Miami Dolphins: Carlos Hyde

DAVIE, Fla. -- The NFL draft's first round is in the books for the Miami Dolphins. They selected former University of Tennessee right tackle Ja'Wuan James at No. 19 overall to boost their offensive line.

But what’s next for the Dolphins in Rounds 2 and 3?

Here is a preview of where the Dolphins stand:

Friday’s picks: No. 50 (second round) and No. 81 (third round)

Remaining needs: Guard, linebacker, safety

Analysis: The Dolphins filled a major need at right tackle by drafting James, but many question whether it was a good value pick. Either way, it’s time for Miami to move forward. The Dolphins still have several needs to address. There is still a hole at guard on the offensive line. Miami signed free agent Shelley Smith but the other spot is wide open. Currently Sam Brenner, Nate Garner and Dallas Thomas are all backups competing for that spot. The Dolphins also could use help at middle linebacker. Dannell Ellerbe played out of position last year and struggled. He could move outside if the Dolphins find a potential starting middle linebacker in the second or third round. Miami missed on former Alabama middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, who was taken by the Baltimore Ravens at No. 17. The Dolphins also could use depth at tight end, receiver and running back, although they have starters at those positions. The draft still have some good prospects in Day 2 available at those positions.

Potential targets: UCLA G Xavier Su'a-Filo, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Marqise Lee, RB Carlos Hyde, RB Tre Mason, LB Chris Borland
The Miami Dolphins have addressed several needs in free agency, such as left tackle, safety and cornerback. However, the tailback position remains up in the air after Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas failed to get the job done last season.

How will the Dolphins address their 26th-ranked running game? Here are several options:

1. Maurice Jones-Drew

Pros: Jones-Drew is a proven veteran who still may have something left in the tank. He rushed for 803 yards last season on an awful Jacksonville Jaguars team. There’s a good chance Jones-Drew could put up stronger numbers with a better team if he can stay healthy.

Cons: Jones-Drew’s best years are behind him. He’s 29 and averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry last season. Jones-Drew is at the stage where many running backs hit the wall. Signing him would only be a short-term fix.

2. LeGarrette Blount

Pros: Blount, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a connection to general manager Dennis Hickey. He is a power runner the Dolphins lack and could fill a need. Signing Blount also would take something away from the New England Patriots, who are the favorites once again to win the AFC East.

Cons: Blount had a strong year but most likely was a product of New England’s system. Blount rushed for 772 yards and seven touchdowns. But it’s a lot easier to run when future Hall of Famer Tom Brady is the quarterback. The passing threat of Brady created plenty of open rushing lanes for Blount.

3. Knowshon Moreno

Pros: Moreno is coming off a career year where he rushed for 1,038 yards. He just completed his rookie contract and doesn’t have a lot of tread on the tires. He also has winning experience after playing in the Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos.

Cons: Moreno is not a feature back. Similar to Blount, much of his success was a result of open running lanes created by the threat of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and the passing attack. Moreno never lived up to his potential of being a former first-round draft pick and is only a complementary piece to the puzzle. That’s not what the Dolphins are looking for. Miami already has two complementary tailbacks in Miller and Thomas.

4. NFL draft

Pros: There is a chance for good value at tailback in this draft, which is what the Dolphins like. Miami won’t draft a running back in the first round because of bigger needs. But the second- and third-round options are solid. Names like Carlos Hyde, Tre Mason and Bishop Sankey come to mind for the Dolphins.

Cons: There are no stars or guaranteed fixes in this draft. No running back is projected to go in the first round. The Dolphins would have more youth and inexperience at this position if they addressed it via the draft. Miller and Thomas are young and unproven, as well.
The Miami Dolphins have several well-defined needs entering free agency and the draft. Getting a running back who can handle the load should be on the team’s radar. Miami was 26th in rushing last season and Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were not the answer.

One potential solution is for the Dolphins to wait until the second round of the NFL draft to select a running back. This is not a top-heavy class at the position. But there are some opportunities to get good value at tailback after the first round.

Miami holds the No. 50 overall pick in the second round. Here are several quality college tailbacks who could be available in May:

1. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State

2013 stats: 1,521 yards, 15 TDs

Analysis: Hyde is the highest-rated tailback in this draft, but he’s not projected to go in the first round. In terms of production and ability, I think he’s a steal for any team that selects him in the second round. Miami’s second-round pick may not be high enough to get the Ohio State product. But Hyde fits the Dolphins because he’s a burly back who is tough inside the tackles. He also has soft hands for a power runner.

2. Tre Mason, Auburn

2013 stats: 1,816 yards, 23 touchdowns

Analysis: Auburn has had a long line of successful tailbacks, and Mason is the next Tigers rusher entering the draft. His production is off the charts, and he nearly led Auburn to a national championship. On the flip side, one concern is Mason ran the football a lot in college and lost some tread on the tires. Mason has shown good vision and acceleration as a runner. The Dolphins need more big plays from their running game.

3. Jeremy Hill, LSU

2013 stats: 1,401 yards, 16 TDs

Analysis: Like Hyde, Hill is another big bruiser who has ideal size for the next level. He's durable, competitive and runs hard -- all things the Dolphins need in their backfield. However, Hill enters the draft with a lot of character issues that will drop his stock. He is reportedly on probation until next January. That may be enough to scare new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey away, unless Hill drops to the middle rounds.

NFL combine takeaways: Miami Dolphins

February, 24, 2014
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The 2014 NFL combine is reaching its final stages. It was an interesting year with plenty of good stories and developments.

Here are a few that stood out for the Miami Dolphins:
  • The Dolphins clearly have a huge need on the offensive line. Therefore, that was a group I paid close attention to last week. Fortunately for the Dolphins, there are some stud prospects at offensive tackle. Jake Matthews of Texas A&M and Greg Robinson of Auburn were as good as advertised. But the left tackle who really impressed me with his athleticism was Michigan’s Taylor Lewan. He ran the fastest 40 time for offensive linemen at 4.87 seconds. Lewan has good acceleration and smooth, fluid footwork, which is key for a left tackle. Lewan may be out of Miami’s range at No. 19 unless the team is willing to move up.
  • Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin did about what I expected at the combine. He’s not going to wow you with measurables and athleticism. His body typed looked more like a guard at the next level. Martin is an effort player with good intangibles such as leadership, and that doesn’t show in workouts. Martin is one of the players projected to be a strong target for Miami.
  • Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam said he would welcome the opportunity if he was drafted by the Dolphins. Sam is on pace to become the first openly gay athlete in the NFL. Credit Sam for saying the right things, but I don’t believe Miami is the best fit right now for Sam. The Dolphins are coming off a huge bullying controversy that included anti-gay slurs in their locker room, according to the Ted Wells report. Miami is working to clean up its locker room environment, but I don’t believe the team is ready to handle another major media storm in its locker room. Also defensive end is arguably the deepest area of the team. Miami has Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Dion Jordan and Derrick Shelby, who are all capable players at the position.
  • Miami also is in need of a running back, and I liked what Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde had to say during combine interviews. The burly tailback described himself as a “violent” runner who is workhorse. He wants the ball 20 times a game and often got it at Ohio State. The Dolphins were 26th in rushing last season. Neither Lamar Miller nor Daniel Thomas proved they can handle the load. Hyde would be a strong second-round pick for Miami if he falls that far.
  • I was not impressed with Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses. He had a disappointing combine and looked sloppy at times. Moses is a raw prospect who entered the combine projected as a late first-round pick. But I would scratch him off Miami’s list at No. 19. I view him more as a second-round option.

Walker's Dolphins Draft Watch: 1.0

January, 23, 2014
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The NFL draft is months away. But it's never too early to discuss how the Miami Dolphins must improve their roster.

There will be months of evaluations, workouts and stocks going up and down among college players. But here are ESPN.com's Dolphins page's early top five matches for Miami with the No. 19 overall pick.

1. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Analysis: Miami starting offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are both free agents. Jonathan Martin, a 2012 second-round pick, also is not expected back following Miami's recent bullying scandal. That makes a first-round tackle like Kouandjio a target for Miami. It's hard to go wrong with an Alabama offensive lineman. Alabama's run blocking and pass protection has been arguably the nation's best for the past three years, and Kouandjio was part of that.

2. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

Analysis: Miami's running game was 26th in the NFL last year. Hyde is the top running back prospect in the draft. It's a natural link. Hyde was productive for Ohio State last season with 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is a big, physical runner, which Miami lacked last year. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were not the answer for the Dolphins last year.

3. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Analysis: Martin doesn't have the physical gifts of Kouandjio. But Martin gets the most of his ability and fits the mold of a "Joe Philbin guy." He's a hard worker and former team captain at Notre Dame. Martin may have position versatility to play guard at the NFL level, as well. The Dolphins' coaching staff values players who are good at multiple positions.

4. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Analysis: Miami starting safety Chris Clemons is an unrestricted free agent and replaceable. The Dolphins need a playmaker on the back end to pair with Reshad Jones, and Clinton-Dix has that potential. Clinton-Dix has good instincts, awareness and also can cover well, which the Dolphins lacked at safety last season. Re-signing corner Brent Grimes and drafting Clinton-Dix would make for a stronger secondary for Miami in 2014.

5. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia

Analysis: If you can't tell by now, the Dolphins need offensive tackles. Moses is another prospect with potential, but he's more of an unfinished product than Kouandjio and Martin. Moses may be better suited at right tackle than left tackle. But it doesn't hurt that Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was part of the coaching staff that recruited Moses to the University of Virginia.

Periodically, we will update this with our 2.0 list as we continue to get closer to the NFL draft.
The Miami Dolphins hired former Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor last week. While the initial hype included Lazor’s experience working with quarterbacks and the passing game, a big question is whether he can improve Miami’s 26th-ranked rushing attack.
Thomas
Lazor helped previously unknown Nick Foles go from a backup quarterback to a Pro Bowler this season. But a little-known stat is Philadelphia’s offense actually led the NFL in rushing last year under Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. Lazor certainly picked up some pointers from Kelly’s offense and the successful running game that he hopes to bring to Miami.

“When you come off of a season like we did where we were the leading rushing team in the NFL. We had the leading rusher. We had the highest-rated passer. We were able to be an explosive offense,” Lazor said last week. “Certainly a lot of things that led to that are going to have a great impact on what I believe works going forward.”

Miller
The Dolphins can do a better job in personnel this year to help Lazor. Miami relied on inexperienced former draft picks Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas to carry the load. In fact, the Dolphins only spent $2.412 million of their cap last year on running backs with Miller, Thomas and 2013 fifth-round pick Mike Gillislee. Miami ranked 30th in the NFL last season in money spent on running backs, according to the Roster Management System.

Miami has resources in both the draft and free agency to upgrade the running-back position. Big names in free agency include Ben Tate of the Houston Texans and Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Potential draft targets include Carlos Hyde of Ohio State and James White of Wisconsin. White will play in the Senior Bowl this weekend.

Miller and Thomas were not the answer in 2013. It will be interesting to see if the Dolphins upgrade at running with a new offense and offensive coordinator in 2014.
The Miami Dolphins need to retool their 27th-ranked offense, and running back is one of the biggest questions on that side of the football.

Tailbacks Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas did not get the job done in 2013. Neither player stepped forward as the primary ball carrier, which provided many frustrating weekends for Dolphins fans.

Miller, who was expected to have a breakout year, rushed for 709 yards and two touchdowns. Thomas, a former second-round pick, rushed for 406 yards and four touchdowns. Both appear more suited for complementary roles off the bench, not as a full-time starter.

So where could the Dolphins look to upgrade? Here are some initial thoughts:
  • There will be some interesting names hitting the free-agent market at tailback. Two intriguing options who I think are potential fits for the Dolphins are Ben Tate of the Houston Texans and Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both are powerful runners who can carry the load. Tate may be the most expensive option. He’s only 25 and doesn’t have much wear and tear. Jones-Drew will be 29 in March and is approaching the age where running backs often decline.
  • It’s always risky talking draft before the Senior Bowl and NFL combine. But let’s take a very early look at this year’s running back class, which isn’t very top heavy. The Dolphins hold the No. 19 overall pick, and Ohio State tailback Carlos Hyde could be an early possibility. Miami has other needs, such as guard and offensive tackle. But picking at 19, the Dolphins must be flexible and consider various options. Miami also could look to the later rounds to add a running back.

Miami will have solid salary-cap room this offseason. So it would be surprising if the Dolphins stay put at running back with Miller and Thomas next season. Look for Miami to add another option into the mix to improve its ground game.
The 2013 season is in the books for the Miami Dolphins and now it's time to look ahead to 2014. After an 8-8 finish, Miami will have the No. 19 overall pick in the NFL draft.

Here are some early thoughts on Miami's draft slot and where the team could be headed:
  • Dolphins must consider struggling offensive line in first round. Miami currently has big needs at guard and offensive tackle, so there is flexibility there to take the best available lineman. The Dolphins have a lot of pending free agents on the offensive line. Starting tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie and guards John Jerry and Richie Incognito are no longer under contract and most -- if not all -- are not expected to return. This is a good opportunity for Miami to make a complete overhaul on the offensive line, and drafting a tackle or guard makes sense.
  • Combination of Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas proved not to be answer for Miami. The Dolphins were 26th in rushing and neither player stood out. Miami became a one-dimensional team too often last season. The Dolphins need a dynamic tailback to balance things and assist quarterback Ryan Tannehill. It's not a deep draft for first-round running backs. But an early name to keep an eye on for Miami is Ohio State tailback Carlos Hyde.
  • Free agency can greatly impact Miami's draft plans. The Dolphins have a lot of free-agent starters, particularly on defense, and not everyone will return. Miami has a lot of decisions to make with players such as cornerback Brent Grimes, safety Chris Clemons and defensive tackles Paul Soliai and Randy Starks. Losing one of these key players could create a big void before the draft.

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