The Miami Dolphins once held two first-round picks in the 2023 NFL draft.
Now, they have none. First, because they were stripped of their own first-round selection in August due to tampering violations. Then, the franchise decided to get out of the first round entirely at the trade deadline, sending their other first-rounder, from the San Francisco 49ers, to the Denver Broncos for edge rusher Bradley Chubb.
But with a pick in the second round and two in the third round among the Dolphins’ slate of selections for the late April draft, there are still plenty of prospects they can find to fill positions of need after some are addressed in free agency in March.
That process, which has already begun within the organization, kicks into high gear this week with Senior Bowl practices at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama from Tuesday through Thursday ahead of the exhibition game kicking off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s the same process we’ve always had,” said general manager Chris Grier in his season-closing comments after Miami’s wild-card playoff round loss to the Buffalo Bills. “It doesn’t matter how many picks we have or what. You have to go through it because you have to be ready for every scenario.”
The Dolphins will be scouting thoroughly to determine which prospects they like in the draft at their current positions, whether they find someone who’s worth trading back up into the first round to get or for the hidden gems of the rookie class. Someone who can even be the next undrafted rookie to play a key role the way cornerback Kader Kohou did this past season.
Miami has a number of positions it may want to focus on in search of potential upgrades or quality rookie finds: Linebackers, cornerbacks, running backs, tight ends, offensive linemen.
Had the Dolphins not been docked their 2023 first-round pick due to tampering violations from their pursuit of quarterback Tom Brady and coach Sean Payton, they would’ve had the No. 21 selection. The pick from the 49ers that was shipped to Denver ended up slotted at 29 (30th if Miami’s other selection wasn’t forfeited).
In that mid-to-late range of the first round, the Dolphins could’ve been in play for the likes of cornerbacks Christian Gonzalez (Oregon), Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State), Kelee Ringo (Georgia) or Cam Smith (South Carolina), tight ends Michael Mayer (Notre Dame) or Darnell Washington (Georgia), linebacker tackle Broderick Jones (Georgia), guard O’Cyrus Torrence (Florida) or even top running back Bijan Robinson (Texas).
Any of those prospects could easily fall into the middle of the second round, where the Dolphins are set to make their first draft pick, at No. 51 overall — or at another earlier point where Miami feels a move up is warranted for the value. Of these, Torrence is participating in the Senior Bowl this week.
If the Dolphins are eyeing a linebacker prospect in Mobile, they can keep a close eye on Texas’ DeMarvion Overshown, Washington State’s Daiyan Henley and Tulane’s Dorian Williams. Alabama’s Henry To’oTo’o reportedly withdrew from the Senior Bowl.
Should Miami be interested in a cornerback, either due to feeling the team needs to move on from Byron Jones, Xavien Howard is on the decline or Nik Needham may not be the same coming off his Achilles injury: There’s Stanford’s Kyu Blu Kelly, the Miami Hurricanes’ Tyrique Stevenson, Kentucky’s Keidron Smith and Iowa’s Riley Moss.
The Dolphins may want a spark in the backfield with free-agent decisions to make on both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. If they can’t draft Robinson or Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs, Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh, a South Florida product from University School, will flash his ability at the Senior Bowl. There’s also Illinois’ Chase Brown and Oklahoma’s Eric Gray among others to watch.
The Dolphins made strides on the offensive line last offseason by signing left tackle Terron Armstead and center Connor Williams, but questions remain at right tackle and left guard. Along with Torrence, Miami can look at blockers such as Ohio State’s Dawand Jones, Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, BYU’s Blake Freeland and Alabama’s Emil Ekiyor, to name a few.
Assuming the team doesn’t see Mike Gesicki as a fit at tight end and looks for a replacement in the draft, Miami’s Will Mallory, Alabama’s Cameron Latu and Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave are among options that could pique the Dolphins’ interest at the Senior Bowl.
There are several prospects with local ties participating in the Senior Bowl: Stevenson (UM, Miami Southridge High), Mallory (UM), defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera (UM before transferring to Arizona State, Plantation American Heritage High), McIntosh (University School), tackle Tyler Steen (St. Thomas Aquinas High) and cornerback Keidron Smith (Oxbridge Academy).