Smarts, speed and strength--LSU's Eric Reid is the ideal NFL safety.
Dolphins fans will never know if Miami was indeed in the Josh Gordon sweepstakes today, thanks to the c***block Cleveland Browns and their decision to light up a second-round pick for the former Baylor wideout. Nevertheless, those fans should remain confident in the Dolphins' chances of scoring primo receiver talent in the second and third rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft (if Joe Philbin and Co. follow the model presented by receiver-loaded teams like Green Bay, they won't bother with selecting a receiver in the first round when there are typically plenty of killer wideouts available on day two). That means Jeff Ireland (presuming he's still here, and he probably will be) can focus on adding premier defensive talent with the Dolphins' No. 1 selection next spring. Logic dictates that this team will target a big-name safety like LSU's Eric Reid, but as a hybrid 4-3 scheme looking for maximum flex and versatility in its pass rushers, defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery will certainly be on Miami's radar (as will Georgia's Jarvis Jones, who undersized stature has many pegging him as next year's Von Miller). Inside linebacker, corner and guard are also positions that could be in play for the Dolphins (Karlos Dansby isn't getting any younger, and Vontae Davis and Sean Smith are still far from the lockdown duo many expected them to be at this point in their careers).1) Barkevious Mingo, DE LSU
Mingo's a tad undersized for defensive end, but his raw speed off the line of scrimmage and missile-like pursuit of quarterbacks make him an ideal addition to any hybrid scheme looking to achieve maximum damage with its pass-rushers. He's also the kind of defender opposing teams must account for at all times.
2) Eric Reid, S LSU
A supercharged version of Alabama's Mark Barron, Eric Reid revealed himself last season to be the glue that held together LSU's formidable secondary (no small feat when you're bookends are Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu). A ball hawk with excellent speed and sharp instincts, Reid's equally at home playing centerfield or jumping up the field to drop ballcarriers. His draft hype won't reach Eric Berry's level two years ago, but he's a legit top 10 talent in a safety class that is shaping up to be pretty special.
3) Sam Montgomery, DE LSU
Montgomery and Mingo play the same position and hail from the same college program, but that's essentially where the similarities end for the two standout pass-rushers. Whereas Mingo flies around the backfield like he owns the place, Montgomery is much more technical and violent with his hand use at the line of scrimmage. He also quickly recoils out of the four-point stance he favors, and has shown the potential to derail opposing rushing attacks. Montgomery doesn't have Mingo's freak athleticism, but he's still a lethal pass-rusher in his own right. As for whether or not he projects best at defensive end in the 4-3 remains to be seen, but the level of comfort he displays with his hand on the ground is encouraging.
4) David Amerson, CB North Carolina State
Cornerback isn't the biggest need in Miami, but Amerson will likely be the top player available at that position next spring, so it makes little sense to eschew a player who would bring game-changing ability to your secondary. Amerson has prototypical size (6'3", 200), speed and smarts for an NFL corner, and his game is still evolving. Davis and Smith are both poised to have a breakout season under the tutelage of new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, but if one of them fails to impress, Amerson's the ideal successor.
5) Robert Woods, WR Southern Cal
As a prospect, Woods is pretty much a no-brainer for Miami, as he has all the traits Philbin looks for in his receivers--top-line speed, hands and precision route-running ability. Woods and fellow Trojan Marqise Lee should wreak plenty more havoc on Pac 12 defenses this season, which means he could be a pretty high pick next spring. And yes, I know I just said Philbin isn't a member of the "draft receivers in the first round" club, but Woods' elite ability warrants an exception in this instance. The ultimate high-octane wideout, and an ideal fit in the West Coast offense.
6) Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame
Eifert's spot on this board is certainly a curveball, but in today's NFL, a two-headed monster at tight end is almost a necessity. The Dolphins currently have rookie pass-catcher Michael Egnew to pair with veteran Anthony Fasano, but if the latter tight end doesn't work out in Joe Philbin's system, Eifert will be in play for Miami next April.