Now is a good time for me to throw out my ideal Dolphins draft. Keep in mind that this is how I WANT the Dolphins to draft, not what I THINK they will do. It's basically what I would do if I had the role of GM. Note, though, that I am not including any trades. That means I'm not predicting a Jason Taylor trade, though I still think it'll happen, and I'm not predicting any trades involving picks. So I'll go through the 7 rounds and then I'll look to read your comments, either talking about my ideal draft or providing your own ideal draft. Let's get to it.
Round 1: Pick 1
Chris Long, DE, Virginia
I've said all along that it comes down to three players, in my opinion. Those are Chris Long, Jake Long, and Vernon Gholston. I first rule out Gholston because he'd be more of a project to convert to outside linebacker in Miami's 3-4 defense than Chris Long would be. With the #1 pick, I'd prefer to take a truly NFL-ready player and not a project who is a bit riskier.
So that leaves the two Longs. There's really two deciding factors here as to why I'd take Chris over Jake. I do think both will be great pros. However, the draft class at offensive tackle is as deep as I can ever remember it being. In fact, I read somewhere (can't remember where, though) that an NFL scout said this is the deepest group of tackles in at least 10 years. The other reason I pass on Long is because I've read in many places that he's no a sure-fire great left tackle. He's an absolute best as a run blocker and would make an elite right tackle. But you don't draft a right tackle 1st overall. Meanwhile, Chris Long has everything you look for in a football player. He's got great talent, a great motor, great instincts, and is a student of the game. So Chris Long is my #1 overall pick.
Round 2: Pick 1 (33rd overall)
Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
Again, I call this my ideal Dolphins draft. But I will try and keep it realistic. And there's a chance that, following his performance at his pro day, that Cherilus won't be here. But man, do I hope he is! He's got great potential. He's a terrific run blocker who just mauls people and gets to the second level of a defense. He's strong and tough. He's got long arms. And he's very bright. He'd be a perfect fit as a right tackle and would allow Vernon Carey to remain at left tackle so we can at least see how he progresses this next year.
If Cherilus is gone, though, I would them say my ideal pick would be one of the remaining tackles out of the following group: Sam Baker (USC), Carl Nicks (Nebraska), and Anthony Collins (Kansas). Based on what I know, I think I'd take Baker. But at only 309 pounds, he'd have to bulk up a little.
Round 2: Pick 26 (58th overall)
Chilo Rachal, OG, USC
Rachal is clearly the 2nd best guard in this year's class after Branden Albert. At 6'5, 315, he's got good size and is also very athletic. I think the best part about him, though, is that he plays with a mean streak. He's fiery and tough. I hate to throw this comparison out there because I hate comparing college players to pros, but I see a lot of Alan Faneca in Rachal. And with the right coaching, which he'd get in Miami from Tony Sparano, he could make an excellent NFL player. Sure, starting two rookies along the offensive line is risky, especially when your starting center is only entering year two. But I think Sparano would make it work.
Round 3: Pick 1 (65th overall)
Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M
I think getting a quality tight end is very important for the Dolphins, especially considering the kind of offense Dan Henning likes to run. Bennett is a guy a really like because of his size and athleticism. He's 6'6, 259, and runs a 4.68 40. And he's got terrific hands for a big man. He be an ideal target for a young quarterback to lean on, especially in the red zone. He's also a solid blocker, and could even look to improve as a blocker from a coach like Sparano. I think that, of all the tight ends in this draft, Bennett has the most upside.
Round 4: Pick 1 (97th overall)
Beau Bell, LB, UNLV
He may be listed as an outside linebacker according to some, but he'd make a great addition to the Dolphins as an inside linebacker in their 3-4 defense. He lacks the size Bill Parcells looks for (he's only 6'1 but does weigh 244), but this my ideal draft. And passing up on Bell because of his height would be a terrible mistake. I absolute love this kid's game. He's an absolute beast of a tackler. He's aggressive and fiery and has a non-stop motor. He's got good instincts and makes a ton of plays. Really, the bottom line here is that watching Bell play in college reminds me of watching highlight video of Zach Thomas in college. Bell would be an ideal fit next to Channing Crowder in Miami's 3-4 defense.
Round 6: Pick 29 (189th overall)
Kevin O'Connell, QB, San Diego State
O'Connell is an intriguing player. He's got great size, at 6'6, 228, but is quite athletic. He moves around well and can avoid pass rushers effectively. His arm is strong enough to make every throw an NFL quarterback needs to make and he's shown that he can be accurate to any spot on the field. What he lacks is consistency. He's a bit of a project quarterback, but his raw athleticism and talent coupled with his poise and intelligence makes O'Connell a guy I'd take a shot at this late in the draft.
Round 7: Pick 1 (193rd overall)
Best Player Available
I'd take the best available player at one of the following positions: guard, tackle, cornerback, or safety.
So that's my draft. Let me know what you think. I know I might get criticized for not taking a CB higher, but there's so many needs that you can't fill them all this year. The bottom line here is that I think this scenario would provide the Dolphins with 5 new starters right from the start (Long, Cherilus, Rachal, Bennett, and Bell).
So feel free to tear me apart as you see fit or tell us all your ideal Dolphins draft.