Sunday, April 30, 2023

Miami Dolphins 2023 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

What draft grades have the media given to the Miami Dolphins? What are they saying about the Dolphins' 2023 draft haul?

MORE: 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule - Grade: B-

Miami forfeited its first-round pick and has yet to see what it truly have in edge Bradley Chubb, who was acquired with a first-rounder gained from the Niners. Smith could be a nice nickel defender early in his career, and head coach Mike McDaniel will surely figure out how to use Achane's speed.

Miami sent fourth- and sixth-round picks to Kansas City as part of the Tyreek Hill trade. The Dolphins found two offensive players with their remaining picks, with Higgins moving from receiver to tight end in the NFL due to his size and Hayes projecting as a swing tackle for the Dolphins.

ESPN - Grade: B

Miami entered this draft with just four picks, the fewest in the league, and it had already filled its biggest roster hole via the March trade for cornerback Jalen Ramsey. This is a really solid team, though its success hinges a great deal on the health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was in the MVP discussion before concussions caused him to miss five games. I wanted to see the Dolphins get immediate help somewhere, and I love their first two picks.

Cornerback Cam Smith (51) excelled in zone coverage in college, and he locked down SEC wideouts. Running back Devon Achane (84) could be one of the steals of the draft. He should be on preseason Rookie of the Year watchlists. Achane is super fast and has ability in the pass game; what's not to like? Ryan Hayes (238) is my 15th-ranked offensive tackle; I was surprised he lasted that late. His 2022 tape is very solid.

This class was handcuffed by the forfeited first-round pick, but general manager Chris Grier landed two tremendous players on Day 2.

SI - Grade: D+

No team had fewer picks than the Dolphins, who were stripped of a first-round choice for tampering, and then sent a third-round pick to the Rams for star corner Jalen Ramsey. Miami was also still paying off its debt for receiver Tyreek Hill, but despite it all, it found some talent on Days 2 and 3. Achane will compete for snaps in a crowded but competitive backfield, while Smith and Higgins should fit in as depth pieces who can play special teams in the early going. Hayes is going to join an offensive line still looking for answers ahead of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, specifically on the right side.

PFF - Grade: B-

Day 2: Smith is always around the football, has a propensity for pass breakups and tested faster than he played on tape, which could be a sign of continued growth. No one's big board ranking dropped more precipitously over the last month of the pre-draft cycle, but he could end up being a value. Smith makes a lot of sense starting in the slot with Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard out wide in Vic Fangio's loaded defense.

Miami gets another legitimate track star for their offense by taking Texas A&M running back Devon Achane at 84th overall. Achane clocked a 4.32-second 40-yard time and was a star member of the Aggies' track squad. He racked up a whopping 36 breakaway runs of 15-plus yards over the past two seasons.

Higgins is a bit of a tweener between being a bigger wide receiver and move tight end at 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds with 4.54 speed. He was an underneath target at Stanford who turned in PFF receiving grades below 70.0 in each of the past two seasons as a starter. Despite his size, Higgins ranked in just the 26th percentile at the position in contested catch percentage since 2021.

It's not a bad idea for the Dolphins to throw a late-round dart at the offensive line given their struggles up front in recent years. Hayes took a step forward in 2022, grading out above the 50th percentile at the position in pass-blocking grade on true pass sets and as a zone run blocker.

Fox Sports - Grade: B+

The Dolphins had just four picks and their top selection came at 51st overall where they took cornerback Cam Smith. It seems crazy, at first, given their tandem of Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard. But if you go back and look at how injuries devastated this team, you'll see why the Dolphins went after an excess of cornerbacks this offseason. Smith is an outstanding cover corner and should be reliable if called upon.

Mike McDaniel, then — I'm imagining — told GM Chris Grier to get the fastest running back in this draft class. Texas A&M RB Devon Achane fell to Miami in the third round, where his speed (4.32-second 40-yard dash) almost feels ho-hum in the company of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. But that's the point. This offense is a track team that can deliver hits.

In Rounds 6 and 7, Miami picked Stanford receiver Elijah Higgins and Michigan tackle Ryan Hayes.

USA Today - Grade: C+

They only had four picks, partially self-inflicted due to owner Stephen Ross' tampering violation leading to the forfeiture of a first-rounder. Another Round 1 choice was spent on the trade for OLB Bradley Chubb. But it felt like the Fins made the most of what they had — second-rounder Cam Smith with a shot at being one of the league's best CB3s behind Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard, and home-run hitting RB Devon Achane (Round 3) a decent bet to out-touch vets Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. Could have been better, but not bad at all ... all things considered.

The Ringer - Grade: B

I'm completely serious when I say that the Dolphins could've walked away from this draft with only running back Devon Achane and I would've called this class a success. Achane is an extraordinarily explosive speedster who should complement the team's receiver duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle perfectly. With defenses crowding the middle of the field to take away in-breaking routes, Achane can make his mark on outside stretch runs and screen plays, with home run speed every time he touches the ball. I am also a fan of South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith and think it's more than worth taking a flier on Stanford's Elijah Higgins, who is expected to convert from receiver to TE. He's got seam-stretching speed to develop and Miami can give him time to develop. I'll ding Miami for their focus on non-premium positions outside cornerback (and a general lack of picks), but overall I like the players they chose.

Sporting News - Grade: B-

The Dolphins cannot finish higher than this because they did something stupid to flush away their first-rounder and had limited draft capital otherwise with some big recent trades. Smith is a great value, but it's for a position of strength. Achane can excel in Mike McDaniel's system, but in the short term, also feels a bit superfluous after the team re-signed both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. Higgins helps improve weak wideout depth behind Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: C+

Losing your first-round pick because you were messing around with Tom Brady is automatically going to sink your overall draft grade, and with just four picks overall, the Dolphins don't have a lot here. However, I'm fully on board with their first two selections. Cam Smith is an NFL-ready cornerback who is just as good in off-coverage as he is in press; he does everything well with no real liabilities. And for a team that under head coach Mike McDaniel wants to put a track team on the field on offense, Devon Achane is a literal perfect fit, as his track background shows up all over the field. He will be quite fun to watch in that offense. Achane ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the combine, and last season, 18 of his 196 rushing attempts went for 15 or more yards. And Ryan Hayes could break through in Miami's iffy line — last season, he allowed no sacks and 11 total pressures in 357 pass-blocking reps.

Elijah Higgins is a huge (6-foot-3, 235-pound) receiver who isn't an obvious deep receiver, but the Dolphins already have enough of those guys, and this is a good change of pace. Not a bad draft for the Dolphins; you would have liked to see more of it, is all.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups

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