That's A-OK if you're the Miami Dolphins, though. You've got your quarterback of the future. You've got the right coach. You've got a defensive coordinator who has the defensive front seven playing out of its mind right now. Even better, your biggest needs just happen to be the incoming draft class' areas of strength. You need a cornerback? The top three prospects all possess near-elite ability. Safety? This is the strongest class in years. Wide receiver? There aren't any Megatron or Randy Moss talents in this draft, but many of the top prospects are tailor-made for the West Coast offense.
And because it's November, I've upped the number of prospects on this list to 15. It'll reach 30 before the Combine, and by that time should be a fairly focused, accurate list.
With that, let's get on with the show.
1) Manti Te'o, MLB Notre Dame
It is with great sadness that I announce Te'o's pending departure to the Jarvis Jones zone, meaning there's no way in hell the Dolphins will get a crack at drafting him next April. That's a shame, too, because Te'o is a dream prospect at the mike linebacker position, routinely displaying the ability to dismantle the run, drop into coverage and rush the passer with equal facility. Te'o has been the heart and soul of a defense that has carried the fourth-ranked Fighting Irish through much of this season, and that might be enough to get him into top-four or top-five consideration. Simply put, Te'o is the Haley's Comet of middle linebackers.
2) Dee Milliner, CB Alabama
Another candidate for the J.J. zone, Milliner's burly, snarling play at corner for Alabama this season has been impressive, and he takes on the run as well as any college corner I've seen. The total package at his position, and he has no problem getting nasty with receivers. Not a true ball hawk, but certainly advanced in the "pass defended" department.
3) Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State
I referred to Werner a few weeks ago as a faster Ryan Kerrigan, but that might be underselling Werner at this point. He has morphed into a berserk pass-rusher for the Seminoles this season, and he brings elite tools to the table: his first step is lightning, and he possesses the heaviest of hands at the line of scrimmage. Plays with intelligence and focus, too. My favorite pass-rusher in this class.
4) Johnthan Banks, CB Mississippi State
Johnthan Banks has been simply awesome this season, and was a big reason for Mississippi State's winning streak through September and most of October. Banks has outstanding length, very good speed and crystal-clear awareness for the position. Projects best as a press corner in the NFL. Arguably the second-most natural leader on this list after Te'o.
5) Dion Jordan, DE Oregon
I had a conversation in February 2010 with a certain Phinsider member who believed my decision to mock then-South Florida pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul to the Dolphins was "stupid and a mistake." Well, I wonder how that person feels about Oregon pass-rush tour de force Dion Jordan. Jordan possesses JPP-like strength and length (6'6"), can snap off the line in a blink and projects well as a sort of hybrid defensive end. He also might have the most upside of any pass-rusher in this draft, though Werner would probably have something to say about that.
6) Kenny Vaccaro, S Texas
I wrote at length last night about Vaccaro, as he has quickly become my favorite safety in this draft. Good size (6'1", 205), great speed and an advanced ball-hawking sense will make Vaccaro a very enticing option for the Dolphins in round next spring. Put it this way: Vaccaro's presence would help Miami atone for its decision to pass on Earl Thomas.
7) Terrance Williams, WR Baylor
I've waited four months to justify having Baylor wideout Terrance Williams on the Big Board, so get used to seeing him on this list. Williams route running this season has looked outstanding, and he has the length and speed to make a real difference in Miami's WCO. Perhaps most impressive about Williams is the fact that he's putting up great numbers without Robert Griffin III, and that's why he's now the No. 1 receiver in this draft.
8) Sam Montgomery, DE Louisiana State
Montgomery was a top three talent in the pass-rush department prior to this season, but has lost some press to guys like Werner, Jordan and Texas A&M's Damontre Moore. Nevertheless, Montgomery eats the run as well as any defensive end in this class, and he's one of the better hybrid scheme fits available, too.
9) Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State
A top three corner in a very impressive draft class, Rhodes might have the best agility and instincts of the big three (Milliner and Banks are the other two). His build and style of play remind me a bit of Broncos great Champ Bailey.
10) Robert Woods, WR USC
Woods will almost certainly be in play at the 18-24 portion of the first round in 2013 (that's where I expect Miami to land), and despite USC's struggles, he's displayed all of the traits this season that make him a first-round caliber wideout: great hands, rare route-running ability and excellent top-end speed. He can make the tough catches over the middle, too.
11) Chance Warmack, G Alabama
Joe Philbin might be running the show in Miami, but Jeff Ireland is still the one drafting players. And because old habits die hard, Warmack has to be on this list. He's a phenomenal talent at the guard position, perhaps even better than 2012 prospect David DeCastro. If things get weird in the first round and all of the top pass-rushers and corners are off the board, look for Miami to take the player who can best protect the Dolphins' biggest investment: quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Food for thought: the Pouncey/Warmack union would set any interior defensive line on its ear.
12) Alec Ogletree, ILB Georgia
The second-best interior linebacker in this draft after Te'o, Ogletree will be a very valid option for the Dolphins if they're okay with his run-ins at Georgia. He's an absolute freak at inside linebacker, and has displayed improvement this season as a tackler and coverage defender.
13) Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame
No one knows what will come of Michael Egnew in Miami, and if the Dolphins look at him as sunk cost, they'll have to mobilize and find a seam-threat tight end who can make a difference right off the bat. Eifert has been way underused by the Irish this season, but he's a top-notch pass catcher with sure hands and very good speed. He's not much to write home about in the blocking department, but neither was Aaron Hernandez.
14) DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson
Yes, I went there. Hopkins has proved himself this season to be a lanky burner who can effortlessly move in and out of his routes, and he's right on the fringe of first-round consideration at this point. "Threat" seems like an appropriate term for Hopkins, and the decision to bring him to Miami would make the Dolphins' offense a Ferrari, with Ryan Tannehill serving as the underage teenager who just found where dad hides the keys.
15) Markus Wheaton, WR Oregon State
Oh, yes, I went there, as well. Wheaton's still somewhat of an unknown, but I believe his off-the-charts-explosive speed and playmaking ability make him the logical successor to players like Percy Harvin and Randall Cobb. Wheaton's presence in Miami's West Coast offense would be a nightmarish scenario for AFC East defensive coordinators, and that alone validates him as a day two pick next April.