How Should The Miami Dolphins Approach The Draft?


How should the Miami Dolphins approach the NFL Draft? It’s not intended to be a joke but you can feel free to put your answers in our comments if you believe it should be intended that way. The truth is the Dolphins will have more than a few holes to fill and some much needed depth.

Should they go lineman again? The Dolphins have selected an offensive lineman twice with their first round pick two out of the last four years and took Jonathan Martin as a high 2nd rounder in another year. Would a cornerback, wide-receiver, or linebacker make more sense?

The Dolphins of course will have options and a lot of those options will be predicated on what they do in free agency. Which is where this article will take it’s turn. Here is a look at what I believe are the Dolphins best options for the draft and where free agency might or should surrender solutions to other needs.

Offensive Line:

I have never been a fan of drafting offensive lineman in round one. I have been steadfast in my football feelings of getting playmakers, people who actually touch the ball or stop the ball from moving. That being said, my opinion over the last year has changed considerably thank to Ja’wuan James. James has been very impressive to me and I actually found myself spending a lot time replaying games back just to watch his footwork.

The good news is that James should return to the right tackle position and Branden Albert should be back at some point although he may not be ready for pre-season. Where the Dolphins need help however is at the guard positions. Not right or left but both.

So how should the Dolphins approach the position? This is a position the team should tackle in free agency. There will be plenty of options for the team and while the price may be higher than what they want they simply can’t afford to enter the season with more projects or hopes that a rookie can replicate the season that James had. If the team believes in Dallas Thomas or Billy Turner then we shouldn’t see the team spend draft picks on them but they better spend some money on back-ups in free agency. Last years approach of adding Daryn Colledge and Shelley Smith didn’t work out too well but the Dolphins never really committed to Smith and the lack of depth behind them was atrocious.

If the Dolphins can and they should be able to land a solid proven guard in free agency then the team can concentrate their efforts in the draft on other positions still allowing them to use a deeper pick on a project.

Defensive Line:

The Dolphins could lose Jared Odrick this off-season as he is set to become a free agent. If they lose him playing time increases for Randy Starks but Starks is 31 while Odrick is 27. It would make more sense to cut Starks and re-sign Odrick for both a financial side and performance side. Unless Miami decides to sign Odrick and keep Starks the team will need to replace one of them and while free agency holds up well this year with solid defensive tackles the Dolphins can also afford to look at the draft mid-rounds for a replacement as the team has solid depth already.

I would approach this position carefully in free agency being careful not to overspend because you could probably keep Odrick for the same price or cheaper. If you keep Odrick you can draft a future defensive tackle later in the draft but it’s far less a priority.


The Dolphins have invested draft picks in Jamar Taylor and Will Davis and they are still waiting to see what exactly they have. Both players are entering their 3rd season and both are coming off season ending injuries. While both have shown promise when they were in the games neither have shown enough promise to believe they are ready to become full time starting corners opposite Brent Grimes.

That means with Cortland Finnegan likely out in Miami after one season, the Dolphins will need to add a cornerback. So what’s the approach. This is a tough call because if you draft a corner he will be competing with the other two youngsters and you are basically saying you have no faith in them. If you add a veteran corner on a one or two year deal you are playing it safe. In this case I’m playing it safe.

The issue for the Dolphins in the final six games last year was a complete lack of depth in the secondary. There is no one to blame but Dennis Hickey for that. He must get quality depth at the position this off-season and that means he will need to take a player in the draft, preferably late day two or day three, and add one or even two solid performing corners in free agency who can compete and provide strong depth to a unit that needed it.


Very similar situation to the cornerback position. A lack of depth hurt the team. Louis Delmas looked very good and well worth the money for most of the season but he has been injured each of the last four years, three previously with the Lions, and that no longer is a fluke but a trend. As much as Delmas would be a great fit for the Dolphins can the Dolphins risk losing him again? The Dolphins have four soon to be free agents. Jordan Kovacs and Michael Thomas are both exclusive rights free agents and Jimmy Wilson and Delmas are both unrestricted. The team needs to find a solution and if Delmas is willing to take a low salary one year deal he could be the right answer IF the Dolphins add enough depth to support the risk to injury Delmas provides.

Free agency will not likely provide a solution to the Dolphins permanent problem but could find a temporary solution. If I am Dennis Hickey I’m looking at free agency for a one or two year max deal with a productive but maybe an aging safety while I give another year to Michael Thomas to improve. I think the Dolphins may have something in Thomas and he could be the answer long term after his recover from a torn pectoral. I would also skip this years draft, at least on the first two days, and wait to add a safety in 2016 if I still need one.


Brian Hartline? Mike Wallace? Brandon Gibson? The three biggest question marks on the team heading towards the start of the league new year. Gibson and Hartline both could save a lot of money in cap space with a release while Mike Wallace could have possibly acted his way out. The trio has been discussed to great lengths so we won’t rehash them here. What we will say is that if the Dolphins part with two of the three, they are going to need to replace one of them.

The easiest to replace is Gibson since Jarvis Landry pretty much already has. Brian Hartline is a possession receiver lining up on the outside as the number two but his receptions dropped from 130 the previous two seasons to 63 in 2014. A lot of that had to do with the way the offense was being called but Hartline no longer is that go to wide-out for Ryan Tannehill.

Free agency is not an option for the Dolphins this year. Wide-receivers are paid very well and it does’t fit into the teams cap structure. The Dolphins could look at an aging veteran in free agency to fill the role for a year or two but I think the draft would hold the best options and this is the first position on my list here that could warrant a first round selection.

If Wallace or Hartline are gone and especially if both are, the Dolphins need to address the position early in either round one or round two depending on where they go with another position. The draft has some solid featured wide-outs and the Dolphins shouldn’t have a problem finding someone to compliment their system. The position is less of a need if Wallace and Hartline both stay but if I’m Dennis Hickey I need to look towards the future and frankly Wallace isn’t a part of this teams long term future so if the right player is there when I pick at 14 or again in round two, I’m giving it serious thought even though larger needs may be present.


This is my number one need for Miami in this years draft. Many draft experts have the Dolphins taking freakish athlete Shaq Thompson of Washington and I would be thrilled with that selection. Thompson is very fast and very versatile. In fact he has played safety and running back as well and played them both well. Thompson reminds of Jarvis Landry in his approach to playing and learning the game and that goes a long way towards becoming great.

There is no question the Dolphins need linebacker help as they underperformed last year when they were healthy. The team has huge decisions to make on Phillip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe and the position doesn’t lend well to free agency due to salary expectations but the Dolphins would be smart to look at the position in both free agency and the draft. If the team can lock down a talented, young, and productive linebacker in free agency the need in the draft obviously isn’t a high priority but it’s not something to overlook at all and if a player like Thompson is available then the Dolphins would be very smart to take him as he is someone who you can build around.

Mock Drafts:

It’s early. Very early and while it’s never too early, trying to select what a team will do before they have had a chance to dive into free agency doesn’t always make sense but that doesn’t stop anyone from doing it. I haven’t done one yet but here are a few that stand out if you want to get an early look at what others think.

Mel Kiper – ESPN

Dane Brugler – CBS Sports


To wrap this up and make it much simpler I would use my 14th overall pick on a top linebacker prospect and if there isn’t one I then turn my attention to either defensive line or wide-receiver. In round two I would look to add one of the two I did not take in round one OR I would then look at guard if there is nothing at DT or WR but receiver should be deep enough to fall into round two. In round three, four, and five I would go guard and then safety/cornerback and whichever position I didn’t address of the three in round one and two.