Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin

Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Friday:
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald says first-round pick Ja’Wuan James makes sense.
Morning take: I don’t have a problem with filling the need at right tackle. But the Dolphins reached and perhaps could have traded back for the same player and acquired extra draft picks.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post writes the Dolphins missed out on top-tier offensive tackles.
Morning take: The board didn’t fall Miami’s way. Potential targets like Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin were taken off the board, forcing Miami to take the fifth-rated tackle according to the general consensus.
  • Chris Perkins of the Sun Sentinel says Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey still has work to do.
Morning take: The Dolphins still have six picks to round out this year’s draft class. There are still impact players available.
  • The Dolphins team site has photos of Hickey and head coach Joe Philbin working together.
Morning take: Miami’s new power duo is working to turn the team around.
The NFL draft is finally upon us. In just a matter of hours, all the speculation and projection comes to an end as teams start to pick college players to determine their present and future.

We published a poll this week asking readers to predict what will happen with the Miami Dolphins' No. 19 pick. According to more than half of Miami fans, the Dolphins should trade down to acquire more picks.

The Dolphins are in a tricky spot at No. 19 where many of the elite prospects will be off the board. Miami could still get a solid player, but it could be productive to get extra draft picks to move down later in the round, which is similar to what I did in ESPN.com's reporter mock draft.

In second place was Miami using the pick. There could be desired targets such as Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin or Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley available at No. 19. In that case, it would make sense for Miami to use its first-round selection.

In third was trading up in the draft. The Dolphins did that last year when they moved up nine spots to No. 3 overall to select defensive end Dion Jordan. So far that move hasn't panned out, and Miami fans do not want to repeat that this week.

Remember to follow the blog for all your NFL draft coverage throughout the week from Miami.
The NFL draft is finally here! But we can’t let the day go by without one last look at projections from around the league before the real event takes place at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Longtime ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. provided his final 2014 mock draft Insider on Thursday. We’ve examined his picks since the NFL combine and now Kiper has made his definitive projections on what the Miami Dolphins will do tonight.

Let’s examine Kiper Jr.'s final prediction for Miami:

Selection: No. 19

Kiper’s pick: Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee

Analysis: James is a late riser up the draft boards. Few people projected him this early into the first round until a week or two ago when it became apparent other offensive tackles are projected to go higher. A perfect example is Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin. He was the favorite for Miami at No. 19 since February. Now, many draft experts believe Martin won’t make it past 12. That has opened the door for second-tier offensive tackles like James to go in the top 20. James is a solid prospect, but he’s not the 19th best player in this draft. Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said all along that they would take the “best available player” in the first round. If they take James at No. 19, chances are that talk was fluff and Miami was set on reaching to fill a need. However, James is a natural right tackle who could start in Week 1. The need is so great on the offensive line that the pick would make some sense. Still, I believe trading back and trying to get a player like James or Virginia’s Morgan Moses later in the first round works better for Miami.
ESPN.com held its annual reporter mock draft on Tuesday. Each team reporter made a first-round selection representative of what is expected in Thursday’s NFL draft.

The Miami Dolphins entered the draft with the No. 19 overall pick – but it didn’t stay that way for long. By the end of the night, I traded Miami’s pick to the New Orleans Saints in an effort to acquire more selections later in the draft. The eventual pick was Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses at No. 27.

Here is how the entire scenario came to fruition:
  • I initially had no intentions of trading my first-round pick. I was confident players on our draft board would be available at No. 19. But ESPN.com Saints reporter Mike Triplett contacted me over the weekend with significant interest. He had an eye on a pair of wide receivers as his top two targets for New Orleans: Brandin Cooks and Odell Beckham Jr. Neither player was a target for the Dolphins. So it made it fair game to discuss a trade.
  • In our discussions, I mentioned to Triplett my desired targets at No. 19 were offensive tackle Zack Martin and middle linebacker C.J. Mosley. Those were the only two players the Dolphins would not trade the pick for. But if both are off the board, I’m all ears. From there, we discussed compensation.
  • Initially, I asked for New Orleans’ first-round pick (No. 27), third-round pick (No. 91) and two fifth-rounders (No. 167 and No. 169) for the No. 19 overall pick. After some negotiation Saturday, we settled on New Orleans’ first-, third- and sixth-round (No. 202) picks. The trade, of course, was conditional and based on whether Martin and Mosley were off the board for Miami and Cooks or Beckham were still available for New Orleans.
  • The draft board played out perfectly to work out the trade. Martin was taken No. 16 overall by the Dallas Cowboys and Mosley was taken No. 17 overall by the Baltimore Ravens. Beckham was taken at No. 18 by the New York Jets, but Triplett and the Saints still wanted Cooks and made the trade.
  • The best available players on my board in order were Moses, USC receiver Marqise Lee and Nevada offensive lineman Joel Botonio after 19 picks. I was fairly confident as least one of these players would fall to 27. It turns out I had a choice of Moses and Botonio with the Saints’ former pick, and I took Moses to fill the right tackle spot at No. 27. I felt much better taking Moses later in the first round and acquiring two additional draft picks, as opposed to taking Moses at No. 19. The Dolphins now have a second-round pick and two third-rounders to build their team on Friday. It was a good day of work as Miami’s mock general manager.

Will a similar scenario play out for the Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey this week during the real NFL draft? We will find out Thursday evening.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Tuesday from around the Web:
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel examines what it will take for the Dolphins to move down from No. 19 overall in the NFL draft.
Morning take: Miami general manager Dennis Hickey said he’s been in contract with various teams about trade scenarios. If certain players are off the board, I think the Dolphins are more likely to move down this year rather than up.
  • Armando Salgeuro of the Miami Herald believes the Dolphins could take Tennessee offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James in the first round.
Morning take: There are several offensive tackles rated much higher than James. But many of those tackles could be off the board at No. 19. If James is the pick, I think Miami would be better off trading down to acquire more picks.
  • Alain Poupart of the Dolphins team site writes new defensive tackle Earl Mitchell is looking to grow in 2014.
Morning take: Mitchell believes he can thrive in Miami's 4-3 defense. The Dolphins are counting on Mitchell to be disruptive and replace the lost production from the departure of Paul Soliai.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post believes offensive tackle Zack Martin is the favorite for the Dolphins.
Morning take: Martin has been the consistent player mentioned since the start of the pre-draft process. The Dolphins would like to have him, but he could be off the board by No. 19.
The 2014 NFL draft is finally upon us. After weeks of speculation, smokescreens and reports, the moment of truth has arrived for all 32 teams to make their final decisions that could impact their presents and futures.

The Miami Dolphins hold the No. 19 overall pick and still have several needs to fill. First up, we have perhaps the team’s biggest need on the offensive line.

Updating need: Right tackle

Analysis: The Dolphins’ complete makeover of their offensive line this offseason is not complete. After signing left tackle Branden Albert and guard Shelley Smith in free agency and extending Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey for a fifth year in 2015, Miami still has a gaping hole at right tackle. In-house candidates include veteran backup Nate Garner, 2013 third-round pick Dallas Thomas and free-agent pickup Jason Fox. All three have question marks for various reasons. Garner is a career backup who is versatile but isn’t special at one position. Thomas remains a raw prospect still trying to learn the NFL game and Fox had injury issues with the Detroit Lions and is out to prove he can be durable in Miami. The Dolphins will be looking to add a right tackle to the mix with this group – and it could come as high as the first or second round. Candidates such as Notre Dame’s Zack Martin, Virginia’s Morgan Moses, Nevada's Joel Bitonio and Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio are all possibilities with the first two picks. That way, a top-rated offensive tackle can compete with the players currently on the roster to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s front side.

Need-O-Meter (Scale of 1-to-10): 9
One of the worst-kept secrets in this year’s NFL draft is the Miami Dolphins will draft offensive linemen. There is a strong chance Miami will dedicate at least two of its six draft picks this year on fixing the position.

The Dolphins are in the process of completely making over the offensive line. Miami could have four new starters next season after the departures of tackles Bryant McKinnie and Tyson Clabo in free agency and guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry due to last year’s bullying scandal. Jonathan Martin, who began the 2013 season at left tackle, was traded after leaving the team in late October due to the harassment.

Miami could only do so much in free agency. The Dolphins signed starting left tackle Branden Albert and guard Shelley Smith. But another guard position and right tackle remain wide open entering next week’s draft.

Top prospects such as Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan are expected to be off the board when the Dolphins select at No. 19. Therefore, former NFL head coach and ESPN football analyst Jon Gruden shared his thoughts on this year’s second tier of offensive tackles in a recent conference call:
“Morgan Moses at Virginia is a very interesting guy to me. They've had a history of left tackles come out of Virginia. Moses is a kid that played one year at left tackle. He was a right tackle for a couple years. Joel Bitonio at Nevada is an interesting player. A fifth-year senior, been around, worked hard. I think he has some position flexibility, can play right, left or go inside. I like Zack Martin at Notre Dame. He might be my favorite linemen in this draft – 52-time starter, captain, really excelled at the Senior Bowl, drill work. Cyrus Kouandjio at Alabama, interesting player. Had some knee issues. I believe he's rounding into health. Massive person with experience on the left side. There's a number of interesting big people in this draft. I think last year we had three tackles go in the top five. So we got a lot of good quality offensive linemen coming into pro football here.”

The Dolphins are expected to have interest in all of these prospects. Martin is the top target at No. 19 of this group. But Moses and Bitonio also are possibilities in the second round.

Look for Miami to not only look for offensive linemen in the early rounds, but also in the middle and late rounds, as well.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Wednesday from around the Web:
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald takes a look at guard prospects the Dolphins could be interested in next week.
Morning take: Guard is not a position of strength in this year’s draft. Therefore, do not expect Miami to go in this direction in the first round. But any round after the first is fair game.
Morning take: This is a position of strength and a target for Miami in the first round. The right tackle position remains up for grabs, and a player such as Zack Martin would be an ideal fit for the Dolphins' offense
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel wonders if a contract extension for center Mike Pouncey makes sense.
Morning take: A case can be made on the field, as Pouncey developed into a Pro Bowler. But it’s likely the Dolphins, who have Pouncey signed for two more seasons, want to wait at least another year before making this decision.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post writes about the Dolphins' announcement of their preseason times.
Morning take: The best part of the Dolphins’ preseason schedule is they only leave Florida once for a road game against the Atlanta Falcons. The exhibition season will be key for Miami to get off to a fast start.
The NFL draft is less than two weeks away. During the offseason, we have updated you on prospects to watch on the team’s radar.

Here is the lateast projection for Miami at No. 19 overall:

1. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Analysis: Martin has been the leader in the clubhouse for quite some time. He has the right mix of skills, work ethic and character that Miami is looking for. Martin also fills the Dolphins’ biggest remaining need at right tackle. It all makes sense. However, Martin is one of the players reportedly rising up the draft board. He may not be there at No. 19, and Martin is not the type of player worth trading up to get. So if Martin is taken in the early teens, the Dolphins must go in another direction.

2. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

Analysis: The Dolphins committed millions into their linebacker position last year. Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler and Koa Misi were all paid handsomely via extension from former general manager Jeff Ireland. This group in return underachieved and Miami was 24th against the run last season. That presents a new challenge for first-year general manager Dennis Hickey. He’s not tied into Miami’s current linebackers and could make Mosley a target. Mosley is a natural middle linebacker who could move Ellerbe outside and fix two positions.

3. Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Analysis: Lee has been a late riser on Miami’s radar. Two weeks ago, I reported that the Dolphins brought in Lee for a visit. Last week Todd McShay projected Lee going to Miami at No. 19. Lee is a very good talent in a deep draft for wide receivers. But do the Dolphins need another receiver, especially in the first round? Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline are the starters next season, and the Dolphins need to get a starter in the first round, in my opinion. But if Lee is the “best available player” on the board, which Hickey has talked about all offseason, it won’t be all that surprising.

4. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Analysis: Safety is not a huge need for the Dolphins. Miami has Reshad Jones and free-agent pickup Louis Delmas entrenched as starters. But Pryor is an aggressive safety and big hitter who reminds me of a younger, healthier version of Delmas. The Dolphins need more enforcers on defense, which lacks intimidators. That’s one reason why they signed Delmas and could have an eye on Pryor at No. 19.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Friday from around the Web:
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel wonders if the Dolphins can get a difference-maker in the first round.
Morning take: Miami certainly needs to hit big in new general manager Dennis Hickey’s first draft. The Dolphins have talent on their roster, but they need more playmakers to build a playoff contender.
  • The Dolphins' website takes a look at former Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan.
Morning take: This is a dream scenario for Miami. Lewan would be a great get for the Dolphins at No. 19, but do not expect him to fall that far.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post takes a look back at the Dolphins’ 2012 draft.
Morning take: The Dolphins took quarterback Ryan Tannehill at No. 8 overall two years ago, and the jury is still out. This will be a huge third year to determine his long-term future in Miami.
  • Cody Strahm of Rant Sports says do not rule out UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr as a possibility.
Morning take: It would be surprising if Barr made it to No. 19. Candidates such as offensive tackle Zack Martin and linebacker C.J. Mosley are more likely targets in the first round.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Thursday from around the Web:
  • Alain Poupart of the Dolphins team site catches up with Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino to get his thoughts on Ryan Tannehill.
Morning take: Marino has always spoken highly of Tannehill. But no one can deny this is a huge third year for Miami’s quarterback. Tannehill is 15-17 in two seasons and must improve.
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports former University of Miami quarterback Stephen Morris is on the Dolphins' radar.
Morning take: Morris played in the Dolphins' backyard. Therefore, Miami should have good intel. However, Morris never lived up to the hype in college and is probably a late-round pick.
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel writes first-year general manager Dennis Hickey presents a fresh set of eyes.
Morning take: Sometimes it’s good to have a new general manager who doesn’t have ties to struggling and underachieving players. That makes it easier to make necessary changes.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post writes former Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin is the consensus in mock drafts.
Morning take: Martin would be a nice fit for Miami’s biggest need: the offensive line. However, there is a chance Martin will not be available at No. 19.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Monday from around the Web:
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel believes the Dolphins will draft Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley in the first round.
Morning take: The Dolphins spent a lot of money in linebackers the past year and this would be another significant investment. But Mosley could solve Miami’s woes at middle linebacker and allow Dannell Ellerbe to move outside.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports the Dolphins could have interest in free-agent tight end Jermichael Finley.
Morning take: Finley played for Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin in Green Bay, so there is a connection. But Finley must first get clearance for his neck injury before anyone can seriously consider signing him.
  • Harvey Greene of the Dolphins team site looks back at the trade that brought Don Shula to Miami.
Morning take: Shula came over from the Baltimore Colts and went on to become the NFL’s all-time winningest coach. The trade definitely worked in Miami’s favor.
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald examines if the Dolphins must trade up to get offensive tackle Zack Martin.
Morning take: There are at least three higher-rated offensive tackles, and giving up extra picks to land No. 4 doesn’t seem wise. Miami is better off taking the best available player at No. 19 in this scenario.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Tuesday from around the Web:
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post takes a look at potential draft prospects for the Dolphins at No. 19.
Morning take: It’s hard to project the second half of the first round, but Miami has some well-defined needs. Offensive tackle Zack Martin from Notre Dame is an early favorite.
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes new Cleveland Browns receiver Nate Burleson is veteran insurance the Dolphins are still seeking.
Morning take: The Dolphins brought in Burleson for a visit last week. The Dolphins have a lot of receivers coming off injuries and could use extra bodies.
Morning take: Anarumo did a solid job with players such as Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes last season. But Anarumo must develop youngsters such as Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.
  • Chris Perkins of the Sun Sentinel takes a look at the Dolphins’ No. 2 cornerback.
Morning take: Taylor will compete with Cortland Finnegan and Will Davis. Finnegan is the early favorite due to his experience.

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Dolphins

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
2:00
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This week is all about free agency. But it’s never a bad idea to mix in the NFL draft with ESPN expert Mel Kiper Jr.

Kiper released his third mock draft Thursday, and he is holding firm that the Miami Dolphins will address their much-maligned offensive line. Kiper projects Miami to select Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin at No. 19 overall. Martin also has versatility to play guard. The Dolphins need help at both positions.

Martin brings a lot of qualities Miami is looking for. He’s a former team captain at Notre Dame, and he has high character and a good motor. The Dolphins’ offensive line was torn apart last year during their high-profile bullying scandal. They did a good job of signing left tackle Branden Albert to a five-year, $46 million contact Tuesday in free agency. Albert was the highest-rated offensive tackle on the market.

However, Miami can't find every starter on the offensive line via free agency. That would be too expensive. The Dolphins should be able to land a quality prospect at No. 19 overall. Kiper, like many, projects that player to be an offensive lineman.

Kiper's Mock 3.0: Dolphins

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
10:30
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The Miami Dolphins enter an important year for many within the organization. Coach Joe Philbin is 15-17 in his first two seasons and must prove he can get the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2014.

That is why it is so important for Miami to nail the NFL draft. The Dolphins hold the No. 19 overall pick and should be able to get some quality talent in what is considered one of the deepest draft pools in years.

It’s no secret the Dolphins must address their offensive line. Miami made a huge splash this week by signing left tackle Branden Albert to a five-year, $47 million contract. That is a move in the right direction. But major holes at right tackle and guard remain. The Dolphins won’t be able to fill all those positions on the offensive line by signing expensive free agents. Therefore, expect Miami also to use resources in the draft -- perhaps in the first round.

With Albert now firmly entrenched at left tackle, that relieves some pressure to fill the hardest position on the offensive line. Key targets such as Zack Martin of Notre Dame and Cyrus Kouandjio of Alabama could be possibilities at No. 19 to play the easier position of right tackle.

Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has said on several occasions that he’s looking for the best available player regardless of position. If that’s the case, the Dolphins could be a wild card. Ignoring a glaring need on the offensive line doesn’t seem like the best move. But there will be quality players on the board at other positions such as cornerback, linebacker, wide receiver and defensive tackle.

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