Miami Dolphins NFL Draft Preview

We are just a few days away from the 2013 NFL Draft, and you can expect the Miami Dolphins to be among the most active teams during the draft. They have 11 draft picks, cap space, and only a few holes to fill.

There are a million different scenarios for the Dolphins in this draft. With their 12th overall pick they could trade up, trade down, or draft a player, and any of those three moves would be completely acceptable to me. I would prefer the Dolphins not to trade down just because they have so many picks already, but I am not opposed to it.

Yes, we need to add an offensive lineman and cornerback (a pass rusher wouldn't be unwelcome either), but with so much ammunition I believe it will be pretty easy to fill those spots. This is a "meat and potatoes" draft, and with five picks in the first three rounds how can we not fix our problems?

I understand that there's a lot of doubt among the Miami fan base regarding Jeff Ireland's ability to draft players, but even the most ardent doubter has to admit he has set us up really well for the draft. It would take an incredibly poor draft by Ireland to not have all of the Dolphins holes patched up, and I'm confident he'll do a lot better than poor.

These are Miami's draft picks:
  • Round 1, Pick 12
  • Round 2, Pick 10 (42 overall)
  • Round 2, Pick 22 (54)
  • Round 3, Pick 15 (77)
  • Round 3, Pick 20 (82)
  • Round 4, Pick 14 (111)
  • Round 5, Pick 13 (146)
  • Round 5, Pick 33 (166)
  • Round 7, Pick 11 (217) 
  • Round 7, Pick 18 (224)
  • Round 7, Pick 44 (250)
Now, here are a few options for Miami to fix each of their holes, along with what I think is most likely to happen and what I want to happen.

Offensive Tackle
Draft Lane Johnson:
I don't really expect Lane Johnson to fall to us at 12, but he is the most likely guy of the top three tackles (Joeckel, Fisher, and Johnson) to fall, so I put him here. It is also possible Miami would trade up to get him, but I don't think they will.

Trade for Branden Albert:

This is my top choice. There's been a lot of chatter about trading a 2nd round pick for Chiefs offensive tackle Branden Albert. Not only do I want it to happen, but that's what I'm predicting will happen. It makes a lot of sense, and Albert is a better lineman than anyone else the Dolphins could draft in the second round.

Draft Prospect Later:
Miami could either trade back from 12 or take a lineman with one of their later picks. Like I said before, this is a really deep class. They could take a tackle in the late first or early second like the extremely athletic Menelik Watson or Kyle Long, son of Howie Long. Miami could afford to wait until the third round even. They might not get an elite caliber guy, but they could take one of a few solid starters that late.

Sign a Free Agent:
Former Chiefs tackle Eric Winston is still a free agent, and his agent has said specifically he wants to play for the Dolphins. I don't know how likely it is Miami signs Winston seeing as they've had plenty of time and chosen not to, but it can't be ruled out totally.

Trade up and Draft Dee Millner:
I am almost certain Millner won't fall to Miami at 12, so they would have to trade up to get him. The Browns are reportedly looking to trade back, so they seem like the perfect trade partner. It would probably take a 2nd or 3rd round pick to move up, though, but I think Millner would be worth it. He is definitely the best corner in the draft and would turn our cornerback corps into a strength.

Draft Xavier Rhodes:
For a while I thought this was the most likely scenario, but I've started to change my mind and I will explain in the next option. Rhodes would help solidify Miami's corners as well, and I see him as a very solid pick at that spot. You'll hear things like he might be a bit of a reach, but what does it matter? If he fills a need, is the best player available at that need, and you don't think he'll be available when your next pick comes around then you get him.

Draft a Cornerback Later:

This draft class is extremely deep at cornerback. There are close to 25 cornerbacks who have a grade somewhere between the first and fourth round. Just like the Branden Albert trade, this would make a lot of sense for the Dolphins. They can just draft one of the second or third round guys instead of using their first round pick on Rhodes.

Don't Draft a Cornerback (or draft a developmental guy really late):
I am actually pretty high on the combination of Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall. Both are very good cornerbacks who would hold their own just fine. My main concern would be injuries (both missed most of the season last year), which is why I wouldn't want to rely on them, but if healthy I think they would be a great duo.

Pass Rusher
I wanted to start this by saying I don't consider pass rusher a huge need, but since we have so many picks I think it is something that should (and will) be addressed.

Draft Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah:
Ansah is a great athlete with limited production. He had never played football prior to 2010, so he is naturally a very unpolished prospect. He has the physical capability to be an elite edge rusher, though, which makes him very enticing. Ultimately I think the Dolphins pass on him because he's very risky, but I expect them to give him a lot of consideration.

Draft a Pass Rusher Later:
This is what I want to happen and also what I expect will happen. Defensive ends aren't as deep as cornerback, but there are still a lot of guys that will be available in the second through fourth rounds that would complement Cameron Wake well. My hope would be Miami drafts Margus Hunt out of SMU or Damontre Moore out of Texas A&M with one of their second rounders.

That's what I see happening for the Dolphins three biggest needs, but it does leave us one big question:

What do the Miami Dolphins do at 12 if they trade for Albert and draft a cornerback later?
For me it comes down to two guys. Neither is a need, but they both would really help bolster Miami's passing attack. And let's be honest here, the most important thing in the NFL is having a strong passing game. I understand you will have teams who can rely on their running game and defense, but, for the most part, it is throwing the football that really helps you win a lot of games.

So with that in mind, here are my final two options for the Miami Dolphins 12th overall pick:

Draft Tyler Eifert:
Eifert is an elite tight end prospect who would be able to come in from day one and dominate NFL defenders. In my mind he is already a top five NFL tight end, and an elite tight end is a valuable thing to give a quarterback (just ask Tom Brady and Drew Brees). The increasing importance of tight ends also raises Eifert's value, and I feel like 12 would be a great spot to choose him at. This is actually what I think is most likely to happen. Miami only signed Dustin Keller to a one year contract, so I wouldn't worry too much about carrying two starters at tight end.

Draft Tavon Austin:
I've joined the dark side. I know, I know. I just put up a piece on Friday talking about why the Dolphins won't draft Austin. The thing is, I still don't think they will. I just want them to. Tavon is a game-changer. When given a little space he is incredibly dangerous. His versatility is similar to that of Percy Harvin's.

His main knock is his size, which I think is a big concern, but Miami has enough receivers already that they don't need a standard sized receiver. Austin instantly turns the Dolphins passing attack into something to be reckoned with. Miami's weapons with Austin included would be scary.

Sometimes you just have to stick your neck out there when your job is on the line, and that might be exactly what Jeff Ireland does. Hopefully it is. I still think he takes Eifert, but I will be pleasantly surprised if he grabs Austin.

There is also the possibility that Austin is taken before 12, but I don't think that will be the case.

So based on everything above, this is my ideal scenario for the first three rounds of the draft for the Dolphins:

First Round
-Draft Tavon Austin (with Tyler Eifert as a backup plan)

Second Round
-Trade one of the picks to Kansas City for Branden Albert
-Draft Margus Hunt or Damontre Moore (in that order)

Third Round
-Draft a cornerback from the huge list of second and third round prospects
-Draft best player available with a focus on potential weaknesses

So there we have it. I know this is a lot to digest, so feel free to talk about anything I've covered. Email me at I'm also on twitter @PaulDSmythe.