After last off season’s Free Agency shopping spree by then GM Jeff Ireland, the Miami Dolphins find themselves in a completely different situation this year. Wow, a lot has changed in one year! It seems like just a few months ago the Dolphins biggest problem was determining which free agents to spend their 90 million dollars on. Today, amid the seemingly endless Incognito-Martin fiasco (is anyone else besides me tired of this and ready to talk football?) and the new hires in the organization, the Miami Dolphins are still just a few crucial pieces away from a playoff berth and possible playoff run. They made the vital move of firing OC Mike Sherman and hired a new GM in Dennis Hickey.
His first task?
Filling Miami’s glaring holes through FA, and more importantly through the NFL Draft. Whether or not Miami will take a need-based approach or a Best Player Available mindset into the 2014 NFL Draft has yet to be determined. While I am on the BPA bandwagon, this article will focus on the Dolphins’ draft from a need-based approach. I have the ‘Fins’ needs as the following: Offensive Linemen (both guards and tackles), Running Back, Defensive Back, Defensive Linemen, Linebacker, and Pass-Catcher (whether TE or WR). These can obviously be argued one way or another, but these are my needs as I see it right for this team. The big question is this: With which selection should the Dolphins address the aforementioned needs? Here is my take on what position the Dolphins should address and when.
Round 1, Pick 19: Defensive Tackle
Frankly, I think Miami will snag either OT Branden Albert or Eugene Monroe in free agency, and I am not opposed to that idea. After the top 2 or 3 options, the tackles in this draft simply are not that great. I was also tempted to have Miami draft an OG with this pick, but I think the draft is deep enough for the ‘Fins to wait until later. Defensive tackle will be a need for this team after they let either Randy Starks or Paul Soliai walk. There is a chance they let both walk. That would leave a gaping hole in the center of Miami’s defense, a hole that has been filled by a Pro Bowl caliber player for the past years. This is why I think Miami should use their first rounder on a proven guy like Timmy Jernigan, Louis Nix or Aaron Donald. Our defense struggled enough last year with top talent at the DT position, and I shudder to think of how much more it would suffer without a big plug in the center.
Round 2, Pick 18: Offensive Guard
There really is not a “for sure” first round pick among the guards this year, but there are plenty of second or third round talents at the position, which is why I think Miami should solidify their line and take a guard in round two. Having already grabbed a bookend OT in FA, Miami adds to their weakened line by going with a proven, physical guard with their second pick. A guy like Cyril Richardson or Gabe Jackson should be available at this time, and the ‘Fins would kill two birds with both stones, drafting both for need and BPA by adding a guard.
Round 3, Pick 17: Defensive Back
Assuming Miami reaches a deal with CB Brent Grimes (if they don’t I may riot), the Dolphins will still need to find some competition for the constantly injured Patterson and Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. Safety Chris Clemons is also a FA who Miami could let walk to save money. Numerous defensive backs struggled at the combine this year, which should make them available in the third round. I would like to see Miami draft defense with their third pick, and solidify what was a promising secondary last season. You can never have enough play makers on defense.
Round 4, Pick 16: Running Back
Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas need some competition. A fiery young rookie who is ready to start and get some reps in the NFL. My guy has been and still is James Wilder Jr. out of Florida State, and he will almost certainly be available in the 4th round. Regardless of who they choose, Miami should add a potential franchise back, and I think the position is deep enough to wait until the fourth round to do so.
Round 5, Pick 15: Pass Catcher
Wide Receiver may be the most underrated position in terms of depth in this draft. There is quite a variety to the spread too. Speedsters, slot-guys, big bodied outside receivers, massive TE’s, you name it and this draft has got it. Whether they go with a big-bodied TE with soft hands or a large WR like Brandon Coleman out of Rutgers, I think the Dolphins should bolster what was an injury-riddled WR corps. After injuries to Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller left what was arguably the strongest offensive unit weak, it pays to have a player who can come in and help Ryan Tannehill make plays.
Round 6, Pick 14: Linebacker
This is not necessarily Miami’s top need, but after the dismal performance by Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, Miami could use some competition at the position. What they really lack is an LB who can cover, and these types of players can be found in the later rounds. Hopefully a speedy and strong beast falls into round 6 and Miami can snatch him up. Hopefully.
Round 7, Pick 19: Offensive Linemen
Finding a small-school, 4 year OL starter could only help this team. If Miami can somehow find a gem that can work hard and come in and start on this depleted OL, they will have addressed their number one need while also finding value in the later rounds. Look for the ‘Phins to add another big body to compete for a spot on a wide open line.