The Miami Dolphins have struggled in recent years to get much impact from their rookie class. Last year was a prime example, with virtually no one helping the team out much on the field, including number three overall pick Dion Jordan, who really struggled to adapt to the increased speed and physicality at the NFL level.
This year should buck that trend. The Dolphins quietly put together a solid class in the 2014 NFL Draft that filled a lot of needs, and their two top picks should be major contributors on the field this fall.
First rounder Ja’Wuan James (OT, Tennessee) will be counted on to win the starting right tackle spot from the get-go. He’s got good size (6-foot 6, 311-pounds) and very impressive mobility and lateral quickness that should serve him well with the new zone-blocking emphasis being implemented by first year OC Bill Lazor.
He needs to get stronger at the point of attack and will need to develop that nasty demeanor to be a bulldozer in this league (a constant battle for former OT Jonathan Martin), but has very good overall upside. In a best case scenario, he wouldn’t be forced into a prominent role this year because he’s still somewhat raw, but with the razor thin depth chart in Miami, the Dolphins will be counting on him to make a big impact right away.
Jarvis Landry (WR, LSU), the teams second rounder, could also see a heavy dose of action when the 2014 season rolls around. He arguably had the best set of hands in the ’14 draft class and has been giving glimpses of his reliability in recent team workouts. He’s not a burner by any stretch of the imagination, but with the presence of Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, the team doesn’t need him to be a downfield threat, instead he’ll be getting a heavy dose across the middle playing the slot.
While the rest of the Dolphins class may not have much of a chance of winning starting roles, there’s a good chance some could see reserve time providing depth.
Billy Turner (G, North Dakota State) will have to get used to playing inside after moving from OT, but will be in contention with Dallas Thomas for the LG spot. I think it’s a long shot to win the gig outright, but I could see him as a swing G backing up along the interior. Walt Aikens (CB, Liberty) and Jordan Tripp (OLB, Montana) will likely be major special teams contributors in addition to providing depth to the back seven.