Top Prospects Miami Dolphins Must Consider Early in 2014 NFL Draft
While the Miami Dolphins make a hard push toward the playoffs, the college football season is wrapping up with the upcoming conference championship weekend.
The Dolphins have been maddeningly inconsistent this season, and have a number of positions which need upgrading and stabilizing.
They relied a lot on free agency last year, and therefore will be forced to make their draft picks count next spring.
Here are six top prospects who will be picked in the first two rounds and should be considered by the Dolphins. All of them still have (at least) one more game left in their season, so keep your eyes peeled for these names.
Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
The Dolphins need to get stronger up the middle of the field on offense. Lamar Miller averages 4.0 yards per carry, and Daniel Thomas averages just 3.6.
Cyril Richardson is an absolute beast, coming in at 6'5", 340 pounds. He has started in all but one game since his sophomore season in 2011, although he actually played left tackle as a sophomore.
But as a guard, Richardson is a mauler who can clear big holes on the left side but also has the quickness and footwork to pull across the line. He would start from day one.
Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Koa Misi's job is in jeopardy after a mediocre, injury-filled 2013 campaign. Miami needs to find some homegrown talent at linebacker, as they dished out way too much money for Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.
Shazier is the best true outside linebacker in the class, and is not just a pass-rush specialist. He's a true sideline-to-sideline player who makes plays all over the field and is a good tackler.
Shazier's a lock to be a first round pick, although he isn't a top-10 talent and would be a reasonable value where Miami should be picking. He would fit in perfectly with Miami's 4-3 scheme.
James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
The Dolphins will end up with new starting tackles on both the right and left side of the line next season, and at least one of them needs to be a rookie.
James Hurst has been a four-year starter at UNC, and is a really reliable pass protector who would be able to step in and start immediately.
After the two-man top tier of tackles, Hurst will be right in the mix and should be taken in the second half of the first round, which fits for Miami.
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Charles Clay has been productive this season, but he's more of an H-back matchup problem than an actual tight end. Unless the Dolphins plan on suddenly unleashing Dion Sims next year, they'll need to find a true No. 1 option.
Jace Amaro has emerged as arguably the best receiving tight end in the nation this year. The junior has impressive size at 6'5", 250 pounds, and his production is unbelievable, as he's averaging over eight catches and 103 receiving yards per game.
But people are talking about him as a surefire first-round pick, and I'm not so sure about that at this point. He isn't that fast and rarely lines up in a three-point stance, so I'd be more comfortable getting him in the second.
Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Some fans may scoff at the Dolphins taking a defensive lineman with the wealth of talent they have this year, but everyone has to remember that either Paul Soliai and Randy Starks will be gone this offseason.
Jared Odrick has been solid and will take over the second starting spot in 2014, but the Dolphins like to use a rotation and Timmy Jernigan would be a fantastic fit.
He could be available in the second round, and would bring strength and tenacity to keep the Dolphins' strength strong.
Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
As I said before, the Dolphins will need two new starters at the tackle position next season. Cedric Ogbuehi could be another intriguing option for Miami.
He isn't a big name at this point, but the right tackle is a super athlete who could start on the right side right away.
His athletic ability also makes him a possible candidate to switch to the left side at some point down the road, and that versatility would make him especially enticing to the Dolphins.