It’s Adam Gase’s Dolphins now.
Miami’s draft, which looked a lot different than any analyst could have predicted, is receiving mostly positive reviews.
But the most striking part about it is how the Dolphins — who had holes on both sides of the ball — used six of their eight draft picks on offensive players and loaded up on pass catchers. Receiver appeared to be one of the team’s few strengths heading into the draft.
The Dolphins traded up in the third-round to select Rutgers’ Leonte Carroo, they drafted 5-foot-6 returner/receiver Jakeem Grant of Texas Tech in the sixth round and they selected pass-catching running back Kenyan Drake of Alabama, who acknowledged he never expected to be drafted as early as the third round.
Gase, the team’s rookie head coach and play caller, believes in getting his playmakers in space. He certainly has more options after the draft.
“This was all about getting Ryan Tannehill and Adam Gase more weapons,” said ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr., who gave the Dolphins a B+ in his draft grades. “Kenyan Drake is Reggie Bush-lite, Leonte Carroo is a productive threat who can make catches down the field, and Jakeem Grant is a jitterbug who is electric in space if you can get him the ball.”
Gase already has a bigger role in team-building than former Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.
General manager Chris Grier and head of football operations Mike Tannenbaum still have final say on who Miami drafts and signs, but, unlike Philbin, Gase decides who emerges from training camp and preseason on the 53-man roster and who is released throughout the season.
And it’s clear that the Dolphins are building the team in Gase’s mold.
Grier said he’s looking for “alpha” players who have the same intensity as Gase, who talks trash to defensive players during practice and is a highly-competitive person.
In past years, there was often a disagreement of philosophy between coaches and management.
Now, the Dolphins are building the team around what Gase wants to do offensively and first-year defensive coordinator Vance Joseph wants on defense.
Baylor’s Xavien Howard and Penn State’s Jordan Lucas were the two defensive players selected by Miami — and they’re both cornerbacks with size, which fits Joseph’s defense.
“I believe we are here to serve the coaches,” Tannenbaum said. “Obviously, those players we’ve acquired were purposeful and by design. It fits an overall scheme.”
Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry, speaking at the team’s Million Meal Pack AARP event at Nova Southeastern on Sunday, said he doesn’t know much about the new receivers. But he does believe in what the team is trying to accomplish.
“For me, it’s just knowing that the guys upstairs are handling their business, bringing the guys in that they feel will help our team and provide the spark that we need to be a playoff contending team and hopefully a Super Bowl team,” Landry said.
Pro Football Focus, an advanced analytical football website, graded the Dolphins draft an A-.
Offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil’s well-documented free-fall to Miami at No. 13 was widely praised, but the Dolphins were also credited for other draft selections, including seventh-round draft picks, tight end Thomas Duarte of UCLA and quarterback Brandon Daughty of Western Kentucky.
Carroo, according to the site, led all receivers in this draft class with 4.11 yards per route run and dropped only two passes. He also had some of his best performances against top competition.
“Grant picked up more yards after the catch than any receiver in the class, and he adds a playmaking option from the slot,” Pro Football Focus wrote of the 5-6 rookie. “Duarte is a mismatch option of his own as a ‘move’ tight end and his 1.99 yards per route ranked third in the class. Doughty is one of the draft’s most accurate quarterbacks and a worthy late-round selection.”
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said the Dolphins had Carroo as the No. 2 receiver on the board. Miami traded a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft and third- and fourth-round picks in next year’s draft to trade up and select him in the third round. He was the ninth receiver selected.
They were willing to trade next year’s picks because they should receive additional third- and fourth-round draft selections as compensatory picks for losing defensive end Olivier Vernon and running back Lamar Miller in free agency.
“They’re moving up to get what they want,” Ross said. “I don’t think they were trading for the sake of trading.”