6 Names Every Miami Dolphins Fan Needs to Know Before the 2014 NFL Draft
Many of these players, such as Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley (pictured) and Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin, have been discussed for months with the hopes that the team can find a way to bring at least a few of them to Miami.
However, there are also plenty of names that Dolphins fans may not be as familiar with that the team could be calling on draft day.
Let's take a look at six different players who may not get as much fanfare as others but still could represent great value to the Dolphins in the draft.
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
It's a relatively clear consensus that C.J. Mosley is the name that most Dolphins fans want to hear when the team announces its first-round pick on Thursday.
However, if Mosley is off the board or the Dolphins trade back, there's a good chance that the player who eventually gets the call to join Miami will be Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses.
A few weeks ago, I made the case as to why the Dolphins should draft Moses, who is the best pure tackle in the draft aside from Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan—who will all be long gone by the time Miami is on the clock.
At 6'6" and 314 pounds, Moses is strong enough to dominate and move the line of scrimmage while also having extremely long arms that allow him to shut down pass-rushers coming off the edge.
He has a refined technique and has proved to have the ability to play in the same zone-blocking scheme that the Dolphins run thanks to a familiarity playing under Bill Lazor—who was Virginia's offensive coordinator from 2010-2012.
Moses is not a name that has shown up on many Dolphins mock drafts, but he is the type of player who can develop into one of the elite tackles in the NFL.
Pairing him with Brandon Albert as the bookends of the Dolphins offensive line can provide Ryan Tannehill with plenty of protection for years to come.
Trai Turner, OG, LSU
Another under-the-radar option for Miami to help repair the offensive line is Trai Turner.
The 6'3", 310-pound guard out of LSU is a very violent and skilled blocker who is ready to step in and start right away for Miami.
Turner plays with a high motor and a mean streak and would bring an instant edge to the Dolphins offensive line.
He is a mauler as a run-blocker, showing an innate ability to muscle defenders and get to the second level with relative ease.
He is a near-perfect fit to excel in the Dolphins' zone-blocking scheme and could be a major boost to a rushing attack that only mustered 3.8 yards per carry from its running backs in 2013.
Due to his limited experience—just 20 college games—Turner has not had quite the fanfare that some of the other top offensive linemen in the draft class have had.
However, Turner is more than capable of being an immediate contributor and has the potential to develop into a perennial Pro-Bowler for many years.
Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota
At some point in the draft, the Dolphins will look to bring in a defensive back who can provide both depth and legitimate upside.
That is where a player like Brock Vereen can come into play.
The younger brother of New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen, the 6'0", 199-pound Brock is a very athletic player with great speed, a trait that he displayed at the scouting combine where he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, per NFL.com.
Vereen is a smart football player who has great instincts and never takes a play off.
He has good starting experience playing all over the secondary while in college, switching around from cornerback to nickelback to free safety while also getting some time on the special teams coverage unit as well.
He still has a lot left to be desired as a tackler, which makes him a weak link on the defense in stopping the run, and he can also improve with his fundamentals and hands a bit.
However, his ability to play in pass coverage at three different positions means he is capable of being the future replacement of Louis Delmas or even filling in at cornerback at different points throughout the 2014 season.
If Vereen is still on the board, he would make an excellent option for the Dolphins in the middle rounds of the draft.
Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut
The Dolphins are in the market for a linebacker. If C.J. Mosley isn't on the board in the first round, then the team would be wise to go after Yawin Smallwood a few rounds later.
Smallwood isn't a great athlete, but he makes up for it with impressive instincts and a quick read and react ability in diagnosing plays.
He is a very skilled run defender, exploding into ball-carriers while also showing an ability to rush the quarterback and displaying strong coverage skills.
Due to an impressive combination of length, speed and strength, Smallwood has the ability to develop into a complete three-down linebacker at the next level.
Mosley is clearly the first choice for Dolphins fans as far as linebackers go in the draft, but if there is one player who can be found on Day 2 or 3 who has the potential to unseat Dannell Ellerbe as the Dolphins' starting middle linebacker next season, it's Smallwood.
Storm Johnson, RB, Central Florida
Even after signing Knowshon Moreno, the Dolphins still should be looking to add another running back to the roster at some point in the draft.
The team has too many other pressing needs to grab someone like Jeremy Hill or Tre Mason on Day 2 of the draft, so its best-case scenario is to find a high-potential running back in the later rounds.
At 6'0" and 209 pounds, Storm Johnson is a big running back with a unique combination of power and agility who is expected to go in the fifth or sixth round.
The major knock on Johnson is that he doesn't posses breakaway speed and tends to go down more easily than expected for such a physical player.
Ironically, Johnson has been widely compared to Daniel Thomas, the player he would likely be coming in to replace if he were drafted to Miami.
However, unlike Thomas, Johnson hits the running lanes very hard and also has much better vision and instincts for running between the tackles.
He has also shown an ability to be a dangerous receiving threat out of the backfield, catching 30 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns for the University of Central Florida last season.
Johnson would be a great complement to Moreno and Miller in the backfield next season but also has the potential to develop into an every-down back in the future as well.
Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
If the Dolphins opt to go in the direction that I did in my mock draft and take a pair of playmakers in the first two rounds, they would also be wise to take a long look at offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson later on.
At 6'7" and 331 pounds, Henderson is one of the biggest players in the draft and has enormous potential.
He boasts massive length and moves well for a man of his size.
He also plays with a high energy and tenacity, getting to the second level with relative ease.
However, the problem for Henderson is that he is still very raw in his technique. He has a poor kick slide and often lunges at defenders, giving away an enormous amount of leverage.
He also has a number of red flags, both due to injuries and character concerns thanks to missing several games due to suspensions and back problems while at the University of Miami.
With all that said, Henderson still represents a great value to the Dolphins as a low-risk, high-reward player who has the potential to develop into an elite offensive tackle if he can put the whole package together.
Considering the major question marks on the offensive line for Miami, drafting a player like Henderson on Day 3 of the draft could prove to be a massive steal.