A rebuilding project has left the Miami Dolphins perceived as NFL lightweights, and to help change that, they used their first-round draft pick on a 315-pound defensive tackle, Clemson’s Christian Wilkins.
The Dolphins went 7-9 in 2018, and after shedding numerous veterans from the roster this offseason, they’re widely expected to be worse this year under new coach Brian Flores. The Dolphins’ odds for winning the Super Bowl are 250 to 1, longest in the NFL.
Even so, Wilkins was so happy to be selected by Miami that he celebrated by leaping into Commissioner Roger Goodell on the draft stage in Nashville, Tennessee.
Miami passed on Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins with the No. 13 overall pick, and instead attempted to shore up a defense that last year allowed 6,257 yards, most in franchise history.
The draft was deep in defensive linemen, and some projected Wilkins as a top-10 pick. Last year the first-team All-American had 15 tackles for a loss and six sacks to help the Tigers win the national championship. He’s the first Clemson scholarship player to earn a degree in 2 1/2 years.
Miami has used a first-round pick on a quarterback only once since 1983. Well-traveled veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick signed with the Dolphins in March, and they’ve acknowledged he’s merely a caretaker, but the draft wasn’t deep at the position.
The Dolphins might pursue Arizona quarterback Josh Rosen, who is on the trade market after the Cardinals used the No. 1 overall pick to take quarterback Kyler Murray of Oklahoma. Arizona took Rosen with the 10th overall pick last year, and the former UCLA star had a rocky rookie season.
With a multitude of needs still to be addressed, the Dolphins have one pick in the second round and another in the third round Friday. They’ll be in the market for a defensive lineman and right tackle, among other positions.