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NFL Miami Dolphins

Grading the Miami Dolphins’ 2014 Draft Picks

Grading the Miami Dolphins' 2014 Draft Picks

Jarvis Landry
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

After months of speculation, the Miami Dolphins finally provided answers during the 2014 NFL Draft. Like any other year, the Dolphins' picks featured plenty of surprises, including five small-school prospects. Although grading picks immediately after the draft is lunacy, it's still a fun way to discus the new additions. Here are my grades for each pick of Miami's class.

First Round: Ja'Wuan James, RT, Tennessee

Ja'Wuan James
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

First Round: Ja'Wuan James, RT, Tennessee

Ja'Wuan James
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Many analyst have labeled the Ja'Wuan James selection at pick No. 19 overall an egregious reach. Even if that's true, James, with 49 collegiate starts at right tackle, was the safest bet to be the plug-and-play starter Miami was desperate for. You can't blame it for wasting no time making him the pick, especially after the right tackle spot was the culprit on 12 of the team record 58 sacks Ryan Tannehill suffered through in 2013.

Grade: B

Second Round: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU

Jarvis Landry
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Second Round: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU

Jarvis Landry
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Jarvis Landry stands just 5-foot-11. He ran a pedestrian 4.77 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. But there is no way to measure grittiness, desire and reliability on a stopwatch. Those qualities make Landry a potential steal late in the second round. He's the type of receiver who will make difficult grabs over the middle and who catches anything in his general vicinity. He'll become a favorite of Tannehill's in no time.

Grade: A-

Third Round: Billy Turner, OL, North Dakota State

Billy Turner
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Third Round: Billy Turner, OL, North Dakota State

Billy Turner
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins finished remodeling their offensive line by drafting a potential starting right guard for 2014 and a potential left tackle for the future. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Billy Turner has the quickness to excel in pass protection and the nastiness to be a true road grader for the run. If it wasn't for the small-school label and some rawness, he would have likely been a second-round pick, if not a first.

Grade: A-

Fourth Round: Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty

Dolphins helmet
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Fourth Round: Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty

Dolphins helmet
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Liberty's Walt Aikens has great size. At 6-foot-1, Aikens has the ability to smoother opposing receivers with press coverage. Many corners his size sacrifice speed. Aikens has pretty good speed too, registering a hand-timed 4.49 40-yard dash at his pro day. If he can stay out of trouble off the field (unlike his days at Illinois before transferring to Liberty), he has the ability to be another small-school steal.

Grade: B

Fifth Round: Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia

Arthur Lynch
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Fifth Round: Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia

Arthur Lynch
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Clay's emergence in 2013 filled a huge need for a productive receiving tight end in Miami, but Clay, rookie Dion Sims and Michael Egnew all struggled as inline blockers. Georgia's Arthur Lynch can help there. He can also contribute some as a receiver, although he doesn't have the speed to be a legitimate seam threat. Until he proves he can do something better than average, though, he projects as just another guy.

Grade: B-

Fifth Round: Jordan Tripp, LB, Montana

Jordan Tripp
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Fifth Round: Jordan Tripp, LB, Montana

Jordan Tripp
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins didn't address a clear need at linebacker during the first four rounds likely because there were very few quality options available. Snagging Jordan Tripp of Montana in Round 5 offers Miami tremendous value, though. Tripp possesses ideal NFL measurables, including impressive speed to chase sideline to sideline, and could unseat "Will" linebacker Philip Wheeler as a rookie.

Grade: A-

Sixth Round: Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina

Matt Hazel
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sixth Round: Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina

Matt Hazel
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In one of the deepest classes at receiver ever, it's plausible that one of the late-round picks at the position could emerge as a productive player in time. Matt Hazel is as qualified as any. With the versatility to beat corners in the slot and on the perimeter, Hazel should challenge the likes of Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams for a roster spot. Hazel's roster candidacy is propelled by decent size and clean hands.

Grade: B+

Seventh Round: Terrence Fede, DE, Marist

Terrence Fede
Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Seventh Round: Terrence Fede, DE, Marist

Terrence Fede
Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Seventh-round picks aren't used to fill needs or find immediate contributors. Simply acquiring talent, regardless of position, is the aim. Defensive end isn't a need for the Dolphins, but they nabbed an edge rusher with an impressive blend of size and speed with their final pick. Terrence Fede is a potential sleeper in a deep draft class that should produce numerous under-the-radar surprises.

Grade: B