Instead of getting a good look at who the Dolphins will select, we've been subject to various rumors, innuendos, possible smokescreens and fans stating both their biggest wishes for whom to pick, as well as their greatest fears.
What we do know now—more so than we did at the start of the offseason—is what Miami needs and what priority it seems to put at each need.
With the latter, we're not even sure what priority those are, but the Dolphins somewhat hinted at that in Jeff Ireland's last pre-draft press conference by stating (per the Sun-Sentinel):
"I feel very comfortable with Nate Garner and some of the developmental players...But we're going to upgrade the offensive line."
He'd later go on to say:
"The tight end position all together has gotten very athletic. It has gotten fast, big and athletic."
Keep in mind, this is also the same guy that once said this (per ESPN.com):
"Of course I want guys that have great upside," Ireland said. "This is the first pick in the draft. This guy is going to be -- you hope that he's a pillar of your defense for a long time."
Ireland would go on to draft Jake Long in that draft back in 2008 with the No. 1 pick.
In other words, this mock isn't based too much on what Ireland is saying, but rather some of Miami's needs and who will likely be the best player available. I won't include potential trade-ups or trade-downs, just each of the 11 draft picks and the players to go with those draft picks.
It's my personal belief that unless the Dolphins complete a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for Branden Albert (which reportedly is being discussed per The Miami Herald), Miami won't be selecting at No. 12.
In fact, even if the Dolphins give up what the Kansas City Chiefs want them to give up for Albert, they still won't be picking at 12. The reason being is if they can't make a deal for Albert but any of the teams in the top 10 are willing to trade down for Miami's first-rounder and one of its second-rounders, they will do so if it will land them Lane Johnson, Eric Fisher or (very unlikely) Luke Joeckel.
However if the Dolphins do acquire Albert, they could then trade back in order to get another second-rounder.
One possible team they could trade back with is the Atlanta Falcons, a team that Peter King has stated that is interested in trading down.
Hearing the Falcons are trying to trade up from number 30 in the first round, and not, obviously, for a quarterback.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) April 17, 2013
According to NFL.com, the Falcons are seeking either a defensive end or a cornerback (ironically two positions the Dolphins will be looking to fill), and both are expected to be fairly deep at the No. 12 position.
If such a deal can be made, Miami would be a prime team to make that deal.
But in the event that Miami holds on to the 12th pick, I'm going with Tyler Eifert as its choice.
Eifert adds another playmaker to their offense and a great complement to their newest tight end acquisition Dustin Keller. Eifert is a superior blocker to Keller and the best overall tight end available in the draft.
Even though the Dolphins already stated through Ireland's press conference that tight end wasn't looked at as a position of need, you can usually take anything said in those press conferences with a grain of salt.
Ireland's statement on tight ends was one of those statements.
I'm willing to put it out there: I'm not as concerned as many about Miami's offensive line.
I actually think Jonathan Martin will do well as Miami's left tackle, and that most of this talk of trading up for Lane Johnson or Luke Joeckel or trading a second-rounder to Kansas City for Branden Albert is an Ireland smokescreen.
Take a look at some of the pictures from the Dolphins' workouts this week. You will see that Jonathan Martin has added the size needed to play left tackle. Remember last season the question wasn't about technique, but about his size. Well, take a look at how he's looked since reporting to Miami's offseason workouts (courtesy MiamiDolphins.com).
I'd say he'll work fine on the left side.
As for the right side, that might need some more help, development and rotation, both at guard and at tackle.
I actually see the Dolphins doubling up on the right side of the line with John Jerry's job still being secure at least for 2013. While we'll get to who one of the right tackle competitors will be later, here's a look at Justin Pugh, a great fit for the Dolphins at right guard.
At 6'4" 304 pounds, Pugh has the size that works on the Dolphins offensive line, and as you can see by the video and his combine numbers, he has the athleticism that fits into Miami's zone blocking scheme.
Pugh can play at both guard and tackle, but during the Senior Bowl he looked a lot better at guard. Miami will need both, and Pugh fits the bill at pick 42, whether a trade is made for Albert.
I've had Poyer in each of my mock drafts, mainly because of a gut feeling.
The way it looks—especially in light of the Brent Grimes signing—the Dolphins will likely only spend one of their first five picks on a cornerback. Poyer isn't the best in the bunch, but in Round 2 has the most value in comparison to some of Miami's other needs.
The other factor in this is the zone coverage scheme, for which Poyer is well-suited. The only corner in the draft better suited is Desmond Trufant; however, despite my own recommendations, Miami likely won't go after him when he's available in Round 1.
That leaves Poyer, a likely second-round pick going to Miami at 54—assuming the Dolphins don't trade the pick of course.
Lamar Miller needs a complementary running back, this much is known.
In case you're wondering: no, I don't see Daniel Thomas being that guy.
Instead, a fellow South Floridian looks to fill that mold, in Davie, Florida's Giovani Bernard.
The former product of St. Thomas Aquinas High School and North Carolina Tar Heel fits Miami's offense as an explosive, elusive and at times powerful running back that can also catch passes out of the backfield well.
He'll likely drop to Round 3 due to some maturity concerns and some concerns over a knee injury suffered in 2010. This is almost the same scenario that brought Lamar Miller to the Dolphins, as you might recall.
Running back isn't a pressing need for the Dolphins, but their top three pressing needs filled with the first three picks in the draft, Miami could afford to go after Bernard.
Why would the Dolphins have to wait until Round 3 to address their pass rush?
Much more pressing needs with their first three picks in Rounds 1 and 2, along with their first pick of Round 3.
With that in mind, Miami waits until its last third-round pick to address the pass rush by going with Auburn's Corey Lemonier.
Lemonier could do better in run coverage, but as far as rushing the passer goes, he'd fit in great with a rotation that would also include Olivier Vernon from time to time.
Despite the fact that fans might look at Miami's front line as needing improvement, the reality is it's depth that's needed. With both Paul Soliai and (possibly) Randy Starks as impending free agents in 2014, Miami needs more depth and can better afford to develop said depth.
Jared Odrick already makes a fine replacement up the middle, and later on in this mock you will see the Dolphins address the defensive tackle position to find Odrick's possible running mate up the middle. But Round 3 seems as good a round as any to shore up the defensive end position.
I've written so much about Williams, and I saw him originally as a fifth-round pick.
Miami might have to choose him fourth though, and that works just fine with me.
Williams has great size at 6'6" and 318 pounds, as well as the athleticism necessary for the zone blocking scheme utilized by the Dolphins, and he should be a name to keep an eye out for when it comes to looking for Miami's next right tackle.
The only knock on Williams is he is recovering from a torn labrum. However, despite the injury, he did have himself a great pro day, per CBSSports.com:
Recovery from the subsequent surgery kept Williams from lifting Wednesday, but he ran the 40-yard dash in 5.20-seconds and recorded a 28.5-inch vertical and a 8-foot, 5-inch broad jump. With only 22 career starts, Williams is unpolished, but he shows intriguing athletic upside on tape and could wind up developing into a better player in the NFL than he was in college. Considering that ACC coaches recognized him with honorable mention accolades despite the fact that he missed a third of the season, that's saying something.
Keep in mind that the Dolphins worked with offensive line prospects during North Carolina's pro day. This wasn't just with possible first-round target Jonathan Cooper, but also with Williams.
He could be a steal for the Dolphins in either Rounds 4 or 5, but it's safer to go after him in Round 4, thus shoring up the offensive line for good.
If you're a Canes fan and saw Brandon McGee, you probably like this pick and blame the Hurricanes' coaching staff for his inconsistency while at Miami.
That's well-founded. Now if you're not a Canes fan, you probably loathe this pick.
That's also understandable.
McGee is worth a gamble in Round 5, especially when the Dolphins have two fifth-round picks. His 4.37 40-yard dash time at the combine shows that he has the speed, and even though Miami didn't play zone coverage, that was actually one of the biggest criticisms against defensive coordinator Mark D'Onfrio, who wanted to play man coverage with guys like McGee who are better suited for zone coverage (among other issues of course).
McGee will wind up having an NFL career similar to Sam Shields, making Canes fans lament how they wasted his talent while he was at Coral Gables.
Seeing that play out with the Dolphins would be ideal.
The Dolphins made a big splash in upgrading their linebackers by going from Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett to Philip Wheeler and Danell Ellerbee.
Alongside those two, you will see competition among Josh Kaddu (who I think will surprise some people in camp), Olivier Vernon and Koa Misi (with Vernon and Misi also possible defensive ends).
But, Miami could always afford more linebackers in the draft, especially a linebacker like Gerald Hodges, who fits the Jeff Ireland prototype to a tee.
Hodges is a converted safety who has shown the ability to cause turnovers, and he was a leader at Penn State on their defense. He has great athleticism and tallied 109 tackles in 2012 with 8.5 of those tackles coming for a loss.
Hodges also had 4.5 sacks and two interceptions his senior season.
Marquess Wilson actually has first-round prototypical wide receiver size at 6'3" and 194 pounds, but his speed isn't elite—but not slow either, as he ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the combine.
Wilson could use some help with route running, which isn't a strong suit for him, but he has great body control and great hands.
One issue that has propped up is him leaving Washington State on bad terms after claiming that head coach Mike Leach was "abusive" (per Yahoo! Sports).
I did say in the last mock draft that Miami would likely use an earlier pick on a wide receiver if the Dolphins kept all of their draft picks. However, with so many holes on the offensive line and secondary, along with other needs, I really can't see that happening unless Miami does wind up making a few more free-agent signings.
Because of this, the Dolphins wait until Round 7 and wind up with a fairly good steal with a wide receiver who would work well in the West Coast offense despite the deficiencies running routes (which does sound oxymoronic when talking about a receiver in the West Coast offense).
Here's a developmental project for the defensive tackle position in South Florida's Cory Grissom (note to the University of South Florida: please change your name soon).
Grissom was a second team all-Big East selection in 2012 recording 38 tackles (seven for a loss) and 2.5 sacks. At 6'1" 305 pounds he has great strength needed in the interior and would learn a lot spending a year rotating with Soliai, Starks and Odrick along the line.
It's not a need position, but one where Miami does need depth, and Grissom can provide that depth with the cost of only a seventh-round pick.
Once again, worth mentioning: Dan Carpenter will make $3 million in 2013. If the Dolphins can find a kicker that can either match or exceed his performance, they should pounce on him.
Caleb Sturgis should do just that. At Florida he was accurate his senior season, hitting 85.7 percent of his field goals and was 8-of-9 from more than 40 yards out.
I have a tad more trust in Sturgis than I do Florida State's Hopkins, even though Hopkins is looked at as the stronger kicker in the draft. If either are available though, the Dolphins should pick one of them, if for no other reason then the fact that they will save a ton of money and get about the same (if not better) production that they would've gotten out of Dan Carpenter.