The long trek through NFL draft season is over. Miami holds the 12th pick in the 2013 NFL draft. What will they do with it?
Rumors and speculation continue to fly around the Dolphins. Jeff Ireland has been reportedly in talks with Kansas City's John Dorsey to acquire left tackle Branden Albert, reportedly willing to pay him more than Jake Long got with St. Louis (via Ed Werder, h/t Josh Alper, ProFootballTalk).
With no trade in place yet, this mock draft assumes it will not happen.
It certainly seems like an inevitability, but the move is a bit perplexing. Miami ate up most of its cap space signing the likes of Mike Wallace and Brent Grimes, and trading a high-round draft pick to pay an older left tackle doesn't seem like a practical response to losing Jake Long.
There has also been plenty of speculation that Miami would move up to take one of the top three offensive tackles, assuming Ireland doesn't trade for Albert.
With the volatility and uncertainty of this year's draft, it felt more prudent to leave trades out of this final mock draft.
So, without further ado, here is the final Dolphins mock draft.
The defensive tackle position is not seen as one of a particular need right now for Miami. After all, Randy Starks and Paul Soliai roam the middle of the defensive line, so why would the Dolphins waste a pick on the position in the first round, right?
Well, Starks and Soliai are both in the only or final year of their contracts—Starks signing the one-year franchise tender and Soliai being on the second year of a two-year deal—and neither will be cheap to re-sign if they have anything to say about it.
Miami will have a dangerous cap situation next year with the way most of its free-agent contracts were drawn up, so paying one or both of these players a hefty salary might not be possible.
Sheldon Richardson, meanwhile, could become the best defensive tackle to come out of this class.
He is not a force against the run, but he has immense upside as a pass-rusher in the middle. A little development and bulking up will turn him into a well-rounded force in the middle.
Jeff Ireland might have a riot on his hands if his first two picks go this route, but this is a better way to address the offensive tackle position than to trade away a second-round pick for the right to take Lane Johnson or Luke Joeckel in the first.
One of the draft's most athletic offensive linemen, Armstead is a perfect fit in Miami's zone-blocking scheme. The big offensive lineman is an excellent pass-blocker; he just needs to work on strengthening his lower half.
His player comparison at NFL.com is Duane Brown, one of the best left tackles in the league, quite apropos for this athletic tackle.
If Miami trades for Branden Albert, this pick would make almost no sense—especially because the Dolphins would likely not have one of their second-rounders. In that event, simply remove Armstead and slide Darius Slay—the next pick in this mock draft—to 42.
The Dolphins are not as cornerback-needy as it might seem, or so Jeff Ireland might think. After all, Miami has Brent Grimes, Dmitri Patterson, Richard Marshall, Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson at the position.
Granted, that group doesn't necessarily instill fear into opposing offensive coordinators, but it is deep enough that Ireland might not make it a top priority.
If Darius Slay falls to him at 54, however, he might not be able to resist.
The Mississippi State product was one of the fastest men at the NFL combine, a trait Ireland is sure to covet. He is flying a bit under the radar these days with the likes of D.J. Hayden and Jamar Taylor getting some last-minute love.
Slay has a torn meniscus, but it shouldn't require surgery. It could knock him down a few spots in the second round, enough for Ireland to snag him.
Dustin Keller is in town, but it's only for one year. He could be re-signed, naturally, but the Dolphins could look to shore up the tight end position long term.
It wouldn't be a big enough need for Jeff Ireland to pull the trigger on Tyler Eifert or Zach Ertz in the first couple of rounds, but trying his hand at another third-round tight end could be in order.
Gavin Escobar might not be mentioned in the same breath as Eifert, but he could be just as good at the next level.
His issue—as was Michael Egnew's coming out of college—is subpar blocking. That would make two years in a row Ireland took a receiving tight end with questionable blocking skills, but Escobar is better coming out of college.
The Dolphins need to find someone other than Cameron Wake who can rush the passer on a consistent basis.
They are still developing last year's third-round defensive end, Olivier Vernon, but they should not rest until they find a winner.
Quanterus Smith could be that man, although it could take him some time to get up to speed.
The problem with Smith is that he tore his ACL last November. Oddly enough, he was injured around the same time as Tank Carradine, who is pushing the top half of the first round despite a similar injury.
The two might be rehabbing differently—Smith might have had a worse injury or a more difficult repair—but there is no hype train for the Western Kentucky product.
On film, however, he might be the most polished defensive end in the class. He has an uncanny feel for rushing the quarterback, and a full arsenal of pass-rushing moves with which to attain that goal.
The question is his health—he might not be able to contribute at all as a rookie. But over the long haul, Miami would be getting one of the better pass-rushers from a deep class.
Chris Clemons has quietly come into his own as a safety in the NFL. He is not among the best players at his position, but he has become a solid contributor in Miami's secondary.
That is why Jeff Ireland brought him back, but he is on a one-year deal. Enter Shamarko Thomas, the hard-hitting safety out of Syracuse.
Thomas is a fun player to watch. He might lack ideal size for the position, but he makes up for it with his instincts and athleticism.
The Syracuse product blew away the combine, showing off a fantastic combination of speed and strength. He might not make it out of the third round, but Thomas would be an excellent option for Miami if he is around in the fourth or later.
Miami let Reggie Bush walk, seemingly satisfied with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas shouldering the load at running back.
But you have to ask yourself one question: Do you trust Daniel Thomas?
The big back has been quite the disappointment since Miami moved up to snag him at the end of the second round a couple of drafts ago, a far cry from the powerful back he was supposed to be.
Zac Stacy, meanwhile, is a human wrecking ball out of Vanderbilt.
The former Commodore is reminiscent of Doug Martin, save perhaps some of the pass-catching abilities. That he is not getting more attention is a testament to the depth of this year's draft class.
Dan Carpenter isn't a bad kicker. But is he worth over $2 million?
The Dolphins could kill two birds with one stone by drafting Dustin Hopkins: save money and get better at the position.
Hopkins is a big-legged kicker who has been a rock at the position for the Seminoles. This might be a bit high to take a kicker, but a good one might not be around for Miami's next pick in the seventh round.
The Dolphins are set at quarterback with Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore, so there is little need to address the position.
But what if they found a solid backup they could develop? Moore would suddenly be a valuable trade chip come 2014.
Sean Renfree isn't a touted quarterback prospect, but he has nice measurables. He also played well at Duke, traditionally a terrible football school.
At worst, Renfree will flame out after a couple of seasons on the practice squad.
It might be tough to swallow another Missouri receiving prospect after Michael Egnew's disastrous rookie season, but taking one this late shouldn't be too damaging to the collective psyche of Dolphins fans.
With trade rumors swirling around Davone Bess—one of the most popular players in Miami—Jeff Ireland could be looking to shore up the slot receiver position. Moe is the quintessential slot receiver.
Moe ran the 40-yard dash in embarrassingly slow fashion at the combine, but he quietly improved on his time by two-tenths of a second at Missouri's pro day. It is difficult to gauge where the late-round receivers will land, but Moe could very well be there for Miami with this pick.
As stated earlier in this mock draft, the defensive tackle position could become a big need for Miami come next season.
Cory Grissom is a stout presence in the middle of the defensive line. He is a bit better suited to play nose tackle, but he could reprise Paul Soliai's role as a run-stopping presence.