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NFL Mock Draft Season Positional Report - Linebackers

A reverse look at the importance of what is needed for the Miami Dolphins this April

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

This series started with a look at the wide receiver group for the Miami Dolphins as a position of strength for the team. While this is an organization that needs talent in all areas of the 53-man roster, and that valuable practice squad (ask Nik Needham), it is when and where that talent is brought in that holds paramount importance.

With a unique and laser focus on the top six Miami Dolphins NFL Draft picks this upcoming draft in Las Vegas, it’s key to look where this team is already strong, while they can certainly add depth to those positions later in the process.

Miami owns six picks in the top 70 selections, and those picks must be spent on where the team is most deficient. There is certainly talent in this draft in all areas of the field, so any pick in the first round comes with passing on several other players who could fit an immediate need.

It’s a good thing there are three first rounders to select in this highly special situation for Miami.

So with that backdrop, we look at the defensive side of the ball, where Miami has a young and potentially lethal linebacking group. Led by the vastly improving, and soon to be healthy, Raekwon McMillan, as well as Jerome Baker, the former Ohio State Buckeye teammates play with obvious chemistry when on the field together and both provide leadership.

McMillan was shut down late last season, but that allowed rookie Andrew Van Ginkel to step in and have a fine final quarter of the campaign. Vince Biegel literally replaced Kiko Alonzo in that early-season trade with New Orleans, and after an excellent year, the outside linebacker is uncertain to be returning to Miami after no doubt enticing other teams with his play. The hope is that Biegel stays with Miami and continues his growth with McMillan, Baker, and even undrafted Sam Eguavoen who showed promise as well in 2019.

Miami Dolphins v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The point here, is that there is a solid core of linebackers manning the back-end of the front seven. Sure Brian Flores can use athletic linebackers, and I am not calling for a total pass on the position, but rather a healthy delay in the selection of it.

A prospects like Isaiah Simmons would be a major “get” in this draft process, and while the 5th overall spot is likely the quarterback the Dolphins love, it is just as unlikely Simmons remains available at pick 18. However, the 18th pick or even the 26th pick, is no time for want, it’s time for need.

When looking at the 18th pick, specifically, for those hoping a quarterback will be there should one not be selected with the 5th pick, please lose that delusion. Four quarterbacks will be taken in the top-15, and I will take that to the bank.

Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Jordan Love and Justin Herbert will all be taken, one way or another, in the upper half of the first round. Especially after strong Senior Bowl performances by Herbert and Love specifically, the thought of a top four signal-caller being available at 18 is simply too good to be true.

The linebacking position can be helped where there are plenty of talented players available in perhaps even the Draft’s third day. Remember the following names that Miami could take a late flier on in rounds four and on in April’s NFL Draft.

Joe Bachie of Michigan State, local University of Miami prospect Shaquille Quarterman and Penn State’s Cam Brown. Certainly one of the players in this trio of mid-round potential gems would add depth and strength to the linebacking group, without it being a detriment to other greater areas of need. Offensive or defensive line, or both, must be addressed Day 1 of the draft process.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 24 Maryland at Penn State Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For now, the linebackers for the Dolphins are a defensive strength of that side of the ball. Adding to them is certainly wise, but at a certain price-tag. Anything after those top-6 picks in this positional area would be absolutely fine. Those top-6 picks are key to finding players the Dolphins do not currently have. Mainly, monster’s on the offensive line, and an edge pass-rusher on the defensive front.

Should Miami get out of the first round with their “franchise” quarterback as well as two linemen, regardless of which side of the football, they would have started this process flawlessly...on paper that is.