When it comes to draft analysts, there are not many better than Emmy award-winning NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. The former collegiate defensive back turned draft expert holds an encyclopedia-like knowledge of the game and is NFL Network’s premier draft guru. Mayock releases monthly positional rankings beginning the days before the NFL combine in February, and also does several conference calls with media, answering anything and everything about the upcoming draft.
To go along with the release of his somewhat controversial April positional rankings, yesterday Mayock participated in one of his patented extended conference calls. He answered various media outlets’ questions on the draft for two hours. On the call, Mayock spoke on a wide range of topics, including potential prospects that could become picks for the Dolphins next weekend.
One of the names Mayock mentioned several times throughout the call was Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin. Projected as a potential pick for the Dolphins in many mock drafts, Martin is one of the most versatile players in the entire draft class. He has the ability to play almost any position across the offensive line. Mayock believes that Martin will be long gone by the time the Dolphins’ pick comes around at #19, probably within the 9-13 area.
“I love the kid,” said Mayock. “He’s too good. He’s too safe. There are too many offensive line needs out there. There are a bunch of teams that look at him and say, ‘He could start at right tackle day one, maybe we move him inside to guard or center the next year’. He’s awesome. He’s about as safe a player as there is in this draft. If you want him, you better get him early.”
So who’s an option for the Dolphins if Martin is off the board #19? The buzz still has Miami looking at an offensive lineman. The 6’7 322 pound Cyrus Kouandjio of Alabama is the highest rated offensive lineman on Mayock’s board after Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan and Martin. He sees Miami as a possible destination for the first-team All-American.
“In my head, Zack is going to be gone,” said Mayock. “There’s no way in the world he gets close to 19. That means that the last first-round tackle I have is Cyrus Kouandjio. I have him later as far as on my board, but I think he’s the guy they probably have to take at 19. They have to make over that offensive line. He would be the highest-rated guy left.”
If the Dolphins don’t value Kouandjio that high, they could always trade down to add to their seven draft picks or go in a different direction. Several mock drafts have the Dolphins selecting defensive stars like C.J. Mosley and Bradley Roby, but Mayock believes it may be at a position that Miami is already pretty loaded with talent at: wide receiver.
“I think a wide receiver would pique my interest there,” said Mayock. “At that point a (Odell) Beckham or (Brandin) Cooks. You’d have to take a look at those two players and say are they significantly more highly rated than Kouandjio is. If so, you pull the trigger on the wideout.”
Going with a position other than offensive lineman in the first round would likely mean that the Dolphins would go in that direction on Day 2, with players like Ohio State tackle Jack Mewhort, Tennessee tackles Ja’Wuan James and Antonio Richardson, and Nevada offensive lineman Joel Bitonio. Mayock is a big fan of Bitonio especially, and sees him as one of the drafts hidden gems.
“A guy that nobody is talking about that I love is Joel Bitonio from Nevada,” said Mayock. “Most people assume he’s a guard. I watched him handle Anthony Barr from UCLA. I watched him against Florida State. I watched him against Boise who has a good edge kid in Demarcus Lawrence. I think Bitonio will start day one at right tackle.”
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The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.