Miami Dolphins Team Needs: Pre-Draft
The Miami Dolphins were very active at the start of the 2016 league year, making aggressive moves to revamp their defense. In a trade with the Eagles, Miami was able to address two of their biggest needs at the start of free agency by bringing in Kiko Alonso to address their hole at middle linebacker and Byron Maxwell to try and sure up their secondary. Their next big move was to sign Mario Williams to a two-year contract to replace Oliver Vernon who left to sign a monster contract with the New York Giants.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Dolphins originally signed C.J. Anderson to a four-year deal to replace Lamar Miller. However, because he was a restricted free agent, the Broncos matched their offer, so he will return to play for the Super Bowl Champs. This means that the Dolphins are still left without a feature running back, with Jay Ajayi not appearing ready to shoulder the load of the carries. No matter who ends up replacing Miller, Miami has to get better up front if they want to put them in a position to succeed, which is why they signed Jermon Bushrod. After playing as a tackle for his entire career, Bushrod will be asked to slide inside to guard.
While these moves are definitely steps in the right direction, the Dolphins still have plenty of work left to do. They went into the 2015 season with very high expectations, and ended up falling extremely short of meeting them. For Miami to stand a chance of getting back to where many thought they would be last season, they must continue to improve at several key positions. Less than a month before the NFL Draft, these are the most important positions of need that the Dolphins still need to address.
The trade that brought Byron Maxwell to Miami was offset by the news that Brent Grimes had been released. This means that the Dolphins will still be in the market for a starting cornerback. After exchanging their 1st round pick with the eagles, it is unlikely that Vernon Hargreaves III will still be on the board when Miami comes on the clock with the 13th overall selection. It would be too early for them to go with any of the other cornerbacks in 1st round, so we should look for them to go after a CB in the 2nd round. Three players to keep an eye on in the 2nd round are Mackensie Alexander, Kendall Fuller, and William Jackson III. Another possibility would be for the Dolphins to trade back in the draft about 8-10 picks to where it would be appropriate to draft Eli Apple who is the next cornerback on the board after Hargreaves.
2. Running Back
With Lamar Miller now a member of the Houston Texans, the Dolphins are yet to find his replacement. The Dolphins have met with a few backs so far this offseason, but have yet to sign anyone talented enough to be a starter. So far the only moves they have made at the position is to resign Daniel Thomas and bring in Isaiah Peed, and neither of those backs is capable of stepping in and replacing Lamar Miller. This means that they will likely end up turning to the draft to try and find a back who can come in and compete with Jay Ajayi for the starting job, and at the very least split carries with him. It is extremely unlikely that Ezekiel Elliot will still be hanging around when it is the Dolphins turn in the first round. This means that they will likely end up addressing this need in a later round. They could end up going with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry in the 2nd round, or going with small school standout Kenneth Dixon out of Louisiana State.
3. Offensive Line
While the Bushrod signing will help sure up their offensive line, it won’t be enough to turn around a unit that gave up the eighth most sacks in 2016. The Dolphins are set at center with Mike Pouncey and are in pretty good shape at tackle with Brandon Albert and Ja’Wuan James. They do need to get better at guard, which is what they have signed Bushrod to do. However, it is far from a given that he will be able to make the transition to guard. There aren’t any guards worth drafting in the top 42 picks which is where Miami is set to draft in the 2nd round, so barring any draft day trades, we should look for the Dolphins front office to start targeting a guard in the 3rd round. One name that they may end up going with the 73 overall pick is Cody Whitehair out of Kansas State.