Competing Dolphins Predictions Pit ‘Unstoppable Energy’ vs. ‘Savvy’ Technique

Dolphins draft predictions target Jared Verse and Laiatu Latu in round one.

Getty Could Florida State edge rusher Jared Verse be an option for the Miami Dolphins in round one of the NFL draft?

There have been a few popular positional theories for the Miami Dolphins’ first-round selection in 2024, and edge rusher is one of them with Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips both working their way back from injury.

Recent competing predictions targeted different pass-rushing prospects this week. First, on April 15, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. mocked Jared Verse to Miami out of Florida State.

“I would have gone with [offensive lineman Graham] Barton if he were available,” Kiper admitted before adding that “Verse is a stellar backup plan for Miami.” He called him a “balanced pass-rusher who can set the edge in the run game.”

On the flip side, The Athletic’s lead draft analyst Dane Brugler agreed on edge rusher at No. 21 on April 17, but he went with UCLA pass rusher Laiatu Latu rather than Verse.

“The Dolphins weren’t scared off by Jaelan Phillips’ injury past, and I don’t think they will shy away from Latu’s either,” Brugler stated. “With Bradley Chubb and Phillips working their way back from injury, Latu and his savvy pass-rush skills can contribute immediately in Miami.”

Scouting Differences Between Potential Dolphins Draft Targets Jared Verse & Laiatu Latu

That last sentence from Brugler brings up a difference in prospect here. While Latu is known for “savvy” and technique, Verse’s draft rise is based on “athleticism” and ceiling.

“Thrives with winning first step and unstoppable energy,” NFL Network scouting expert Lance Zierlein relayed, regarding Verse. “He’s twitchy and compact, with explosiveness featured at the point of attack and in his upfield burst as a pass rusher.”

Zierlein also highlighted the former Seminole’s “hellish speed-to-power bull-rushing ability.”

It’s not that Latu can’t do these things, but he’s more of an “instinctive” pass rusher according to Zierlein.

“Latu possesses the kind of rare maturity to his game that you usually see from NFL veterans,” the NFL Network analyst voiced. “He rarely stays blocked by tackles as a run defender and dominates blocking tight ends on the collegiate level.”

Concerns for both prospects exist. While Latu appears to be the more NFL-ready talent — one AFC executive told Zierlein he is the “most skilled rusher in the draft” — selecting him comes with injury risk.

As Brugler alluded, there are health concerns with Latu that stem from a neck injury that was suffered during his time at Washington.

Verse isn’t quite as polished as the UCLA product, on the other hand, but some believe the sky’s the limit for the Florida State playmaker. “He really sees the game well and he’s got the athleticism to go with it,” one NFC executive said. “I think he’ll be one of the best defensive players to come out of this draft.”

Dolphins Will Not Target Quarterback in Round 1 of NFL Draft

Although it’s still unclear if Miami will target edge rusher, offensive line or another role like defensive tackle, one position seems to be off the table.

On April 16, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier told reporters that QB is “not something I’m looking at [in] the first round.” Adding: “That’s not something we’ve talked about.”

This finally closed the door on some recent speculation that Miami should replace Tua Tagovailoa with a similar prospect like Washington rookie Michael Penix Jr.

“We’re very happy with Tua,” Grier noted while discussing the idea of an extension. As for the 2024 first-round selection, the Dolphins GM had two words for the pick: “Best available.”