2012 NFL Mock Draft: Miami Dolphins' 7-Round Blueprint to Success Next Year
At 3-8, Miami's odds of making the postseason are astronomical, so it's safe to say they won't be making a playoff appearance.
It's time, then, to start looking ahead toward the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Dolphins will likely finish the season with a top 10 draft selection, leaving them in position to grab one of the elite quarterback prospects. But quarterback is only one of many needs the 'Fins must fill during the draft. Miami must address holes along the offensive line, as well as gaps in the secondary, linebacker corps, and tight end corps.
However, it's nearly impossible to predict how Miami will draft. There is sure to be a new general manager and head coach in place by April, and their philosophies will differ from those of the Trifecta.
Regardless, it's never too early to start talking about the NFL Draft, and here's a look at how the Dolphins' draft might unfold in April.
1st Round: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
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Matt Moore has played admirably over the past few weeks, but the Miami Dolphins will absolutely draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. This 'Fins are starving for a franchise quarterback, and they will—dependent upon their final place in the NFL standings—have a chance to choose from Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, and Robert Griffin III.
Barkley might be the most polished prospect on the board, but the Dolphins won't be able to resist Robert Griffin's infinite upside. (Plus, there's a good chance Barkley stays at USC.) Griffin is a generational talent, and prospects with his electrifying skill-set rarely come along.
RGIII's lack of experience playing under center is a red flag, but Cam Newton's made a seamless transition from a spread offense to an NFL system, so there's reason to believe Griffin can as well.
Draft pundits seem reluctant to give Griffin their stamp of approval, but rest assured, he will skyrocket up draft boards over the next few months.
2nd Round: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
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Whichever quarterback the Dolphins decide to draft will not be successful until the offensive line is fortified. Incumbent right tackle Marc Colombo probably won't return, and Miami needs to make sure their first-round investment is protected by all means necessary.
Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams is a 6'6", 320 pound behemoth who could provide a substantial upgrade to the Dolphins' struggling line. Adams has the physical makeup of a first-round draft pick, but he has been suspended twice, including this season for his involvement in the Ohio State tattoo scandal.
If—and it's a big if—Adams shows that he has matured, then Miami could snag a first-round talent in the second round. Combined with Jake Long and Mike Pouncey, Adams could solidify the Dolphins' offensive line and help the passing and rushing games thrive.
3rd Round: Robert Lester, S, Alabama
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Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the 2012 draft class does not offer a great selection of free safeties. Miami desperately needs a player that can lay a safety blanket over the defense, and neither Chris Clemons nor Reshad Jones appear capable of fulfilling such a role.
However, the 'Fins might be able to find the solution to their safety problems on Day Three of the draft.
Alabama safety Robert Lester emerged as a star in 2010, reeling in eight interceptions and 52 tackles. Lester's nose for the football suggests he could become a ball hawk at the next level, and that's exactly what Miami needs.
Although Lester's play has declined this season, he has shown glimpses of greatness, and that should be enough cause for the Dolphins to draft him.
4th Round: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
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There are a few traits that bond the NFL's elite offenses. One of them is the presence of an athletic, seam-threat tight end.
The Dolphins have lacked such a weapon since Keith Jackson in the early '90s, and it's clearly time for them to invest in a young tight end.
Stanford's Coby Fleener has been Andrew Luck's go-to target over the past few seasons, and that alone should draw the affection of NFL teams. However, Fleener also boasts a unique blend of size (6'6", 245 pounds), athleticism, and hands that could definitely translate to the next level.
It will be tough to judge how much of Fleener's success stems from his connection with Luck, but any player who reels in 17 touchdown receptions over two seasons deserves a shot in the NFL.
5th Round: Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State
Outside of Sean Smith and Vontae Davis, the Dolphins have arguably the worst cornerback corps in the entire league. Rookie Jimmy Wilson has tremendous upside, but Miami must acquire multiple quality cornerbacks in order to be successful next season.
The Dolphins' long list of needs will force them to wait until the later rounds of the draft to address cornerback, but Iowa State's Leonard Johnson could be a steal.
Johnson is a seasoned four-year starter, and he was instrumental in the Cyclones upset victory over Oklahoma State a few weekends ago. Adding a corner with Johnson's experience and athleticism could be huge for the Dolphins secondary, even if it takes him a few seasons to develop.
6th Round: Stephen Good, OG, Oklahoma
By drafting Mike Adams in the second round, the Dolphins have only started to overhaul their offensive line. Next on the agenda should be shoring up both guard spots. Richie Incognito and Vernon Carey have both played respectably, but Miami needs to inject some youth and talent into the line.
The Dolphins might not find a starter in the sixth round, but they can find depth. Oklahoma's Stephen Good is a versatile lineman with experience on a championship-caliber offense.
Good has played both right and left guard for the Sooners, and he could become a rotational backup for the 'Fins. And, if Good can pack onto his 6'6", 300 pound frame and polish his game, he could become a starter down the road.
7th Round: Jeff Demps, RB/KR, Florida
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Neither Clyde Gates nor Davone Bess has asserted himself as a deadly return man, so the Dolphins could use their final selection of the 2012 Draft on one of the most electrifying players in college football.
Florida's Jeff Demps might be the fastest player in the nation, and his 40 time could easily slip below 4.3. Although he never returned kicks for the Gators, Demps clearly has the skill-set to do so.
The Dolphins could give Demps a shot at seizing return duties and let him compete at running back or wide receiver for a roster spot.