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Dolphins open some draft possibilities, close others

Practically every day, someone who follows me on my twitter feed asks me what the Dolphins are going to do in the first round of the draft even though the draft is one month away.

Last week, I said the Dolphins were heavily interested in Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

I jumped the gun.

Rhodes is a fine player. He looks the part at 6-1. He plays with some nastiness. And the Dolphins do indeed like him. But that has to be measured in degrees and I was told recently that he probably isn't the guy in the first round because he's not a 100 percent system fit for the Dolphins.

Me: :-(

Rhodes needs to be in a system where he's getting his hands on a receiver. He might be able to learn the discipline of combo coverages that inlcude a lot of zone work and playing quarters. But that's not his game. He's more a press corner, folks.

So there's that.

I also said early on in the process that I would scream if the Dolphins used their first overall pick on an offensive or defensive lineman. Since general manager Jeff Ireland arrived with Bill Parcells, the Dolphins have tried to upgrade those two units in the first round three out of five drafts -- with Jake Long, Mike Pouncey and Jared Odrick as first-round picks.

Well, guess what?

The Dolphins are open to upgrading those two spots in the draft again -- perhaps even in the first round. Ireland wants to sorely keep the defensive line, a team strength, very strong. Two days ago, I reported to you the club has parted ways with Tony McDaniel. Well, the Dolphins want to add a defensive tackle. And, as you know, a pass-rusher is something the Dolphins continue to consider in free agency and will consider in the draft.

And this is supposedly a great year for defensive ends. So that is a serious possibility.

The Dolphins also will look at offensive line, particularly offensive tackle. Indeed, even if the team signs Eric Winston to play right tackle, I don't believe the club sees him as a long-term solution. Even if the left tackle job is handed to Jonathan Martin, the Dolphins want a fallback.

Well, drafting a left tackle and moving Martin back to right tackle is a possibility.

I've mentioned Oklahoma's Lane Johnson on twitter as a possible first-round selection. The Dolphins like him. They don't love him. Yes, they agree he's a first-round talent but what I'm hearing is not at No. 12 in Miami's eyes.

So where does that leave the Dolphins in the first round? Well, that's the point. The Dolphins have worked this offseason with the idea of filling in as many gaps on the team as possible. No the cornerback spot is not filled, but I believe the club will get serious in the next day or so about trying to sign Brent Grimes or some cornerback option so that cornerback is no longer a glowing, ominous and obvious need.

Basically, the Dolphins want to go to the draft with a wide field of possibilities. They want to draft the best available player (BAP) and not draft necessarily for need. The club drafted for need in 2009 when Vontae Davis and Sean Smith were added in the first two rounds. Neither are on the team four years later.

Lesson learned, I think."

"I don’t know that we’re complete at any position," coach Joe Philbin said this week. "I think hopefully what’s happened with some of the free agency moves is it gives Jeff more latitude to just go find good football players.

"We’re as interested in adding, again that term, it’s a vague term, but good football players to the roster at a variety of positions. I don’t know that we’re locked and loaded anywhere. That’s not a bad thing. I don’t know that many of the other 15 [coaches] that are in the room today are locked and loaded at a ton of spots. We’ve got to add good players at every position."

Yes, I'd say every position except quarterback, linebacker, punter and kicker is a first-round option for the Dolphins.

The offensive line is an option, as I've explained. Defensive line is an option. Cornerback, but not Rhodes, is an option. Safety is an option. Running back, following the loss of Reggie Bush is an outside and long-odds options I suppose. Receiver pops back into the picture as an option. And tight end is an option -- although I do not see a tight end in the draft worthy of the No. 12 overall selection.

The Dolphins have opened the field for themselves. Smart.

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