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NFL Draft: Dan Williams a Possibility For The Miami Dolphins at No. 12?

Michael PintoSenior Writer IMarch 12, 2010

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 28:  Randall Cobb #18 of the Kentucky Wildcats runs with the ball while defended by Dan Williams #55 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the SEC game at Commonwealth Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Now that the Miami Dolphins have added linebacker Karlos Dansby via free agency, the team will have more wiggle room when it comes time to make a selection with the 12th overall pick in the Draft.

Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN have both adjusted their newest mock drafts accordingly. Before the start of free agency, the draft pundits had Miami selecting Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McClain in round one.

With he and Dansby essentially playing the same position, Kiper and McShay are now inclined to believe the Dolphins will instead go after defensive tackle Dan Williams from Tennessee.

The selection would serve as a solution to Miami's most glaring need, so it makes sense that Williams is being linked to the team.

The Dolphins' incumbent starting nose tackle, 35-year-old Jason Ferguson,is suspended for the first eight games of the regular season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

With Ferguson out of the picture for half the season and no real solution as to who will shore up the middle of the defensive line, its no secret the Dolphins are in the market for his replacement.

At the Senior Bowl in January, Miami's coaching staff was awarded the honor of coaching the South team and were able to get a close look at a lot of players entering April's Draft. 

Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano raved about Williams throughout the week's practice and again after the game. The Fins loved what he brought to the table on and off the field.

Williams is intelligent, he listens, learns, and does everything asked of him. At 6'2" 329 lbs, he has the size and strength needed to command the all-important double-team every good nose tackle must make. 

In a 3-4 defense, the success of the unit begins and ends along the line, primarily at nose tackle. If you can't get a consistent push up front, it all falls apart. 

The defense won't be able to stop the run successfully, the pass rush will falter, and the secondary and linebackers will be exposed in coverage. 

Don't believe the effect is as drastic as it seems? Just take a look at the Dolphins' defensive stats in the games they played without Ferguson in 2009.

Miami went 2-5 without their starting nose tackle and after losing him to I.R. in week 11, everything unraveled and they played themselves right out of the playoff race.

If you discount the Dolphins' 14-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 14–a game that was truly offensively challenged–the numbers in the remaining six contests without Ferg are staggering.

Miami gave up an average of 27 points and 398 yards. 

If you wipe away the Dolphins' 46-34 loss to the New Orleans Saints in week seven, the remaining eight contests with Ferguson starting paint a picture of the difference between having and not having a dependable nose tackle. 

Miami gave up an average of 22 points and 321.2 yards.

The stats don't lie. The Dolphins' suspect defense became an awful one. The 3-4 was useless without it's nose tackle, and Paul Soliai proved he couldn't handle the lion's share after Ferg went down. 

Enter Dan Williams into the discussion.

He has elite strength, and plays low and balanced. He's a bull-rusher that will collapse the pocket around opposing quarterbacks. He has great feet, commands a constant double-team, and will overpower almost anyone in a one-on-one battle. 

To paint the big picture, he's pretty close to the complete package for a nose tackle. All the intangibles are there, there's just some polishing to be done. A guy like Williams may prove the answer at the Dolphins' most glaring need for the next decade. 

It may be a bit of a reach to grab him as high as 12th overall, especially if guys like Dez Bryant or McClain are on the board. Both of them are elite talents that will probably turn into All-Pros where ever they end up. 

But even though the mantra is talent over need, when its close, sometimes need just outweighs its counterpart. 

The Dolphins need a nose tackle. Would they be insane to overextend just a bit for Williams? 

If he solves their problems up front you wouldn't hear to many complaints about it.

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