Though the team lost several solid contributors like RB Reggie Bush, OT Jake Long, DT Tony McDaniel, LB Karlos Dansby, LB Kevin Burnett and CB Sean Smith, their departures were far overshadowed by the additions of OG Lance Louis, WR Mike Wallace, WR Brandon Gibson, TE Anthony Fasano, TE Dustin Keller, DT Vaughn Martin, LB Dannell Ellerbe and LB Phillip Wheeler.
Let’s take an updated look at the Dolphins’ updated team needs heading into the 2013 NFL Draft (in no particular order).
Miami must address its secondary after losing Sean Smith and Vontae Davis on the open market in back-to-back offseasons. Though the Dolphins could also opt to improve in the trenches with their first round pick, look for the team to upgrade at cornerback.
Don’t be shocked if the ‘Fins decide to trade up into the Top 10—which was mentioned as a legitimate option in my latest mock draft—in order to secure Dee Milliner—the top cornerback in this draft class who could get selected as high as second overall to Jacksonville.
If Milliner lands with the Jaguars, Raiders, Eagles, Lions or any other team with one of the first nine picks, it could prompt the Tennessee Titans to take the second-best prospect at the position, former Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes. This would cause Miami to either trade down, take a player from a position that’s likely not a pressing need or reach for a late-first round CB in the No. 12 spot.
The Dolphins have two picks in the second and third round, so they have some much-needed ammunition to be able to pull off a trade at the top of the draft, if they choose to do so on April 25. They could also choose to use a couple of those first five picks on two new CBs.
2. Right Tackle
Another decent option for the Dolphins in the first round is to take the top offensive tackle available to line up opposite Jonathan Martin, who played well on the blind side after struggling early on in his first year. Lane Johnson is now a lock for the Top 11 picks and Eric Fisher won’t get past the seventh pick, which belongs to the Arizona Cardinals. Luke Joeckel is expected to wind up with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Options on the offensive line for the Dolphins on the second day of the draft could include Justin Pugh, Kyle Long, Menelik Watson, Dallas Thomas, Terron Armstead and David Bakhtiari.
3. Defensive Line
Cameron Wake was by far the ‘Fins most consistent and lethal pass-rusher, as racked up 53 tackles with 15.0 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2012. Jared Odrick was strong in run support and did register 35 tackles with 5.0 sacks in his third year, but some suggest Odrick needs to be moved inside to defensive tackle as his skills would be put to better use shooting the gap from the three-technique position.
This would allow the team to upgrade in the trenches alongside Randy Starks, who recently received the franchise tag and give the Dolphins defense a stronger pass rush and added depth and young talent on the outside opposite Cameron Wake.
Oliver Vernon collected 32 tackles with 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble in his rookie season in 2012. Should the team move Odrick inside, there should be a handful of starting-caliber defensive ends available for the Dolphins in the first two rounds this April, which could include Damontre Moore, Sam Montgomery, Alex Okafor, Corey Lemonier, Cornellius Carradine and Bjoern Werner.
The team also looks to bolster its backfield in the early to middle rounds of the draft with another running back.
Related Team Needs:
Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. He’s also about to start reporting on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyze important issues in the liberty movement for a political website. Follow him @_MichaelGartman on Twitter. Be sure to ‘like’ Gridiron Grit on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GridironGrit to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!