The Miami Dolphins need an outside linebacker in the draft, someone to complement middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan and weak-side linebacker Kiko Alonso.
But the Dolphins also need a defensive tackle (Ndamukong Suh was released and signed with the Los Angeles Rams), a tight end, and a backup quarterback.
This is the leftover work from free agency, a time when Miami parted ways with core players and key contributors such as Suh, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, center Mike Pouncey, running back Damien Williams, linebacker Lawrence Timmons, tight end Julius Thomas, safety Michael Thomas and kicker Cody Parkey.
Miami thinks it fared relatively well in its budget-minded free agency signings and trades with the acquisitions of center Daniel Kilgore, guard Josh Sitton, quarterback Brock Osweiler, wide receivers Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson, running back Frank Gore and defensive ends Robert Quinn and William Hayes (re-signed).
As the Dolphins’ brain trust of executive Mike Tannenbaum, general manager Chris Grier and head coach Adam Gase talk about needing a “culture change” in the locker room, fans are concerned the Dolphins let too much talent walk out the door.
Here is a closer look at where the Dolphins are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft.
2017 finish: 3rd AFC East (6-10)
TOTAL OFFENSE: 307.7 (25th)
RUSHING: 86.8 (29th)
PASSING: 220.9 (18th)
TOTAL DEFENSE: 335.7 (16th)
RUSHING: 110.5 (14th)
PASSING: 225.2 (16th)
- Linebacker: Miami had trouble among its linebackers last year being aggressive against the run and playing effective pass defense. As for the running game the problems began when rookie middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan sustained a season-ending knee injury in preseason. Miami used undrafted rookie Chase Allen until signing veteran Rey Maualuga. But Maualuga reported out of shape and then was cut after an early-morning incident at a Miami nightclub. Lawrence Timmons went AWOL before the opener and didn’t make many impact plays. Kiko Alonso was lacking in pass protection. Miami needs an aggressive, athletic linebacker who can be sturdy against the run and adept defending tight ends and running backs against the pass.
- Tight end: Julius Thomas didn’t work out nearly as well as head coach Adam Gase hoped, so Miami is back to the drawing board. This has been a years-long search that has included players such as Charles Clay, Dustin Keller, Dion Sims and Jordan Cameron. Right now, either MarQueis Gray or A.J. Derby stands as the starting tight end. Miami didn’t address this concern in free agency although there remains a chance veteran Anthony Fasano, known more for his blocking than receiving, could return. It’s likely the Dolphins draft a tight end although it’s unclear where that draft pick might come.
- Defensive tackle: The loss of Ndamukong Suh was a big one. Miami understood that when they released him but said among players such as returning starter Jordan Phillips and rookies Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor, they feel they have a good start. Still, everyone knows that’s not nearly enough. Miami could opt for a defensive tackle in the first round of the draft (Washington’s Vita Vea should be available) to pair with Phillips, a 2015 second-round selection. Or the Dolphins could pick up one or two defensive tackles later in the draft. Whatever happens, Miami realizes it wi’ll take more than one player to replace Suh.
KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 6)
–S Walt Aikens: Potential UFA; $2.7M/2 yrs, $1.3M fully guaranteed/$500K RB.
–LS John Denney: UFA; $1.105M/1 yr, $90K SB.
–QB David Fales: Not tendered as RFA; $705k/1 yr.
–DE William Hayes: UFA; $4.05M/1 yr, $4M guaranteed.
–T Sam Young: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
–WR Danny Amendola: UFA Patriots; $12M/2 yrs, $6M guaranteed/$3M SB.
–RB Frank Gore: UFA Colts; $1.105M/1 yr, $90K SB.
–C Daniel Kilgore (trade 49ers).
–QB Brock Osweiler: UFA Broncos; $880K/1 yr, $720K guaranteed/$90K SB.
–DE Robert Quinn (trade Rams).
–G Josh Sitton: UFA Bears; $13.5M/2 yrs, $8.45M guaranteed/$5.435M RB.
–WR Albert Wilson: UFA Chiefs; $24M/3 yrs, $14.45M fully guaranteed/$4M SB/$2.685 RB.
–G Jermon Bushrod: UFA Saints; $1.105M/1 yr, $269,118 guaranteed/$90K SB.
–DE Terrence Fede: UFA Bills; terms unknown.
–WR Jarvis Landry (traded Browns)
–K Cody Parkey: UFA Bears; $15M/4 yrs, $9M fully guaranteed/$2.25M SB.
–C Mike Pouncey (released).
–TE Julius Thomas (released).
–DT Ndamukong Suh (released, post-June 1 designation).
–S Michael Thomas: UFA Giants; $4M/2 yrs, $800K guaranteed RB.
–LB Lawrence Timmons (released).
–RB Damien Williams: UFA Chiefs; $1.2M/1 yr, $60K SB.
*NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 11 overall)
Rob Rang (April 5 mock draft):
–Vita Vea, DT, Washington. The release of costly defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh provided the Dolphins with cap relief but left the roster weak at defensive tackle. Vea offers a similarly freakish combination of size, power and athleticism as Suh but comes at a much cheaper price.
Dane Brugler (April 6 mock draft):
–Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. A high ceiling linebacker, Edmunds can be a cornerstone defender for the Dolphins’ defense, which would also make his father proud as Ferrell Edmunds was a Pro Bowl tight end for Miami in the early ’90s.
Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?
Based on the team’s current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see full mocks and ratings at NFLDraftScout.com.