With the end of the regular season, comes the buildup to the NFL Draft. The event that gives hope to all 31 teams that were unable to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.
For the Miami Dolphins, the draft is very important. They have been an average team for a few years now and have been looking to finally take that step forward.
By drafting Ryan Tannehill last year, it appears the Dolphins have finally found their quarterback of the future and will now be able to build around him.
They have some obvious needs at a few positions that need to be addressed as well as others that need to be strengthened.
Here, we will focus on those needs that the Dolphins can't go into next season without addressing.
Maybe the most obvious need for the Dolphins. They have some good players in Brian Hartline (who should be re-signed) and Davone Bess. However, these players should not be the first option on any team.
Tannehill needs somebody he can throw the ball to in the red-zone and in pressure situations. Someone who will draw a double team on most occasions and is a threat to go deep. The Dolphins just don't have that.
This draft is not top-heavy at the wide receiver position, but there are some guys in the second round who can be impact players right away and can develop into top receivers in the future.
Without a top receiving threat, Miami's offense will struggle. They don't have the best running attack either, making the offense a bit stagnant at times.
By addressing this need early in the draft, the Dolphins will feel confident in what they will be able to do offensively next year.
The other big problem the Dolphins have is at cornerback. By trading Vontae Davis and adding Richard Marshall, Miami thought they wouldn't lose a beat. However, Marshall was disappointing at the beginning of the season before being placed in IR.
Sean Smith proved that he can't handle being the No.1 guy at the position. He lacks the instincts needed to be a top cornerback and is mightily inconsistent.
Behind Smith and Marshall, the Dolphins are way too thin at the position. Nolan Carrol is not very good and R.J. Stanford should be limited to playing special teams.
By bringing in one or even two players at the position, the Dolphins can get better as well as deeper for next year. Like the receiving class, this cornerback class is not top-heavy either. There are some guys that can be selected in the late first round and early second round that can contribute right away.
With Reshad Jones playing at an All-Pro level and Chris Clemmons improving, adding talent at the cornerback position would make this a secondary that is hard to throw against.
I didn't specify whether this need is a left tackle or right tackle because at this point, we don't know what side Joe Philbin wants Jonathan Martin to play at.
What we do know is that Nate Garner is not starting material and might be charged for attempted murder after what happened to Tannehill against the Patriots last week.
There are some really good players coming out this year at left tackle. These are players that will start right away and can give an offensive line a lot of stability.
The right tackle position is not as strong, but there are also some good players coming out.
The Dolphins might be looking to draft a tackle with their first pick in the draft if they in fact let Jake Long walk. This would be the safest pick Miami could make even if it angers a lot of the fans.
With the center position being a lock on the Miami offensive line and at least one of the tackles showing he has a bright future, this offensive line can get a lot stronger by drafting an elite tackle on either side.