The Miami Dolphins have a number of draft needs. They have huge holes at cornerback and offensive tackle, but could use upgrades around the field.
One position that has been overlooked a bit is running back. With the departure of Reggie Bush, the Dolphins find themselves in a bit of a conundrum. Second-year back Lamar Miller has the ability to fill Bush's shoes, but his role won't be as prominent right away.
After Miller, there are some serious question marks.
Daniel Thomas has been underwhelming when he's been on the field—which hasn't been often, with all of his injuries.
Marcus Thigpen is quick and valuable as a return man, but cannot be counted on to contribute much out of the backfield.
Maybe the Dolphins could get creative and use him in some non-traditional ways, but the point is they need another consistent performer back there.
Ultimately, taking a running back in the fourth or fifth round would be the best move for Miami. Many teams have shown over the past few years that it's easy to get value there, and the Dolphins should follow suit.
Hopefully they will find someone who could supplant Thomas and form an athletic, healthy, cheap tandem with Miller moving forward. Here are four candidates that Miami should look at.
Of all the running backs on this list, Franklin might be the least likely to make it out of the first three rounds. If he's still there in the fourth, however, the Dolphins would do well to snatch him up.
Franklin is a pretty strong guy who doesn't shy away from contact and runs hard every play. He's a one-cut back who has some explosiveness but isn't necessarily a speed back. He isn't strong enough to overpower people, either. He is just a solid all-around back.
As a senior in 2012, Franklin gained 1,734 yards on the ground and punched in 13 touchdowns. He would be a great fit in Miami as a reliable guy who would replace Thomas as the No. 2 back.
Michael could potentially be another great player from Texas A&M to bring over to Miami. He'd join Mike Sherman, Ryan Tannehill and Jorovorskie Lane as another former Aggie on the Dolphins roster.
Michael is a talented back who has slipped since tearing his ACL in 2011. He had a frustrating 2012 season in which he clashed with coach Kevin Sumlin and saw his playing time reduced.
Even with so many less carries, he still scored a remarkable 12 touchdowns, which is a testament to his talent. He was the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and turned in an impressive performance at the combine. His stock is lower than his talent, and he should be there in the fourth or fifth round.
Should Miami take a shot on him, he could be a perfect power complement to Miller's agility. He weighs about 220 pounds and is a bulldozer when he needs to be.
Here's my personal favorite prospect for Miami in this year's draft.
Le'Veon Bell, as you can see from the picture, is a pretty impressive athlete. What makes him so impressive is that he is a sturdy 6'2", 230 pounds.
With such light feet on a frame like his, Bell is a rare talent whose biggest knock is his toughness. For a guy that big, Bell definitely isn't a bruiser, and would actually prefer to dance around defenders than run through them.
However, with his agility, he gets away with it. He gained 951 yards after contact last season, so it's hard to say that he shies away from it. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield better than most realize.
He is not explosive by any means, and may not use his frame as well as he could, but Bell is a multi-talented back with a gift that would make him a great pickup for the Dolphins.
Mike Gillislee is an exceptional athlete who doesn't have the power of Franklin or Michael, but is not a pure speed guy by any means. He has a solid frame at 5'11", 208 pounds, however he does not always run behind his pads and gives up a little power there.
He's a fast-twitch athlete who is incredibly elusive in the open field, rarely going down with the initial contact. He had a breakout senior year, gaining 1,152 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns on the ground.
He would make one of the fastest, most dangerous tandems in the league with Miller. With both of them on the field at once, along with Wallace on the outside and Keller lined up at tight end, defenses would be hard-pressed to figure out how to cover them all.