It’s been an interesting offseason for the Dolphins as they angle to fill out a starting lineup before the NFL Draft. They kept all of their own prominent free agents and picked up one linebacker in Lawrence Timmons.
Taking those moves into account, here are the top five positions of need for Miami to address in the draft, which is three weeks away:
As of now, it’s difficult to make any assumption on Miami’s third starting linebacker after Kiko Alonso and Timmons. It looks like it’d be a competition between Koa Misi, Neville Hewitt and whoever the team gets in the draft. Given how bad the run defense was, this is an emergency position to fill. Timmons turns 31 next month, so Miami could use one early and one late.
The Dolphins weren’t necessarily scheduled to need a safety in this year’s draft, but that changed with Isa Abdul-Quddus’ likely career-ending injury. The current starters would be Nate Allen, who hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2014 and is on a one-year deal, and 29-year-old Reshad Jones. They also picked up T.J. McDonald, who will miss the first eight games due to suspension and is also on a one-year contract.
Every team always wants to add defensive ends, and this is a good draft for them. The Dolphins are signed up for two more years of Cameron Wake, 35, and gave Andre Branch a new three-year deal. Those two are certainly sufficient as starters for the upcoming season, but it’s a good time to install an up-and-comer behind them.
This is another spot where there’s uncertainty about the first-stringers. Obviously Ndamukong Suh will be there, but it’s unclear whether the Dolphins are comfortable moving forward with Jordan Phillips (54 percent of the defensive snaps in 2016) in the other spot. There was a reason they hosted Dontari Poe for a free agent visit. It’s not as urgent as some of the other positions, however, because there is valid reason to give Phillips, a 2015 second-round pick who is 24 years old, a shot and a lot of players would do well lining up next to Suh.
Corner beats out tight end and offensive guard for the last spot on this list because good ones are harder to find at this position. Miami certainly should take a mid- or late-round tight end if it can find good value, but guards can be found in free agency. Byron Maxwell, 29, had a good season in 2016 and rookie Xavien Howard showed promise. After that, the Dolphins could use depth. “It’s unbelievable how many corners you can possibly go through,” coach Adam Gase said. “There’s just not enough of these guys.”
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