The calendar still says January, and there is still NFL football to be played. That does not mean draft preparation is not well under way througout the league, as well as all around the internet. Draft prospects are being discussed, team needs are being listed and debated, and, or course, mock drafts are being developed.
Last week, SB Nation's Dan Kadar projected the Miami Dolphins to select Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson with the 14th overall pick. This week, in his newest 2015 NFL Mock Draft, Kadar built a scenario designed to simulate the potential fall of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston out of the top five (Tennesee deciding they will stick with Zach Metteberger and passing on Winston at number two is not that far-fetched, then Jacksonville is happy with Blake Bortles and Oakland is sticking with Derek Carr, so it would then come down to whatever Washington decides with Robert Griffin III and, assuming they stay with him, leave Winston to fall to the New York Jets with the sixth pick). The way the draft fell, Kadar templated Thompson to be a top ten selection, meaning the Dolphins' select could not remain the same this week.
The change, however, does not mean the Dolphins would not be looking at essentially the same need with their pick. Instead of shoring up the middle of the defense with a new linebacker, Miami turns to the defensive tackle position to try to add some run-stuffing ability, something that was sorely missing from the defense late in the season.
With the 14th overall pick in this scenario, Kadar saw the Miami Dolphins selecting:
Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Kadar explained the pick, writing:
With the draft's better linebackers off the board, Miami could focus on the middle of its defense with Goldman. He's an athletic and powerful tackle who can handle blockers while still getting into the backfield.
Rob Rang of CBS Sports wrote in his draft breakdown of Goldman:
Strengths: Goldman carries his 320 pounds well, sporting broad shoulders, a big bubble and thick limbs. He's quick off the snap, shooting his hands into the chest of opponents and showing good upper-body strength to extend and control...Goldman plays with his knees bent and does a nice job of anchoring at the line of scrimmage, rarely getting pushed back...Locates the ball quickly and does a nice job of latching onto ballcarriers as they attempt to run by, showing the reach and strength to pull them down or pop the ball out...Just scratching the surface of his potential.
Weaknesses: Goldman isn't a consistent pass rush threat. His broad build makes it difficult for him to squeeze through gaps...Generally needs a clear lane and collides with ballcarriers rather than exploding into them.
The Dolphins are going to be in need of defensive tackle help this offseason. Jared Odrick is set to be a free agent, and is more of a hybrid defensive end/tackle than a true defensive tackle. Former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Randy Starks fell off at the end of the year, and could find himself a cap casualty as Miami looks for relief against the league's hard cap. Starks is slotted to earn $6 million in 2015, with just $1 million guaranteed (his pro-rated signing bonus), giving Miami, potentially, a $5 million savings.
Earl Mitchell joined the team this year as a replacement for Paul Soliai, who left via free agency. He was a solid player for the Dolphins, but clearly an upgrade could be foind either in free agency or in the draft. He could also be a cap casualty, which would free up around $4.5 million for Miami.
How do you feel about Miami's selecting Goldman? Would he fit into the Dolphins' defense? Would he at least be a first step in fixing the run defense? Is there someone else you would rather select in that position?