McShay, Walker outline Dolphins' 2014 draft needs

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

We're about a month away from ESPN/Scouts Inc. analyst Todd McShay's 2014 NFL mock draft, but that doesn't mean Big Todd can't whet our appetite with a sneak preview of each team's biggest position of need come next May. As an added bonus, ESPN's James Walker chimes in on the Dolphins entry with his own two cents ... and manages to add absolutely nothing to the conversation. Winning.

We're just about a month out from Todd McShay's sure-to-be-dandy 2014 NFL mock draft, and with it will come plenty of shocking selections and entries. Will South Carolina pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney be the No. 1 selection? How high will McShay slot Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota? Does McShay hate Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel enough to leave him out of the draft's top 15 selections? How about the entire first round?

Let's be honest, though: We don't care about any of that stuff. No, we just want some details regarding the Dolphins' likely positions of interest next offseason. Well, McShay's latest article, published last week, gives fans a sneak preview of each team's biggest position of need come next spring.

The Dolphins' entry shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone who has witnessed the team's utter sh****ness in pass protection and in the running this season.

Biggest area of need: Offensive tackle

(Whoo, boy. This is about to get ugly for some of you. If you hate the thought of using a high draft pick on an offensive lineman, proceed with caution. Better yet, just stop reading this article.)

While ESPN's James Walker appears in the article, chiming in on Miami's utterly deplorable offensive line, it's McShay's analysis that makes the article a worthwhile read. In it, Big Todd identifies the three best prospects for Miami: Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews, Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan and Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

Draft analysis: "It's often the case that the teams drafting with the first few picks need offensive tackles, and it appears that could end up happening again this season," McShay wrote. "So while Matthews is the top prospect, it's difficult to see him being available when the Dolphins draft. Lewan would be a great consolation prize, as he is a very efficient blocker in both the running and passing games, but there's no guarantee that he'd still be around, either. The next two tackle prospects in our rankings are Kouandjio and Tennessee's Antonio Richardson."

McShay's correct in the thought that Miami landing Matthews next May is an utter pipe dream. He's the No. 1 guy in a loaded tackle class, and he'll likely be gone within the top five selections. Lewan would indeed be a "great consolation prize," but I don't see the Dolphins getting a crack at him, either. McShay's definitely speaking my language with Kouandjio, however. I think the Alabama tackle is an absolutely beast of a prospect with very good range and strength for the position, and he doesn't have any sort of "oversized" characteristics that often clash with a zone-blocking scheme. He's big (6-foot-6, 310 pounds), but within reason.

Oh, and note the brief mention of Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson at the end of McShay's write-up. An absolute monster as an anchoring left tackle, Richardson has a lot of Richmond Webb in his game. He's enormous (6-foot-6, 330), but has flashed some pretty nimble feet this season. Strong, with impressive hand usage, and he really cleaned up his technique between last season and the Volunteers' 2013 campaign. Thus, he's absolutely worth a mid-to-late first-round selection.

You can check out the full article here

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