Ranking Miami Dolphins' Biggest Needs for 2014 NFL Draft

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IApril 20, 2014

Ranking Miami Dolphins' Biggest Needs for 2014 NFL Draft

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    Lynne Sladky

    The Miami Dolphins can go in a lot of directions in the 2014 NFL draft, and that is a very good thing. Flexibility is an asset come draft day.

    They also don't have the glaring holes that can limit a team's board. But they will have to fill many different needs with their seven picks.

    These listed positions are true needs. They do not include "upgradeable" positions. Maybe people will clamor (for some reason) for the team to draft a quarterback, but that's not a need at all, folks.

    Here are Miami's five biggest needs in the 2014 NFL draft.

5. Cornerback

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Cornerback should not be a need for Miami, but a number of poor and questionable decisions have made it so.

    They used a second- and third-round pick on Jamar Taylor and Will Davis last year, but both of them literally played just a few snaps in 2013 and cannot be counted on at all in 2014.

    Then Miami let Nolan Carroll walk and also gave Dimitri Patterson's money to the maddeningly inconsistent Cortland Finnegan, a 30-year-old with a similar injury history to Patterson's.

    This leaves the Dolphins without a sure thing at the No. 2 corner spot, and they don't have a guy whom I would definitely count on at No. 3 either. They need to bring in some more competition because a roster needs at least five somewhat decent corners in today's NFL.

    The draft features a lot of options, but here are five of my favorite mid- to late-rounders: Vic Hampton, Pierre Desir, Ross Cockrell, Aaron Colvin and Terrance Mitchell.

4. Safety

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Don't let the Louis Delmas signing fool you into thinking that Miami has sealed up the safety spot opposite Reshad Jones for the long term.

    Delmas' deal is for just one year, and he has an injury history that is more than a little concerning. Jimmy Wilson has talent in a nickelback/backup safety role but is probably not a long-term solution either.

    That means the Dolphins should keep an eye on some talented safeties in this draft. The big two (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor) will be gone in the first round, but there is some underrated depth behind them.

    Jimmie Ward from NIU would be a fantastic mid-round selection. Other guys like Jonathan Dowling, Craig Loston and Dion Bailey should be considered, as they all have future starter talent.

3. Offensive Guard

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    Tom Gannam

    The Dolphins massively helped themselves by signing Shelley Smith this offseason. It allows them a lot more flexibility with the guard position come draft day.

    There's a possibility that general manager Dennis Hickey will be content to let second-year guys Sam Brenner and Dallas Thomas battle it out for the second starting spot.

    The more I think about it, however, the less I like that option. Miami needs to bring in a quality rookie who will push for that other spot right away, and there are more than a few good options.

    The Dolphins don't need to use a first-rounder, but Zack Martin and Xavier Su'a-Filo are the top options on Day 1. Later on in the middle rounds, Gabe Jackson, Brandon Thomas, Dakota Dozier and Brandon Linder would be great pickups.

2. Linebacker

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    There has been some odd discussion in the Miami camp about shaking up the linebacker corps, moving Koa Misi to the inside and Dannell Ellerbe to the weak side, per Andrew Abramson of The Palm Beach Post.

    While it makes some sense for Ellerbe, I'm not overly confident in Misi's ability to be a quality inside linebacker in the NFL. I'm also less confident in Philip Wheeler manning the strong side.

    Miami desperately needs to add a quality linebacker in the first two rounds, on either the inside or outside. I don't think they need to spend two picks on one with Jelani Jenkins waiting in the wings, but a big upgrade is needed.

    C.J. Mosley is the obvious first choice at No. 19 overall. But don't rule out Ryan Shazier, a tremendous weak-side linebacker who would be a fine first-round pick.

1. Right Tackle

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack

    This position is by far Miami's biggest need because nobody has proved to be a legitimate NFL starter on the roster right now.

    Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie still make some sense to bring back if they are healthy enough to man the right side. Miami will likely see how the draft unfolds and then sign one of them if it can't get the right tackle it wants.

    But right tackle needs to be a major priority in the draft. The Dolphins don't have to necessarily spend a first-rounder on the position, but it'll be a top target for one of their first three selections.

    Guys like Morgan Moses, Brandon Thomas, Joel Bitonio, Billy Turner and Jack Mewhort were all left tackles in college but could switch to the right in the NFL and be good fits for Miami.

    And don't believe what you hear about Cyrus Kouandjio. This is smokescreen time still. Teams don't just leak out who they want to draft, and his red flags are too prevalent for him to be a first-rounder.