The problems that the Miami Dolphins have are many, but the 2013 draft is just the right draft for them to fix them.
The Dolphins have nine picks in the upcoming draft, with five of those draft picks coming in the top 100. There's a lot of talent available at all of the positions at which the Dolphins need help, so there is no reason why the Fins cannot enter the 2013 season with a quality draft class.
How can Miami fill some of its holes? Let's take a look at my version of the mock draft, one in which we focus on Miami's problems and the players that can help fix them.
On a side note, I think Miami will trade one of their second- or third-round picks during the draft and could also trade back in Round 1. However, I'm tackling this mock as if the Dolphins won't make a draft-day trade.
In a perfect world, one of these scenarios happens:
- Manti Te'o is available when Miami is on the clock, giving them the option to either trade down in the first round—or take the best prospect at linebacker since Brian Urlacher
- Defensive end Bjoern Werner (Florida State) is on the board when Miami is on the clock, and they take him with no questions asked
- Cornerback Dee Milliner (Alabama) is on the board, and Miami takes him with no questions asked
So much for my dream scenarios, for now.
The Dolphins will need a wide receiver, and Tennessee's Justin Hunter is predicted to be Miami's pick according to WalterFootball.com. However, Keenan Allen is the better receiver and would be a better fit for Miami.
But picking Allen at No. 13 would be a stretch, as he will likely still be available in the 20s. Therefore, Miami might choose to trade down and bank an extra draft pick.
As for Allen, what makes him ideal for the Dolphins is his quickness, his hands and his 6'3", 195-pound frame.
Out of the receivers projected to go in Round 1, Allen seems to work the best in a West Coast offense. If the Dolphins go for a receiver in this round, Allen would be the right man for the job (and the only one I'd feel confident in).
I know Miami needs help in the secondary as well as another pass rusher; however, with their first second-round pick, the Dolphins should not waste the chance to get Ryan Tannehill more help at tight end by passing on Zach Ertz from Stanford.
Ertz leads Stanford with 66 receptions for 837 yards and six touchdowns and at 6'6", 252 pounds would be the perfect red-zone target and safety blanket for Tannehill. His run-blocking is also a positive that would help Miami in that aspect of the game.
Pairing Ertz with Charles Clay at the tight-end position would give the Dolphins plenty of options and size, and along with my projected first-round pick of Keenan Allen, would turn the Dolphins offense into a potentially explosive one in 2013.
There is no doubt that the Dolphins secondary needs some help.
Some is a bit of an understatement. A lot of help is needed—help that could be provided by the versatile David Amerson (North Carolina State).
Amerson's a big hitter at 6'3", 194 pounds, and many think he will move to safety once he enters the NFL. He's versatile enough to play both safety and cornerback well and would be a great complement to Sean Smith in the secondary (assuming Miami chooses to keep Smith).
The knock on Ryan Swope coming to the Dolphins is that he's a slot receiver, and the Dolphins already have Davone Bess.
The positives of Ryan Swope coming to the Dolphins are that he already has some knowledge of the playbook, chemistry with Ryan Tannehill (in 2011 Swope had 89 catches for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns) and is a bit quicker than Bess in terms of getting yards after the catch.
Maybe in this mock draft I'm spending too many picks on building the offense, but that's the strategy the Dolphins will have to adopt. Put more talent around Tannehill and he will succeed. If drafted by the Dolphins, Swope will likely be only a fourth or even fifth receiver, but he will be a reliable one.
It's not a secret how much I'd love to see the Dolphins acquire Florida State's best pass-rusher in Round 1, but that doesn't seem very likely—unless the teams before Miami draft quarterbacks in Round 1 that should have been left for Round 2. (Don't discount this scenario, by the way, as the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets will likely be thinking quarterback).
Assuming Werner is taken in the first round and the draft goes the way this mock is going, then Brandon Jenkins would be a great pick for the Dolphins in Round 3.
Jenkins will likely have to add some bulk to his 6'3", 260-pound frame in order to better fit what Miami will need out of a defensive end, but he does have the skill set to create problems in the pocket. He would normally go in the first two rounds, but an injury that knocked him out for most of 2012 has him slipping on many draft boards.
He'd be a bargain for Miami in the third round—one that they couldn't afford to pass up.
Shocked, aren't you?
Shocked that I've waited this long for Miami to pick an offensive lineman?
Let me explain.
If Miami chooses to let Jake Long go, we all know that Jonathan Martin will replace him at left tackle. However, a right tackle might not be needed as much as you think, as the Dolphins could always move John Jerry over to that spot.
Think it's crazy that I would trust Jerry that much? Consider this: He's actually been decent this season, and his body is better suited for a tackle position.
With that in mind, move Jerry over to right tackle, and draft the big—but athletic—Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State) in Round 4 to be Miami's new right guard.
Jackson's footwork is stellar, and he never gives up on his block, maintaining it until his man is either on the ground or well out of the way.
He's also very versatile and can play tackle if needed.
We spent the first five picks going for playmakers; now is the time for a lineman. Gabe Jackson is that lineman.
When I read mock drafts, I'm often shocked by how the players are valued. William Gholston is an example of one such player.
Coming into the season, he was projected to be a first- or second-round pick, but Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller has him going in Round 5.
This is an intriguing prospect even though he has underachieved at Michigan State, statistically-speaking. Keep in mind that the Spartans have one of the best defensive lines in the country, and Gholston is a large part of that.
I already advocated taking a pass-rusher early in the draft, but it wouldn't be a bad idea for Miami to double-up at this position and give it much-needed depth. At the same time, Gholston could learn under Cameron Wake, a possibility that should get rid of any concerns about his motor or motivation.
Miami needs to find someone to take over for Karlos Dansby, who only has two years left on his contract.
Preferably, Miami would draft Manti Te'o in Round 1 to take over for Dansby in 2013 (allowing the Dolphins to rid themselves of Dansby's onerous contract), but that's not likely to happen. Also, Dansby has been very good in 2012, so Miami can use this draft to find depth at the position and hopefully find an heir apparent to him in the next draft.
Iowa State's A.J. Klein would be a good pick-up for that very reason. The 6'1", 244 pound-linebacker is tied for the all-time NCAA lead in interceptions among linebackers, and he's a first-team All-Big 12 in 2012.
The senior is everything Miami looks for at the linebacker position, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Miami add depth at LB with the selection of Klein.
This one is intriguing. I don't think Collin Klein will be a quarterback in the NFL.
However, unlike some players—including one who plays in New York—who just won't let that idea go, Klein seems to have a good grasp of the concept.
Klein was a Heisman finalist, and had it not been for Johnny Manziel's epic performance against Alabama, he might have won the award. He's a senior who wasn't invited to the Senior Bowl because he's not considered one of the top quarterbacks available.
However, he could be of great use to the Dolphins. Miami could play Klein as a tight end or wide receiver, which would work out well since the QB is a converted WR.
Still, if Miami is interested in a quarterback project (the Green Bay way), then Klein would work there, too, as the Dolphins could develop the youngster into an NFL quarterback and give him decent trade value.
In Round 7, Klein would be an excellent pick-up for Miami and open the door to many possibilities.
Sadly, this was probably the only time this season that a Miami wide receiver reached up and beat two defenders for a ball.
That is why this mock draft is so wide receiver-heavy!
Happy holidays, everyone! Thank you to all of the readers out there who have read my work in the last year. Thank you for the nice comments—as well as the insulting ones—and thank you for your overall support!
Be safe out there everyone, and remember, Miami still has a shot for the playoffs in 2012!