, it’s not too early to start talking about the later rounds of the draft. This is where most teams will pick the best player available, regardless of needs on the team. In the middle and late rounds, if a team tries to fill their holes via need, they often miss out on good players.
The bad news for the Miami Dolphins is that they have a lot of holes to fill on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The good news is that this is an extremely deep draft and starters and quality backups can be found this year in the middle and late rounds.
Injuries will always happen during an NFL season, and it’s up to the next man on the depth chart to step up and fill the void. Unfortunately, there were numerous areas last season where players couldn’t get that done. This includes running back, the offensive line and the linebacker position. If the Dolphins make the right moves in free agency and the draft, they will be able to solve this problem and not have to panic when one of their starters get injured.
The following are five players the Dolphins should look at and strongly consider drafting. There is one player in this slideshow that may surprise you, especially since the Dolphins seem to be set for years to come at this position.
5. Daniel McCullers – DT
Daniel McCullers is from the University of Tennessee and is a monster. He is 6-foot-6 and weighs almost 350-pounds. With Randy Starks and Paul Soliai both rumored to be leaving via free agency, the Dolphins will need to add some depth to the line.
The knock on McCullers is that he is inconsistent and doesn’t have great pass-rushing production. His strength, though, is that he is very hard to be moved off the line of scrimmage and is an excellent run defender. The Dolphins were ranked pretty low last season in terms of rushing yards allowed, so it won’t be a surprise to see them try to upgrade that area.
Last season, he picked up 33 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss and 0.5 sacks. He disappeared for stretches during games so it will be important to rotate him throughout the game -- something the Dolphins like to do.
Right now, McCullers is projected to go in the middle of the draft but could push his way up the board with a good showing at his pro day. He is an interesting prospect for the Dolphins.
4. Storm Johnson – RB
Storm Johnson is 6-foot and weighs a little over 200-pounds. He comes from the University of Central Florida and is going to be one of the most overlooked prospects of the draft. Johnson came to UCF in 2011 after he transferred from the University of Miami. In 2012, he gained only 507 rushing yards, but in 2013 when he was the primary starter, he gained 1,139 rushing yards and averaged 5.3 yards per run with 14 touchdowns. He also pulled in 30 receptions for 260 yards and three touchdowns.
The knock on Johnson is that he doesn't possess breakaway speed and often is taken down on the first hit. Ironically, he is sometimes compared to Daniel Thomas. However, don’t let that scare you. He has great ability for running inside the box and his instincts for running between the tackles are tremendous.
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor tends to lean toward a power running game with a running back who can catch passes out of the backfield. Johnson may be that guy and can be taken in the fifth or sixth round of the draft.
3. Dion Bailey – FS / OLB
The Dolphins seem to be okay with letting FS Chris Clemons go in free agency. Although the Dolphins are rumored to be going hard after Jairus Byrd or TJ Ward if either hit the market, it’s also possible they stand pat and address FS in the draft. If they do, they should draft Dion Bailey out of the University of Southern California. Even if they do address FS in free agency, Bailey still is worth looking at.
Bailey, who is 6-foot and 200-pounds, was a three-year starter for USC. The knock on Bailey is that he is a weak tackler and often just grabs at opponents. However, the thing that’s most interesting about Bailey is that he played both outside linebacker and safety. Joe Philbin and his staff love versatile players, so Bailey could very well be on their radar. With a little muscle added on and some good coaching, Bailey could be a good pick for the Dolphins in the middle of the draft.
This past season, Bailey led USC with five interceptions and finished fourth on the team with 62 tackles.
2. Denicos Allen – OLB
If the Dolphins pass up on Dion Bailey or if he is taken before the Dolphins can get him, they should look at Denicos Allen from Michigan State. Allen, who is 5-foot-11 and a little over 215-pounds, can develop into a nice OLB to possibly replace Philip Wheeler and be part of a package with Jelani Jenkins.
The knock on Allen is that he is a bit undersized and struggles to shed blockers. However, that can be fixed by a better weightlifting program under the direction of Dolphins coaches. His strength is that he is very explosive and hard to slow down once he gets going.
He ranks third among Michigan State’s all-time leaders in tackles for a loss with 44.5 and sixth in sacks with 19.5. Last season, he led the team in sacks with 11 and had 18.5 tackles for a loss. Allen is projected to go in the fifth or sixth round.
1. Aaron Murray - QB
Aaron Murray, currently recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee, is from Georgia. He is 6-foot-1 and weighs a little over 200-pounds. The knock on Murray is that he struggled in big moments. However, he completed 62.3 percent of his passes throughout his career. He had a total of 13,166 passing yards, 121 touchdowns and only 41 interceptions. While there are questions about his arm strength, his intangibles cannot be understated. His leadership skills, his intelligence level and his ability to bring people together make him a prospect worth considering in the middle rounds of the draft.
Although the Dolphins already have Ryan Tannehill in place, there is nothing wrong with competition and it's always smart to take a quarterback every year in the draft. You also have to consider that Matt Moore is nearing the end of his contract and also may have trade value during or after the draft. You never know when you will find the next Dan Marino or Tom Brady.