The NFL season is still in full force, but it is never too early to think about the next draft.
Prospects will rise and fall, and draft needs will change as the Dolphins reshape their roster using anywhere between $40 and $52 million in cap space. For now, team needs are quite clear, dictating these mock draft picks.
It seems like the Dolphins are headed for another middling draft pick—it will take some magic to reach the playoffs at this point—so let's assume they will have a pick in the 12-16 range come draft day.
Wild changes will come as draft season approaches and drat prospects run their 40s and fail their Wonderlics, but here is a peek at what Miami could be thinking come April.
Pick: Björn Werner, DE, Florida State
Team need No. 1 is wide receiver, so Miami will use their first round pick on a top receiver.
Oh, wait, this is Jeff Ireland we are talking about. If we know anything about Ireland, it's that he does not like drafting receivers with high draft picks. (Ted Ginn Jr. was a Randy Mueller pick, and Miami is still psychologically scarred from that one.)
Miami needs to find another pass-rusher to pair with Cameron Wake. Olivier Vernon was drafted as a project to do just that, but he does not have the tools or talent that many of the pass rushers in this year's class possess.
Werner might not be available at this point in the first round—pass-rushers tend to be the biggest risers on draft day—but Miami should have plenty of other options at defensive end to choose from should they decide to go that route.
Alternate Pick: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Perhaps Jeff Ireland will break form, or—as many Dolphins fans desperately hope—Ireland will no longer be with the team. Keenan Allen is likely the draft's best receiver, though he is not in the same class as recent highly drafted wide outs like A.J. Green and Julio Jones.
Pick: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
The team does need to address the receiver position at some point. Even if they splurge in free agency, having multiple weapons on the outside is ideal.
Williams might not make it to the middle of the second round, depending on where some of these other receivers land, but he would make a great offensive piece to pair with another good receiver.
He has good size at 6'2" and has some good speed on tape. He broke out at Baylor this year after becoming the No. 1 receiver with Kendall Wright gone to the NFL; his 95 receptions for 1,764 yards and 12 touchdowns came without Robert Griffin III to boot.
The Baylor product would be well-suited for a No. 2 role in the NFL. Perhaps he will be lining up opposite Dwayne Bowe in Miami next season?
Alternate Pick: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Miami is likely going to need to replace Jake Long this offseason as well, and you know how much Jeff Ireland likes offensive linemen in the top rounds.
Pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
This is a bit of wishful thinking, but there is a chance Eifert could be available in the mid-to-late second round. Who knows how far he might fall if the Falcons pass on him in the first round?
The Dolphins might be content with Anthony Fasano and Charles Clay at tight end, but they could use a premiere tight end. Eifert is a big-time red zone threat, one the Dolphins have sorely needed in recent years.
Of course, selecting him here means the Dolphins would forgo filling a need along the offensive line or in the secondary, assuming this mock draft is 100 percent correct to this point. Chances are it is not.
Alternate Pick: Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, Florida State
Assuming they have not addressed the pass-rusher situation by now in this alternate set of picks, Carradine would make for an excellent risk here. He recently tore his ACL, but that should only serve to make him a steal in the draft if teams let him drop.
Pick: Brennan Williams, OT, UNC
There is the offensive lineman we have been waiting for.
Williams is a monster at 6'7" and 315 pounds. Should Jake Long prove too expensive, Miami could move Jonathan Martin back to his natural position at left tackle and stick someone like Williams on the right side. Of course, we all know what it looks like when a rookie starts at right tackle.
Alternate Pick: Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Why not double up on wide receiver in this alternate universe? This is the realm where bizzarro Jeff Ireland roams.
Pick: Terry Hawthorne, CB, Illinois
What better use here for Chicago's third round pick obtained in the Brandon Marshall trade than to take a cornerback to try to cover him? Of course, Miami won't have to face Marshall too often, but they do need help at the position.
At this point Miami needs to start stockpiling talent in the secondary, and Hawthorne would be a decent start if the rest of their draft shapes up as predicted above.
Alternate Pick: Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa
The mock draft universes collide here as the Dolphins need a cornerback either way.