Five Players the Miami Dolphins Could Draft in the First Round

Photo by George Martinez
It's February, and — sorry! — South Florida sports kinda suck. The Marlins are months from returning and will probably be bad when they do. The Heat is driving its tank in the wrong direction. The Panthers aren't anything to write home about. And football is finally leaving us for good following this weekend's Super Bowl.

It's like we're stuck in a sports desert, and there is nothing to quench our thirst. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It's officially mock-draft season. That's right, it's time for normally wrong strangers to obsess over the players they think the Miami Dolphins will select in a draft that won't take place for months. It's lit.

Thankfully, our friends at the Phinsider do a bang-up job of compiling all the usually totally wrong strangers' predictions — 40 of them, to be exact. This saves us a lot of time so we can break down the players who will probably never play for the Dolphins.

1. David Njoku (TE), Miami Hurricanes
Njoku is a hometown beast, and the Dolphins need a tight end. This seems like a match made in heaven. Dolphins fans would be easily sold on this selection, and it fills a need; two birds, meet one stone. The only other spot on the offensive side of the ball with a glaring need is right guard, so if the pick is offense, it'll likely be tight end. The Dolphins could do much worse than Njoku.

2. Derek Barnett (DE), Tennessee Volunteers
Barnett broke Reggie White’s career-sacks record at Tennessee, so, yeah, his resumé doesn't suck. Some mock drafts have him going as high as second to the 49ers, so if he falls to Miami, it will be a shock. Apparently, the experts believe there's a shot that will happen. Barnett finished last season with 12 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss, a first-team All-SEC pick, and first-team All-American selection. He's legit and would fill a need for Miami on the defensive side of the ball.

3. Jarrad Davis (OLB), Florida Gators
In more than one place, Davis has been referred to as "the next Ray Lewis." That doesn't sound too bad. Playing through injury this season, he was still selected as a second-team All-SEC player. The Dolphins' need at linebacker is glaring, and a local guy who has the skills Davis has flashed could be a home run. It also could be an epic fail, seeing as Davis doesn't have the resumé other players in this area of the draft have, and his injury history is worrisome.

4. Zach Cunningham (LB), Vanderbilt Commodores
Cunningham is another linebacker the Fins should consider. The Dolphins could use three linebackers, actually, so it makes sense that most mock drafts have them taking one. Cunningham led Vandy with 125 tackles in another first-team all-conference season, with 16.5 tackles for loss in 2016, earning him first-team Associated Press All-American honors. Cunningham is certainly no sure thing. His first few seasons didn't scream first-round pick. The Dolphins should be in a good position to select Cunningham in this spot, but they might be better off taking a chance on someone with a higher upside.

5. O.J. Howard (TE), Alabama Crimson Tide
Howard is the sort of tight end who has the upside to change the Dolphins' entire offense. He has the skills to become the best tight end in the NFL, period. Howard had his breakout moment in the National Championship game last season, when he scored two touchdowns and took home MVP honors. This season, Howard caught 45 passes for 595 yards and three touchdowns, all as the Tide transitioned at quarterback and relied more on its run game. Howard could definitely be the sort of player who makes the Dolphins wait to address their defensive needs until the second round.