ESPN.com rarely gets it right when it comes to the Dolphins, so consider the site's 2013 NFL Draft guide for Miami as a glaring exception.
ESPN Insider yesterday afternoon posted 2013 draft guides for all 16 AFC squads (the NFC batch is scheduled for release later today). Members of ThePhinsider are normally unable to access Insider content unless they subscribe to the service, so give props to ESPN for making the Dolphins draft guide available free of charge. And it gets better: the guide is actually a quality read, with comprehensive analysis and some last-minute thoughts and commentary from draft analysts Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Chris Sprow and Field Yates.
Post a couple of excerpts from the article? Sure, why not.
In regard to the Dolphins' major need in this draft:
"After losing Jake Long in free agency, the Dolphins need to fill a hole at offensive tackle. They have some flexibility because 2012 second-round pick Jonathan Martin can swing to either side of the line; if the Dolphins add a right tackle, he'd anchor the left side, and vice versa. He needs to improve his strength and pass-set anchor, but Martin has substantial long-term value."
Looks like ESPN's signing off on Martin as a franchise guy in Miami. I've only been saying the same thing since last September! Martin obviously needs to reinforce and strengthen his lower base, and if he can do so, he'll be a major player for the Dolphins moving forward. He's superb as a technician, and possesses elite-level intelligence.
The article goes on to suggest that tight end is a quiet need in Miami, as recent free agent addition Dustin Keller adds next to nothing in the blocking game. Could the lack of a do-everything tight end convince Ireland to roll with Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert at the No. 12 pick? No one's about to confuse Eifert with Mark Bavaro or even Anthony Fasano when it comes to in-line ability, but the Fighting Irish product was much improved as a blocker in 2012, and should continue to develop in that area as a pro.
Here's an interesting tidbit from the Insider draft guide:
"While the Dolphins have expressed interest in adding a veteran pass-rusher this offseason (John Abraham visited the team), the defensive line is a strength of this team. Cameron Wake is an imposing rusher from the left side, and look for Olivier Vernon to progress as a second-year player in 2013. Jared Odrick has elite run defense traits, and Randy Starks and Paul Soliai are a load to push on the interior."
I think most Phinsider members would like to see a knockout pass-rusher added to the spot opposite Wake, but there's also the possibility that Vernon turns into an absolute menace for quarterbacks next season. So unless someone like Ezekiel Ansah drops into the Dolphins' lap at No. 12, it's hard to see the team taking a pass-rusher early.
What will it take for Miami's 2013 draft to be considered a successful venture? Mel Kiper weighs in ...
"They need to get better at tackle. Martin has talent, but the Dolphins are taking a pretty big leap of faith in assuming he can effectively fill in as the guy protecting Tannehill's blind side," Kiper said. "I agree with Todd that a tackle such as Fisher would make sense, but if Lane Johnson is around at No. 12 I might be happy to get him; his upside is higher than Martin's."
ESPN's definition of additional goals for Miami is intriguing ...
"Wake is 31 years old, and if he gets hurt the Dolphins will have a tough time generating consistent pressure. The problem is the draft doesn't set up well to get a 4-3 DE at No. 12 overall; Ezekiel Ansah is likely long gone," Kiper said. "In my last mock I had the Dolphins with Tank Carradine in Round 2. Cornerback is obviously an area of need, but again, I'm not sure the value is great with a player such as Rhodes at No. 12. Miami could be a team looking to move down the board if you consider how its needs line up with possible board value."
You can read the Dolphins 2013 NFL Draft guide here.