We're still over a month away from the release of Scouts Inc.'s Top 25 college football prospects for 2013, but that doesn't mean we have to put off identifying the eligible prospects who best fit what Joe Philbin and the Miami Dolphins will look for on offense and defense next offseason.
This season will mark the first campaign in 12 years where the quarterback position in Miami is actually (in theory) solidified. That means fewer QB bandwagons on this blog (though we all know the Matt Barkley and Tyler Wilson bandwagons will show up at some point), and less Phinsider pandemonium whenever a college signal caller pops 500 yards passing on some top 10 defense. Instead, Dolphins fans will now have to find a new position to scout while watching college football this fall. If you're unsure of where to look, start with these players:
1) Robert Woods, WR USC
Unless rookie receivers Rishard Matthews and B.J. Cunningham become big-time contributors in Miami this season, the Dolphins' wideout position will need a serious upgrade or two via the 2013 draft. USC's Robert Woods is undoubtedly the No. 1 receiver in college football entering this season, and he's a do-everything playmaker with quality speed and velcro-like hands. One could make the case that Woods and fellow Trojans receiver Marqise Lee have done some great favors for quarterback Matt Barkley's draft stock. Count me as a member of that camp.
2) Keenan Allen, WR Cal
Should Woods somehow have a down year in 2012, Cal's Keenan Allen could become the wideout most desired by NFL teams next offseason (he's already a strong 2012 away from vaulting into the top 10 picks next spring anyway). Not really a speedster so much as he is a physical wrecking ball with superb mitts, Allen is the latest practitioner of burly, brute, ruthless play at the receiver position. A fine wideout prospect with tremendous upside.
3) Eric Reid, S LSU
Now that the quarterback monkey is off Miami's back, the "When the hell are these guys going to draft this position?" chatter should shift to safety, where the Dolphins currently hope to get by with players like Reshad Jones (please hold your applause). Second-year defensive back Jimmy Wilson could have a bright future at safety in Miami, but the Dolphins should still consider adding an elite talent at the position, especially if LSU's Eric Reid falls into their laps next spring (he could easily come off the board within the first eight or nine picks). A player of Reid's caliber would provide the finishing touch to a secondary that should be plenty more opportunistic and aggressive under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.
4) Barkevious Mingo, DE LSU
Should Olivier Vernon not the become the pass-rushing answer opposite Cameron Wake, the Dolphins could be tempted to throw in all the chips on a quarterback-eating terror like LSU's Barkevious Mingo. I try to avoid using hyperbole during the prospect-analysis process, but Mingo is basically the pass-rushing equivalent of a heat-seeking missile. Fast, long and nasty on the field, Mingo's "maul now, ask questions later" attitude would do wonders for a Miami defense looking to lock down its identity as a prototypical 4-3 hybrid unit. Mingo's a true game changer at defensive end, and he's just as good standing up at the line of scrimmage.
5) Sam Montgomery, DE LSU
We'll stick with the LSU defensive ends here, because Sam Montgomery is too good to not be on the wish list of any team looking to take its pass-rushing prowess to the next level. Montgomery's size, spring and technique will draw plenty of attention from teams searching for that great, classic defensive end in the 4-3, but he's also fast and angular enough to warrant looks from teams in need of a 3-4 elephant.
Just missed the cut:
-David Amerson, CB North Carolina State
-Marquess Wilson, WR Washington State
-Manti Te'o, ILB Notre Dame
-Barrett Jones, OL Alabama
-Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State