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Miami Dolphins Should Search For Competition Within Quarterback, Running Back, Linebacker Positions

Miami Dolphins need to find competition throughout the draft or what's left on the free agent market.

The Miami Dolphins completed the 2013 season with a record of 8-8, which means average. And for them to have success in the 2014 season and beyond, they need to bring in players to compete at every position.

When former general manager Jeff Ireland was in office, it seemed like every position was locked with a player by training camp due to the lesser or lack thereof competition at each slot of the depth chart -- which basically handed them the role.

And subsequently, that should not be the case.

While no one wants to point fingers to who is the main cause for the recent difficulties, it should be known that second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas and the linebacking group of Philip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe and Koa Misi had a recent sub-par season and should have their status at questionable and not guaranteed going into training camp.

Miami Dolphins current general manager Dennis Hickey should recognize -- and possibly will recognize -- that not every position should be set in stone. Instead, assess every position with the best weapons possible. Now it's not a matter of going overboard throughout free agency or gutty in the draft, but he should find a way to bring the best competition to the table for the leaders in the depth chart.

For example, Tannehill -- who yes had a depleted offensive line -- should be given leeway for the line's efforts last year. But that doesn't mean the team shouldn't target a quarterback in the third or fourth round of the draft, say Alabama's A.J. McCarron or LSU's Zach Mattenberger, to apply that edge come training camp.

Tannehill recorded 3,913 passing yards, 24 touchdowns (12th best in the league) and 17 interceptions (10th in the league), but those aren't the numbers Miami has been looking for -- especially the giveaway column. The problem in his past two seasons has been facing Matt Moore. The 29-year-old quarterback really has not applied that edge to Tannehill's back, and he needs to, otherwise the second-string spot will become a vacancy.

Same goes with the running game, Miller and Thomas. Miami's running back core averaged a struggling 90 yards per game in the 2013 season (26th in the NFL). There is a report out there that Knowshon Moreno is visiting the Dolphins on Friday, and that's the testy battle all Dolphins fans should want to vision.

Moreno, while having one 1,000-yard season (2013) in his five-year career, can bring a versatility and size (5-foot-11, 220 pounds) out of the backfield, while giving Tannehill a target in the slot as well as another body guard to the growing line. He has had fumbling issues in the past. But in this past season, he only had one giveaway.

Moreno isn't the only target, though, players like Auburn's Tre Mason or Ohio State's Carlos Hyde should be taken into consideration at No. 19 in the draft.

Another position clash that should take place is the linebacker spot. Ellerbe brought that tenacity every player should have after recording one sack and two interceptions last season, Misi has been consistent, but Wheeler hasn't brought the effort that Miami needs after signing a contract that earns him $13 million guaranteed. Wheeler posted only 83 total tackles this past year.

The Dolphins will have second-year linebacker Jelani Jenkins waiting in the wings. But in the upcoming draft, they should look to bring another specimen to the table, say Alabama's C.J. Mosley or Brigham Young's Kyle Van Noy. Either way, this position must be under construction.

Miami still has $19.2 million to spend and the draft, so Hickey should search and acquire some players to keep the depth chart leaders on their toes.