Skip to main content

Scouting Combine Notebook: Draft Analyst's Favorite Picks By Position

The construction of an NFL roster is continuous over the course of many years – cornerback Xavien Howard is the team's longest tenured player and was part of the 2016 draft class. General Manager Chris Grier, and his front office staff, have been busy each offseason making trades, signing free agents and maneuvering draft capital to make the Dolphins a sustainable winner year-after-year.

The Dolphins enter this offseason with a roster chock-full of marquee talent. It's the first time in the Pro Football Focus era that seven Dolphins players landed on their top 101 players list. But what comes next for Miami ahead of the 2023 campaign?

"You're starting to transition out of that stage of acquiring cornerstones and into the stage of 'how do we fill in the margins around the cornerstones,'" The Ringer's Benjamin Solak said. "So you have your identity, you have your pillars. Now it's filling in the margins."

On top of a roster that has household names up-and-down, the pundits here in Indianapolis cannot stop raving about head coach Mike McDaniel and the offensive structure he's built around those core elements that Solak mentioned.

"McDaniel is the preeminent offensive mind in the league right now in terms of ingenuity, creativity and cutting edge," Solak said. "Really, the impact he had on this offense was extremely reminiscent of Sean McVay with the Rams in 2017."

Ironically, McDaniel and McVay worked together in Washington.

The draft is impossible to forecast and anything can always happen, but the expectation from media members is, when it comes to offense, the positions to focus on in this draft are tight end and offensive line. We caught up with Jordan Reid of ESPN to get his thoughts on some good fits for Miami at those two positions.

ESPN Draft Analyst Jordan Reid on 2023 rookie tight end class:

"There's three that I like for the Dolphins. Darnell Washington from Georgia is the first one. With the outside zone scheme they like to run, he's an extra offensive tackle when he's on the field. He's also an under rated pass catcher. Washington made that Georgia offense go from a run-game perspective."

"Luke Musgrave from Oregon State was a bit banged up last year, but he's probably the best athlete at the position. The last one is Tucker Craft from South Dakota State. He's very versatile as far as a blocker and pass catcher."

Reid on the offensive line class:

"Cody Mauch from North Dakota State is going to be a popular name. I also think Steve Avila, the TCU guard, is another one that would be a really good fit for them."

Both Solak and PFF's Trevor Sikkema pointed to Avila, who had a dominant week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, as a player they like for NFL teams on Day 2.

Sikkema also weighed in on the benefit adding defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. He discussed not just the impact Coach Fangio will have on the defensive scheme and the players, but how that lifelong experience in the NFL could benefit Coach McDaniel.

"He's an NFL lifer; he's seen it all. He's seen the evolution of the game," Sikkema said of Fangio. "Learning from his head-coaching experience in Denver could be huge. He could take the things that did not work and share them with Mike (McDaniel). It felt like the Sean McVay-Wade Phillips pairing was a match made in heaven, I feel the same way about this. It's a great old school-new school marriage for Miami."

As for the players Fangio and his defensive staff could keep an eye on during this draft cycle, let's go back to ESPN's Jordan Reid for the prospects he likes at linebacker and cornerback.

Reid on rookie linebacker class:

"Daiyan Henley from Washington State is one that I like a lot. Ivan Pace Jr. from Cincinnati is a chess piece you can move around at that second level. Then, also Jack Campbell from Iowa is one I like a lot, too."

On rookie cornerback class:

"(Coach Fangio is going to want) guys that are really smart, and guys that love to tackle. Guys like Darius Rush from South Carolina State, Eli Ricks from Alabama, I think those type of guys are going to cater to Vic Fangio's scheme."

To catch these interviews in their entirety, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield. This week features five podcasts covering the Scouting Combine with some of the most recognizable names in football media.