NFL Draft Prospects Rising Up Miami Dolphins' Big Board
The NFL Draft is a month away, and the Miami Dolphins are ready to build upon their already youthful roster.
Owner Stephen Ross hinted that they aren't quite finished with their free agent shopping spree, but the 'Phins' most recent additions provide a good idea of the direction this team is heading.
Their 11 picks in this year's draft are sure to bring them a combination of starters, role players and eventual releases by the start of the 2013 season.
Although the remainder of the Dolphins' moves in free agency will certainly impact their game plan come draft day, here's a list of potential targets based off of lingering roster needs.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
This one goes out to all the fans who want nothing more than a playmaker from this year's draft.
All of the Dolphins' free agency activity would lead you to believe that they have firmly solidified their needs at wide receiver.
However, with the recent rumors of a possible Davone Bess trade, it wouldn't be too far-fetched to see the 'Phins select Tavon Austin to replace him in the slot.
Please keep in mind, this relies heavily on the Dolphins solidifying their offensive line and secondary prior to draft day as well.
But when it comes to a talent like Tavon Austin with impeccable speed and big-play capability, you can never quite rule him out as an option.
Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
However, Keller is only 6'2" and an OK blocker at best, meaning the 'Phins are still lacking a big red-zone target and reliable protection from the tight end slot.
With a second or third round pick, the 6'5" Travis Kelce offers an immediate solution to both of these issues, as well as a nice contrast to Keller's skill set.
NFL.com made a bold comparison between Kelce and Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, but his ability to line up tight or spread out wide is more reminiscent of another Patriot tight end—Aaron Hernandez.
David Amerson, CB, NC State
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
David Amerson hasn't been mentioned in first round conversation and likely won't hear his name called on day one of the draft.
In the second round, however, you'll struggle to find a ball magnet in the secondary quite like Amerson.
In 2011 he reeled in 13 interceptions, earning the Jack Tatum Award for best defensive back and falling just one pick shy of the record set by Al Worley in 1968.
Amerson recently decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft after recording 5 interceptions in 2012 and earning second-team All-ACC honors.
Although his excellent combination of size and speed should help ease his transition, this youngster still has his work cut out for him if he wants to excel at the next level.
Eric Reid, FS, LSU
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Chris Clemons was re-signed to a one-year contract and may earn himself an extension, but the Dolphins are keeping their options open at safety for the time being.
Eric Reid is a talented free safety out of LSU, a hard hitter with great instincts who should be able to make an immediate impact in the NFL.
Regardless of their confidence in Clemons, odds are that the 'Phins will look to draft another safety before everything's all said and done.
With Reshad Jones holding a firm grasp on the strong safety spot for the foreseeable future, Reid would be a quality addition in the late second or early third round to replace Clemons after this season.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
So let's say Jeff Ireland isn't sold on Xavier Rhodes' ability to excel in zone coverage and doesn't want to take a risk with the No. 12 overall pick.
Well, don't be surprised to see Ireland shop that selection and trade down in the first round, adding to his ever-growing stash of picks.
The name may sound familiar, as Desmond is set to follow in the footsteps of older brothers Marcus and Isiah who have both made it as NFL cornerbacks.
After an impressive combine, where he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, the youngest and largest of the siblings made it clear that he has the potential to be the best Trufant yet.
His speed and ability to make plays on the ball are something to be coveted in the late first and early second round, especially for a Dolphins' squad with a spotty secondary.
Xavier Rhodes. CB, Florida State
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
At 6'1" and 210-pounds, Xavier Rhodes is a physical press corner that front office executives around the league dream of.
His combine statistics proved he not only has the size that teams desire, but also brings extraordinary leaping ability and top-level speed to the table.
Although he is best known for his press coverage, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle is an experienced secondary coach who should have no problem converting Rhodes to his zone scheme.
If Coyle is high on this guy, it will be tough for Jeff Ireland to pass him up at the No. 12 spot with the gaping hole remaining on the cornerback depth chart.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Before we talk about Chance Warmack, let's first set the stage:
The Dolphins add a cornerback and an offensive tackle before the draft, answering their two biggest remaining areas of weakness.
A replacement for John Jerry has not been signed, and Jonathan Cooper from UNC has already been drafted.
Enter Warmack, the 6'2" 317-pound monster from Alabama who seems to move defensive lineman with ease.
Although his speed and ability to pull may come into question (especially after running a 5.49 40-yard-dash at the combine), he still has the talent to be a perennial Pro Bowler in the NFL.
Add him to the mix of Mike Pouncey, Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito and ideally Eric Winston, and you're looking at one of the best offensive lines in the league.
Jonathan Cooper, G, UNC
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Cooper posted a 5.07 40-yard dash while falling just one rep shy of the top spot in the bench at the 2013 NFL Combine.
Since 1967, only 10 guards have been drafted in the top 10, leading one to believe that either Cooper or Alabama's Chance Warmack should be floating around the No. 12 overall pick.
With John Jerry ranking 49th out of 81 eligible offensive guards in 2012, don't be surprised if the 'Phins look to upgrade at the position opposite Richie Incognito.
If he's still on the board and the line is still shaky, then Jonathan Cooper may just be the first draft pick to adorn the brand new Dolphins logo.
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Lane Johnson proved at the NFL Combine that he is hands down the most athletic offensive tackle in the draft.
If the Dolphins fail to land a starting tackle in free agency, expect them to make a strong push for the big man from Oklahoma with their top pick.
Despite his inexperience in just two seasons on the offensive line, his athleticism is simply unmatched and something the new-look 'Phins covet.
There is a good chance that Johnson will be off the board by the No. 12 pick, but Jeff Ireland has more than enough picks to deal a second rounder and slide up a few slots to get his man.