The Dolphins are in a complicated position with three weeks left until the NFL Draft. They haven’t addressed urgent needs at linebacker and tight end in free agency, and it’s starting to look like the No. 11 pick isn’t high enough to land one of the top-tier quarterbacks.
Whether they draft for immediate need or plan for the future depends somewhat on how they view the upcoming season. If Miami is legitimately trying to fight for a playoff berth this year, it has to find a starter to fill a vacancy. If not, maybe it looks ahead toward spots that will open in 2019 and ’20.
Here are five players the Dolphins should be eying in the first round:
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Landing Mayfield seems like Miami’s loftiest ambition. Adam Gase has been open about how much he enjoys his personality and playing style. That said, there are slim odds that he’ll last past the first five picks. The Dolphins have to hope he falls like Laremy Tunsil did in 2016 or that the Giants, Jets or Broncos falls in love with a non-quarterback. If that happens the teams picking No. 6 through No. 10 probably aren’t in the market for a quarterback. However, that opens the door for teams to trade up into one of those spots. Mayfield is a long shot for the Dolphins.
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Everyone’s tired of the Dolphins spending first-round picks on offensive linemen, but the line continues to be a question mark. Mike Mayock and Mel Kiper rank McGlinchey the best tackle in this year’s class, and he would provide insurance behind Ja’Wuan James and Tunsil. James is a free agent at the end of this season, and Tunsil has two seasons left on his rookie deal as he tries to prove he’s the cornerstone Miami imagined two years ago. McGlinchey is versatile, having started every game at right tackle as a junior and every game at left last year.
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Dolphins need a starting linebacker, and Smith is as powerful as they come. He had 137 tackles and 6.5 sacks for the Bulldogs last year. One potential glitch if Miami’s hoping to get Smith, though, is that a few teams in the top 10 also need a linebacker. That includes Oakland at No. 10. If the Dolphins are able to get him, they’d have two prized young linebackers in place with Smith and Raekwon McMillan, plus veteran Kiko Alonso. That sounds pretty good for a team that’s been light at the position for years.
Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Miami still feels good about its defensive line despite the departure of Ndamukong Suh, but is it confident enough in Jordan Phillips and Davon Godchaux to proceed as the starters? Phillips has shown he operates best when someone is threatening his job, plus he’s in the final year of his rookie deal. The Dolphins also have Vincent Taylor, a sixth-round pick last year who played in 13 games. Vea is 6-foot-5, 340 pounds and had 8.5 sacks over his last two seasons.
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
If the Dolphins are intent on landing a linebacker, they’ll probably get whoever’s left out of Edmunds and Smith. Edmunds is a little more of hybrid and could play defensive end, too. Of his 108 tackles last year, 14 were for negative yardage. Miami is overloaded at d-end now, but that’s not necessarily going to be the case after this year. Edmunds could work at linebacker as a rookie with a plan to eventually transition to defensive end.
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