NFL Draft 2011: the Top 10 Prospects the Miami Dolphins Should Draft
After yet another disappointing season for the Miami Dolphins where they went 7-9 and missed the postseason, the team will look to the draft to improve and reload for next season. The Dolphins had an odd year in which they went 6-2 on the road, but went an abysmal 1-7 on their home field.
Former Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Bill Parcells, has left the office and Miami will have to draft without the Superbowl winning coach. However, in his time with the Fins, he helped rebuild the defense and offensive line and made Miami a more complete team. The Dolphins even won the AFC East in 2008 under Parcells, but have regressed since that feat.
The Dolphins suffered from one of the most futile offenses in the NFL and a lot of that blame can be directed to the inconsistent quarterback play of Chad Henne.
Miami has the 15th overall pick in this year's draft and certainly has some holes to fill. The team's most pressing needs are at quarterback and running back, but they also need a guard and safety.
Here are the top 10 prospects the Fins should consider drafting with their first-round selection, as well as some of their later draft options.
First Round: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
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The Dolphins have always had a secure running game with a dual-threat in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. However, both Brown and Williams are in their 30's and their best days appear to be behind them. Both backs are likely to leave the Fins in the offseason, so a new running back will be a top priority.
Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram would be a great selection to replace Ronnie and Ricky. He is arguably the best running back in the draft and Miami could use their first round selection to get him. He is explosive and would fit nicely into the Dolphins' offense.
First Round: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
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With all the criticism current quarterback Chad Henne receives, it appears that he won't ever be the long-term solution as Miami's man under center.
So, how about Killer Cam?
The Heisman winner is coming fresh off a national championship and has already inked a deal with Under Armour. Now, it's time he proves himself in the NFL.
For the Fins to have a chance to draft Cam, they will most likely need to trade up as he is one of top prospects in the draft. While he might have some character issues, there is no denying Newton's talent. He is an explosive dual-threat quarterback and would add a much-needed flare to Miami's offense.
Newton's 6'6", 250-pound frame certainly is an improvement over Henne's 230-pound build.
Drafting Cam will be much easier said than done, but it sure would be cool watching him in the Wildcat.
Second Round Trade Option: Niles Paul, WR, Nebraska
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Miami had only one deep threat last year in Brandon Marshall and he was often a victim of double coverage, forcing Henne to continually throw to second option, Davone Bess.
Paul would be an excellent addition to the Dolphins receiving core as he would open up the field for Marshall and provide another deep-threat option.
The 6'1" receiver had a solid career with the Cornhuskers and Miami could trade either their 15th pick or later round picks to get him.
Then may be Brandon Marshall would have more than three touchdowns next season.
Second Round Trade Option: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
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If the Dolphins fail to draft Ingram, they should consider trading down into the second round. If Leshoure is still around, it would be in Miami's best interest to nab the Illinois back.
He had a solid season, rushing for 1,697 yards and 17 touchdowns. At 6'1", 230 pounds, he brings power, quickness and speed to the table. He has loads of potential and would be a good fit in the Dolphins rushing attack.
Second or Third Round Option: Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami
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Hankerson is another wide receiver option for the Dolphins that would open up the field for Marshall. He had a stellar senior year at "The U," leading the team with a career-high 1,156 receiving yards on a team-high 72 receptions, to go along with 13 touchdowns.
He became just the third player in program history to record a 1,000-yard receiving season and his 22 career receiving touchdowns rank third all-time at Miami behind Michael Irvin and Lamar Thomas.
The ACC All-First team selection would get to stay in Miami, where he is already a fan favorite. At 6'1", 205 pounds, he will be able to make an immediate impact with his speed and solid hands.
Second or Third Round Option: Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State
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The Dolphins are in need of an offensive guard and Hudson could fill that gap with his abilities. He may be a bit undersized, but his attitude, toughness, and leadership qualities could make the former Seminole a steal for the Fins.
He has a high football IQ and could really benefit Miami as a second or third round draft option.
Fourth Round Option: Ahmad Black, SS, Florida
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Another in-state player that could be a great pick up for Miami. Black is a small, athletic strong safety that would be an outstanding addition to the Dolphins' secondary.
Black had an excellent career at Florida and was a huge piece of the Gators 2008 title team.
Black could help the Dolphins secondary issues being that he is a playmaker who is not afraid to make the big tackle. His leadership abilities would fit well in Miami.
Third or Fourth Round Option: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
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Another FSU prospect that could be a later round steal for the Dolphins. A lot of analysts thought Ponder had an inconsistent college career and that he never fulfilled his true potential.
The quarterback dealt with a lot of injury while at Florida State, but his upside is his keen knowledge of the game. He will need to build his throwing strength, but could end up being a solid backup quarterback or possible starter for the Dolphins.
Ponder is a risk in the higher rounds, but would be a nice draft pick in the later rounds.
Later Round Option: Dane Sanzenbacher, WR, Ohio State
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Sanzenbacher had a great 2010 campaign, pulling in 11 touchdowns on 55 receptions to go along with 948 yards for the Buckeyes.
At 5'11", he has been criticized for his size but makes up for it with his toughness and ability to get open.
He is projected to go in the seventh round, so Miami could potentially land a steal. He would play behind Marshall, Bess and Brian Hartline, but would be a smart addition to the receiving core.
Later Round Option: Jamar Newsome, WR, UCF
Okay, I might have slipped this one in here just because I go to UCF. The fact that Bleacher Report doesn't have any pictures of him in the database might hurt my case. However, Newsome is no joke and has real NFL potential. After receiving a surprise invite to the combine, he thoroughly impressed NFL scouts with his speed and athleticism.
The 6'2" receiver had a good senior year for the Knights, posting 616 yards on 37 receptions, which was second best on the team.
Newsome was instrumental in UCF's most successful season in program history, helping the team to their first ever ranking and bowl win.
For a guy that was not expected to be invited to the combine, he is clearly getting the attention of scouts. He will bring mental toughness, leadership and a strong work ethic to the Dolphins. If anything, he could end up be a nice seventh round selection.
Check out this highlight video of Newsome.