2013 Dolphins Offseason Needs Checklist

USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins started this offseason with a lot of needs to fill, and a lot of salary cap space to use. As the NFL Draft gets closer, here's a look at the needs the Dolphins had, what's been answered, and what remains.

The Miami Dolphins came into the 2013 offseason with a lot of money to spend and a lot of needs to fill. The team has been busy in free agency, trying to fill as many needs as possible, and get younger at the same time. With the NFL Draft less than three weeks away, and the team's focus clearly shifting from free agency to college prospects, what has been accomplished already this offseason, and what remains?

  1. Offensive Line - Miami lost All Pro left tackle, and 2008 number one overall draft pick, Jake Long to free agency this year. The team is likely to slide second year player Jonathan Martin from the right tackle position to Long's old slot, leaving a hole on the right side. The team added guard Lance Louis in free agency, who should, at least, push incumbent right guard John Jerry in the preseason. Jerry could be moved to right tackle, but this will likely be the team's top area of need heading into the draft - it just probably will not be the top area addressed.
  2. Cornerback - The Dolphins signed Brent Grimes after losing Sean Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs. Grimes is a former Pro Bowl player who could be a great asset for the Dolphins. However, he is coming off of a torn Achilles tendon, so how healthy he will be, and how effective, is still up for debate. Opposite grimes on the defense will be Richard Marshall, who missed most of last year with a back injury that required surgery. With two players trying to make a comeback this year, and the NFL's penchant for throwing the ball, the Dolphins will likely look to add a corner early in the draft - but the likelihood of an early double down on the position is all but gone now.
  3. Defensive End - The Dolphins are still looking for a complimentary pass rusher opposite Cameron Wake. The team added Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler to the linebacker corps this year, both of whom can blitz, but that does not answer the every down pass rushing need. Miami could be looking to give the position to Olivier Vernon or Derrick Shelby this year, or could stick with Jared Odrick, who is said to be slimming down to be a more effective pass rusher this offseason, but they will likely look to add an early round draft prospect this year.
  4. Tight End - With the signing of Dustin Keller this offseason, tight end has dropped as a pressing need this offseason, but that does not mean the team will not address tight end this year. Keller was only signed to a one year contract, and teams like the New England Patriots have proven multiple tight ends are not a bad thing. The Dolphins will probably not force a tight end pick in the draft, but if one they like is sitting there, Miami could make the move.
  5. Wide Receiver - The addition of Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, along with the re-signing of Brian Hartline, means the Dolphins have their likely contingent of receivers. However, it would not be a surprise if the team still drafted a receiver early this year. Grabbing someone early would give Miami yet another option for second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but do not expect it to be a first round selection unless the team trades back on opening night.
  6. Running Back - I've been talking about running back as a need for a little while now, despite not many agreeing with it. I like Lamar Miller, and I think he will be a great asset for the Dolphins. Behind him worries me though. Daniel Thomas looked better last year once he got comfortable with his new helmet, but that does not mean the team could not upgrade the power-runner position. A late round draft pick could be used to at least push Thomas if not outright replace him.
  7. Safety - The Dolphins could add a mid-round safety this year to develop behind Chris Clemons, who was re-signed to a one year contract. The team could look at the position early and release Clemons as well, but that would probably be a luxury pick. Jimmy Wilson is likely still in the mix to drop back to safety, a move the Dolphins tried to do last year before a rash of injuries forced him back to the cornerback position he played as a rookie. Reshad Jones is becoming a dynamic, young safety; putting another young player back there with him could be a great move.
  8. Defensive Tackle - This would clearly be a move looking to 2014, but the Dolphins could add an interior defensive lineman this year. Paul Soliai and Randy Starks are both free agents after this season, and, while Miami has two Pro Bowl defensive tackles right now, getting someone to play behind one or both of them could be the right move this offseason. The team seems to like last year's seventh round pick Kheeston Randall, who appeared in 10 games as a rookie, so they could feel they already have their defensive tackle of the future, but it would not be a shock to see them add another in the draft.

Miami has a lot of option this year, especially with eleven draft picks, five in the first day. The team, according to the NFLPA, has $8.2 million remaining in salary cap space this year. That does not include the nearly $10 million the team will add once Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett fall off the salary cap numbers on June 1. Miami could still a dress some of these needs with a veteran signing, but that will probably wait until after the draft.

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