2012 NFL Draft: Ranking the 5 Best Players at Every Need for the Miami Dolphins

Scott AltmanCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Ranking the 5 Best Players at Every Need for the Miami Dolphins

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    As the 2012 NFL Draft approaches, we're starting to obtain a better feel for which positions the Miami Dolphins must address. 

    Just this past week, general manager Jeff Ireland announced that the team will let defensive linemen Paul Soliai and Kendall Langford walk into free agency. These developments alter the Dolphins' offseason outlook, and it will continue to change as the draft approaches. 

    Free agency will significantly alter Miami's list of needs, but as of now, here are the top five prospects at each of the Dolphins' needs. 

Quarterback

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    1. Andrew Luck, Stanford

    2. Robert Griffin III, Baylor

    3. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

    4. Nick Foles, Arizona

    5. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State 

    This year's quarterback class is extremely top-heavy, and that doesn't bode well for the Dolphins.

    Andrew Luck is a mortal lock to go first overall and Robert Griffin might not escape the top five. Unless Miami is willing to pay a king's ransom and trade up for Griffin or Luck, they'll have to target Matt Flynn, Peyton Manning, or one of the lower grade quarterback prospects. 

Wide Receiver

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    1. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

    2. Alshon Jeffrey, South Carolina

    3. Michael Floyd, Notre Dame

    4. Kendall Wright, Baylor

    5. Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers 

    Now that Joe Philbin has taken over as head coach, the Dolphins offense may begin transitioning from run-heavy to pass-heavy. If this is the case, then the team should target a wide receiver at some point during the 2012 NFL Draft.

    However, the 'Fins won't draft a wideout until after the first round. Prospects like Kendall Wright and Mohamed Sanu are realistic targets if they fall into the second round, but that's a bit of a longshot. 

Tight End

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    1. Dwayne Allen, Clemson

    2. Coby Fleener, Stanford

    3. Orson Charles, Georgia

    4. Ladarius Green, UL Lafayette

    5. Michael Egnew, Missouri 

    I fully expect all five of these prospects to be on Miami's radar come draft day. The Dolphins have been in desperate need of a tight end for years, and Joe Philbin made Jermichael Finley a star in Green Bay.

    Expect Philbin to try and acquire a top-flight tight end and make him an integral piece of Miami's offensive attack. 

Offensive Guard

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    1. David Decastro, Stanford

    2. Cordy Glenn, Georgia

    3. Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin

    4. Brandon Washington, Miami 

    5. Ryan Miller, Colorado

    Vernon Carey is slated for free agency this offseason, and his departure creates a glaring vacancy at right guard.

    The Dolphins could feasibly address the position early in the draft, but it's far more likely that they will use a later round pick or wait for free agency to fill the void. 

Offensive Tackle

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    1. Matt Kalil, Southern Cal

    2. Riley Reiff, Iowa

    3. Jonathan Martin, Stanford

    4. Zebrie Sanders, Florida State

    5. Mike Adams, Ohio State 

    Right tackle is arguably Miami's most pressing need, and they will look long and hard at all of the available prospects.

    Most seem to believe the Dolphins will draft Riley Reiff with their first-round pick, but I disagree.

    There's an abundance of promising offensive tackles in this year's class, so the 'Fins can afford to wait until the second round and draft a player like Zebrie Sanders and Mike Adams. 

Defensive Tackle

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    1. Devon Still, Penn State

    2. Michael Brockers, LSU

    3. Jerel Worthy, Michigan State

    4. Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State

    5. Dontari Poe, Memphis

    The Dolphins are reportedly prepared to switch to a 4-3 defensive alignment, which means Paul Soliai will likely depart for free agency. This creates a hole at defensive tackle, but not a particularly pressing one.

    Both Jared Odrick and Randy Starks have experience playing defensive tackle, so the 'Fins might not even have to address the position during the draft.  

Defensive End/Outside Linebacker

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    1. Quinton Coples, North Carolina

    2. Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

    3. Melvin Ingram, South Carolina

    4. Nick Perry, Southern Cal

    5. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois

    Throughout the course of this year's playoffs, we've seen how much of an impact a great pass rush can have. Consequently, I expect the Dolphins to use their first-round pick on a pass rusher.

    Cam Wake is the only true pass rusher currently on Miami's roster, and the team would benefit tremendously from adding another. 

Cornerback

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    1. Morris Claiborne, LSU

    2. Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

    3. Alfonzo Denard, Nebraska

    4. Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

    5. Chase Minnifield, Virginia

    Because Vontae Davis and Sean Smith are already on the roster, cornerback is not a top priority for the Dolphins this offseason. However, it is still vital that they address it.

    The backend of Miami's cornerback corps is awful, and they won't be able to contend with teams like the Patriots, Saints and Packers until more reliable defensive backs are brought onboard.

    In all likelihood, the Dolphins will draft a cornerback in the latter rounds of the draft.

Safety

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    1. Mark Barron, Alabama

    2. Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State

    3. George Iloka, Boise State

    4. Antonio Allen, South Carolina

    5. Harrison Smith, Notre Dame

    There's no telling how much a ball-hawking free safety could help Miami's defense. Unfortunately, the team probably won't find one in this year's draft.

    Mark Barron might be the only safety to be selected in the first round, but he doesn't appear to be worth a top 10 pick. Don't be surprised if the 'Fins trade back and draft Barron, though.

    There aren't many appealing options in the free agency pool, so Miami might have to scoop one of these players up in the draft.