So many questions about where the Dolphins will go with their 1st Round pick in the upcoming draft, especially after the many moves (both in adding to the team as well as subtracting from the team). There still are a number of needs on offense and defense, so it seems the Dolphins approach to the draft will be some sort of "best player available at position of need" - rather than strictly going after one position.
After looking at a number of "draft expert" websites, I've come up with a list of 16 players that seem to be consistently on every list as being drafted in the top half of Round 1. Certainly there will be a few surprises and maybe a few other players that could be placed here, but overall I think this is a good pool of players to look at who might be drafted by the Dolphins if they stay at #12.
QB: Geno Smith
WR: Corderelle Patterson, Tavon Austin
OT: Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson
OG: Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper
DT: Star Lotulelei, Shariff Floyd
DE: Bjoern Werner, Ziggy Ansah
LB: Dion Jordan, Jarvis Jones
CB: Dee Milliner
The 16th player is where there seems to be more of a toss-up, with Matt Barkley, Kenny Vaccarro, Barkevious Mingo, Xavier Rhodes, Sheldon Richardson, and Desmond Trufont as other names that could sneak into the top half of Round 1 bases on who teams grade them and specific team needs (and if there is a run on a position early).
Out of the above names, it seems almost a certainly that a number will be off the board before the Dolphins pick at #12: Smith, Joeckel, Fisher, Floyd, and Milliner. These 5 players are listed in almost every site as gone in the first 6-8 picks, so unless the Dolphins make a big move up the draft board, none of them are going to be in a Dolphins uniform next year.
Every one else I think has the possibility of sliding down to the #12 pick, but which players would fit best on the team at present and with any potential moves the Dolphins yet may take before the draft?
Dion Jordan seems the least likely to fall - most describe him as the best pass rusher and with the most upside. I'd doubt if he falls out of the top 10, but if he does, the Dolphins would take him in a second to rush the passer opposite of Cameron Wake. Even if the Dolphins pick up a veteran DE in free agency this player's talent would be too good to pass up at #12.
The other rush LB, Jarvis Jones, I do think could fall the #12 pick but I wouldn't think the Dolphins would make him their pick if he does. There are some medical issues (although he has been cleared and played with the situation throughout college) and it just doesn't seem like he is a good scheme fit either (more of a 3-4 OLB).
Star Lotulelei at times was listed as the top prospect in all the draft, but has since slid some due to medically not being cleared at the scouting combine (has passed since at pro day) and the rise of Shariff Floyd. Although not a need position for the Dolphins this year, he could be a value pick if the medical issues are not a concern moving into the future. Starks and Soliei are both free agents next year, and having Lotulelei play under them this year and take over for one of them next year (assuming that the Dolphins at least sign one) would be a smart move.
Corderelle Patterson and Tavon Austin I think both fall into the same thought process for Ireland and Philbin as potential draft picks. If they look at either player as someone who will be a top 5-10 WR in the league in a year or two, they might be tempted to draft one of them even though they are 4-deep already at the position after signing Wallace, Gibson, and Hartline. Patterson could be a Andre Johnson clone and Austin could be the next Percy Harvin. If they think one of them will become a playmaker of this caliber, I could see them go in this direction. But more likely the Dolphins will wait to draft a player in Round 2 or 3 with the depth in this position this year, most likely letting Bess leave during FA next year and still being 4-deep.
Bjoern Werner was also getting a lot of press at the top of the draft a few months ago, but now has settled into a top 15 player rather than a top 5 player. It seems he does a lot of things well but shows very little extreme talent that pops out. His top end potential is JJ Watts possibly, but he could also be an above average started for 10 years that does his job but little else. The Dolphins have this player already it seems in Jared Odrick. He would be a conservative pick by the Dolphins - not something that will have fans excited in any way about this pick.
Ziggy Ansah has boom or bust and scares the crap out of me personally. How many of these physical freaks who are good but not great in college but scream "potential" get drafted way too high and then are out of the league in 4-5 years? As a 2nd round pick I would love him being selected by the Dolphins, but at #12 it really would be nice to have an immediate starter and someone I'm confident will make an impact. If Werner is the conservative, safe pick, then Ansah is the crazy, go for broke pick while you cross your fingers. I don't like either option and I hope Ireland and Philbin don't either.
Chance Warmack is a OG that has great potential and should be gone before the #12 pick, but guards have a way of sliding and there is a chance he could fall out of the top 10. Some have listed him as the best talent in the dfaft. This is a player that Sparano and Parcells would really love. I think he would be an option if he falls, although I think the Dolplhins would prefer....
Jonathon Cooper is probably the least sexy of the top 16 or so players, but he could end up having the most impact if he falls to the Dolphins at #12. He is a perfect scheme fit for the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins are now implementing and would look great lining up next to Pouncey and pulling on running plays. He would be a huge upgrade over John Jerry and would start from day 1, although he might be a better fit on the left side (sliding Incognito to the right, his natural position).
The last player listed is Lane Johnson, a very athletic OT that can play on the right or left side. If the Dolphins end up signing an OT in free agency (Winston potentially) drafting an OT this high wouldn't be a priority. But if the Dolphins get to draft day with Martin/Garner as the starting OT's, I think you'll see the Dolphins target Johnson as the player they will draft. This is a risky move as Johnson is another player that could easily and most likely will be gone in the top 10 picks. He's another perfect fit for the zone blocking scheme.
The final possibility for the #12 pick for the Dolphins would be for them to take a CB, which other than OT at this moment, is the greatest need on the team at present. Unfortunately there has not been a second CB that really has separated themselves from the rest of the class, and like WR, the strength of this draft for CB is really in the 2nd round. Trufont and Rhodes are arguably the next two values at CB, although most sites have them listed as lower first round talents and may not be a great value at the #12 pick. But if Ireland and Coyle see one of them fitting their zone coverage scheme, one of these guys could be picked.
There seem to be so many directions the team could go, and if a few more free agency signings happen before the draft the priorities will continue to change. OT and CB seem like the only "need" positions at present, with most other positions having clear starters (not that there couldn't be upgrades....OG, DE, S....).
My best guess, or what I think a good approach would be? If I put the GM hat on, I'd target three players in free agency - Winston at OT, a vet DE, and a vet 3rd down RB. In the first round I'd take Jonathan Cooper (a starting line of Martin/Cooper/Pouncey/Incognito/Winston with Garner/Jerry/Samuda as back-ups is really exciting). In the 2nd round I'd double into the CB market and take the two best available that fit the zone scheme the team is installing. In the 3rd round I'd take a speed receiver and the best remaining TE or a player with pass rush potential.