Last offseason, the Miami Dolphins made a tremendous amount of free agent signings in order to compete for the top spot in the AFC East. On top of their free agent spree, they also traded up to the third spot in the NFL Draft to select the top rated edge-rusher, Dion Jordan. The aggressiveness that the Dolphins showed was very uncharacteristic. Expectations in Miami were extremely high, as many believed that they were poised to have a big season.
To the surprise of many, the moves turned out to be unsuccessful. Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler struggled at times, while Mike Wallace was unable to really develop an on-field relationship with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Dion Jordan rarely saw action and both Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller fell victim to severe knee injuries. The only real successful move that the Miami Dolphins made was the signing of cornerback Brent Grimes. Grimes, who signed a one-year deal, had arguably his best season as a professional athlete. Not only did he make his second Pro-Bowl appearance, but according to Pro Football Focus, Grimes was the second best cornerback in the NFL.
Despite the free agent signings dramatically under-performing, the biggest problem the Dolphins faced was the horrid play of the offensive line. Miami had a historically bad line, giving up a franchise worst fifty-eight sacks. Even when Tannehill was upright, he was constantly being flushed out of the pocket due to the incredible amount of pressure he was being faced with.
So far, Miami has attempted to fix this problem by bringing in Pro-Bowl left tackle Branden Albert on a five-year, forty-seven million dollar deal. Although this is a great step forward for Miami, the transformation process is not complete. They recently traded starting tackle Jonathan Martin, and have not given starting lineman Richie Incognito, John Jerry (signed with Giants), Tyson Clabo or Bryant McKinnie a contract offer. With the recent events that have transpired during the offseason, I think it is obvious that Miami needs to continue to rebuild their offensive line in the draft.
Here are some positions off need for the Miami Dolphins in this year’s draft:
1) Right Tackle:
This is by far the Miami Dolphins biggest need in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Dolphins, who had three potential right tackles for next season (Jonathan Martin, Bryant McKinnie and Tyson Clabo), decided to move on in a different direction; thus making the need for a right tackle the top priority for Miami. In fact, owner Stephen Ross addressed the need at the 2014 Owner’s Meetings. At the meetings, he said “We’ll get a right tackle in the draft and then we’ll see what else we have to get.” Was Ross hinting that they will address the position in the first round? Possibly.
So which prospect would Miami take with the 19th pick? The top three tackle prospects – Greg Robinson, Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews, will most likely be off the board at nineteen – leaving Miami with one great option, Zack Martin. Martin, who is regarded as one of the most consistent prospects out of this year’s class, started fifty-two games during his time at Notre Dame. The best thing about Martin is his versatility. Not only can he play right tackle, but he can also be kicked inside if needed. Drafting Martin would make a lot of sense for Miami, as they can potentially fill out their need for a right tackle. Also, if a team let’s go a worthy right tackle, they can bring him in and move Martin to guard. This is a win-win, in my opinion.
2) Offensive Guard:
Along with the need for a right tackle, Miami needs help at both guard positions. Last season, the Dolphins struggled tremendously in the run game; ranking twenty-sixth in rushing offense. As a team, they averaged just ninety yards per game. This is definitely something that needs to be improved heading into next season. As a step forward, the team brought in running back Knowshon Moreno on a one year deal. Moreno, who is coming off a Super Bowl appearance could be a very nice fit for the Dolphins. He is an above average pass blocker, and is coming off a 1,000 yard season. In order for him and either Daniel Thomas or Lamar Miller to have success, it is imperative that the Dolphins select a guard in this year’s draft.
With Miami selecting a tackle in the first round, the guard position will most likely not be addressed until Day 2. With that being said, there is an abundance of guards that should be on the Dolphins board. One guard that I like in particular is Anthony Steen. Steen, who played college ball at the University of Alabama is an ideal fit for Miami. His strength is run-blocking, which is obviously something that Miami needs. He also played in a zone-blocking scheme at Alabama, which is what Miami runs.
Switching to the defensive side of the ball, the safety position is something that should be addressed in the draft. This isn’t the biggest need, but I do think Miami will draft a safety. They recently signed Louis Delmas to a one-year contract; however, Delmas has battled some injuries and is coming off what was just an okay season for him. It would make complete sense for Miami to draft a safety to compete with Delmas during training camp. And although they resigned Reshad Jones to a four-year deal before last season, Jones greatly under performed his contract. It would be nice for Miami to already have another safety in place if Jones struggles again this year and they decide to move him or release him.
One player that would be a good fit for Miami is Deone Bucannon. Bucannon excels in stopping the run, which is something that Miami had trouble doing last year. Miami, who normally ranks in the top ten in rushing defense, fell to twenty-forth last year. He also possesses great ball skills and can hit at an extremely hard rate. In his last year at Washington State, Bucannon recorded 114 total tackles, while intercepting six passes and forcing three fumbles. He is a nice late-round option that the Dolphins should definitely take a look at.