The Miami Dolphins simply cannot suffer through one more year of mediocrity. Another year of poor play but not-bad-enough-to-get-a-good-draft-pick play will send the organization into turmoil.
Matt Moore, unfortunately, is not a franchise quarterback. He had a fairly impressive year, and could probably help train a rookie, but he is not going to be the face to the Dolphins, ever.
With an improbable and frankly aggravating win over the Jets in week 17, the Dolphins blew any chance at drafting Robert Griffin III, the Baylor phenom, and are staring at another second-round QB, if that's how the ever-brilliant Stephen Ross wants to play.
The offensive line was plagued by a Jake Long injury and horribly inconsistent play from Vernon Carey and Marc Colombo.
The secondary was hardly satisfactory, with Vontae Davis showing both glimpses of brilliancy and glimpses of inadequacy. Sean Smith was inconsistent, and Reshad Davis was very consistent. Consistently poor.
Miami has three or four major holes to fill, and if they're not taken care of, the Dolphins organization—and its yet-to-be-named new head coach—are in serious trouble.
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
As stated earlier, this team needs help on the offensive line. Behind Matt Kalil, Reiff is the best lineman in the class. He measures 6'6", 300lbs, and earned First-Team All Big-10 last year. He will turn 24 before the draft, and has completed four years of school at Iowa.
He is big, physical, and won't be a personality problem in the locker room. He had off the field issues during his freshman year, but fixed himself up, and became Iowa's best draft prospect since Bryan Bulaga went to the Packers two years ago.
Dre' Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Potentially a great complement to Vontae Davis, Kirkpatrick is great at helping against the run, and has room to grow in pass coverage. The new National Champion Kirkpatrick had a stellar title game and announced he would leave school for the draft last week.
He would be the perfect opposite to Davis, who is great against the pass. With Nolan Carroll being a liability, Sean Smith's inconsistency and Jimmy Wilson's inexperience, Kirkpatrick could step right in fill a huge need for the Dolphins.
Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
I know a lot of people would like to pick a quarterback here, but with the top two already off the board, and with the Dolphins historic troubles of second-round QB's (Beck, Henne and White, in consecutive years), I decided to wait a round or two.
All the NFL's top teams have stud tight ends (Gronkowski/Hernandez, Finley, Graham, Gonzalez, etc.), and Anthony Fasano does not, and will never earn that title. Allen stands 6'4", 255lbs, and the red-shirt junior TE reeled in eight TDs last season, earning him First Team All-ACC honors. Allen fills the huge void at tight end for the Dolphins, with Charles Clay better suited out of the backfield. With not much other talent at tight end in this class, Miami should jump all over Allen.
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
With the latest University of Florida prospect in Mike Pouncey working out well, why not pick another one in the shutdown corner Janoris Jenkins? Jenkins, while coming out of North Alabama, is not a Division II football player.
Gators head coach Will Muschamp gave Jenkins the boot for repetitive off-the-field issues, but his play was never in question. The quick, physical CB consistently locked down the SEC's best like A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Jenkins can step in immediately beside Vontae Davis, and if this type of talent falls to the second round, Miami should draft him without hesitation.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
At 6'3", 202lbs, people wonder if Cousins is big enough to make it in the NFL. Then he puts together a season with 25 TDs and 3,316 yards, and you begin to realize he will do just fine. The second team All-Big 10 player in 2011 wowed game in and game out, from a Hail Mary TD to knock off Wisconsin, to gutting out a 3OT victory over the Georgia Bulldogs in the Outback Bowl.
He has an average arm, and is accurate on the throws you're supposed to make. He can create outside of the pocket, and isn't afraid to take off and run.
Cousins definitely has a lot of room to grow, and did show a few lapses during key games. Overall though, Cousins led the Spartans to back-to-back 11-win seasons, and the kid is clutch. He should be the first quarterback the Dolphins even glimpse at in this draft.
Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
No matter who starts at quarterback for Miami next year, his top two receivers can't combine to drop 18 passes (Marshall, 12, Bess, 6). At 6'3", 220lbs, Toon never drops passes. He used adequate speed and great hands to rack up 926 yards and 10 TDs, quickly finding himself as Russell Wilson's favorite target en route to a 11-3 season.
He unfortunately has a relatively low ceiling, and is already near his prime. A great route-runner, Toon can immediately step in next to Brandon Marshall, but still has room to improve a bit. Pick him and never look back.
Derek Wolfe, DE/DT, Cincinnati
The big 6'5" defensive tackle would flourish in the Dolphins 3-4 system, and wreak havoc for years to come. A senior, Wolfe won Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and earned Second Team All American honors, and he's only 21. This position won't be a need for the Dolphins if Paul Soliai returns, but the price he's expected to ask for will likely deter the 'Phins from re-signing him.
With emerging third-year DE Jared Odrick, and veterans Randy Starks and Kendall Langford anchoring the edges, and Cameron Wake providing incessant pressure from the OLB position, Wolfe could waltz into a comfortable starting spot, and have an instant impact.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
At one point, the Aggies star QB was a projected first-rounder, and his 2011 season did nothing to hurt those projections, but after suffering a broken foot and being expected to miss the Senior Bowl, I could see the Dolphins stealing Tannehill early in the fourth round.
A converted receiver, Tannehill lacks the frame of an NFL QB, but has the arm strength and certainly the mobility to succeed. He will need training, and playing behind Matt Moore for a season would be very good for him. He isn't quite a "project pick," and in a few years, he could be the face of the Dolphins.
Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU
The guy whose block will live in the minds of Cougars fans forever happens to be a heck of a lineman too. Not only did that hit earn him fame, it earned him a spot on ESPN's All Bowl Team. Before BYU left the MWAC, Reynolds was a First Team All-MWAC player in 2010.
He stands 6'6", 325lbs of beef, and if he could make the shift from left to right tackle, he could replace the inconsistent Marc Colombo and, along with Jake Long and Mike Pouncey, give the 18th Dolphins starting QB since Dan Marino a little more protection than the 17th had.
Tank Carder, OLB, TCU
Another former MWAC-er, Carder was the fourth player in league history to win back-to-back defensive player of the year awards, as well as being a consensus All-American in 2011. He also won Rose Bowl MVP in 2011 when his team knocked off Wisconsin in Pasadena.
He is fantastic against the rush, taking the correct angles to blow up plays behind the line. Against the pass, he regularly breaks up passes and is fine against tight ends or anyone out of the backfield. He is solid in the pass rush, and has the closing speed to get to the QB. If he "tanks" to the fifth round, he would be a must-pick to replace Koa Misi, who has yet to develop into the star he should've been.
Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
The First Team FCS All-American who near the top of the FCS with 1,098 yards and 11 touchdowns, could be a late-round pick for the Dolphins if they neglect to draft any receivers earlier in the draft. Whoever the Dolphins start at quarterback in 2012, he will need talented receivers to throw to, especially 6'5" receivers who will catch anything thrown their way.
He has been called a poor man's Brandon Marshall, which is a blessing and a curse. He can leap like a basketball player, but comparatively speaking has a fairly low football IQ. He runs limited routes, but can make plays happen with less-than-stellar QB play. With a few years work, he can be an elite downfield threat.
Ryan Miller, OG, Colorado
His draft stock fell with an average 2011 season but he might be a stretch at the sixth round. He is 6'8" 295lbs, so he's large. He is a phenomenal run blocker, and is great blocking on the move. You won't find him out of position, but if asked to play tackle, he will struggle against speed pass-rushers.
He is too tall to play guard, and even though the Dolphins have a need for a tackle, that isn't his strong suit. Draft him, and he will progressively improve. He needs to put on a bit more weight, and get better hands, but with time, he could be great.
Nelson Rosario, WR, UCLA
Rosario had a huge breakout season his senior year, and, on a 6'8" Bruins team, racked up 1,161 yards and five touchdowns. He doesn't have breakaway speed, but has fantastic big play ability. At 6'5" he doesn't need blazing speed to be a playmaker.
He is able to get up and over defenders to make grab, and is a stellar athlete, competing in the long jump for the Bruins' track and field team. His ankle was a concern early in his career, but he managed to not miss a game in 2011. If Rosario is there early in the seventh round and Miami still hasn't nabbed a receiver, they'll be all over him.
Austin Davis/John Brantley, QB, Southern Miss/Florida
These are the times I wish I could magically combine two players. Davis has on-the-money accuracy and very solid mobility, but his arm is average at best, and he doesn't make great reads. Brantley has a cannon, and when given the opportunity, finds the open receiver, but is frozen in the pocket and frequently overthrows open guys.
These are both serious project picks, but both have the raw ability to develop into long-term franchise QBs. When on the big stage, Davis slayed Houston, and garnered serious national attention. Brantley was plagued by injury in 2011, but when Charlie Weis actually called a passing play, his throws weren't bad. When he was given the chance to make reads and play real football, he executed.
Neither of these two are going to be able to step in anytime soon, but if you want to invest in the future, both of them should produce nice long-term dividends.