When you look across the Miami Dolphins‘ roster, there are a plethora of positions that need to be addressed in the offseason. The Dolphins need to sign or re-sign players to address starting positions at cornerback, left tackle, left guard, defensive tackle, safety and running back. An NFL team is never content at 8-8, and for most of the 2013 season, the Dolphins’ glaring weaknesses were displayed.
The lack of protection for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the lackluster running game and the porous run defense were just a few of the issues the Dolphins encountered on their way to an 8-8 finish to the season.
At cornerback, Miami’s No. 1 corner Brent Grimes is a free agent. Considered the Dolphins’ biggest priority as far as re-signings are concerned, Grimes earned a Pro Bowl selection and aided the Dolphins in finishing the season as the eighth-best defense in terms of points allowed.
Although the run defense was an issue, both of the franchise’s starting defensive tackles, Randy Starks and Paul Soliai, are free agents. Both interior lineman have been named to Pro Bowls in their career.
Left tackle will be a position of focus, as left tackle Jonathan Martin will either be traded or released. Dallas Thomas, last year’s 2013 draft selection, was supposed to be the franchise left tackle, but was limited to just six games. He had issues adjusting to the pro game, and failed to beat out Martin and midseason pickup Bryant McKinnie for the job. McKinnie is also a free agent, and it is a question if the team wants to bring him back or not.
Starting left guard Richie Incognito is a free agent. Starting strong safety Chris Clemons is a free agent, and the running game ranked 26th in the NFL in 2013.
Assuming the Dolphins bring back Grimes, and either Soliai or Starks, cornerback will not be an issue, and defensive tackle won’t be as glaring of a need. Running back is one of the easiest positions to fill, and can be done either through the middle rounds of the draft or free agency. Strong safety and left guard are important positions, but they’re not the most important positions on the football field. They can be filled by stopgap veteran players through free agency.
That leaves left tackle as the biggest position of need. The Dolphins lost franchise left tackle Jake Long through free agency in 2013. They then proceeded to draft Thomas with the hope he’d replace Long immediately. That didn’t work out. They moved Martin to left tackle at the last second to start at the position. He was below average. McKinnie was brought in as a midseason acquisition, and he was the team’s best option at blindside tackle last season.
The free agent pickings are slim for left tackles. In order for the Dolphins to take the next step from being an 8-8 team to a playoff contender, the first position that needs to be improved is the blind side tackle position. It is the most important position on offense after quarterback. Tannehill has to be protected. The first step in protecting your franchise quarterback is by drafting a franchise left tackle.
With the No. 19 pick, the Miami Dolphins need to draft a left tackle.
DJ Siddiqi is a Miami Dolphins Featured Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @DJSiddiqi.