The Miami Dolphins have been very active this offseason trying to retool its defense and are expected to continue that trend during the draft.
Miami (6-10) finished fourth in the AFC East last year, and its massive defensive issues were a big reason why the Dolphins missed the playoffs for a seventh straight year. Miami’s defense surrendered 30 or more points six times and ranked No. 19 overall in points given up (19.4). The Dolphins finished last in total defense, permitting 420.3 yards a contest, thanks in large part to their league-worst pass defense – Miami allowed 298.9 yards a game through the air along with 31 touchdowns. The ‘Fins also ranked 24th versus the run (121.4 yards a game) and tied for 25th in sacks with 31.
To make matters worse, according to ESPN Insider Bill Polian, Miami lost two of their better defensive linemen in free agency – Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby. Vernon signed with the New York Giants and Shelby departed for the Atlanta Falcons.
The Dolphins did go out and spend big money on former Buffalo Bill defensive end Mario Williams and also brought in Jacksonville Jaguar defensive end Andre Branch earlier in free agency. Williams and Branch are slated to join Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake as a major part of the ‘Fins defensive line rotation. Williams struggled last season with the Bills and Wake was limited to seven games due to an Achilles injury. Both Williams, 31, and Wake, 34, are getting up there in age.
DE Mario Williams joins a nucleus that includes DT Ndamukong Suh and DE Cameron Wake.https://t.co/rty5RYk55P— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 22, 2016
Which may be why the Miami Herald is reporting that Miami seems so interested in defensive linemen Robert Nkemdiche out of Mississippi. Nkemdiche is uber talented and has the ability to play multiple spots along the defensive line. The 6-foot-3, 294-pounder recorded 29 tackles and three sacks as a junior last season.
Despite his enormous talent, there are areas of concern for teams looking to draft Nkemdiche. Nkemdiche, who by his own admission can be lazy, was suspended for the Rebels’ Sugar Bowl game this year after getting drunk at a party in an Atlanta Hotel and falling 15-feet through a double-pane glass window. Nkemdiche was also charged with possession of marijuana that night as the drug was found in his room. He also admittedly failed a drug test in the spring of 2013.
Where will Nkemdiche end up being drafted, no one really knows.
In a poll of NFL scouts that was consummated by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Nkemdiche was chosen as the fourth best 3-4 defensive end in the draft behind Oregon’s DeForrest Buckner and Alabama teammates – Jarron Reed and A’Shawn Robinson. He was also selected as the fourth best defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment.
On the negative side, Nkemdiche was the runaway winner for the defensive linemen likely to be a bust.
“The guy has disaster written all over him,” said one NFL personnel man. “Can play inside and outside. Has initial quickness and can disrupt. Has been an inconsistent flash player.”
Would the Dolphins take a flier on Nkemdiche? Likely, if he is still available when they select, but not at No. 13.
Don’t be surprised if Miami trades down yet again before Thursday night. The Dolphins have already traded down from No. 8 to No. 13 when they sent that pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alfonso and cornerback Byron Maxwell. Miami currently has eight draft picks this year, which allows them to move up or down the draft. In all reality, the Dolphins are more apt to trade down as they could use an upgrade in several areas.
Newcomer Kiko Alonso joins Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi and more. https://t.co/6uXLN1pAiJ— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 26, 2016
Miami’s biggest areas of needs are at cornerback, running back, defensive end, and linebacker.
[Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press]