Miami Dolphins Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IMay 7, 2014

Miami Dolphins Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer

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    Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross (middle) hopes first-year general manager Dennis Hickey (left) and third-year head coach Joe Philbin (right) can work together.
    Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross (middle) hopes first-year general manager Dennis Hickey (left) and third-year head coach Joe Philbin (right) can work together.Lynne Sladky

    The Miami Dolphins have been .500 or worse every year since 2008. If they want to finally snap the five-year mediocrity streak, they will have to hit a home run in the draft.

    Unlike last year, when the Dolphins had an embarrassment of riches with 11 selections, the Dolphins have their original seven picks this year and nothing more. 

    Where the Dolphins had the flexibility to move up to the third overall pick in 2013, they may be more apt to stay put this year or potentially to trade down. This year's draft has been classified as one of the deepest drafts in recent history. 

    That's good news for a Dolphins team that still has a few holes to fill. They began the rebuilding process on the offensive line, but they are still in need of a second offensive tackle and offensive guard. The Dolphins completely rebuilt their linebacking corps, but they could be in the market for more talent at the position if their recent signings don't pan out.

    What positions should the Dolphins be targeting? Which players could be on their radar? Let's take a look at all the pertinent information and some of the possibilities in a draft primer for the Dolphins. 

    Scouting information and combine numbers provided by CBS Sports and NFL.com

List of 2014 Draft Picks

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    The Miami Dolphins traded up to the third overall pick in 2013 to grab Oregon OLB Dion Jordan (above).
    The Miami Dolphins traded up to the third overall pick in 2013 to grab Oregon OLB Dion Jordan (above).Jason DeCrow

    Round 1, pick 19

    Round 2, pick 50

    Round 3, pick 81

    Round 4, pick 116

    Round 5, pick 155

    Round 6, pick 190

    Round 7, pick 234

Position-by-Position Big Board

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    Disclaimer: The big boards are based on players that fit the Dolphins from a need and value perspective, i.e. wide receiver and defensive end are not glaring needs, so the top prospects at those positions are left off or few and far between.

    QB: 

    1. Tom Savage (Pittsburgh)
    2. Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
    3. AJ McCarron (Alabama)
    4. Zach Mettenberger (LSU)
    5. Aaron Murray (Georgia)

    RB:

    1. Bishop Sankey (Washington)
    2. Carlos Hyde (Ohio State)
    3. Dri Archer (Kent State)
    4. Devonta Freeman (Florida State)
    5. Charles Sims (West Virginia)

    WR:

    1. Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU)
    2. Jarvis Landry (LSU)
    3. Martavis Bryant (Clemson)
    4. Brandon Coleman (Rutgers)
    5. TJ Jones (Notre Dame)

    TE:

    1. Eric Ebron (UNC)
    2. Jace Amaro (Texas Tech)
    3. C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa)
    4. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington)
    5. Arthur Lynch (Georgia)

    OT:

    1. Greg Robinson (Auburn)
    2. Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)
    3. Ja'Wuan James (Tennessee)
    4. Morgan Moses (Virginia)
    5. Seantrel Henderson (Miami)

    OG:

    1. Zack Martin (Notre Dame)
    2. Xavier Su'a-Filo (UCLA)
    3. Joel Bitonio (Nevada)
    4. Trai Turner (LSU)
    5. Jon Halapio (Florida)

    C:

    1. Gabe Ikard (Oklahoma State)
    2. Russell Bodine (UNC)
    3. Wesley Johnson (Vanderbilt)
    4. Corey Linsley (Ohio State)

    DE:

    1. Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State)
    2. Trent Murphy (Stanford)
    3. Jackson Jeffcoat (Texas)
    4. Aaron Lynch (South Florida)
    5. Michael Sam (Missouri)

    DT:

    1. Louis Nix (Notre Dame)
    2. Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame)
    3. DaQuan Jones (Penn State)
    4. Ego Ferguson (LSU)

    ILB:

    1. C.J. Mosley (Alabama)
    2. Shayne Skov (Stanford)
    3. Christian Jones (Florida State)
    4. Chris Borland (Wisconsin)
    5. Preston Brown (Louisville)

    OLB:

    1. Khalil Mack (Buffalo)
    2. Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech)
    3. Kyle Van Noy (Brigham Young)
    4. Carl Bradford (Arizona State)
    5. Telvin Smith (Florida State)

    CB:

    1. Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State)
    2. Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State)
    3. Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)
    4. Phillip Gaines (Rice)
    5. Keith McGill (Utah)

    FS:

    1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama)
    2. Calvin Pryor (Louisville)
    3. Terrence Brooks (Florida State)
    4. Dion Bailey (USC)
    5. Brock Vereen (Minnesota)

    SS:

    1. Deone Bucannon (Washington State)
    2. Jimmie Ward (Northern Illinois)
    3. Craig Loston (LSU)
    4. Vinnie Sunseri (Alabama)

Round 1, Pick 19

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    Notre Dame OL Zack Martin (left) could play either tackle or guard for the Dolphins.
    Notre Dame OL Zack Martin (left) could play either tackle or guard for the Dolphins.Associated Press

    Team needs: OT, OG, ILB, CB

    The Dolphins began their rebuilding project on the offensive line in free agency, and they can finish it in the draft. With a handful of options at offensive tackle, the Dolphins may need to move up into the top 10 if they want to land someone like Greg Robinson (Auburn), Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) or Taylor Lewan (Michigan). If one of those three is available, the Dolphins' decision should be easy. Any of those three could be plugged in at either left tackle or right tackle, depending on where Branden Albert plays.

    They could also continue their rebuild on the offensive line by adding a guard, like Zack Martin (Notre Dame) or Xavier Su'a-Filo (UCLA). Either man would add a degree of power to the inside, as well as the ability to block on the move, something that's been sorely lacking from the Dolphins' offensive line. Su'a-Filo may be the better fit at guard for his ability to block in space, but Martin could play either tackle or guard

    Another option could be inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. He has the profile for a 4-3 middle linebacker, with rare range for the position and all the fundamentals you'd expect from an Alabama defender. The Dolphins recently signed Philip Wheeler to a big contract, but he became complacent and there were reports the Dolphins could cut him. They could still do so after 2014 and save $200,000. Drafting Mosley would allow the Dolphins to move Dannell Ellerbe to the strong side, and with Koa Misi and Dion Jordan on the weak side, the linebacking corps would be set.

    Don't rule out the possibility of the Dolphins drafting a wide receiver, either. Mike Wallace may not be long for Miami, and if a player like Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU) falls in their lap, he could be someone worth taking at No. 19. He is a perfect fit for their offense, and he ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the combine, flashing the speed necessary to take the top off a defense.

Round 2, Pick 50

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    Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas (right) could help the Dolphins as both a pass-catcher and a blocker.
    Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas (right) could help the Dolphins as both a pass-catcher and a blocker.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Team needs: OT, OG, ILB, TE, RB

    If the Dolphins are taking their rebuild on the offensive line seriously, they could double-dip on offensive linemen in the first two rounds of the draft. Depending on who the Dolphins select in the first round, they could be looking at either a tackle or a guard in the second round. The smarter play would be to get the tackle in the first round and the guard later. 

    Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State) is a load at guard at 6'3" and 336 pounds with 33 3/4" long arms, and while he moves well for a man of his size, he doesn't possess the power that you might expect from such a big man. Trai Turner (LSU) could be an option, as well, in either the second or third round. He is more powerful than Jackson but doesn't have the quickness to pull out in front of a perimeter play.

    They could add to their protection another way: the tight end position. Players like Troy Niklas (Notre Dame) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington) could find their way up the board at this point of the draft. Either man would not only add another solid receiving tight end to pair with Charles Clay, but also a solid blocker that can set the edge in pass protection or in the running game.

    If the Dolphins would rather spread out their investments over the entire team and focus on defense, there could still be some talented linebackers on the board. Christian Jones (Florida State) could be one player who the Dolphins target for his versatility to play either inside or outside, giving the Dolphins options down the road. He also adds a physical element as a tackler that was missing from the Dolphins' 24th-ranked run defense in 2013.

    The Dolphins could start looking at running backs here, but they might be better suited to wait until the third and fourth rounds. 

Round 3, Pick 81

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    The Dolphins visited with Florida State RB Devonta Freeman (middle) before the draft.
    The Dolphins visited with Florida State RB Devonta Freeman (middle) before the draft.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Team needs: RB, TE, OG

    This is the spot where the Dolphins could start thinking about running backs. They added Knowshon Moreno as a free agent, but there are significant concerns about both Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas as prominent role players in the Dolphins offense. This draft is not particularly top-heavy at the position but is considered deep. Starting at the end of the second round and the beginning of the third round, those running backs could start to come off the board. 

    The Dolphins visited with Florida State running back Devonta Freeman before the draft. The All-ACC running back has a compact frame at 5'8" and 206 pounds and is adept at picking his way through the defense (although not so much at using his body to generate yards after contact). He is reliable in pass protection, as he showed in continually protecting for Jameis Winston out of the shotgun.

    If the Dolphins passed up on a tight end in the first and second round, there could still be some talented players available in the third round. C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa) and Arthur Lynch (Georgia) are not dynamic pass-catchers, but either one could add a blend of receiving ability and blocking ability to the Dolphins offense.  

Round 4, Pick 116

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    Rutgers WR Brandon Coleman (right) could add size to the Dolphins' receiving corps.
    Rutgers WR Brandon Coleman (right) could add size to the Dolphins' receiving corps.Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Team needs: WR, CB

    At some point, the Dolphins should address the wide receiver position. As crazy as it sounds, given their recent investments in Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, there are some questions at the position. Brandon Gibson is coming off ACL surgery; Rishard Matthews broke out in his absence, but can he sustain that level of performance? Beyond those two, the Dolphins don't have any sure things.

    One intriguing option could be Brandon Coleman (Rutgers), who towers over defenders at 6'6" and 225 pounds with 34" long arms. At present, the Dolphins do not have any elite red-zone threats, and while Coleman may not be a track star (4.56-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine), he has experience making big plays on the field (19.2 yards per reception in his college career, 20 touchdowns on 94 catches).

    Among the wide receivers they could draft in this spot: Kevin Norwood (Alabama), who doesn't possess dominant athleticism, but he has the same keen ability to get open shown by Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline and could develop into a favorite target for quarterback Ryan Tannehill given enough time. 

Round 5, Pick 155

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    Florida CB Jaylen Watkins (14, above) became a leader for Florida's defense.
    Florida CB Jaylen Watkins (14, above) became a leader for Florida's defense.USA TODAY Sports

    Team needs: CB, FS, LB

    The Dolphins lost two cornerbacks this offseason in Dimitri Patterson (cut) and Nolan Carroll (signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles), so they may have to find a new cornerback. Jaylen Watkins (Florida) could be an interesting name to keep in mind. He is not of the ideal size for a perimeter cornerback (5'11", 194 pounds, 30 5/8" long arms), but he has good quickness and read-and-react ability, making him an ideal zone-style cornerback for the Dolphins' zone-based defense.

    If Watkins is off the board, the Dolphins could look at his teammate, Loucheiz Purifoy (Florida), who has similar zone skills but also some off-field baggage with some controversy over a canceled arrest warrant and a separate team-imposed one-game suspension to start the season. Purifoy didn't have the timed speed scouts like to see from the position (4.61-second 40-yard dash), but his experience returning and covering kicks on special teams should help ease any concerns over a lack of speed. 

    Purifoy could even move to safety if need be, but if the Dolphins want to find a true free safety later in the draft, Brock Vereen is a name that should be on their radar. He has great speed on the back end (4.47-second 40-yard dash), he has good route recognition and he almost always takes good angles. He has special teams experience, as well, to help him contribute as a rookie even if he's not ready for a starting role.

    Reshad Jones is more of a strong safety, and Vereen could be the answer at deep safety in the long run.

Round 6, Pick 190

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    UNC offensive lineman Russell Bodine (left) can get out in front of a play as a lead blocker.
    UNC offensive lineman Russell Bodine (left) can get out in front of a play as a lead blocker.Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Team needs: OT, OG, ILB, OLB

    Are the first-round needs cropping up again? The concerns on the offensive line only start at the starting group, but they run through the entire depth chart. A player like Russell Bodine (UNC) would make an intriguing late-round prospect for the Dolphins because he has the versatility to play either center or guard. He has the athleticism to get out to the second level as a lead blocker and could immediately upgrade the interior of the offensive line.

    Zach Fulton (Tennessee) is another name to watch when searching for talented depth on the interior of the offensive line. Fulton is a behemoth at 6'5" and 316 pounds with 33 1/4" arms, and while he has proven to be physical enough to hang with SEC defensive tackles in the middle, he may be limited to playing guard in the NFL, as he lacks the awareness to play center and the quickness to play tackle.

    If the Dolphins still have yet to address the linebacker corps, now would be the time to do so. They can find someone who can contribute on special teams as a rookie and develop through the system. Brock Coyle (Montana) would be a good prospect in that regard. He can bring a run-thumping presence in a limited defensive role while learning the calls and honing his coverage game.

Round 7, Pick 234

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    Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens could contribute on special teams as a rookie while carving out a role on defense.
    Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens could contribute on special teams as a rookie while carving out a role on defense.Matthew Holst/Getty Images

    Team needs: ILB, FS

    This pick should be used to grab a player with special teams value who can also develop his skills to contribute at his position over time.

    Anthony Hitchens (Iowa) is not a physically imposing linebacker at 6'0" and 240 pounds, but smaller linebackers have made an impact in the NFL. His experience on special teams can help him contribute early in his career while he hones the skills that may help him earn a bigger role down the line.

    If the Dolphins want a cornerback with special teams experience, Nevin Lawson (Utah State) could be someone they look at as a gunner (4.48-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine) while hoping he can refine his press coverage skills and focus on eliminating the mistakes that lead to penalties.

    Daniel Sorensen (BYU) is a safety they could target in a similar mold, although he is not fast enough to be a gunner (4.67-second 40-yard dash) and may have limited upside due to an overall lack of athleticism.

Latest Draft Buzz

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    Dolphins HC Joe Philbin (above) is racking his brain getting ready for the draft.
    Dolphins HC Joe Philbin (above) is racking his brain getting ready for the draft.John Raoux/Associated Press

    Here's some of the latest draft buzz around the Dolphins:

    • Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey told media he is looking for "tough, smart, disciplined" players, according to MiamiDolphins.com. He also said, "And really [what I want in a player] can be summed up by being a good teammate."

    Here is a list of the players the Dolphins hosted at their facility for predraft visits, via ThePhinsider.com:

    • Dri Archer (RB, Kent State)
    • Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, LSU)
    • Carl Bradford (LB, Arizona State)
    • Martavis Bryant (WR, Clemson)
    • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (OL, McGill [Canada])
    • Terrence Fede (DE, Marist)
    • Marquis Flowers (LB, Arizona)
    • Phillip Gaines (DB, Rice)
    • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB, Eastern Illinois)
    • Ron Herron (WR, Wyoming)
    • Ja'wuan James (OT, Tennessee)
    • Ulrick John (OT, Georgia State)
    • Cyrus Kouandjio (OT, Alabama)
    • Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
    • Spencer Long (OG, Nebraska)
    • Cornelius Lucas (OL, Kansas State)
    • Keon Lyn (DB, Syracuse)
    • Tre Mason (RB, Auburn)
    • Donte Moncrief (WR, Ole Miss)
    • Aaron Murray (QB, Georgia)
    • Eric Pinkins (DB, San Diego State)
    • Shaquille Richardson (DB, Arizona)
    • Garrett Scott (OL, Marshall)
    • Sammy Seamster (DB, Middle Tennessee State)
    • Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, Washington)
    • Brandon Thomas (OL, Clemson)
    • Billy Turner (OL, North Dakota State)
    • Terrance West (RB, Towson)
    • James White (RB, Wisconsin)
    • Kerry Wynn (DT, Richmond)

     

    Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand or via team news releases. Combine measurements and workout numbers provided by NFL.com.