Dolphins add depth at CB, RB on second day of NFL draft
By ALANIS THAMES
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) After doing a lot of work in free agency to build an experienced roster poised to go further than last season's first-round playoff exit, the Miami Dolphins added depth at cornerback with South Carolina's Cam Smith, then selected Texas A&M's speedy running back Devon Achane on the second night of the NFL draft.
Achane, who runs a 4.32 40-yard dash, ranked among the top 20 in the nation in rushing, kickoff return and all-purpose yards in 2022. He had 1,102 yards rushing on 196 carries with eight TDs and 196 yards receiving and three receiving TDs.
Achane, the fastest player in the draft, adds more speed to a Dolphins offense with Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Raheem Mostert.
“It’s gonna be a really scary offense. We’re all pretty fast,” Achane said on a video conference call shortly after Miami selected him at No. 84 Friday night. He added that Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel told him during one of their pre-draft conversations that he planned on building one of the fastest teams in the NFL.
“Speed, we generally like around here," McDaniel said Friday night. “I think it’s more you feel like there’s a fit in terms of a guy fitting within your existing team ... That group in particular - the running back group - for us, is very important. You find a person, player that fits the skillset that you like.”
Miami brought back its 2022 leading rusher Mostert and running back Jeff Wilson in free agency but was looking to add depth at the position.
The Smith selection at No. 51 was a bit of a surprise for the Dolphins, who could have added a tight end or offensive lineman with their first pick of the draft.
Smith - a prospect that some experts felt had first-round talent - had six interceptions and 3.5 tackles for loss during his career with the Gamecocks. He's joining a Dolphins secondary that was decimated by injuries last season, which played a role in Miami finishing 27th in passing defense in 2022.
“It was the opportunity at that point in the draft to add a really talented football player," said Dolphins general manager Chris Grier, "and in this league, especially the AFC with a lot of talented quarterbacks and teams, you can never have enough corners, as we experienced last year with the rash of injuries that we dealt with.”
Smith said he didn't have many conversations with the Dolphins during the pre-draft process, but he was South Carolina teammates with Grier's son.
“I was just calling Landon (Grier) because we were just talking about how if I fell late into the second round, it could be that," Smith said. “I was just going off of what he was saying about the process, and then what Chris Grier was saying when I was on my visit - If they had the chance to get me, they would come and get me, and they stayed true to that.”
Smith is versatile and can play both outside corner and slot. He said that he and Grier spoke about getting adjusted to the NFL and honing his technique on the outside first.
“Then moving inside a little later,” Smith said, “moving, learning those things and stuff like that. So just kind of gradually going into it.”
Miami cornerback Nik Needham (Achilles) and safety Brandon Jones (knee) both suffered season-ending injuries in 2022. Cornerback Byron Jones, who Miami released last month, missed the entire season after having surgery on his lower left leg. And veteran Xavien Howard dealt with groin injuries all year.
The Dolphins finished last year ranked 18th in total defense and 24th in scoring defense and have focused on rebuilding their secondary so far this offseason.
They fired defensive coordinator Josh Boyer shortly after the 2022 season and brought in Vic Fangio to lead the defense. Last month, Miami traded for former Rams All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Miami has two picks - 197th and 238th - on Saturday.
The Dolphins did not have a first-round pick after forfeiting one when an NFL investigation found they violated the league’s antitampering policy regarding communication with Tom Brady and Sean Payton.
Miami gave up its other 2023 first-rounder in a November trade with Denver for edge rusher Bradley Chubb.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated April 28, 2023