After an NFL season, teams really have to take a step back and focus on their teams biggest needs to taking that next step to be a super bowl contender. For the Dolphins, a team that in some peoples' eyes are knocking on the doorstep of moving forward and being competitive, their biggest needs this offseason are OLB, NT, WR, ILB, and S. There are all sorts of routes to try and fill all of these needs, some more effective than others. There is still a possibility of trading down in the first round, there have also been discussions about trading a 3rd rounder for a player like Anquan Boldin. In my opinion the linebacker position needs to be addressed first. Yes I know signing someone like Karlos Dansby would be huge and would be an immediate impact in Mike Nolan's defense, but that is very unlikely considering how much money Dansby will demand and the Phins are not known to get into bidding wars. So this means that this position must be added in the draft and preferably in the 1st round. There have been talks of Rolando McClain, Brandon Graham, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Sergio Kindle. My favorites out of those would be McClain and Graham, I think these guys will have big impacts right away with whatever team they go to.
If the Dolphins are going to continue to run this 3-4 defense and want to be successful at it, they need to add a big time pass rushing linebacker. Outside linebackers in the 3-4 system need to be the stars of the defense and wreak havoc in the backfield. Brandon Graham is a guy I would look at for Miami to draft and a guy they could possibly trade down a couple picks for and pick up another draft pick. The Dolphins have been known to take guys out of the Big Ten (Chad Henne, Brian Hartline, Ted Ginn) and Bill Parcells has definitely been known to take linebackers high in the draft. Another guy I would look at to improve that linebacking core in Miami would be a guy like Gary Brackett through free agency, even though there is a good possibility of him staying with the Colts, a guy like him or Antonio Pierce would be a nice addition to that defense. If you have watched a Miami Dolphins game in the past couple years, it is clear that a big time receiver needs to be added. Now more than ever especially because of the development of Chad Henne and the NFL clearly turning into more of a passing league, and you now need to be able to throw the ball to survive. Eight of the top ten passing teams made the playoffs this year, that should be enough of a reason to add a big time guy. There has been a lot of talk about Anquan Boldin, and I think a guy like that could make a big impact in the offense, even at the age of 30. He would be a good pickup this year because his asking price has gone down the past two years, and I think it would be possible to trade a 4th rounder and a guy like Ted Ginn which would be a nice deal for the Dolphins right now. They need a guy who can come in and take the leadership role, a proven guy, and Boldin is definitely that. People have been talking about him being injury prone and what not, but there were a couple vicious hits that were just unlucky on a couple of those injuries.
Now that we have possibilities for the OLB, ILB, and WR positions it is time to talk about NT and S. There will be some good options left in the 2nd and 3rd round for those positions. A guy like Cam Thomas out of UNC could be a dominating force in the middle. Also Terrence Cody could possibly fall to the Dolphins 2nd round pick, and he would be a nice pickup to play NT in a 3-4 defense. This is not the best draft for safeties, but Miami would like to improve that position from last year. The only reason it's not a bigger need is the fact that they drafted Chris Clemons last year who could still be a starter, if given the chance. Yeremiah Bell is a solid Strong Safety coming off a Pro Bowl season, but Gibril Wilson was one of the worst Free Safeties in the NFL last year. Giving up big play after big play, this was extremely disappointing to Dolphin's fans (like myself) after giving this guy a big contract. A guy like Kurt Coleman (another Big Ten player) could be a good option in the 3rd round or so. I feel like this position could wait and give Gibril another chance under Mike Nolan's defense or give Clemons a chance to prove himself. At the same time if there is a solid player left in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th rounds then it would be a good move to pick him up.
So a summary of this effective, yet realistic offseason for the Miami Dolphins would be:
1st round- Brandon Graham, OLB (Michigan)
2nd round- Terrence Cody, NT (Alabama)
3rd round- Kurt Coleman, S (Ohio State)
Trade for Boldin. Ted Ginn and a 4th rounder.
Sign an ILB. (Brackett, Pierce)
That way you keep your first 3 picks in the draft to add youth and address needs, but still get the veteran leadership in Free Agency and fill more positions of need. Of course this is not going to exactly play out like this, but it is definitely going to be interesting to see what happens this offseason and if the Dolphins make any moves for big time Free Agents.