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Cris Collinsworth NFL Mock Draft: Dolphins looking defense

The Miami Dolphins are looking to upgrade their defense in the first mock draft from Pro Football Focus' Cris Collinsworth.

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Cris Collinsworth, the former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, NBC broadcaster, and owner of Pro Football Focus, released his first 2016 NFL Mock Draft on Tuesday, projecting the first round picks - and trades - for April's selection process. He starts his first set of picks with a trade, a trade that he thinks will happen, even if it is not the team he currently has moving up to grab a quarterback.

Collinsworth has the Tennessee Titans moving out of the top spot, giving the pick to the Los Angeles Rams, who then use it to grab North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. He follows that up with the Cleveland Browns selecting California quarterback Jared Goff. Collinsworth writes, in his explanation of the trade for the first pick, "While I'm only guessing that the team will be Los Angeles that trades up with Tennessee to obtain the No. 1 pick, I do believe two quarterbacks will go 1-2 in this draft. Every year the quarterbacks slowly rise to the top of the draft board. Are they the two best players in the draft class? Probably not, but as a GM, you simply can't take the chance that one of them becomes the next Peyton Manning or Tom Brady while playing for another team."

After the quarterbacks, the draft calms down some, with the San Diego Chargers using their third overall pick to select Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, the Dallas Cowboys picking up Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, and the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting Jalen Ramsey, cornerback, Florida State.

The Miami Dolphins originally owned the eighth overall pick but traded it at the start of the league year to the Philadelphia Eagles for the 13th overall pick, as well as cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso. The Eagles use that pick, according to Collinsworth's mock, to select Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.

Jumping to Miami's selection, Collinsworth has the South Florida club using their selection on a player who is becoming more and more popular for a Dolphins draft pick: Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Collinsworth writes:

The NFL has always been a copycat league, and after the Broncos won the Super Bowl with a defense built around three quality corners and good pass-rushers, other teams will follow. Alexander's speed and quickness give him a slight edge over Hargreaves in that department, but Hargreaves is heavier and physically stronger than Alexander. Those two outstanding young players should go first and second among corners — the order just comes down to personal preference. Alexander will have to prove that at 5-10 and 190 pounds he can still compete with taller receivers, but his quickness in man coverage will leave him attached at the hip in most situations. Alexander could play inside or outside in the nickel, which gives him added value. If a team can't cover those quicker slot receivers on third down, the defense never gets off the field. If Alexander falls to No. 13, the Dolphins will not lose a thing in the trade with Philadelphia. They will get Kiko Alonso, Byron Maxwell and Alexander -€” meaning even if Alonso and Maxwell never do anything, the Dolphins still end up with the best cover corner in this draft.

As I have said previously, I am not against this pick for the Dolphins. Alexander gives Miami their second starting cornerback, pairing him with Maxwell. That also allows Miami to use Maxwell on the bigger wide receivers in the AFC East and the rest of the league while Alexander can be used on the quicker receivers Miami will face. It would also allow Miami to give Alexander some time to adjust to being in the NFL, not necessarily asking him to cover the top receiver of an opposing team as soon as he arrives in the league.

There are, however, a couple of other options available at this pick that Miami could consider. If the team is not able to sign C.J. Anderson, who the Denver Broncos have until 4 pm Eastern time to either match the offer sheet to which Miami signed him or lose him to the Dolphins, Ezekiel Elliot, the running back from Ohio State, could be on the radar. Collinsworth has him being selected 22nd by the Houston Texans, the same team (and Collinsworth does acknowledge this in his explanation of the pick) that just signed Miami's former starting running back Lamar Miller.

Other players who are selected after Miami's pick in Collinsworth's mock that could be on the Dolphins' radar are Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (14th to the Oakland Raiders),  Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (16th to the Detroit Lions), Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd (17th to the Atlanta Falcons), Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence (19th to the Buffalo Bills), and Kansas State guard/tackle Cody Whitehair (23rd to the Minnesota Vikings).

With Alexander becoming more and more popular as a pick for the Dolphins, we will discuss him a lot. The question for today, however, is, if not Alexander, who left on the board after Miami's pick in Collinsworth's mock draft, would you select?