clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Miami Dolphins draft needs: A final look at Miami's roster holes before the 2016 NFL Draft

New, comments

The Miami Dolphins have several needs that should be addressed during the 2016 NFL Draft. We take a final look at the team's needs before Thursday's start to the Draft.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is just over 24 hours away. The Miami Dolphins head into the selection process needing help at several positions, both with starters and with depth players. With the Draft getting close, it is time for us to take a last look at where Miami needs to address their roster holes in order to be fully ready for the 2016 regular season.

Some of these draft needs are obvious. Some of them are more of a depth issue, with an established starter but concerns if there are injuries or other issues during the year. Some of these needs are ones with which other analysts will agree, while some will lead to disagreement. Whatever the case, here is how we stack up the Miami Dolphins' draft needs for 2016:

1. Cornerback (1)

There is a lot of discussion that Miami has to come out of this Draft with two starting caliber cornerbacks. I simply do not see that as the need. If you want to say they should double down on cornerbacks, I would agree with that, but I do not think the team is in peril if they do not pick up two early cornerbacks. Byron Maxwell will start at one cornerback position, while a drafted rookie will likely be the starter on the other side. Jamar Taylor should be given a chance to fight for the starting position, but after three seasons in the league, the team has to hedge their bets and find someone with whom they will be comfortable if Taylor continues to disappoint. At nickel, the team should give Bobby McCain the chance to earn the spot, but, here is where I think people are not looking for the other nickel cornerback option. Michael Thomas is naturally a cornerback, and he wants to be the team's nickel cornerback. He has been playing safety because the team needs him to play safety, and he is solid back there, but whenever Reshad Jones ends his holdout, Thomas should be slid back to the nickel cornerback position to challenge McCain.

2. Guard (1-2)

Miami should be looking to upgrade the guard position early in the Draft, and they could do it by doubling down on the position. The team added Jermon Bushrod, Sam Young, and Kraig Urbik to compete for the two starting guard positions, along with the incumbent trio of Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner, and Jamil Douglas. Ideally, both starting guards are in those six players, but it is more likely the team finds one starter there, then adds another in the Draft. There are not a lot of guard prospects at the top of the Draft, so Miami could wait to pick up a player, or they could look to grab a tackle, someone like Jack Conklin or Ronnie Stanley, then move the rookie, Ja'Wuan James, or Branden Albert inside to guard. There is also the possibility the team takes Ryan Kelly, a center prospect, and moves him to guard, while giving them a backup center for Mike Pouncey as well.

3. Running back (1)

This has probably been the biggest discussion of the offseason, especially as people turned toward the Draft. Ezekiel Elliott in the first round would be the ideal addition for the Dolphins, but it is going to either take a couple of teams ahead of Miami to decide to address other needs, or Miami to trade up to land the Ohio State running back. As much as people want Elliott in Miami, the running back position is only the third need on our list because, at the end of the day, Jay Ajayi could be the starter for the offense and he will probably be a good runner this season. The NFL is a running back by committee league now, so Miami will probably add a running at some point. Currently, behind Ajayi, the team has Damien Williams, Daniel Thomas, Isaiah Pead, and Jahwan Edwards; adding someone in the second or third round, if they cannot get Elliott, makes sense.

4. Linebacker (1)

The Dolphins added Kiko Alonso this offseason, which pushed linebacker down the needs list some, though it did not completely remove it. Adding competition to the position group, which, along with Alonso includes Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi as the starters and younger players behind them like Neville Hewitt, Mike Hull, and Zach Vigil, as well as veteran Spencer Paysinger. If the team were to add a starting caliber linebacker early, it would not be a surprise, but it is not as critical an addition as it was before the Alonso addition. The Dolphins could look for a middle linebacker, pushing Alonso outside to the weakside position and allowing Jenkins and Misi to battle for the starting strongside position, but any linebacker position could be considered.

5. Defensive tackle (1)

Adding a defensive tackle to play next to Ndamukong Suh cannot be ruled out, though it may not be an early round addition. Earl Mitchell could continue to start next to Suh, while Jordan Phillips, who is entering his second year in the league, could challenge for the top spot or at least see increased playing time from last year. Phillips may be the upgrade to the position the team needs, but a true run-stuffing defensive tackle, someone who will allow Suh to penetrate and get after the quarterback, could be on the Dolphins' wish list.

6. Depth at Wide Receiver, Tight End, and Tackle

If Miami can address some of the above listed needs, while adding depth to the wide receiver, tight end, and/or offensive tackle positions, it should be a successful draft. The team has the top three wide receiver positions seemingly locked in with Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills. Matt Hazel and Griff Whalen should battle for the fourth spot, but the team could add someone else to enter that competition. Tight end is headlined by Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims, but behind them, the team has Jake Stoneburner, Dominique Jones, and MarQueis Gray behind them, where the position could use an additional option - otherwise, Stoneburner should win the third spot on the depth chart. The offensive tackle position could use a young, developmental left tackle to sit behind Branden Albert - and even Sam Young, who should be the primary reserve tackle - learning and waiting for whenever Albert retires.

There are a lot of people who add defensive end to the needs list, but Miami has nine defensive ends on the roster right now, and have been talking to and visiting with Jason Jones as well. The team should have Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Andre Branch, Terrence Fede, and Chris McCain all in positions to make the roster, plus Cleyon Laing, Damontre Moore, Julius Warmsley, and Jordan Williams all making their case for a job. Defensive end just does not seem to be a need this year.