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2014 NFL Draft First Round Pick Most Important for the Miami Dolphins in Recent Memory

Are the Miami Dolphins a team on the verge of becoming a perennial playoff contender or a team destined for mediocrity? The first round of the 2014 NFL Draft may just provide us with the answer.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins were on the cusp of something momentous. Never before since the days of Chad Pennington did the Dolphins make the postseason, and this time they found themselves on the verge of the playoffs with only two games remaining. That dream quickly evaporated with consecutive losses to the supposedly mediocre teams of the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

So the question remains: are the Dolphins simply mediocre or are they a young team on the verge of becoming perennial playoff contenders?

For many a Dolphins fan up and down the country, or indeed across the globe, the answer to that question has to be the latter, and the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft may just provide us with the answer.

Even without a playoff run, progress has been made. Young quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw double the amount of touchdowns in 2013 in comparison to 2012, and averaging almost 40 more passing yards per game. Second-year defensive end Olivier Vernon made a whopping 11.5 sacks; not bad for a third round pick. And what about former sixth round pick Charles Clay, who had a breakout season at tight end with 6 touchdowns and 759 yards. Then there's cornerback Brent Grimes, who contributed to the cause with 4 interceptions and 16 pass deflections. These are all examples of players on the ascent for Miami. The Dolphins are not a team in decline, but rather a team slowly but surely laying the foundations for the future.

However all this hard work has the potential to unravel very quickly. This year's free agency will not hold the key to success, as it was expected to last year. Instead this year's free agency will be used to tie down dependable starters and to shore up certain positions with depth. The key to success has to be the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Unlike the 2013 NFL Draft, the 2014 NFL Draft is absolutely stocked with talent in multiple positions that can make an impact on day 1. For those that would like a Jimmy Graham-like game changer at tight end, look no further than Eric Ebron or Jace Amaro. How about an offensive tackle? Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson will seemingly be out of reach, but behind them are talented players in Taylor Lewan, Cyrus Kouandjio and Zack Martin to name but a few. Even at defensive tackle, RaShede Hageman is beginning to make headway further up draft boards with his impressive physical tools.

These are just a few of the positions the Dolphins may attack in the first round of the NFL Draft, and the quality of players on display will provide an instant upgrade at certain positions. Will it be enough to lift the Dolphins out of mediocrity? You would have to think it would be a hell of a start.

Which players do you think the Miami Dolphins should make a play for in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft? Do you think the addition could push Miami one step closer in the right direction? Lets hear your thoughts.

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