The NFL draft is one week old today and, personally, I'm still digesting all the meat it served up. As you know, no team draft's in a vacuum. There are reasons teams pick certain players and certain positions. Like elections, drafts have consequences.
Today we study those possible consequences.
We look at each pick and follow the intended fallout to see what it means, not only for the position but for other players who were already on the roster.
First round -- RT Ja'Wuan James.
Consquence: This one is easy because it practically guarantees that Miami will get back on track in putting its first-round pick in the starting lineup from the jump. The Dolphins took a detour from that last year with Dion Jordan, but prior to that, six consecutive first-round picks dating back to 2007 had been starters on Day One. James is Miami's starting right tackle on Day One and so we can get past the idea that often-injured Jason Fox will be Miami's starting right tackle. Sure, there will be a competition. That's the right way to do it. But, um, James will win the competition. And if he does not, something went horribly, horribly wrong.
Second round -- WR Jarvis Landry
Consequence: Landry is immediately an option as a slot receiver but he will have to play special teams like the dickens to be active on game days. Here is the reason for the uninitiated: The first three WRs -- Brandon Gibson, Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace -- get their reps on offense. None play special teams. The fourth active WR has to play special teams. Period. This pick suggests the Dolphins will keep five instead of four wide receivers on the roster. Last year Miami kept only four coming out of camp. Or, failing that, one of last year's four -- Wallace, Hartline, Gibson, Rishard Matthews -- is gone. Well, yes, one of the last year's four is gone. As I've explained to you previously, Matthews' days with the Dolphins are numbered. Despite his career high 41 catches for 448 yards and two touchdowns a season ago, Matthews is not a favorite of the coaching staff, particularly head coach Joe Philbin. My column explains why. Because Landry is a second round pick, he is almost guaranteed of making the team. So that means veterans such as Armon Binns, Kevin Cone, and Damien Williams are already at a numbers-game disadvantage -- again, unless the club goes with five receivers on the roster instead of four.
Third round -- G Billy Turner
Consequence: The Dolphins have been undecided about which side (left guard or right guard) Shelley Smith will play. The Dolphins have been undecided about which position (guard or tackle) Dallas Thomas will play. Well, Turner not only looks like a guard to me but feels like a left guard. The fact he's a rookie also suggests sandwiching him between veterans Branden Albert (LT) and Mike Pouncey (C) might be a better idea than putting him next to fellow rookie Ja'Wuan James. But here's the ripple effects of that: Dallas Thomas now becomes more valuable to the Dolphis as a right tackle because he can compete with Jason Fox for the backup role. Or he becomes valuable as a swing G/T. If he's the backup RT, Fox suddenly becomes expendable. If he's the swing G/T, that suddenly puts Nate Garner's roster chances on the line, pardon the pun. Turner on the roster means David Arkin, Thomas, Fox, and Garner are in a scramble for a roster spot.
[Peanut gallery: But Mando, you didn't mention Sam Brenner ... Isn't his spot on the line as well?]
Thanks for bringing that up, gallery. In fact, the Dolphins are viewing Brenner as a C/G option. And because center is a big part of that option, perhaps the biggest part, he becomes valuable because Mike Pouncey still faces NFL sanctions for his participation in last year's harassment scandal. If Pouncey misses time, Brenner is likely the starting center.
Fourth round -- CB Walt Aikens
Consequence: The Dolphins committed two early draft picks to the CB position a year ago when they drafted Jamar Taylor in the second round and Will Davis in the third round. The fact they felt a need to go cornerback so high speaks highly of what they think of Aikens but also suggests they are hedging their bet on either Taylor or Davis -- particularly after they signed Cortland Finnegan in free agency. By the way, Don Jones had an awful draft. Not only did he get caught up in the Michael Sam issue, but if Aikens is a good special teams player he threatens Jones's roster spot. Veteran Jalil Brown also cannot be thrilled.
Fifth round -- TE Arthur Lynch
Consequence: This one really, really interests me. At first I viewed Lynch as another Jeron Mastrud -- a role player whose role is an in-line blocking TE grunt. But the more I talk to people about Lynch, the more I hear he's an underrated pass catching threat as well. No, he's not fast. He's not been dynamic in college. But he's got possibilities. And that should worry a number of guys on the roster. Charles Clay is not one of those. He's just been picked as one of the NFL's Top 100 players by a voting of his peers. (The vote means nothing other than it shows respect for Clay but at the point he's ranked ahead of Dallas TE Jason Witten, the vote loses credibility). Anyway, Lynch's addition should worry Michael Egnew. This kid has basically been on scholarship for two years because he was a third-round pick in 2012. But that was a different GM and a different coach, in that that Philbin could afford to carry some dead weight on the roster his first couple of years but he's coaching for his life now. His job is on the line in 2013. I don't see another scholarship year for Egnew. This pick also suggests the team is not as enamored with Dion Sims, a fourth-round pick last year, as it seemed. Again, Sims was picked by a different GM and, it must be noted, is pretty much supposed to be the same kind of block-first TE that Lynch is. Meanwhile, if I'm Kyle Miller, I see the writing on the wall. Lynch does not close the door on Jermichael Finley (I don't see that) or a return for Dustin Keller (his reps say he's healthy although he's not ready yet) but I can see only a crack of light through that opening.
Fifth round -- LB Jordan Tripp
Consequence: People who live in the clouds will tell you this means Phillip Wheeler is out because Tripp is going to start at Middle linebacker or weakside linebacker, allowing the Dolphins to move on. Well, Wheeler may indeed be out after 2014 but not necessarily because of Tripp. It would have to do with Wheeler's performance. No, this picks should be ringing in the ears of players such as Jonathan Freeny, Jelani Jenkins, and perhaps even Jason Trusnik. This pick is immediately about special teams. And that is primarily where Freeny, Jenkins and Trusnik make their bones. Trusnik, you should know, is a fine special teams player. But he's going into his eighth season and he's scheduled to cost $1,071,688 on the salary cap. He gets cut, the Dolphins save $855,000.
Sixth round --WR Matt Hazel
Consequence: Unless Hazel is an epiphany that shines suddenly and violently out of pitch darkness, he will have a hard time making this team's 53-man roster because for all his gifts -- he's long and relatively fast -- he simply is not ready to beat out the top 4-5 guys right now. Maybe he gets the rookie scholarship and makes it just because he was drafted. That wouldn't say a lot for Williams and Cone. At worst, Hazel is a practice squad possibility.
Seventh round -- DE Terrence Fede
Consequence: The Dolphins seemed to have more defensive ends than they knew what to do with last year. With Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby around, there were hardly enough snaps to go around for then-rookie first-round pick Dion Jordan. So how does Fede fit? Who does he beat out? None of them. I suppose he's insurance in case of injury. I suppose he is practice squad material.