If you Google "2012 NFL Mock Draft," you'll receive over four million results.
It's overwhelming, I know.
But don't worry, I've woven through the masses of mock drafts to bring you predictions from the most reputable and widely read analysts on the web.
Contrary to last year—when everybody believed the Miami Dolphins would draft Mark Ingram—few seem to agree on who Miami will draft. There's a vast array of prospects the 'Fins might draft with the eighth overall pick, but which one do the NFL's preeminent reporters think the Dolphins will select?
Here are their early predictions.
Here's how Kiper justifies this selection:
The Dolphins will be adding a quarterback, and Reiff helps them finish what could be a solid offensive line in 2012. Reiff's tape was exceptional this past season, and given how complete he is right now, stepping in immediately on the right side shouldn't be a problem. Outside linebacker also makes some sense here, but Miami knows its offense is really close, and Reiff makes the quarterback situation that much more appealing, regardless of who takes the snaps. The Dolphins aced their first-round pick last year, also hitting the O-line. Wouldn't hurt them one bit to double down.
Kiper published this mock draft before Reiff's poor showing at the combine, so let's cut him some slack. Still, this is the safe pick. And it's also the wrong one.
This reminds me of last year when every mock draft had the Dolphins taking Mark Ingram because it was easy and safe. The Dolphins will draft a pass-rusher with their first-round pick, not Riley Reiff.
Quarterback and right offensive tackle are bigger needs, but there is not an available player at either of those positions who's worth drafting here. Cameron Wake is Miami's only legitimate pass-rushing threat and he turns 30 next season, so Ingram makes sense. He can play tackle in a four-man front or end in a three-man front, giving the Dolphins the scheme versatility they want under new defensive coordinator Kevin Coye, and Ingram had a penchant for making big plays during his senior season.
I try not to listen to anything Mel Kiper and Todd McShay say (read this article, and you won't either), but I must admit, McShay is spot-on here. He clearly understands Miami's roster, and I couldn't agree more with this assertion: "Quarterback and right offensive tackle are bigger needs, but there is not an available player at either of those positions who's worth drafting here."
That's what so many other "draft experts" fail to realize. Also, as many of you know, I'm driving the Melvin Ingram bandwagon, so it's only natural that I support McShay's pick.
Unlike Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, NFL Network's Charley Casserly is a voice worth listening to.
Casserly believes the Dolphins will draft Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin with their first-round pick. He gives a brief explanation, saying, "Martin played left tackle at Stanford, but he can move to right tackle in the NFL."
I don't foresee Miami drafting an offensive tackle in the first round, but if it does, I suspect it'll be Martin—not Riley Reiff. Martin protected Andrew Luck's blind side for three years, and that alone makes him an enticing prospect.
Moreover, Martin is two inches taller than Reiff and doesn't have T-Rex arms.
Everybody knows the Dolphins will pursue a franchise quarterback this offseason, but NFL Network's Albert Breer takes the road less traveled in his mock draft. He has Miami selecting Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall pick.
Here's what Breer says about this selection:
Yes, ex-Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is here. But Miami liked this QB before Sherman arrived. Both Tannehill and Peyton Manning? Maybe.
Manning and Tannehill? Maybe not.
The Dolphins have far too many needs to use their first-round pick on another quarterback. Even if the 'Fins don't land Manning, Matt Flynn and Robert Griffin will be the team's backup plans. I'd be shocked if Miami drafted Tannehill.
Like Albert Breer, Russ Lande of the Sporting News takes the road less traveled in his mock draft. He has the Dolphins drafting Stanford offensive guard David DeCastro. And, for the record, he is the only analyst I've seen make this prediction.
Here's Lande's explanation:
The Dolphins’ offensive line has struggled with consistency in recent seasons, and DeCastro could start at guard immediately. He showed at the Combine that he also might be able to handle playing right tackle, which would shore up a big problem for Miami.
Lande has one of the most radical mock drafts out there, but this isn't entirely far-fetched. DeCastro projects as a solid NFL lineman, and for all we know, the 'Fins view him as a top-10 pick.
Ah, another mock draft featuring Riley Reiff to the Dolphins. This time, it's Don Banks of Sports Illustrated sending the Iowa lineman to Miami.
I'm still operating under the conviction the Dolphins get their quarterback in free agency, with either Matt Flynn or Peyton Manning coming to town, and that makes right offensive tackle the biggest necessity in the first round. Miami would be landing the second-highest rated tackle behind USC's Kalil, and NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said Reiff is even more pro-ready than Iowa tackle/Green Bay first-round pick Bryan Bulaga was two years ago. Reiff could handle the left tackle slot at some point in the NFL, but with Jake Long already in Miami, the Fish's need is on the right side.
Again, I don't see this happening.
We all know Miami's three biggest needs are quarterback, offensive tackle/guard and pass-rusher. But free safety isn't far behind.
Neither Chris Clemons nor Reshad Jones have proven themselves as viable starters, so the Dolphins will be on the hunt for an upgrade during the offseason.
Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly believes the 'Fins won't wait long to fix their secondary issues. He has Miami drafting Alabama's Mark Barron with the eighth overall pick. Nawrocki writes:
Interchangeable safeties have become increasingly difficult to find and have become more critical to match up with the new breed of tight end dominating the NFL. With Patriots TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez on the schedule twice a year, GM Jeff Ireland can be justified making Barron a top-10 pick.
I've speculated about Miami's interest in Barron before, but it has become very difficult to gauge his draft stock. He has flown mostly under the radar and missed the combine.
Barron is the dark horse for the Dolphins, but I don't expect Jeff Ireland to draft him.
I'd love to see the Dolphins draft Melvin Ingram, but he is undersized. Jeff Ireland rarely—if ever—gambles on smaller players, so USC's Nick Perry could be a more realistic pick.
Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel believes the Dolphins will, in fact, use their first-round pick on Perry.
Kelly writes, "USC defensive end Nick Perry is the pressure player the Dolphins need to put opposite Cameron Wake as Jason Taylor's replacement."
Perry might be the front-runner for the 'Fins. He is two inches and almost 10 pounds bigger than Ingram, and he produced at a major collegiate program.