Admittedly, this isn't an ideal situation for the Dolphins.
The player the Dolphins and myself would probably love to land the most—Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McClain—has long been off the board in this featured columnist mock draft, going to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 5.
With their other biggest need, wide receiver, not being a possibility either due to the Broncos taking Dez Bryant just one pick ago, I was forced to turn to a riskier, but still potentially high-rewarding, pick.
Due to some potentially significant changeover at the outside linebacker this offseason, the Dolphins need quite a bit of help in the pass-rushing department, despite ranking tied for third in sacks this past season.
Their 2009 sack leader, Joey Porter, will be cut soon after the new league year begins on March 5, while veteran Jason Taylor was productive but is heading for the free agent market.
Considering all that will be left under contract at outside linebacker are long-term projects (Cameron Wake), situational pass rushers (Charlie Anderson), and just plain camp bodies (everyone else), the Dolphins are clearly in need of a long-term starter at the position.
A risky pick he might be, but South Florida's Jason Pierre-Paul could develop into the elite 3-4 pass rusher the Dolphins crave.
Although he played only one season with the Bulls after two years in junior college where he racked up 24.5 sacks, Pierre-Paul made his mark immediately with 16.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles in 2009.
A college defensive end, Pierre-Paul measures in at 6'6" and 260 pounds—ideal size for the 3-4 outside linebacker. He also possesses rare strength and athleticism for his size, featuring a chiseled physique (if you're into that sort of thing), and potentially sub-4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash.
While concerns about his lack of experience at college's top level, being a "workout warrior", and the looming transition from lineman to linebacker are certainly valid, there is no doubt Pierre-Paul has the talent and potential worthy of being drafted in this year's first round.
Jason Pierre-Paul has all the tools to be the elite pass rusher the Dolphins need so badly, and based on who is available at No. 12 in this mock, is well worth the pick.
Next up on the clock is the San Francisco 49ers, and you can read about our previous FC Mock selections here:
11. Denver Broncos — Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma State)
10. Jacksonville Jaguars — Jimmy Clausen (QB, Notre Dame)
9. Buffalo Bills — Bryan Bulaga (OT, Iowa)
8. Oakland Raiders — Anthony Davis (OT, Rutgers)
7. Cleveland Browns — Joe Haden (CB, Florida)
6. Seattle Seahawks — Derrick Morgan (DE, Ga. Tech)
5. Kansas City Chiefs — Rolando McClain (LB, Alabama)
4. Washington Redskins — Russell Okung (OT, Okla. St.)
2. Detroit Lions — Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma)