Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by team draft preview schedule.
No. 1 Team Need: Offensive Line
Outgoing GM Jeff Ireland dove head first into 2013 free agency, forgetting while submerged that good offensive linemen are important for young quarterbacks. The result was a league-high 58 sacks absorbed by Ryan Tannehill, who began to look shell shocked late in the season. Hopefully Ireland didn't ruin him for good. New GM Dennis Hickey rebuilt the left side of the line in free agency, landing LT Branden Albert and LG Shelley Smith. Mike Pouncey returns at center. The Fins still need starters at right guard and right tackle. New OC Bill Lazor studied under Chip Kelly in Philadelphia last season, and therefore figures to emphasize athleticism up front.
First day option: OL Zack Martin - Positional versatility is becoming more and more valuable. Martin will almost certainly get a chance to play tackle early on, but he could struggle against edge rushers’ counter moves thanks to his wide base. With that said, Martin can be a great guard because he seems to work well in tight spaces and has an extremely strong grip. This is not a knock, as guards are extremely important when factoring in the impact of interior disruption.
Second day possibility: G Jon Halapio - Speaking of interior blockers, Halapio is a great talent despite a down 2013. His lackluster performances could be attributed to a pectoral injury, and he looked much improved at the Senior Bowl. Halapio can be a mauler in the running game with the strength to move bodies. That power allows him to hold up in pass protection. Medicals will be critical.
Third day flier: OL Wesley Johnson - Another versatile offensive lineman, Johnson has practically played all five spots along the front five. A sticking point with some teams could be Johnson’s sub-300 pound frame. Johnson knows where and how he wins and has experience doing so. A sixth-round selection sounds about right.
Video: Norris on Miami's top need
No. 2 Team Need: Cornerback
Hickey retained LCB Brent Grimes on a four-year $32 million pact, but overpaid slot defender Cortland Finnegan (two years, $11 million) and currently lacks a viable first-team bookend. 2013 second-rounder Jamar Taylor disappointed as a rookie, while incumbent Nolan Carroll bolted in free agency. Because both of Miami's starting safeties (SS Reshad Jones, FS Louis Delmas) have limited range, they need a right corner who can hold his own in off coverage.
First day option: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State - I am a big fan of Jamar Taylor, and I doubt the team spends a first-round pick at corner, but Gilbert has a chance to be the first prospect at the position off the board. I bet teams believe he possesses the best combination of current ability and upside thanks to his frame and athleticism. Oklahoma State’s more aggressive defense played into his hand in 2013, but his footwork can still get him into trouble.
Second day possibility: CB Phillip Gaines, Rice - Some might think this is too early, but I see Gaines being selected in the third-round. He succeeds best in press coverage, even though he could be tabbed with an “upside” tag thanks to his athletic testing. Gaines flew under the radar a bit after he missed the school’s biggest game against Texas A&M, but he has skill and impressed me while preparing for the East-West Shrine. That positive impression only continued during the week of practice.
Third day flier: CB Jaylen Watkins, Florida - Had to fight for the limelight this year, after Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson drew attention this summer. Then future star Vernon Hargreaves out played them all during the season. That is not to discredit Watkins, as he has talent. He fights for positioning on the edge and seems adept at passing off receivers in zone coverage or running with them downfield in man.
No. 3 Team Need: Running Back
Lazor has seen the tape and likely already determined whether Lamar Miller is capable of feature back duties. I lean toward saying he is, but Miller obviously has improvements to make in his game. Career plodder Daniel Thomas definitely isn't the answer, and the franchise was reportedly down on fifth-round pick Mike Gillislee after a nondescript first NFL season. The Fins hosted Knowshon Moreno for a free agent visit, confirming they envision running back as a need. If they whiff on Moreno, expect Miami to begin looking at running backs as early as the second round (pick 50).
First day option: Not going to happen.
Second day possibility: Tre Mason, Auburn - It is difficult to guess what type of running back Lazor and Hickey are looking for. Let's start with the latter first. Coming from the Bucs, who recently drafted Doug Martin, Mike James and acquired Bobby Rainey, it appears the common theme is a decisive running style. Mason works very well in trash and is adept at reading second level blocks to make cuts to pick up yards. He can get narrow to fit through seams at the line of scrimmage.
Third day flier: Dri Archer, Kent State - Lazor only spent one year with the Eagles, however, a running back with receiving ability that can create yards on his own could be on the OC’ priority list. Archer played well out in space as a receiver and a runner, and while he might not be comfortable between the tackles, the goal would be to put the offensive weapon where he wins: in space.
Dolphins 2014 Draft Picks
First Round (No. 19)
Second Round (No. 50)
Third Round (No. 81)
Fourth Round (No. 116)
Fifth Round (No. 155)
Sixth Round (No. 190)
Seventh Round (No. 234)
Dolphins Current First-Team Offense
QB: Ryan Tannehill
RB: Lamar Miller
WR: Mike Wallace
WR: Brian Hartline
WR: Brandon Gibson
TE: Charles Clay
LT: Branden Albert
LG: Shelley Smith
C: Mike Pouncey
RG: Nate Garner
RT: Dallas Thomas
Dolphins Current First-Team Defense
RE: Olivier Vernon
LE: Cameron Wake
DT: Randy Starks
NT: Earl Mitchell
MLB: Dannell Ellerbe
WLB: Philip Wheeler
SLB: Koa Misi
LCB: Brent Grimes
RCB: Cortland Finnegan
FS: Louis Delmas
SS: Reshad Jones