With the Miami Dolphins having completed their offensive coordinator and general manager search, it’s time for the team to fully immerse itself in the offseason. In other words, it’s time to look toward the draft.
Yes, the Dolphins will still have to address key needs through free agency in March, but it will be the draft, which takes place from May 8-10, which will dictate and shape Miami’s nucleus for the next several years. These will be the players who will be expected to lead the Dolphins back into the playoffs in the present and the foreseeable future.
The Dolphins finished the season at 8-8, and like any other 8-8 team there are some strengths and weaknesses on this current roster. The wide receiver position is stacked with Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. The tight end position looks set with Charles Clay as the starter. However, running back and offensive line is a major concern.
With Randy Starks and Paul Soliai due to be free agents, the interior of the defensive line might have to be addressed. The same could be said for the cornerback position where Brent Grimes and Nolan Carroll will be free agents.
It’s safe to conclude that the Dolphins’ biggest concerns entering the offseason will be the running back, offensive line, defensive tackle and cornerback positions. So, what position do the Dolphins address in the first-round of the NFL Draft in May?
A lot of it depends on what happens with the Dolphins’ impending free agents. It’s hard to envision a scenario where the Dolphins bring back all four of their key free agents on defense, but if they’re able to bring back say, Starks and Grimes, are the defensive tackle and cornerback positions really as much of a concern as running back and offensive tackle?
Due to the fact that it’s easy to develop running backs in the NFL, combined with the free agency running back pool being strong in 2014, the Dolphins would be wise to pass on drafting a running back in the first-round.
Which means the Dolphins should address one position in round one—offensive tackle.
The Dolphins’ offensive line was a mess and was the biggest reason why the team faltered down the stretch in the regular season. The line gave up a league-worst 58 sacks and paved the way for Miami’s 26th-ranked rushing attack in 2013. There was so much instability due to the Richie Incognito–Jonathan Martin debacle that it made the Dolphins’ offensive line even worse when both starters sat out the last two months of the season due to the incident.
Bryant McKinnie won’t be back to protect Ryan Tannehill‘s blindside which means the Dolphins will need to draft a left tackle in the first-round. It’s hard to envision a scenario where there is an exception. The Dolphins need to protect their quarterback, and the first step into accomplishing that goal is by finding a franchise left tackle.
The 2014 NFL Draft is the time to do that.