The Dolphins continued their living dangerously draft strategy in the 2nd round on Thursday, passing on opportunities to pick players who fit obvious needs to gamble on an offensive lineman from the Sun Belt.
Miami, after taking USC tackle Austin Jackson on Thursday with their second 1st-round pick, went with Louisiana-Lafayette’s Robert Hunt, a big, versatile offensive lineman who can bring depth to a position that has gone from a weak spot to, perhaps, a strength depending on the development of the young guys.
That’s all aimed at bolstering the chances of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the Alabama star picked with the fifth overall pick on Thursday. Tagovailoa is expected to be the Dolphins’ franchise quarterback going forward, though he has been injury-prone and will begin the year behind veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Hunt has a solid resume. At Louisiana, he allowed only five quarterback pressures in 574 passing snaps in the past two years. He had zero blown blocks in 216 rushing snaps in that span.
What remains a surprise, though, is that the Dolphins did not address more pressing needs with their pick, especially at running back. They could have traded up to get Georgia back D’Aaron Swift and had Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin still on the board when they drafted. The Dolphins are also yet to address their woeful pass rush in the draft.
The offensive line struggled badly last year and Kalen Ballage, expected to carry the rushing load, had a historically bad year. The Dolphins used four starting running backs: Mark Walton (who had 201 yards), Kenyan Drake (174 yards), Patrick Laird (168 yards), and Ballage, who had 135 yards and three touchdowns on 74 carries. Laird and Ballage are still with the team.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins in rushing last season with 243 yards. That is, obviously not optimal.
The Dolphins did make signing a running back in free agency a priority this offseason and got Jordan Howard from the Eagles. Howard struggled with a shoulder and missed six games but still managed 525 yards on the ground. That’s nearly half the Dolphins’ total.
Howard is expected to be a power back for Miami, which needs depth, speed, and versatility at the position.
Scouting Dolphins’ Robert Hunt
Here is the NFL.com scouting report on Robert Hunt:
Like Cody Ford in last year’s draft, Hunt is a plus athlete with a big man’s frame who could be considered at guard or tackle. Inconsistent footwork and pad level are the primary culprits when he fails to win the rep, but there aren’t any physical limitations that should prevent him from improving in both areas. Pass protection traits are present but getting the skill level up to par is going to take time. He’s a little raw but has the necessary talent to become a solid future starter at right tackle.
Dolphins’ Current Draft Board
Here’s where the Dolphins, with 15 total picks, stand now and in the coming rounds:
- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama. 1st Round — No. 5
- Austin Jackson, OL, USC. 1st Round — No. 18 (via Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn. 1st Round — No. 26 (via Houston Texans)
- Robert Hunt, OL, Louisiana-Lafayette. 2nd Round — No. 39
- 2nd Round — No. 56 (via New Orleans Saints)
- 3rd Round — No. 70
- 4th Round — No. 136
- 4th Round — No. 141
- 5th Round — No. 153 (via Arizona Cardinals)
- 5th Round — No. 154 (via Pittsburgh Steelers)
- 5th Round — No. 173 (via L.A. Rams)
- 6th Round — No. 185
- 7th Round — No. 227 (via Indianapolis Colts)
- 7th Round — No. 246 (via Kansas City Chiefs)
- 7th Round — No. 251