It's awfully easy to stray the course when long-term scouting your favorite team's biggest positions of need.
Take the Miami Dolphins' receiver corps for example. Dolphins fans entered the 2012 season with a near-unanimous belief that wide receiver would be Miami's No. 1 need entering next offseason. Sure enough, the wide receiver position is a hideous flaw on the Dolphins roster. But the team's godawful play in the secondary and inability to get sacks from anyone not named Cameron Wake or Jared Odrick has some fans questioning whether the receiver position is truly the Dolphins' biggest hang-up right now.
Rest assured that this Big Board will account for all of the major positional voids in Miami. That said, the Best Player Available (BPA) route will be a popular one for the Dolphins on draft night, and I've structured this list to reflect the players who will best fit a BPA vs. Positional Need approach on days one and two of the 2013 NFL Draft.
In the immortal words of Conan the Destroyer, "Enough talk!" Let's get to the good stuff.
1) Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State (6'4", 270)
As mentioned above, it was difficult to sit through Sunday's game without thinking, "Holy hell, we've got to draft a corner and safety early next spring." The performance of the Dolphins' secondary was really that bad, and cornerback Sean Smith played one of the softest games I've seen from a corner in recent memory.
Nevertheless, the 2013 draft class is strongest at positions on the defensive line. And if the Dolphins have a top 12 pick (they're headed in that direction), no corner or receiver in this class will come close to matching the value of any of the elite-caliber pass-rushers available early on draft night.
Which brings us to Florida State's Bjoern Werner, a quarterback-pressuring machine with a lightning first step, keen awareness, excellent size and extremely effective hand usage at the line of scrimmage. Werner might be the most cerebral of the big-time pass-rushers in this class, and he's arguably the best run defender in the group, as well. He's a natural 4-3 end who might not draw as many looks as the hybrid-flex pass-rushers, but don't let that scare you away. If Werner lands in Miami next spring, expect he and Wake to become a premier pass-rush tandem.
2) Dion Jordan, DE Oregon (6'6", 245)
Jordan is the one of the aforementioned "hybrid/flex" guys. Whereas Werner is a smart, powerful pass-rushing presence, Jordan is more in the mold of a Jason Pierre-Paul or Aldon Smith--an athletic freak who plays with plays with tenacity and displays excellent get-up off of the line of scrimmage. Jordan's instincts are still in the raw stage, but his speed and flexibility should be tantalizing attributes for a Dolphins defense looking to get faster, versatile and more intimidating.
3) Keenan Allen, WR California (6'3", 205)
Thanks to the uncertainty of USC receiver Robert Woods' draft status, Cal's Keenan Allen gets the nod here as the No. 1 wideout available. Strong, fast and possessing loads of natural route-running ability, Allen would be a home run for the Dolphins' offense. Is he a top 12 draft pick, though? Hard to say. Nevertheless, his game is very reminiscent of Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson.
4) Damontre Moore, DE Texas A&M (6'4", 250)
A pass-rusher in the Cameron Wake "cheetah in pursuit" mold. Texas A&M's Damontre Moore has turned into an absolute monster during his time at College Station. He's arguably the most flexible and polished pass-rusher in this class, and will be a consistent match-up nightmare for offensive tackles at the pro level. Elite-level prospect regardless of scheme, and he could be the Dolphins ticket if they want a prospect who can mirror Wake's skill set.
5) Terrance Williams, WR Baylor (6'2", 200)
I knew Williams was good prior to this season, but he's played through 2012 at a level that has me convinced he'll be the No. 1 receiver off the board in April. A fluid, lanky receiver with good top-end speed and fantastic ability in space, Williams is proving that you don't need a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at Baylor to play like a first-round receiver. Top three playmaker at his position, and the best from him is yet to come.
6) Ezekiel Ansah, DE BYU (6'6", 275)
In a class chock full of flex-type defensive ends, Ansah is a prototypical talent who possesses extremely rare athleticism, balance and motor for the position. Can dominate as a 4-3 end, 3-4 elephant or 3-technique tackle, and he's still extremely raw in terms of game instincts and awareness. Like Jordan, Ansah is built in the mold of JPP and Aldon Smith.
7) Robert Woods, WR Southern Cal (6'1", 190)
As far as the Dolphins are concerned, Robert Woods might the best receiver fit of any prospect in this class. A pure route runner with very good speed and excellent hands, Woods is right there with Keenan Allen as the most Dolphins-friendly receiver in 2013. Of course, Woods might stay another year at USC, but why bother getting overshadowed by Trojan wunderkind Marqise Lee when you can move up and make an immediate impact at the NFL level?
8) Eric Reid, S LSU (6'2", 210)
Reid might not be the best overall safety in this class (Texas' Kenny Vaccaro and Florida's Matt Elam will square off on that title over the next few months), but I am starting to believe he'd be the best fit for the Dolphins. A certified playmaker who is equally at home smashing the run or patrolling the deep middle, Reid has the skill set and leadership to effectively captain any NFL secondary. He may end up in one that wears a lot of aqua and orange.
9) Alec Ogletree, ILB Georgia (6'3", 235)
Ogletree took full advantage of a national stage during the SEC Championship Game, turning plenty of heads with his blend of considerable athleticism, heat-seeking tackling ability and heads-up play. Still a raw prospect who has been somewhat washed down the line due to Manti Te'o's succees this season, Ogletree's Urlacher-like dominance in the middle should still ultimately get him into the top 20 this spring.
10) Dallas Thomas, OT/G Tennessee (6'5", 295)
Love it or hate it, Jake Long's time in Miami might be coming to an end. Assuming rookie Jonathan Martin holds up on the left end (and I believe he will, even though he's a finesse-type tackle), the Dolphins might be in the hunt for a day two offensive lineman. If so, Dallas Thomas is their man. A versatile, athletic tackle who is cut out to dominate a zone blocking scheme, Thomas might be the best kept secret of any lineman in this class. Like Martin, he is technically superb and plays the game with an almost cerebral edge, and the dominance he displayed at guard for Tennessee this season will only up his value in this very strong-yet-workmanlike offensive line class.
Before this Big Board wraps up, let's take a look at the 10 best Dolphins-ish prospects you probably don't know of at this point.
1) Blidi Wreh-wilson, CB UCONN (6'0", 190)
One of the best all-around corner prospects in this draft. Will likely end up as a second-round pick. Tremendous ability to turn and locate the football while running with his man. Not a bruiser against the run, but shows consistent effort and will mix it up if necessary.
2) Tony Jefferson, S Oklahoma (5'11", 190)
A do-it-all safety with good wheels and prototypical ball-hawk ability. Should be a turnover machine at the next level.
3) Desmond Trufant, CB Washington (5'11" 180)
One of the few pure man-coverage corners in this draft. Has really come on as a run defender the last two seasons. Easily a day two pick. Would be a virtual blanket in Miami's secondary.
4) Logan Ryan, CB Rutgers (5'11", 190)
On the verge of becoming a first-round prospect. Serious closing speed and advanced coverage instincts, but isn't afraid to mix it up as a run defender.
5) Markus Wheaton, WR (5'11", 185)
The best-kept secret in this year's receiver class. Wheaton has chops to burn and is equally adept at stretching the field or working over the middle. Displays good hands, and is a YAC machine. A Mike Wallace-type talent, but with added route-running prowess.
6) Phillip Thomas, S Fresno State (6'0" 210)
Hasn't received any respect from draft pundits thus far, but Thomas is good enough to be considered one of the three- or four-best safeties in this class. An absolute turnover machine who also brings plenty of speed, brawn and tackling ability to the table. Blitzes as well as any college safety I've seen, and he's a big hitter. It's also fitting that he has the same name as the actor (Phillip Michael Thomas) who played Tubbs on Miami Vice. That, my friends, is called a sign.
7) Stedman Bailey, WR West Virginia (5'11", 195)
Looked absolutely dominant at times this season, but size concerns will likely hold him to a day two selection. Still, he's a certified playmaker and one of the best route runners in this draft. A no-brainer fit in the West Coast offense.
8) Quinton Patton, WR Louisiana Tech (6'2", 195)
A big-time producer on a breakneck offense. Patton's game is similar to Green Bay's James Jones in that he excels as a route runner and creator after the catch. Not a blistering fast athlete, but boasts good wheels (low 4.5s) for the position.
9) Terry Hawthorne, CB Illinois (6'0", 190)
"Illinois cornerback" is still a four-letter word in Miami, but Hawthorne embodies all of the traits Dolphins fans were looking for in Vontae Davis. Smart, fast and equipped with near-elite coverage ability, Hawthorne is a third-round prospect and rising.
10) Chris Harper, WR Kansas State (6'1", 230)
Big-bodied receiver with excellent hands and good speed. Not fluid out of his breaks, but getting there. Prototypical ability as a blocker.