NFL Draft Prospects Who Would Fit Perfectly with the Miami Dolphins
The recent addition of Lance Louis and the re-signing of Nate Garner provide some much-needed depth to the offensive line, while the acquisition of Brent Grimes significantly bolsters the secondary.
There is still a good chance that Jeff Ireland makes another signing or two before the NFL draft rolls around, but the overall picture of the Dolphins' big board is becoming clearer with each addition.
With less than a month left to D-Day, it's about time to examine a handful of prospects who would be perfect fits for the new-look 'Phins.
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Lane Johnson NFL Player Comparison
Maybe it has to do with a lack of confidence in Jonathan Martin sliding over to the left, or perhaps Jeff Ireland is simply sticking to his guns and refusing to overspend.
Either way, you can rule out Lane Johnson or any other offensive lineman with the first pick if the 'Phins end up inking Winston to a multi-year deal.
On the other hand, if a deal isn't done and the team fails to add a tackle prior to the draft, then Ireland may be bold enough to move up a few spots and acquire the athletic big man from Oklahoma.
Trading up also means giving up an additional pick. Not the ideal situation, but a smart move if the hole at tackle is still plaguing the depth chart come draft day.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
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Even now with Brent Grimes at cornerback, the Dolphins still need to add a couple of players to round out the secondary.
His signing does give Jeff Ireland some flexibility with their top pick, although the possibility is still there to take a guy like Xavier Rhodes or Desmond Trufant.
It also opens up the option of a using second-round selection on a cornerback, maybe even the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award recipient—Johnthan Banks.
Banks steps in at 6'2" and 185 pounds, sticking with the trend of bigger NFL corners while towering four inches over the recently added Brent Grimes.
The former Mississippi State standout has the potential to match up with the bigger receivers around the league and could be special if he puts on some size and adds some strength.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
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I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't the biggest fan of taking Tavon Austin at No. 12, but all of the free-agency action thus far has brought about a change of heart.
The Dolphins won't find an offensive tackle worthy of their top pick unless they trade up or if Lane Johnson miraculously falls. Their needs at cornerback and defensive end can both be adequately addressed in the second and third rounds with such a deep draft class at both positions.
So why not take a chance on Tavon Austin in Round 1 and trade Bess for a future draft pick before he hits the free-agent market?
It's hard not to like the thought of adding a better and cheaper weapon in the slot while also stashing away a pick for the future.
Kyle Long, OL, Oregon
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Kyle Long is projected to find a home somewhere in the second or third round of this year's draft.
The son of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long and brother of former second overall pick Chris is one of the most intriguing offensive lineman on the board.
According to NFL.com, both his father and brother consider him to be the best athlete in the family.
Kyle was drafted by the Chicago White Sox out of high school as a two-sport star but ultimately chose to pursue a career in football.
At 6'6" and 313 pounds, Long's 4.94 second 40-yard dash is very impressive, although his one year of experience on the offensive line is not.
It's his superb strength and athleticism, however, that has helped his stock rise and will help him transition to the the next level as a versatile starter,
Eric Reid, S, LSU
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Reshad Jones isn’t headed anywhere anytime soon, and it’s still possible that Chris Clemons will impress the coaches enough to earn himself a contract extension.
Regardless, the Dolphins are going to pick up a free safety at some point in the draft to provide a bit of competition this year and possibly take over for Clemons the following season.
The safety class has some quality talent, but there’s a particular Day 2 pick who would fit nicely in the Dolphins' depths.
Eric Reid from LSU has all of the traits that Ireland is looking to add to this defense.
At 6'1" and 213 pounds, Reid blazes a 4.53 40-yard-dash and isn't afraid to use his size to lay a hit on opposing ball carriers.
He's a perfect fit who could really shine alongside Jones in the Dolphins' secondary.
Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
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Travis Kelce is a consensus mid-round pick who has the potential to make a huge splash in the NFL.
The 6'5" tight end out of Cincinnati provides the precise skill set the 'Phins are looking for to complement Dustin Keller.
Kelce is a large target with solid hands who can instantly upgrade the team's red-zone offense.
He also happens to be one of the stronger blocking tight ends in this year's class, an area where Keller simply does not excel.
There are some character concerns surrounding his year-long suspension in 2010 after violating team rules, but his most recent track record indicates that he has since matured.
He may not be the best tight end to emerge from this year's class, but the Dolphins will struggle to find a better value in the third or fourth round of this draft.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
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The Dolphins’ front line was dominant last season even without a serious pass-rushing threat opposite Cameron Wake.
This draft class is loaded with talent at defensive end. Ireland should have no problem finding someone to compete with Jared Odrick and Olivier Vernon for immediate playing time.
Unless Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah shockingly slide down to the 12th overall pick, the 'Phins will wait to select a pass-rusher in a later round.
The one guy who should top their list of targets in the late second or early third is SMU's Margus Hunt.
Hunt is an absolute freak of an athlete who runs a 4.60 40-yard-dash despite his massive 6'8" and 277-pound frame.
Even if he doesn't pan out to be a top NFL defensive end, his ability to change the momentum of a game with his special teams play alone warrants the pick.
He fell two blocks shy of the NCAA record with 17 blocked kicks over his college career and could truly be a disruptive force on defense if he continues to develop.
Dustin Hopkins, K, Florida State
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Dan Carpenter threw away—or should I say kicked away—two games last year that ultimately cost the Dolphins a .500 season and a possible chance at the playoffs.
With three picks in the seventh round of this year's draft, it makes sense to bring in one of the top college kickers to compete with Carpenter in training camp.
Releasing Carpenter would cost the team $312,000 in dead money, but the savings from signing a seventh-round rookie kicker to take his place would more than make up for that.
Dustin Hopkins is a guy who can put it through the uprights from 50-plus yards, consistently connect on PATs (only one miss in his college career) and take away opponents' return game (over one-third of his kickoffs went for touchbacks).
In other words, Dan Carpenter better watch his back, because his job is on the chopping block.