New head coach Nick Saban has wasted very little time putting his stamp on this team. With the additions of OT Stockar McDougle, DE Vonnie Holliday, DT Kevin Carter, OLB Donnie Spragan, FS Travares Tillman, SS Tebucky Jones, FB Heath Evans and QB Gus Frerotte, the Dolphins have been one of the busiest teams to date during the 2005 offseason.
After finishing 4-12 in 2004, the team still has plenty of work cut out as it prepares for the upcoming draft.
The quarterback position is listed as the No. 2 need, but Saban has said he's committed to giving A.J. Feeley one more season to showcase his abilities. If that's the case, the Dolphins still could use a first-day QB draft pick for depth and insurance purposes (but not their first-round pick, No. 2 overall).
As it stands right now, the Dolphins seem to be leaning toward drafting a running back with the second overall selection. Luckily for them, the supply meets the demand, as Texas' Cedric Benson and Auburn's Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams all grade out as top-10 prospects. If that's the case, we think Brown is the best fit and has the best pro potential because of his terrific size/speed combination and versatility as a blocker and receiver in the passing game.
A return to football by RB Ricky Williams could change things significantly, in which case the Dolphins could be looking at the top two quarterbacks (Cal's Aaron Rodgers and Utah's Alex Smith) or Michigan WR Braylon Edwards. Furthermore, the Dolphins will exhaust their options in terms of trading down, as they would like to recoup some of the draft picks they lost in 2004.
A host of trades in last year's draft cost the team its second-round, third-round and sixth-round picks. It did retrieve a third-round selection (No. 70) in the DE Adewale Ogunleye-for-WR Marty Booker trade with the Bears, but Miami doesn't have a selection between picks No. 2 and 70.
If the Dolphins do wind up using their top pick on a running back, they'll be looking for the best value at either quarterback or outside linebacker in the third round. If a potential future starter such as Arizona State's Andrew Walter or Purdue's Kyle Orton slips to them at No. 70, they should pull the trigger.
If not, outside linebacker is the more pressing need because of Junior Seau's age and durability issues. There should be a few good candidates to choose from, including Southern Miss' Michael Boley, San Diego State's Matt McCoy and Clemson's Leroy Hill.
As for other needs on day two, the Dolphins will be looking to improve depth at wide receiver, defensive end, defensive tackle, offensive tackle and safety. With WR David Boston gone and WRs Derrius Thompson and Bryan Gilmore continuing to underachieve, the Dolphins could use an early day-two prospect such as Marshall's Josh Davis to emerge as a No. 3 behind Chris Chambers and Booker.
On the defensive line, the Dolphins brought in two aging veterans, Holliday and Carter, to serve as stop-gap solutions, but they still need some young talent to develop. A two-gap run plugger such as DT Anthony Bryant (Alabama) would be welcomed. Also, a situational pass rusher such as DE Jonathan Goddard (Marshall) could help take the pressure off RDE Jason Taylor .
If the Dolphins do draft an offensive tackle and/or safety in the late rounds, versatility will be the most sought after character trait.
Grading the past
Year '02 '03 '04
Total picks 5 9 6
Starters 2 1 1
Backups 1 5 5
Other team 1 3 0
Out of NFL 1 0 0
In the 2002 draft, Miami should be commended for drafting TE Randy McMichael in the fourth round and OC Seth McKinney in the third round, as both have developed into quality starters.
The problem is that the Dolphins, who have admittedly had just one first-round pick in the past three drafts, aren't finding enough difference makers in the earlier rounds.
First-round pick Vernon Carey ('04) and second-round pick Eddie Moore ('03) simply haven't made enough of an impact.
Its our top five needs from Scouts....