The NFL calendar is down to just the last few days before the 2018 Draft kicks off. While everyone wants to use a “best player available” method to draft, that does not really exist. Neither does the counter to that, the “needs” based draft. A draft cannot be mutually exclusive when it comes to those to draft methods, but rather needs to be a combination of the two. Teams have to know where their needs are, and they have to balance the talent on the board with where they need the help.
Drafting seven running backs because those are the “best players available” in each round does not make your team better. Grabbing a player in the first round who is rated a third round selection because that is a need position does not make your team better. Knowing your needs is important, so you can balance where you rate the “best player available.”
With that in mind, it is time to take a look at the Miami Dolphins’ roster, and assess where are their needs.
There has been a lot of talk about the Dolphins wanting to grab one of the “top four” quarterbacks this year, giving them the “franchise” quarterback a large contingent of fans do not believe Tannehill to be. Wherever you fall on Tannehill’s future with the team, Miami could use a rookie quarterback this year - though it is not a “top” need. They could grab one if he were to fall to them with the 11th pick, but selling the draft to jump into the top five or six picks, which is likely where they would have to go, to grab a player who would be sitting on the bench this year does not make a lot of sense. Assessment: Mid-need
The Dolphins appear to be heading into the regular season with a plan of using Drake and Gore as a one-two punch. C.J. Anderson is available, if they want to go that route after the Draft, so getting a running back gets pushed down a little. It still would make sense to look for one mid- to late-Draft, giving them someone to develop to replace Gore whenever he retires/leaves the team. Assessment: Mid-need
There does not appear to be much of a need in the wide receiver group, despite the team trading away Jarvis Landry this offseason. Adding Amendola and Wilson gives them two players to add to the rotation, with Parker and Stills set to be the top two. More playing time for Grant this year is probable, while the team will be looking to see how Ford responds to his recovery from knee surgery. Carroo is the biggest question mark in the group. If a wide receiver out grades everyone else at the time the Dolphins are on the clock, selecting one would not be bad, but it just is not a need right now. Assessment: No need.
Miami has to find a tight end. That could be the end of the write-up right there. Derby appears to be set to be the starter, or at least the co-starter with Gray. Gray has shown some flashes of being able to handle a larger load than he has had in the past, and he wants to be put into that type of position. Duarte has been a developmental project, while Escobar is a reclamation project and will likely be looked at primarily as a blocking tight end. The Dolphins need a seam-threat tight end. Assessment: Early-need
This seems very strange to say, but the Dolphins seem to be set at offensive line this year. Depth late in the draft, or a player they think they can develop into a starter at center or guard makes sense as eventual Kilgore/Sitton replacements, but other than that, there is not a lot of need here. If someone falls like Tunsil did a couple of years ago, specifically Quenton Nelson, it would be interesting to see if the Dolphins would make that selection. Assessment: Late-need.
You can never guess what the Dolphins will do with the defensive end position. It does not appear to be an early-need this year, but Harris did not appear on the radar last year and they got him in the first round. Wake, Branch, Harris, Quinn, and Hayes seem like a solid top four, and the team likes Malveaux’s development from last year. If a late round pick is used to develop someone so they are ready whenever the immortal Wake retires, then that could be a choice, but really, there is not much need here. Assessment: No need.
The loss of Ndamukong Suh this year has a lot of people looking at defensive tackle as an early-need for the Dolphins. It just does not feel that way. Phillips, Godchaux, and Taylor are the top three, and the Dolphins seem okay with that. Wright is a developmental player. Adding someone to make sure there are enough players for a solid rotation, either a draft pick or a veteran during the preseason, would make sense. If all of the Dolphins other potential targets are off the board with their first-round pick, Vita Vea could be the selection. Assessment: Mid-need.
This should be the Dolphins top need heading into the Draft. Alonso and McMillan will hold two-thirds of the starting linebacker positions. An early rookie will likely become the missing piece in that trio. Anthony and Allen could challenge for that role, but it makes the most sense for Miami to get an early linebacker and continue to rework the position. Assessment: Early-need.
This is an interesting position for the Dolphins. Howard, Tankersley, Lippett, and McCain appear to be set as the top four, but Miami does not completely trust Tankersley yet, opening the door to an early cornerback selection. Lippett has to prove he is healthy after an Achilles tear last year. The Dolphins believe you cannot have enough cornerbacks in a passing league, so a pick here could always be on the radar. Assessment: Mid-need.
Miami likes to have strong safeties that can also cover. Right now, they have two strong safeties who are alright in in coverage. They need someone who can be a tight end coverage option, and someone who can be a true center-field, free-safety type. They could also look for a hybrid type of player who can be a cornerback or even a weakside linebacker option in passing situations. The Dolphins could look early for a safety. Assessment: Early-need.
John Denney (Long Snapper)
Matt Haack (Punter)
Denney is even more immortal than Wake. Haack should be fine as a punter, though adding a free agent after the draft could be an option if the team wants some competition. Not having a kicker yet obviously makes that a draft need, though not one they will address early. Assessment: Late-need (kicker).
Early needs (Rounds 1-3)
2. Tight end
Mid needs (Rounds 3-5)
4. Defensive tackle
7. Running back
Late needs (Rounds 5-7)
8. Offensive lineman
10. Defensive end
11. Wide receiver