2013 Dolphins NFL draft guide
Examining Miami's draft history and potential picks this year
Insider's NFL and draft experts -- Todd McShay, Mel Kiper, Chris Sprow and Field Yates -- have teamed up to give a full breakdown of all that should be considered for each team as it enters the 2013 NFL draft. Here we look at the Miami Dolphins.
OT, CB, DE, TE depth
Major need: After losing Jake Long in free agency, the Dolphins need to fill a hole at offensive tackle. They have some flexibility because 2012 second-round pick Jonathan Martin can swing to either side of the line; if the Dolphins add a right tackle, he'd anchor the left side, and vice versa. He needs to improve his strength and pass-set anchor, but Martin has substantial long-term value.
Quiet need: The Dolphins will get more out of Dustin Keller in the passing game than they did Anthony Fasano, but Keller is a far inferior blocker. The Dolphins now lack an above-average blocker at the tight end position, but should be able to find one in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. Protecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is essential to this offense taking the next step.
Not a need: Credit GM Jeff Ireland for building the receiving core through free agency, as it has quickly shifted from an area of focus to an area of depth. New additions Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson should team with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess to give Tannehill a diverse and explosive arsenal of targets. Wallace didn't come cheap, but few players possess his quick-strike scoring ability, something Miami desperately needed.
Jobs in jeopardy: Guard Lance Louis will spend much of his offseason rehabbing from a knee injury that ended his 2012 season while he was with the Bears, but he's a strong contender to start at right guard when he returns, which puts the pressure on incumbent starter John Jerry. While neither was a regular starter in 2012, look for second-year back Lamar Miller to leapfrog Daniel Thomas and open the season as a first-stringer.
Don't mess with it: While the Dolphins have expressed interest in adding a veteran pass-rusher this offseason (John Abraham visited the team), the defensive line is a strength of this team. Cameron Wake is an imposing rusher from the left side, and look for Olivier Vernon to progress as a second-year player in 2013. Jared Odrick has elite run defense traits, and Randy Starks and Paul Soliai are a load to push on the interior.
What free agency solved
The Dolphins completed a two-for-two exchange at linebacker by adding both Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler in free agency while parting ways with Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett. Ellerbe was a hot commodity following a strong postseason, but the overall impact of the new-look linebacking group won't be as dramatic as the addition of three new targets for Tannehill. Tannehill showed extensive promise during his inaugural NFL campaign, but his lack of weapons in the passing game was apparent. Adding Wallace, Gibson and Keller gives Tannehill a sorely needed supporting cast.
-- Field Yates
How they draft
Dolphins Draft History (2010-12)
Each pick Miami has made over the past three years. Players who are projected 2013 starters are in bold.
Where they draft well: The 2012 draft may help them more than some realize. The Dolphins might have created a lot of financial flexibility by hitting with their first two picks in 2012. Ryan Tannehill didn't have the rookie year of Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson in 2012, but in a lot of years his would have been the best rookie season for a QB. And Martin wasn't remarkable as a 16-game starter at right tackle during his rookie season, but the Dolphins still plan to move him to left tackle for 2013. If both he and Tannehill play well, the Dolphins will have a left tackle and a QB -- two of the priciest positions in the NFL to fill -- on rookie deals for up to a few more seasons. That's part of the reason the team has been so active in free agency. It's a bet, but it pays off.
Where they don't draft well: It's a good thing the Dolphins were able to convince Wake to accept their offer in 2008, amid competition from a handful of suitors. That's because the franchise hasn't drafted a consistently effective pass-rusher in 15 years, since it landed an undersized defensive end out of Akron named Jason Taylor. The Dolphins would be wise to find another pass-rusher in the 2013 draft.
-- Chris Sprow
Todd McShay provides three great fits for the Dolphins' first-round pick at No. 12.
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State: He might be a bit of a reach here, but Rhodes' height, long arms and straight-line speed make him a solid fit in the Dolphins' press-man coverage schemes.
Eric Fisher, T, Central Michigan: The Dolphins are looking to replace Long, and they have the ammunition to trade up to get Fisher (or Johnson).
Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina: If they are unable to get one of the top tackles, the Dolphins could still give Tannehill some help up front with Cooper, who is the best blocker in space in the class and fits what Miami is looking for in terms of athleticism and stamina.
-- Todd McShay
It's a successful draft if ...
What they must accomplish: They need to get better at tackle. Martin has talent, but the Dolphins are taking a pretty big leap of faith in assuming he can effectively fill in as the guy protecting Tannehill's blind side. I agree with Todd that a tackle such as Fisher would make sense, but if Lane Johnson is around at No. 11 I might be happy to get him; his upside is higher than Martin's.
Additional goals: Wake is 31 years old, and if he gets hurt the Dolphins will have a tough time generating consistent pressure. The problem is the draft doesn't set up well to get a 4-3 DE at No. 12 overall; Ezekiel Ansah is likely long gone. In my last mock I had the Dolphins with Tank Carradine in Round 2. Cornerback is obviously an area of need, but again, I'm not sure the value is great with a player such as Rhodes at No. 12. Miami could be a team looking to move down the board if you consider how its needs line up with possible board value.
-- Mel Kiper