It only seemed like only yesterday when Ryan Tannehill strolled up to the podium to become Miami's first round pick, to the jubilation of (most) Dolphins fans. Now we find ourselves less than two weeks away from the 2013 NFL draft!
With this in mind, I thought it would be a great time to submit my seven predictions going into the NFL Draft. You can agree with them, rip them to shreds, have a laugh, or shed a tear. I'm going to rank them from least important, to most important. Number "7" will appear first, and number "1" will appear at the bottom of the article. Here we go....
7. Defensive End
Firstly, I'd like to offer my sincerest apologies to Ezekiel Ansah fans. I like the guy, but no way does he drop all the way down to 12. Sorry to burst your bubble. It isn't going to happen when only one quarterback is likely to be selected in the top ten. Having said that, I can definitely see Jeff Ireland going for a pass rusher in order to add to what we have in Cameron Wake, Jared Odrick, and Olivier Vernon. I envision Odrick sliding into the defensive tackle position on passing 3rd downs, so that we can try and get some pressure from the middle of our defensive line. That leaves us with a hole to fill opposite Cameron Wake on 3rd down. I think Olivier Vernon will continue to grow and improve, While Derrick Shelby is still very much a work in progress. When you consider that the draft is deep with pass rushers, it's a no brainer to take one. I just don't think we'll take one in the first two rounds.
My prediction: Pass rusher in the 3rd-4th rounds. At the end of the day it will come down to who offers us the best value. Corey Lemonier would be an excellent choice, while David Bass could be an option in the 5th-6th rounds.
6. Running back
Who else gets the feeling that Daniel Thomas isn't getting much love from the coaching staff? Every year the guy just ends up getting injured. It's not ideal to have that in your second-choice running back. While he'll likely stick around (because he's cheap), Ireland needs to find another one-cut running back. We need a guy who can compliment Lamar Miller's skill-set.
My prediction: I really like Stepfan Taylor in the 3rd-4th rounds, but I just think the Dolphins will look for a running back later on, considering our other needs. Mike Gillislee would be solid in the 4th-5th rounds, but my money is on Miami taking a running back in the 7th round. Any ideas?
5. Wide receiver
Wide receiver is pretty low in my list, and for very good reason. Last year our receiving corps was terrible. Many believed that we would focus hard on the position in the draft. Surprise, surprise...Miami went nuts in free agency and snagged Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Brandon Gibson. When you add Davone Bess, that's a pretty good top four to have on the roster.
My prediction: I still think we'll bring a guy in for competition. Also bear in mind this may be Bess's last year. Ryan Swope may prove tempting to his former college coach, while Stedman Bailey is everything Miami should be looking for in a receiver. Should they look a little lower down the list, Josh Boyce and Connor Vernon would be interesting options in round 5.
4. Offensive guard
Richie Incognito and John Jerry's deals are up at the end of the season. I like Incognito, and hope he sticks around after his present deal. Lance Louis signed on the dotted line in free agency, but I reckon Miami will look to add another guard.
My prediction: If I were Ireland, I'd be seriously tempted by Jonathan Cooper with our first round pick....if he falls that far. He'd have a bigger impact than people think by opening up running lanes for Lamar Miller and co. It would be fun to watch. However, I don't think Ireland will pull the trigger on Cooper. Instead, watch out for him selecting a guard in the 3rd round. Brian Winters would be an excellent choice. Or how about the 5th round? Everyone loves Omoregie Uzzi's name, and he isn't a bad player either.
3. Offensive Tackle
So.....do you like our quarterback? Good, I do too. But we NEED to protect the guy. Enough said.
My prediction: Why would we waste picks to move up and take Lane Johnson when this draft is rich in offensive tackles? There are some quality options in the 2nd round, and this is where I think we take one. Terron Armstead and Kyle Long would be good options in the here.
Yes, I lumped the secondary together. Chris Clemons only signed a one-year deal with Miami. I think the team should recruit an additional safety to compete with him. On cornerbacks, I really liked the Brent Grimes signing. If he's healthy, we'll be in good shape. We still need competition for Richard Marshall and Nolan Carroll, though.
My prediction: I want DJ Swearinger in a Dolphins uniform, period. In case you didn't know, he's a hard-hitting safety that can just about do everything. He's an underrated player that will be an excellent value pick in the 3rd round. If you want to know more about him, you can read my recent article here. As for corner, my gut feeling is we draft two: one early, and one later on. Second round is the best time to pick a corner when you see the likes of Jamar Taylor, Darius Slay and Jordan Poyer sitting there. In the 4th-5th rounds, I really like Terry Hawthorne and Will Davis. Remember, Miami will be playing more zone next year. I think that rules out Xavier Rhodes, while I've read recently Desmond Trufant excels in man coverage, but is "meh" in zone coverage.
1. Tight End
I think everyone may think I'm A) drunk, or B) having a nervous breakdown. Actually I'm neither. If you think tight ends have minimal impact in the modern NFL game, think again. Look at the New England Patriots. They shred teams apart with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on their team. We have our own Hernandez in Dustin Keller, but we need our Gronkowski.
My prediction: With the twelfth pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select..................Tyler Eifert!!! Lets get this guy. He'll make a big impact on our offense from day one, and will provide Tannehill with the security blanket he needs. While he's still developing as a blocker, he's better than Keller. It also scares me that Keller does suffer from injuries frequently. I would not feel comfortable with Michael Egnew and Charles Clay potentially being our starting tight ends, should Keller succumb to injury. Eifert will score touchdowns in our offense, and may make a bigger impact from day one than any other prospect that will be available to us at number twelve.
So, what do you think? Do you agree? Or are you hopping-mad? Lets hear your thoughts.