Less than 24 hours. That's it. By this time tomorrow night, we will know for sure who the Dolphins have selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
We've dissected the early portion of the draft for weeks now. We've debated who the Dolphins should take. We've argued over whether or not Miami should trade down - and how far down in round one they should be willing to go. So with just hours remaining before round one gets underway, there's only one thing left to discuss. Who do you want/not want to see the Dolphins draft?
Below are simply my personal thoughts on the many players who the Dolphins could draft in round one on Thursday night. I have them ranked in "tiers" and attempt to explain why I feel the way I do about each player. And as you will see, there's really only one player I do not want to see drafted by the Dolphins.
Read it over and then tell us your thoughts.
Tier 1 - Absolute Favorite Draft Prospects
Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
If you've been around this site long enough, then you know that Berry is the highest rated player on my own personal draft board, regardless of position. I think he's an elite safety in the making and is by far the best safety prospect to come out in years. If there is one thing I'm praying happens on Thursday night, it's that the eleven teams in front of the Dolphins all make huge mistakes and pass on Berry. Of course, it's insanely unlikely. So let's move on.
Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, TCU
If you've been reading since the offseason begins, then you know that Hughes is my favorite player in this draft other than Eric Berry. He's at the very top of my 2010 "mancrush" list. I firmly believe Hughes is the best conversion linebacker available in the draft. While a perfect world would see the Dolphins trade down a few spots and then draft Hughes, I'd be thrilled to simply take him at number 12. His initial burst and strength is outstanding. He can play the run and drop back into coverage. Simply put - I love this kid's all-around game and hope he becomes a Dolphin.
Earl Thomas, S, Texas
Some have questions about his size. I don't. I love his play-making skills. I think he'd be an ideal center fielder in Miami's secondary. and it would fill the most glaring need on this team. Is he a great tackler? No. But we're in an age where the game is changing. An elite coverage safety is a must nowadays. Thomas would be just that.
Tier 2 - Solid Prospects with Questions
(in no particular order)
Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan
I love his motor and love his initial burst. But I don't think the fears about his shorter arms should be ignored. Against a bigger, longer offensive tackle, Graham might easily be taken out of plays - especially against the run. If he was just a little taller or had slightly longer arms, he's up in "tier 1." Still, he's my second favorite conversion linebacker in this draft.
Derrick Morgan, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
Lots of talent but might be too stiff to convert to outside linebacker. If we were running a 4-3, I'd love Morgan. But I'm far from convinced that he has the athleticism to make the conversion.
Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas
Many believe Kindle is the most natural 3-4 outside linebacker in this class. But I just don't know about him. He's not an elite pass rusher. He's not a great defender against the run. He looks stiff when in coverage. Truth be told, I was very close to dropping Kindle down a tier. But then I turn on some film and can see some flashes.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
The biggest offensive play-maker available in the draft. He'd add an element to this offense that we haven't seen in some time - as well as be a factor on special teams. But he's not a 15 to 20 carry per game back. And the Dolphins have more glaring needs. Perhaps it would be greedy to address the offense in round one when the defense is what cost the Dolphins in 2009.
Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma St.
Lots of off-the-field questions. No more pressing need at receiver since Miami acquired Brandon Marshall. But still, he's a play-maker. And it's hard to totally dislike adding more weapons on offense - especially ones that would help Chad Henne grow and mature on the field.
Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
Mike is probably the best guard prospect to come through the draft in a few years. We know Miami is looking to trade Justin Smiley and we know this regime loves offensive linemen. Not a pressing need by any measure. But it would be hard to be disappointed with a guy like Iupati.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno St.
5'11, 218 pounds, and a 4.45 40. What's not to like? The fact of the matter is this is the guy who is the better fit in Miami - not Spiller. He's a big, strong downhill runner with speed. If - and that's a big if - the Dolphins were considering trading Ronnie, Mathews is the guy who would be the best fit to replace him. But Mathews is only in "tier 2" of my wish list if - and only if - the Dolphins trade down from #12.
Everson Griffen, DE/OLB, USC
No potential OLB passes the "eyeball test" like Griffen does. He's 6'3, 266 pounds and runs a 4.66 40 while benching 225 pounds 32 times. However he does have oddly short arms for somebody of his height and he's kind of a career underachiever. But if the Dolphins trade down into the late first, Griffen would be an intriguing prospect.
Tier 3 - High Risk, High Reward
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE/OLB, South Florida
A total physical freak but with just one year of division one experience. His ceiling is probably as high as anyone's in the draft. But is floor is just as low. I can't help but think of Vernon Gholston - without the Ohio State pedigree - when I think of JPP. Now that's risky, folks.
Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama
If the Dolphins trade down, Cody would be enticing. But he's got obvious weight-control issues. And those issues don't usually just go away, which is enough to scare me away from him. But if this staff is sold on him, then I'll trust them - but only late in round one.
Tier 4 - Not A Fit
Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama
I like his all-around game and think he'll be a good 3-4 inside linebacker. But I just don't see how drafting McClain would make sense. Dansby is in Miami now and is our new stud inside linebacker. Some might want to draft Rolando and then kick Dansby outside. But Karlos is not a full-time 3-4 outside linebacker. I'd rather just keep Dansby inside and draft a conversion linebacker instead of taking McClain and kicking Karlos outside.
Tier 5 - Do Not Want, Period
Dan Williams, NT, Tennessee
I've gone back and forth on Williams since the Senior Bowl. But when I watch him play, I just don't see the dominance that I need to see to draft a nose tackle in the top half of round one - which is where Williams will likely go. He underachieved at Tennessee until his last season and was a late-round prospect at best entering his senior season. I just don't think you can justify spending the 12th overall pick on a player who won't even be on the field on all three downs. Where's the sense in that?