Last week I mentioned that I received a couple of questions in my e-mail about which players I hope the Dolphins go after this offseason. I answered the question about free agency last Friday. Today, let me quickly touch on the NFL Draft.
Q: I've seen you talk a little bit about some of the players you like in April's draft. In particular, I know you say you really like Kenny Britt. But who else out there excites you? If you got to make the call, which players would you draft and bring to Miami?
A: Right now, understand that it's very early. And two things, specifically, make this difficult to really answer. First, free agency hasn't begun. So it's hard to tell where the biggest holes are right now on the roster. And the Dolphins still have 5 key players who are unsigned and could very well leave in free agency. For example, if the Dolphins don't re-sign Vernon Carey, then the tackle position becomes a top priority. But if the Dolphins and Carey come to terms, then the Dolphins don't necessarily need to spend a first day pick on a tackle.
And secondly, the Combine hasn't even taken place. So it's hard to gauge which players may or may not be around when it comes time for the Dolphins to pick. Last year, it was much easier to discuss because Miami had the 1st overall pick and the 32nd overall pick. This year, it's not so easy.
With that said, let me first address Kenny Britt. Yes, I think he's going to make an outstanding receiver at this next level. He's got good size (6'4, 215) and is a physical receiver who goes up and gets the football. How high he's drafted, though, might depend a lot on how fast he runs at the Combine. I'd suspect he'll run somewhere between 4.5 and 4.55.
But Britt shouldn't be - and likely won't be - a 1st round possibility for the Dolphins. While it would be nice to get a receiver like Britt, I just thinl there are more pressing needs to spend that 25th overall pick on. But make no mistake about it - Britt is very much on Miami's radar. They had scouts attend at least 2 of Britt's Rutgers games and Bill Parcells is known to like "Jersey players." And even the Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Fialkov thinks Britt would make an ideal fit in Miami, saying, "Britt sounds like he's made for a Parcells offense. He loves that size. If Britt's still around, he'd be a perfect second-round pick."
And that's just it - a 2nd round pick. But will Britt fall to Miami's 1st second round pick, the 44th overall pick? Maybe - it's too soon to tell.
I also spoke earlier this week about Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas. The Dolphins were seen speaking with Delmas at the Senior Bowl and I'd love to see Delmas in Miami. He's got good, but not great, speed. However, he'd make a terrific "center fielder" thanks to his ability to read and react and his terrific football IQ. And the fact that he's also effective in run support makes Delmas an intriguing prosepct. This week during Senior Bowl practice, reports indicate that Delmas is even outplaying fellow senior safety Williams Moore. If this continues, it could very well raise Delmas' stock into the first round. And you have to wonder if the Dolphins - especially with the likely scenario of the top free safety in free agency, O.J. Atogwe, getting either signed to a long-term deal with the Rams or being "franchised" - would be willing to take a safety in the first round.
So which of the likely first rounders do I hope the Dolphins take with pick #25? My ideal scenario would be for Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji to fall. But I'm not holding my breath. Perhaps his teammate, DT Ron Brace, will be an option in round 2 for the Dolphins. Both will make very good nose tackles in the NFL.
A lot of people like the idea of taking USC outside linebacke Brian Cushing. But I don't if this regime wants to take a player who has durability concerns. We all know that the trifecta likes players who play week in and week out. If the Dolphins were going to go with a pass-rushing OLB, I'd love for Penn State's Aaron Maybin to fall all the way to 25. But, again, it isn't likely.
One OLB that could be available in round 1 is Virginia's Clint Sintim. And if the Dolphins were going to go with a pass-rusher at 25, Sintim would be an ideal fit. He's got the size and speed combination that this regime likes. And he's spent his college years playing OLB in a 3-4 defense at Vrigina - something very rare for a college linebacker. So he knows the basic fundamentals of playing the position and would be less of a risk than trying to convert, for example, a college DE to OLB. For more on Sintim, I suggest checking out GatorPhan's post about him.
Sticking with the defensive side of the ball for one more second, cornerback is another area in need of an upgrade. But Malcolm Jenkins and Vontae Davis are expected to be long gone by #25. However, at least one of these two - Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore and Wake Forest's Alphonso Smith - will likely be on the board. Both would be solid picks. But the depth at cornerback is relatively decent and the Dolphins could easily decide to pass on a corner in round one in hopes of landing Macho Harris or Darius Butler in round 2.
And that brings me to the offensive side of the ball. In particular, the offensive line. We know the Dolphins want to get bigger and stronger along the interiot line. And if they feel that strongly, perhaps Oklahoma's Duke Robinson is their man. At 6'5, 335, "The Duke" would make an ideal fit at guard for the Dolphins. But they could very well decide to pass on Robinson and wait until round two in hopes of nabbing Oregon State's Andy Levitre later on - a player it's rumored the Dolphins have interest in early on. Levitre, though, isn't as big (6'3, 317) or athletic as Robinson.
Then, of course, you got the monster center who many are raving about - Cal's Alex Mack. He meets the trifecta's size requirement at center (6'4, 316) but is really just as athletic as the smaller Samson Satele. And, right now, he might very well be #1 on my realistic wish list for April's draft.
So those are some of my early - very early, draft thoughts. And in the coming weeks, look for more in-depth reports on some of Miami's potential 1st round options - including, hopefully, scouting reports from people who have seen them play every single week.