What are option for Dolphins at pick 13?

Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland (19) during the game against the Michigan State Spartans in the 2015 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland (19) during the game against the Michigan State Spartans in the 2015 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Dolphins swung a trade with Philadelphia in the day leading up to the start of free agency. That trade cost the Dolphins five draft slots. Moving them from 8th overall to 13th overall. So what kind of options do they now have?

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Understanding what the Dolphins might do in next months draft is really predicated on what they do with the rest of free agency. The Dolphins this off-season have not filled any holes without creating another one. Only two positions on the team, three including quarterback, will not be targeted in round one. Wide-receiver and tight end. Everything else is fair game but here is the problem. Miami has more holes draft selections and will likely pass up very good talent to fill those holes.

Entering the league new year, free agency, Miami had an opportunity to add to their roster and fix some of their weaknesses. What they couldn’t accomplish in free agency they could have accomplished in the draft. That is not to say that Miami needed to go out and spend high dollar salaries to bring in the top players at positions. They have been and needed to be smart but perhaps they have played this a little too safe.

The most glaring needs are guard (two of them), cornerback, defensive end, running back, and linebacker. Miami addressed two of those positions in free agency. Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso arrived via the Eagles trade that swapped the positions. Maxwell however will not be playing opposite Brent Grimes as the Dolphins released him thus leaving the same hole that was present before the trade.

Alonso could be a very good linebacker but his injury history says otherwise. The problem with moving down is that the team has removed any possibility of drafting linebacker Myles Jack who some regard as the second best player in the draft.

So where do the Dolphins turn? Spending a first round selection on a running back with so many other needs is troublesome. The best prospect is Ezekiel Elliot of Ohio State but the Eagles, now in the 8th spot, need a running back and Elliot could be their target. If he is not, it’s still unlikely he falls to Miami.

With Jack now out of the picture Miami could look to Reggie Ragland at 13 and that might be a little high for him but Ragland could be a very good linebacker in the NFL. The problem is that Ragland is an inside linebacker and that is where Alosno will line up. Miami can’t afford to draft another player who will sit to open the season. Of course he would challenge Alsonso for the starting job.  Darron Lee is also a possibility but many project him in the bottom half of the first round.

At defensive end, another position Miami is still trying to bolster via free agency is Kevin Dodd of Clemson. Dodd is one of the top players at his position this year and his addition would certainly give Miami a strong rotation in 2016 and possible replacement for Cameron Wake in 2017.

13 is far too high to take a guard. I’m not a fan of taking offensive lineman in round one unless it’s the 2nd half of the first round. Still the Dolphins have done NOTHING to fix the most glaring hole on their roster and that means they have to address this in the draft and they will need to do so early. Vadal Alexander of LSU is the top guard prospect but he grades out as a 2nd round talent. Miami needs to address the guard position in round two. No sooner and no later.

Cornerback is a high-priority but one the Dolphins can still fix in free agency. If Miami can sign one of the remaining cornerbacks they won’t need to reach in round one to find one. And they will need to find one. Mackenzie Alexander is likely going to fall to 13. Vernon Hargreaves, III will not. Alexander is a solid corner but there are a lot of questions about whether he can transition to the NFL and that makes him a bit of risk. Corner back is too important of a position to leave to Bobby McCain and Jamar Taylor.

Draft priorities will change between now and the end of April. There are no game changing players left in the free agent market and all come with questions to some degree. If we were to prioritize what the Dolphins need to do in the draft by position, it would not be easy but here is where I believe Miami should go.

Round 1 – Defensive end or linebacker – Miami needs to fix these two areas and a top edge rushing prospect or an interior/outside linebacker could have a lasting impact on the roster for the next five years.

Round 1 priority – Linebacker, defensive end, cornerback, running back, guard

Round 2 – Guard

Round 2 priority– Guard. The Dolphins have to address the guard position. They can not wait until round four and miss out on top level talent. After round two the draft pool at this position thins out and that can’t happen again this year. It’s the only position Miami must address in round two.

Round 3 – Linebacker or Cornerback – if the Dolphins have a shot at drafting another top end guard they should absolutely do it but the addition of one in round two makes it less important. I would suspect that the round 1 selection will be defensive end based on the talent available at 13. In round three I’m going with linebacker or cornerback.

Round 3 priority – Cornerback, LB/DE. Corner is the most important spot here given the talent pool. Whoever the Dolphins didn’t take in round one would be the next logical choice.

Round 4 – Running back. Miami has to replace Lamar Miller and the 4th round should still leave a lot of solid talent to supplement the roster.

Round 4 priority – RB, G, CB, LB

After round four its best player available at any position. Miami has a tendency to draft many players at one position and then see if any of them stick. Why not start drafting the best players that are available regardless of position and see if they can stick?