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Updating the Miami Dolphins' needs

4/10/2014

Free agency has been open for about a month. After a furious start, teams slowed down their spending and turned into bargain shoppers as they approached the NFL draft.

The Miami Dolphins addressed several of their needs in free agency, such as left tackle, running back and safety. Here are their top remaining needs:

1. Right tackle

Analysis: The Dolphins did a good job of securing quarterback Ryan Tannehill's blind side. Miami spent $47 million to sign Pro Bowl left tackle Brenden Albert, which was the team's highest-rated free agent. But who will protect Tannehill's front side? This remains the top need for the Dolphins entering the draft. Miami signed career backup Jason Fox, who was often injured with the Detroit Lions. Fox adds depth to the position, but the Dolphins need to add a top draft pick to the mix.

2. Guard

Analysis: The Dolphins lost both starting guards -- Richie Incognito and John Jerry -- due to last season's high-profile bullying scandal. Miami signed Shelley Smith in free agency to fill one guard position. But who will fill the other guard position? The Dolphins have backups such as Sam Brenner, Nate Garner and 2013 draft pick Dallas Thomas ready to compete. But none of these players have proven to be the long-term solution. Miami could spend a high draft pick at guard.

3. Linebacker

Analysis: The Dolphins spent plenty of money last year on linebackers. Former general manager Jeff Ireland thought he fixed the position by signing Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe to free-agent contracts and extending starting outside linebacker Koa Misi. But this trio underachieved last season, as Miami finished 26th in stopping the run. Now, the Dolphins are exploring their options at linebacker and how to make this group better. Miami tried to sign linebacker D'Qwell Jackson when he was a free agent. It won't be a major shock if the Dolphins use a pick in the first three rounds on the position.

4. Safety

Analysis: The Dolphins let Chris Clemons walk in free agency and replaced him with the more dynamic Louis Delmas. In terms of talent, Delmas should be an upgrade. But there is considerable risk considering Delmas' lengthy injury history. He's missed 14 games in the past three seasons. The Dolphins could use more insurance at safety. Reshad Jones fills the second safety position but must play better after an inconsistent year in 2013.