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NFL Mock Draft 2018: Dolphins strengthen defense in SB Nation latest projection

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NFL: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins end their 2017 season on a down note, missing the playoffs and finishing the year with a 6-10 record. They have holes in several places on the roster, with upgrades needed to bring the team back up to the playoff expectations they had before the season started. The 2018 NFL Draft could go a long way toward fixing Miami’s needs for next year.

The Dolphins will pick 11th in the first round of the Draft, a pick that SB Nation’s Dan Kadar projected this morning in his latest 2018 NFL Mock Draft. His projection starts with the Cleveland Browns selecting Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, then the New York Giants selecting UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. The third pick, which belongs to the Indianapolis Colts, was used to select Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, which brings the Browns back onto the clock using a pick they received from the Houston Texans and used to add Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick,. The Denver Broncos then round out the top five with USC quarterback Sam Darnold.

Jumping to the Dolphins, previous projected pick Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is already off the board having been selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the ninth pick, so where will the team look? Kadar has them turning their attention to the defense, continuing a rebuild that started last year. Kadar predicts Miami selecting Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. He writes:

Adding Smith would give the Dolphins a playmaking presence at linebacker. Smith excels at chasing down run plays, but he’s athletic enough to drop into coverage. He’s not the biggest threat rushing the passer, but he has few flaws otherwise.

The Dolphins could use this pick to give them two of their three starting linebackers having been selected in the last two Drafts. Smith would join Raekwon McMillan, who appeared to be set to start the 2017 season as Miami’s middle linebacker, only to tear his ACL in the preseason and miss his entire rookie campaign. Smith and McMillan could be paired, along with Kiko Alonso, Stephone Anthony, Chase Allen, Neville Hewitt, or Mike Hull, to create a strong linebacker corps. The Dolphins appear to be considering releasing Lawrence Timmons this offseason, which could be the role Smith fills.

What do you think of the pick? Would Smith in the first round give Miami the first fix the roster needs, of do they need to be looking somewhere else to set themselves up for the 2018 season?