Here’s how the national media graded the Dolphins draft:
1. ESPN’s Mel Kiper: Grade. B. Comment in story here: “That they ended up with Tua Tagovailoa (5) is outstanding … He’s an elite talent when he’s healthy, but his injury history is worrisome. I said on air Thursday that Miami should try to redshirt him, just to get his body right … Miami took its left tackle with its next pick, but Austin Jackson is a little inconsistent for me. I can’t get over watching him get beaten by AJ Epensa when USC played Iowa. He’s going to need some time. Cornerback Noah Igbinoghene is also a developmental player, but he has the raw physical tools that make coaches drool. The upside here is that as I mentioned, Miami can afford to take developmental players with priority picks, just because of where it is in its rebuild. Guard Robert Hunt is going to be an immediate upgrade, and safety Brandon Jones (70) has some versatility as a potential slot defender. I wasn’t as high on edge rushers Jason Stowbridge (154) and Curtis Weaver (164), but I don’t mind them in Round 5. This is a good class that is going to be remembered for how Tagovailoa ends up, but it could swing to a C or A based on the players picked after the left-handed signal-caller.
2. NFL.com’s Chad Reuter. Grade: A-minus. Comment in story here: “Miami needed a franchise quarterback and offensive line help coming into the draft — and they got both within the first 18 picks on Day 1. Add in a starting safety and run-stopper, and the Dolphins acquitted themselves well over the first three rounds. Kindley is power incarnate but also has some mobility for his size (6-6, 337 pounds) — not unlike the guard they signed to a big free-agent deal, Ereck Flowers. Strowbridge strengthens the outside of the defensive line. Trading a fifth-round pick for 49ers running back Matt Breida may turn out to be a really good move if the tough runner can stay healthy. Perry has the work ethic and athleticism to succeed in the backfield, as well. Weaver has always had the potential to be one of the best edge rushers in this draft class — if he takes care of business, watch him power past tackles to consistently get after quarterbacks.”
3. SI.com’s Andy Benoit. Grade: B-minus. Comment in story here: “For Tagovailoa to succeed, the Dolphins must support him with a strong cast and crisply defined system. He projects to the NFL as more of a timing and rhythm passer than a Russell Wilson-style playmaker. The Austin Jackson selection made sense, too. The Dolphins had just drafted a quarterback who must be protected … They also found a right tackle shortly after Jackson—another wise move. Miami entered this draft with glaring needs at both tackle spots, considering that young veterans Julie’n Davenport and Jesse Davis are both better suited for utility backup roles. Some had suggested Robert Hunt, who is a compact 6′5”, 323 with just 33.5-inch arm, might play guard in the NFL. But given that Ereck Flowers was just signed to a surprisingly expensive contract to play left guard, and Michael Deiter was drafted in the third round last year to play right guard, the plan at this point is likely for Hunt to be a right tackle. Defensively, it was about finding players who fit head coach Brian Flores’s Patriots-style scheme. With just two years of cornerback experience, converted wide receiver Noah Igbinoghene is a gifted but raw prospect. Joining Igbinoghene in the secondary is the third-rounder Brandon Jones. Incumbents safeties. Adrian Colbert and Steven Parker were not bad down the stretch last season, but neither is a surefire starter (though Parker is young and worth monitoring). Up front, Raekwon Davis is a somewhat less-heralded prospect, but he has potentially explosive trench-fighting traits and is built for the gritty, two-gap plugging tactics that Miami’s scheme often calls for on first and second down.”
4. Washington Post’s Mark Maske. Grade: A. Comment in story here: “The Dolphins made the most of the draft assets amassed from last season’s roster dismantling. They made the bold move with their QB choice, taking the risk that Tua Tagovailoa will recover fully from last season’s hip injury to be a franchise centerpiece. That was a chance worth taking for a franchise that once passed on Drew Brees in free agency because of injury concerns. The Dolphins made six of the draft’s first 70 selections and split them evenly between offense and defense. They fortified Tagovailoa’s offensive line with T Austin Jackson and G/T Robert Hunt, and they strengthened the defense with CB Noah Igbinoghene, DT Raekwon Davis and S Brandon Jones. They also traded for 49ers RB Matt Breida.
5. New York Times’ Ben Shpigel and Kent Benson. Grade: “The Dolphins tanking risk paid off.” Comment in story here: “The Dolphins, despite razing the roster, won a few games last season — and still drafted the quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, it was reportedly tanking for. That’s some good karma right there … (Austin) Jackson will bolster an offensive line that allowed 58 sacks last season, and (Noah) Igbinoghene slides into the most improved secondary in the A.F.C. East. But Tagovailoa is the centerpiece, and for a team that’s been searching for a quarterback since Dan Marino retired, he represents an altogether fitting choice.”
6. USA Today’s Nate Davis. Grade: C. Comment in story here: “They had the stones to take Tagovailoa fifth overall, and this draft will largely be defined by the outcome of his career and its longevity given his medical concerns. Of course, the Fins’ abundance of of picks enabled them to roll the dice on Tagovailoa and others who arrive with significant questions, including first-round CB Noah Igbinoghene and second-round DT Raekwon Davis. The rampant boom-or-bust variables suggest a swing for the fences for an organization desperate to return to relevance. (Admittedly, Navy’s Malcolm Perry was a nice touch in Round 7.) But remains to be seen if they were better off retaining the services of Fitzpatrick and Tunsil, whose departures padded Miamis’s arsenal of picks but stunted forward progress.”
7. The Ringer’s Danny Kelly. Gave Dolphins the, “Understanding Positional Value Award. Comment: “Miami loaded up on foundational players at the league’s premium positions, grabbing their future franchise quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, a pair of offensive tackles in Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt (the latter of whom brings guard/tackle versatility), and a cornerback in Noah Igbinoghene with their first five picks. They avoided the temptation of grabbing a less-valuable running back early on (they traded a mid-rounder to San Francisco for Matt Breida later) or two-down run-stuffing defenders with those first few picks (they waited to grab a hulking interior defensive linemen in Raekwon Davis in the late second). In other words, Miami’s strategy and process for maximizing their high-end draft capital appears sound …”
8. Rotoworld’s Hayden Winks. Grade: B. Comment in story here: “The Dolphins moved up and down the board with very reasonable draft day trades, which made up for some iffy mid-round picks, but all eyes are at the top of the class… Tagovailoa fell into their laps with the Chargers sold on Justin Herbert at No. 6, and the Heisman runner-up is a worthwhile risk given the current state of the Miami organization. If healthy, Tagovailoa can be a Pro Bowl quarterback capable of picking apart defenses with above-average accuracy and mobility … Jackson will need to develop — he’s only 20 years old and was inconsistent at USC — but he has 89th percentile athleticism and the size of NFL left tackles.… A similar story can be told about Igbinoghene, who has only played corner for a few seasons but has all the speed in the world … Once again, the Dolphins are betting on upside with Hunt. He was injured last season but showed NFL skills, athleticism, and size at Louisiana. They probably hope he can play right tackle. He may have to kick inside and play guard. That’s totally fine … Davis was an unproductive pass rusher at Alabama and had some off-field question marks, a combination that prevented me from ranking him inside my top-100. It was a big gamble to draft him at No. 56, but he should at least be playable against the run… Jones will compete for starting duties with the Dolphins hurting at safety, but he profiled as a low-end starter and special teamer to me despite being a highly productive tackler at Texas … Kindley was inconsistent at Georgia because of injuries but has the raw strength to compete for starting reps if healthy.”
9. SBNation’s Dan Kadar. Grade: B-minus. Comment in story here: “Even before the Dolphins took Tagovailoa, they had to improve their offensive line. That’s what they did by grabbing Austin Jackson in the first round and Robert Hunt in the second. Jackson needs some developmental work, but he has the potential to be a good starting left tackle. Hunt is likely to move from right tackle to guard in the NFL. Solomon Kindley, a fourth-round pick, provides good depth at guard as well. Of course, under head coach Brian Flores, the Dolphins took plenty of players on defense. Cornerback Noah Igbinoghene was a surprise first-round pick. Defensive lineman Raekwon Davis, taken in the second round, had some first-round buzz before the season. Defensive end Curtis Weaver was a steal in the fifth round.”
10. NBCSports’ Justin Leger. Grade: B-minus. Comment in story here: “Brian Flores was a busy man, starting with his pick of Tagovailoa at No. 5 overall. We may look back at that pick as one that changed the course of the Dolphins franchise, or we could look back at one of their biggest mistakes given Tua’s lengthy injury history. Jackson was a nice pick to follow up with as protection for Tua is a major need. The same can be said for Hunt. With Flores leading the way, it’s no surprise that defense was a major focus for Miami as well. Igbinoghene was a bit of a reach, but Davis and Weaver could turn out to be steals. Kindley was another excellent selection to protect the injury-prone QB. Drafting a long-snapper was weird, but whatever.”