Landry Jones QB Oklahoma Sooners
The NFL draft is one of the most surefire ways to improve your team; the first round specifically is always a great place to find the stars of the future. The Miami Dolphins have drafted well in the past, but still need to make a good first-round pick to get to the next level.
This year, the Dolphins selected guard/center Mike Pouncey from the University of Florida. The season hasn't started yet, but he looks like he will be a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
There are still a few holes in Miami's depth chart that need to be filled. I focused specifically on quarterbacks, wide receivers, offensive tackles, running backs and safeties.
Quarterback is likely to be a problem position, as Chad Henne hasn't showed great improvement yet. I want to note that Andrew Luck, the future first overall pick, is not in this slideshow. That's because I'm optimistic about the Dolphins' 2011 season, and I would be a terrible fan if I thought they would be the worst team in the NFL.
The right tackle position is going to be a concern of the future as Miami will need somebody to compliment Jake Long. If Miami ends up in the mid-to-late first round, it could be a good place to find a dependable right tackle.
Wide receiver could also be a position of concern. Miami could decide to load up with another playmaker.
I would like to mention that I would never draft a running back in any of the first three rounds unless they had the athletic ability of Adrian Peterson; they are a dime a dozen and are made by offensive lines. With that said, general managers don't always think like I do, so I put running backs on the list.
This year Miami drafted Daniel Thomas and traded for Reggie Bush. They are hoping that they both pan out, but if not, Miami will likely grab a new back.
Long time starting strong safety Yeremiah Bell is getting older; who knows how long he will have left. At free safety, Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones are competing for the position, but if there is a top-quality starter in the draft, the Dolphins could pull the trigger.
Many of these players are projected to go in the top of the first round, but you never know what will happen. If Miami ends up picking around where they did last year, they could end up with one of these guys.
Here are all of the top prospects at the concern positions that the Dolphins could get.
Weight: 220 lbs.
Matt Barkley has all of the tools to be a top-flight quarterback at the NFL level. Good vision downfield, good arm, and good accuracy.
Last season he threw 26 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions . He is poised to have an even better 2011 season; in his first game of the year, he threw for three touchdowns. He also completed 75 percent of his passes, which amassed 300 yards.
Matt Barkley is the real deal, and would be a great pick in the first round if he falls to the 'Fins.
Weight: 229 lbs.
Landry Jones had a huge 2010 campaign, and looks to do even better in 2011. Last year he threw 38 touchdowns and over 4700 yards. He completed 65 percent of his passes and only had 14 interceptions.
Jones has good arm strength, accuracy and is a quality decision maker. He will undoubtedly be a first-round pick in 2012, and probably even land in the top 10.
The Dolphins would be ecstatic if Landry Jones fell to them; he could even be ready to start in his first season. The last quarterback Oklahoma sent to the draft was Sam Bradford, and he is looking very good so far. With a strong Dolphins team around him, Jones could do some serious damage in South Beach.
Weight: 295 lbs.
Kalil has prototypical height and size to be a top left tackle in the NFL. Good feet and technique allowed him to keep the left tackle position over Tyron Smith, a top-10 pick last season.
He has a brother who is a Pro Bowl center in the league, and pedigree is a pretty solid indicator of how good a player can be.
If the Dolphins don't get a quarterback, then drafting a tackle could be a great way to go. It would seem like a bit of a waste to have a future Pro Bowl left tackle playing the right side, but the Dolphins don't really have many holes. When they pick, there might not be a player of worth at another concern position.
I believe that good players make good teams; draft for skill, not for need.
Weight: 304 lbs.
John Martin is a great left tackle prospect, and has been in the spotlight much of his college career. He is protecting the best quarterback in college football, Andrew Luck, and has done a great job of it. He is projected to be a top draftee in the 2012 draft.
He's a good athlete and is good in run and pass blocking. He has things that he needs to work on, but so does every player in college football. He seems like a worker, and will do whatever it takes to be a Pro Bowler at the next level.
I love drafting tackles; they are a position that rarely ever busts.
Jon Martin does pose the same problem that Kalil does in that he's too good to be playing right tackle in the NFL. Still, if he's the best guy on the board, take him.
School: South Carolina
Weight: 229 lbs.
It is unlikely that the Dolphins would get Jeffery, but anything is possible. All three of the top QBs would have to be gone, and Miami would most likely have to have the fourth overall pick to land the star wide receiver.
Alshon is a tremendous talent, and looks to be a great NFL player as well. I could go on forever to list all of the things that he does well. In a nutshell, the guy is a worker who is a very dominant force.
The Dolphins could decide to pick a wide-out to compliment Brandon Marshall if there is no quarterback available early on. Jeffery is almost a sure Pro Bowl-quality player.
School: Notre Dame
Weight: 224 lbs.
Michael Floyd would have been a first-round pick last year if he went into the NFL draft; this year he will very likely end up in the first round. His play on the football field is undeniable, but he does have some character issues.
Floyd has decent speed with good hands, and he runs good routes. He has a good motor, and is a natural talent. He could be a No. 1 target for an NFL team.
Michael Floyd will most likely end up going in the late part of the first round; if the Dolphins pick around there, they will take a hard look at him.
School: Oklahoma State
Weight: 215 lbs.
Justin Blackmon doesn't have prototypical size or speed, but will still be a force at the next level. He runs decent routes, but will certainly improve. His best attributes are his strength and his hands. He is one of the toughest players in all of college ball and is great after the catch.
Blackmon reminds me of Hakeem Nicks on the New York Giants. He could be better at the next level too.
Blackmon is a fighter; if the Dolphins were able to grab him, he would certainly improve their play-making ability on offense. If Henne is still the guy in 2012, the 'Fins front office will do everything possible to make his job easier.
School: Miami (Florida)
Weight: 215 lbs.
Ray Ray's height and weight are not typos. He is a massive safety, and is a very tough hitter. He has good quickness, and is good in short- and mid-range coverage. He has a decent break on the ball, and could develop into a ball-hawk at the next level.
He will be a first-round pick in 2012, and will surely impress at the combine. Armstrong would be a great replacement for tackling machine Yeremiah Bell. Armstrong would be a very solid pick for the 'Fins if they land him.
Weight: 224 lbs.
Last year Alabama running back Mark Ingram was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. Trent Richardson was his backup, but is an even better pro prospect.
He's fast and is also powerful. He has the speed to make long runs, and is a natural playmaker. He has the ability to block well, and catch passes out of the backfield. He is built strong, and will be durable. He will also be able to be a feature back, and will not need to split carries.
He would greatly improve the Dolphins running game; I don't like drafting running backs in the top rounds, but I would not complain about if the Dolphins drafted Trent Richardson.