Miami Dolphins 2012 NFL Draft Team Needs
The Miami Dolphins continue to search for relevancy as they attempt to bring big named coaches and big named players to South Beach. The interest in bring Peyton Manning aboard appeared to be mainly one-sided, and the Dolphins also missed out on free agent quarterback Matt Flynn despite his ties to new head coach Joe Philbin from their days together in Green Bay.
The trade of wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears for two third-round picks has created another position where a talent upgrade is needed on a roster in need of a talent upgrade at multiple spots.
The free agent signing of David Garrard seems to do little more than create some possible competition for incumbent starter Matt Moore, but since he is 34 years old and sat out the entire 2011 season due to bad back the Dolphins still need a long-term solution under center. Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill is a possibility for the Dolphins with the eighth overall pick, and his ties to offensive coordinator Mike Sherman (who was the head coach at Texas A&M before being fired after the 2011 season) may make him an attractive option. In any case, Miami needs to address the quarterback position sometime early in April’s draft as they still try to find a worthy successor to Dan Marino.
The trade of Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears for two third-round picks makes an already talent-poor receiving corp even thinner. Davone Bess is now the team’s de facto N0.1 wide receiver, followed by an underwhelming group that includes Brian Hartline, Clyde Gates and little else in terms of remotely recognizable names. It is possible a free agent that is still available could be brought in, but it would not be a surprise at all to see the Dolphins draft multiple wide receivers in this year’s draft and a player like Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd could be a possible target with the eighth overall pick.
Right Tackle/Right Guard
Philbin has acknowledged that the Dolphins’ offensive line is not set, and free agents Vernon Carey and Marc Columbo were clearly not the answer at right tackle in 2011. It is possible OT Lydon Murtha is in the mix to start at right tackle, and OG/OT John Jerry is also in the mix to start at either spot on the right side of the line right now. The signing of veteran Artis Hicks in free agency creates another potential option at right guard or right tackle, but a talent upgrade still seems to be needed for either or both spots. The Dolphins could use an early or mid-round pick to insert a young player into the mix.
The Dolphins released veteran safety Yeremiah Bell this offseason, leaving Chris Clemons, Reshad Jones and Tyrone Culver to battle for the two starting safety spots. The need for a ball-hawking free safety is a particular need, as Clemons and Jones combined for just one interception in 2011. Adding a young safety looks likely, though more urgent needs elsewhere may prevent an early pick from being used on the position.
Cornerback is also a possible need, despite the signing of free agent Richard Marshall to go with the solid young duo of Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. With the prolific passing offenses of the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills in the AFC East, having sufficient depth at corner is vital and Marshall may compete with Smith to start opposite Davis. The fact Smith is slated to become a free agent after the 2012 season may cause the Dolphins to draft a potential fallback option this year if they think Smith will leave. No matter what, Miami needs to upgrade their talent level across the secondary if the hope to compete within their own division.
Miami will switch to a 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and they need to add a defensive end that fits that scheme opposite Cameron Wake, who will likely move from outside linebacker to defensive end now. 2010 first-round pick Jared Odrick should be in the mix somewhere along the defensive line, but the Dolphins may still take a long look at defensive ends early in April’s draft, even possibly the No.8 pick if Tannehill is not available. At that point, North Carolina’s Quinton Coples and South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram could be potential targets.
The re-signing of Paul Soliai will help the Dolphins’ interior defensive line, and Randy Starks should be able to fairly easily transition from 3-4 defensive end to 4-3 defensive tackle if that is the role the team has in mind for him. That said, some added depth here would not hurt as the re-signing of DT Ryan Baker does not look to be enough in that regard. Losing DE Kendall Langford to the St. Louis Rams in free agency further thins Miami’s defensive line depth, and finding good fits for the new defensive scheme should be a priority at some point in the draft. Penn State DT Devon Still may become a possibility at eighth overall if things fall a certain way early in the first round.
Wake’s likely move to defensive end and the retirement of Jason Taylor creates a void at linebacker for the Dolphins, and again finding players that can fit into a 4-3 defense is a concern. Finding an impact outside linebacker that fits a 4-3 scheme may be something the Dolphins take a long look at, but again more urgent needs elsewhere on the roster may take priority during the draft.