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NFL Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2014 NFL Draft Big Board: Top 5 MLB Rankings

Miami Dolphins 2014 NFL Draft Big Board: MLB Rankings

Chris Borland
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are expected to target a linebacker during May's draft after Dannell Ellerbe struggled in the middle of Kevin Coyle's defense in 2013. GM Dennis Hickey reportedly envisions Ellerbe moving to outside linebacker this coming season, meaning a new inside presence must be acquired. Given the dry open market, the Dolphins will turn to May's draft to address the need. Here are the top five middle linebackers they should consider.

5. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut

Yawin Smallwood
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

5. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut

Yawin Smallwood
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

UConn's Yawin Smallwood is not an easy linebacker to block. Utilizing a lengthy frame and pure strength, Smallwood disengaged from blocks with ease on Saturdays. But doubts about his reaction skills make him an uncertainty to last on Sundays. The Dolphins could take a chance on Smallwood during the draft's third day, but he likely wouldn't be able to replace Ellerbe inside as a rookie.

4. Preston Brown, Louisville

Preston Brown, Louisville
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

4. Preston Brown, Louisville

Preston Brown, Louisville
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Preston Brown is a violent linebacker near the line of scrimmage and possesses the size and physicality needed to develop into a run-stuffing force in the NFL. He doesn't have the movement skills to be helpful in space, though, which projects him as only a two-down player. Still, the Dolphins need to improve versus the run more than anything else on defense, and Brown could help them do so.

3. Shayne Skov, Stanford

Shayne Skov, Stanford
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

3. Shayne Skov, Stanford

Shayne Skov, Stanford
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Like Brown, Stanford's Shayne Skov might be a liability in coverage and space at the next level. Few inside linebackers are as capable as Skov when it comes to rushing the passer and stuffing the run, however. Skov always plays and hits hard -- he knows no other way. He's able to time up his blitzes perfectly at times to pressure the passer and he's rarely washed away versus the run. Skov was also a passionate leader for the Cardinal.

2. Chris Borland, Wisconsin

Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

2. Chris Borland, Wisconsin

Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

It's difficult not to marvel at the way Chris Borland plays football. With a continuously active motor, Borland is relentless in pursuit and seemingly always finds his way around the ball. Borland's instincts and toughness are what made him a special player in the Big Ten. The one major concern about Borland is he's undersized. Given his short arms, he'll likely get pushed around by some of the league's most powerful offensive linemen.

1. C.J. Mosley, Alabama

C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

1. C.J. Mosley, Alabama

C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

There isn't a more complete linebacker in the 2014 draft class than C.J. Mosley. Athletic, tough, instinctual, prototypical size -- it can all be used to describe the Alabama star. Few "safe" picks have as much upside as Mosley, who could realistically start from day one in Miami at middle linebacker. If he's still on the board after 18 picks, there's a strong chance Mosley will be the Dolphins' selection in the first round.