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49 posts from April 2013

April 25, 2013

Mock draft by finest in the biz (including Salguero's pick)

It's finally here: NFL draft day 2013.

The draft begins tonight at 8 p.m. If the Dolphins pick at No. 12 as they are currently scheduled, they should be on the clock sometime around 9-9:20 p.m.

It's possible by then the club will have a new left tackle in Branden Albert. That, assuming a trade with Kansas City can be consummated. It's possible Davone Bess will be traded away before the draft ends Saturday. It's possible the Dolphins will try to move down in the draft.

A lot of things are possible. My suggestion to the Dolphins?

I'm imploring Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland to pick Houston cornerback DJ Hayden. I'm hoping Hayden is the pick whether the Dolphins pick at No. 12 or whether they trade down.

The reasons I give are compelling as you can read in my column in today's newspaper.

Yes, I know Ireland said he doesn't see cornerback as a huge need for the team. Is he kidding? I hope he was using the same approach when he said that he was using when he said Davone Bess wouldn't be traded -- which is to say he wasn't being fully forthright.

Anyway, I participated in a nationwide mock draft of writers in every NFL city. The guys and gals on this mock draft are the best of the best. They know their teams intimately. And this is what they're saying will happen tonight from No. 1 to No. 32.


1. KANSAS CITY: Chiefs have eight picks (none in the 2nd, two in the third and sixth). Needs: OT, ILB, WR, S, DE. The Chiefs would prefer to trade down but assuming that doesn't happen, they need to secure left tackle for the long term. Branden Albert signed his one-year contract as the franchise player but isn't happy and has been absent from offseason conditioning and last week's mini-camp. Otherwise, they filled a lot of their needs in free agency. Not that they couldn't use an upgrade at a number of spots but they can line up and play a game right now, other than this hole at LT. Pick: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M. Selection by Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star.

2. JACKSONVILLE: (seven picks, one in each round). Needs: Leo DE,RT,QB, CB, SS, LB. The Jaguars have accepted that trading out of the No. 2 spot isn't going to happen. Like a 2-14 team with a new general manager, head coach and coordinators, the Jaguars are undergoing a major roster overhaul and tha tmakes for so many needs. They could go with a DE at No. 2 to help a pass rush that had only 20 sacks last year (worst in the NFL) or a right tackle because the new staff has little faith in incumbent Cam Bradfield. After the first round, they also need a No. 1 corner (right now it's Alan Ball), a strong safety (GM Gus Bradley said Monday there isn't a starter on the roster), Will linebacker who can play all downs and at some point, they should be expected to take a quarterback. They have only two on the roster. Pick: BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah. They could make the safe pick and take Eric Fisher, but right tackle can be addressed later with somebody like free agent Tyson Clabo. The Jaguars go with Ansah despite his inexperience. Selection by Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

3. OAKLAND:  (Pick 3rd and then 68th (3rd round); also picks in rounds 4,6 and 7). Needs: DE, OLB, DT, CB, TE, QB, OT, G, WR. The Raiders would love to trade down and get back the second-round pick they lost in the Carson Palmer trade. General manager Reggie McKenzie knows he needs some impact players, and his shredding of the 4-12 roster (38 of the 53 players he inherited are gone) has left Oakland without any pass rush. Not that it had any last year. The Raiders only had 25 sacks in 2012, but players who had 17 of those are gone. If the Raiders are able to trade down, I see them solidifying their front line with DTs Star Lotolelei or Shariff Floyd. Pick: Oregon OLB/DE Dion Jordan. There will be some temptation to take Fisher, who might be the best player on the board, but Jordan fills the biggest need and has more star potential than a left tackle. The Raiders desperately need a star. Jordan has long arms and great athleticism and will immediately give the Raiders an outside rush. Selection by Vito Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle.

4. PHILADELPHIA: (4th pick, 9 selections overall. They have one pick in Rds. 1-5, none in Rd. 6 and 4 in Rd. 7). Needs: OL, 3-4 edge-rusher, QB, 3-4 DE, ILB, CB, S. The Eagles will be getting All Pro LT Jason Peters, C Jason Kelce and RT Todd Herremans back from injuries. But Peters is 31, Herremans is 30 and LG Evan Mathis is 31. They have a hole at RG. The light has yet to go on for 2011 first-round pick Danny Watkins. Herremans has spent most of his career as a guard. So he can move inside if Watkins doesn't cut it. If they don't get a plug-and-play OT in the draft, they still are interested in unrestricted free agent Eric Winston, whose wife has Philly-area roots. It still remains to be seen how some of their defensive personnel will fit in their transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4. They signed Connor Barwin, who was an edge-rushing OLB with Houston. But the jury still is out on veteran DE Trent Cole and 2010 first-round pick Brandon Graham. So they would like to get another edge-rusher. They've got 4 QBs on the roster right now -- Mike Vick, Nick Foles, former Chip Kelly pupil Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne. All but Foles have the mobility to run the read-option. Vick agreed to a restructured deal and figures to be gone after this season even if he ends up with the starting job. Eagles almost certainly will draft a QB at some point. Won't be at No. 4, but could be in second or third. Eagles are very interested in trading down and acquiring another pick or two in the second or third rounds. But they don't want to drop any lower than 11 or 12. Pick:  With this scenario, I would expect them to take Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher, a good, athletic fit for Chip Kelly's offense, who can step in and play immediately at RT. Two other considerations: the other top-rated OT, Lane Johnson, of Oklahoma, and Utah DL Star Loutilelei, who could play both nose and 5-technique for them. But I think he figures into the equation only if Eagles trade down a few spots. Selection by Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

5. DETROIT: Lions have a selection in every round, two in the seventh. The fourth-round pick is a compensatory, and the second seventh-round pick is a compensatory. Needs: I refer to it this way because there’s a difference between need and want. The Lions’ top three needs are Offensive Left Tackle, pass-rusher and cornerback, and pick No. 5 has to be an opening-day starter. They really want a left tackle because it locks into place other pieces on the OL. Also, wide receiver for depth and injury protection, return specialist, and depth at defensive end, linebacker and perhaps tight end. GM Martin Mayhew has always stressed character in acquiring players, and that will be tightened further in the fallout of last year’s arrests. Mayhew wants to avoid a boom or bust scenario with the fifth pick. “You certainly want guys with that high ceiling. But it’s also important to make sure you’re getting a solid player you can have around for a long time. It may not be the best place to swing for the fence. You know, you might not want to be Dave Kingman at five. You might really just get on base, if you know what I mean.” He also says he hasn’t given as many first-round grades this year, but there is greater depth than in past drafts: “We didn’t give as many first-round grades this year as we normally give. This draft goes deeper into the second round this year. What we call those red grades. . .  goes a little deeper into the second. So there are a lot of quality players out there and we expect to get good players in our first three picks for sure that can come in and have an impact. Then we have to be more selective in the back end of the draft and make sure we pick the right guys.” Pick: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama.  He fits a need, opposite starting CB Chris Houston, a three-year starter who re-signed as a free agent in March. At his pre-draft presser last week, GM Martin Mayhew, a starting CB on the Redskins’ 1991 season Super Bowl champs, talked about Milliner’s size and speed. “He’s the elusive, big corner,” Mayhew said. “Everybody’s trying to find that guy. You know, we’ve been here for years talking about these guys and trying to find a guy with some size, and he certainly fits that mold." Selection by Mike O'Hara of DetroitLions.com.

6. CLEVELAND: Picks: 7 (1st, 3rd, 4th, two 5th, 6th , 7th). Needs: Starting CB, 3-4 pass rusher, inside LB, TE, WR, OG). First draft of the regime of CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi. They used free agent to address the switch to Ray Horton’s 3-4 – OLBs Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and LDE Desmond Bryant – but they still have starting vacancies at CB and ILB, and still want to add another OLB rusher. If Horton copies his hero Dick LeBeau, the Browns won’t take the CB at No. 6. On paper, they could justify one of the OGs, but they already have really good OTs and a solid C. I don’t buy the national perspective that Banner and Lombardi will draft a QB to oust Brandon Weeden. I think HC Rob Chudzinski and OC Norv Turner think they can win with Weeden’s strong arm. Banner and Lombardi are not big fans of Weeden or WR Josh Gordon, who had a real good rookie year after ex-GM Tom Heckert used his No. 2 pick in last summer’s supplemental draft. Banner would like to recoup a No. 2. If any team is capable of doubling down – trading down twice – it is the Browns, if they could pull it off. This draft: This scenario would be Browns worst nightmare. They would love to get out of this position, but ... Pick: They add to their pass rush with LSU OLB Barkevious Mingo. Selection by Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland.

7. ARIZONA: Picks: 7 (One in each round). Needs: G, T, 3-4 edge rusher, safety, inside linebacker, quarterback. This is the first draft of GM Steve Keim and Bruce Arians. The most immediate need is the offensive line, but Arians seems to feel better about the group than anyone else, especially his tackles. At the owners meetings, Arians said he is one player away from having a "helluva" offensive line. LT Levi Brown returns after missing last season with a torn triceps. Nate Potter, a seventh-round pick in '12, took over or D'Anthony Batiste and showed promise over the latter half of the season. Another rookie, fourth-rounder Bobby Massie, started all 16 games at right tackle. He was a liability over the first half of the season but showed remarkable improvement over the second half. Their guards, Daryn Colledge and Adam Snyder, signed as free agents over the last two seasons. Colledge had a solid year. Indications are the Çardinals would like to upgrade the right side, Snyder's spot.
New DC Todd Bowles is maintaining the 3-4 and the team still needs 3-4 OLB who can rush. O'Brien Schofield hasn't stayed healthy enough. Sam Acho is a good all-round player but not a pass rush specialist ... This draft: Lane Johnson has to be tempting here and that could be the pick. If they do that, Brown could move to the right side. Pick: But I'll go with Alabama G Chance Warmack. He fills an immediate need. The Cardinals should be able to plug him in the starting lineup for the next 6-8 years. Selection by Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

8. BUFFALO. NEEDS: QB, WR, G, CB, OLB, TE, CB, S. (Have six picks - no seventh). The Bills have plenty of needs, but QB is the biggest. Ryan Fitzpatrick was cut. Kevin Kolb is the favorite over Tarvaris Jackson on the current roster. Need a No. 2 WR opposite Stevie Johnson. But there's no WR worth taking at No. 8. Could use a starting OG to replace Andy Levitre, who left in free agency. So a good case could be made for Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper. But OG is an easier position to fill. Can they wait to No. 41 (their second round pick) and get the QB they want? That’s a risk. Do they want to trade next year’s No. 1 to move up from 41 to the first round? Can’t see that. They can get a quality WR at No. 41. New coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett know Ryan Nassib better than anybody. He could make a smooth transition running their offense. Pick: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse. Selection by Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News.

9. NEW YORK JETS: (8 picks, two in the first round – 9 and 13 – and one in rounds 2-7). Needs: QB, OLB, CB, S, G, T, WR. The Jets acquired the 13th overall pick in the Darrelle Revis trade and are clearly in a major rebuilding phase under first-year general manager John Idzik. Mark Sanchez is the incumbent at quarterback, but mostly because of his $8.25 million guaranteed salary. Both starting safeties in 2011 (LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell) are gone. They re-signed OLB Calvin Pace to a one-year deal after initially releasing him. Also released were LB Bart Scott and S Eric Smith. Veteran guard Brandon Moore was not re-signed, and RB Shonn Greene signed with Tennessee. TE Dustin Keller signed with Miami. Santonio Holmes is coming off foot surgery and might not be ready for the start of camp. This is GM John Idzik’s first draft in the lead role, and he is considered by those he has worked with as a very patient, meticulous executive who prefers to build through the draft instead. Unlike predecessor Mike Tannenbaum, Idzik does not appear ready to take chances with roster transactions (see: Brett Favre, Tim Tebow, etc.), preferring a more methodical approach. Idzik has been extremely close to the vest throughout the draft process. With our mock falling this way, and with Mingo, Milliner and Warmack off the board, Idzik can any number of ways. They have done extensive work on the quarterbacks, although I don’t know that they value Geno Smith as the No. 9 prospect. They have done extensive work on him, however, and it is possible they take him here. But with Tavon Austin still on the board, and with the team also having examined him closely, there may be a temptation to go higher for him, especially with some interest among other teams in moving up for him. Pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia. Selection by Bob Glauber of New York Newsday.

10. Tennessee: Picks: 9 (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd comp, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 7th comp. Needs: OG, DT, DT, CB, S, LB. After signing 12 free agents and spending over $105 million in free agency, the Titans have some flexibility here. Yes, they still need a long-term option at guard opposite Andy Levitre, and North  Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper is available in this mock. But with a difference-maker still around in Floyd, they’d have to take him here. They could then target a guard – Kentucky’s Larry Warford?—in the second round. The Titans also need pass rushers, and one position they didn’t address in free agency was cornerback. Look for them to snag one or two at some point in the draft as well. Pick: Florida DT Sharrif Floyd. Selection by Jim Wyatt of Nashville Tennessean.

11. SAN DIEGO:  Seven picks, one in each round. Needs: LT, OG, ILB, OLB, NT. This draft will be judged as something of a failure if the Chargers don't walk out with a starting left tackle. The offensive line was a mess last year, and new general manager Tom Telesco wants to replace at least three starters after parting with LT Jared Gaither, LG Tyronne Green and RG Louis Vasquez. If LT Lane Johnson is available at pick 11, the Chargers ought to be jumping up and down, screaming like Reese Witherspoon at a DUI checkpoint that he fell to them; many scouts say the draft suffers a drop-off after the position's top three. Adding the ex-Sooner allows them to address guard sometime in the two or three rounds. Will San Diego be so fortunate Thursday to have this option at pick 11? That'd surprise. But in this mock, it's an easy call. Pick: LT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma. Selection by Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

12. DOLPHINS:– Eleven picks, including two in the second (42 and 54) two in the third (77 and 82), two in the fifth ( 146 and 166) and three in the seventh. Needs: LT, CB, DT, TE, G, S, OLB. The Dolphins have been working on filling their LT need by trading for KC's Branden Albert but they would rather not give up a second-round pick for the privilege of paying Albert a huge contract. They probably would welcome giving up a 2014 second rounder. If the Albert trade is made, then the LT need is met. Otherwise the Dolphins will be hunting the fourth best LT in the draft in the second round because they aren't paying the ransom to trade up for Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher, and Lane Johnson doesn't seem to be a team favorite. The club says it doesn't need cornerback help but it does. Miami traded away Vontae Davis last year and let Sean Smith depart in free agency. The addition of Brent Grimes via a one-year deal doesn't solve the problem and actually raises the question whether he'll be healthy -- he's recovering from a torn Achilles -- in time for training camp or the season. The club also lost starting TE Anthony Fasano in free agency and although Dustin Keller is on the roster, he's also on a one-year contract so that position begs attention. The club loves Reshad Jones at one safety spot but has an opening at the other. Again, the Dolphins desperately want to trade down. If not ... Pick: DJ Hayden, CB, Houston. Selection by Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald.

13. NEW YORK JETS: (second of two first-round picks - one more pick in each of rounds 2-7. Needs above). Armando took the next best corner, so the Jets would be reaching here to get the second coming of Revis. They've already got two young first-round defensive linemen in Mo Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. As I'd indicated before, they've done extensive work on Geno Smith, and while the jury is obviously still out on him around the league, considering the need, he might be tough to pass on. Pick: Geno Smith, QB, West  Virginia. Selection by Bob Glauber of Newsday.

14. CAROLINA: Picks: 5 (no 3rd, no 7th). Needs: DT, S, CB, OT. Carolina is interested in trading down and getting one of their later-round picks back. But not if Star Lotulelei's still on the board when they pick 14th. Panthers first-year GM Dave Gettleman spent 14 years with the Giants, who did pretty well beefing up their D-line seemingly every year in the draft. Since cutting nose tackle Ron Edwards this offseason, Ron Rivera has talked about the need to find a space-eater up front to keep blockers off Defensive RoY Luke Kuechly. Lotulelei does more than occupy blockers, however. And the Panthers have experience drafting guys with heart issues/scares. They took Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander in the fourth round last year after Alexander was sent home from the combine after doctors thought they found a hole in his heart. The Panthers checked into it, and it turned out to be a misdiagnosis. Pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah. Selection by Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.

15. NEW ORLEANS: Selections (one each in rounds 1, 3, 4, 5, 6) ... Forfeited second-round pick as part of Bounty sanctions. Traded seventh-round pick to Seattle for LB Barrett Rudd, who was cut in training camp. Needs: OLB, LT, DE, S, NT. If you have the NFL's worst ever defense in terms of yards yielded in one season (7,042), then no job is safe and plenty of holes need to be filled on that side of the ball. First and foremost for first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is trying to find someone, anyone, who can apply consistent pressure on the quarterback. They have lacked a premiere pass rusher for years. They have other needs as well but this position is important in the big picture. They plan to give two youngsters shots at OLB, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson. But Jarvis Jones apparently has answered the medical questions and appears to be the real deal. Was not asked to drop into pass coverage at Georgia. Pick: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia. Seems like a safe pick, though his 40 time is unimpressive (4.90-ish). Good athlete, good pass rusher, fills a big need. That said, this team would consider trading down to acquire more draft picks and RB Chris Ivory is definitely a player they are looking to move in a trade. The Jets have offered a fifth, the Saints want more. Don't we all. Selection by Brian Allee-Walsh of SportsNola.com

16. ST. LOUIS: Selections: 8 total, 2 in first round _ w/No. 22 overall coming from Washington as part of the RGIII trade. Otherwise the Rams have their original pick in each of the remaining six rounds. Needs: WR, S, RB, OLB, OL. The Rams seemingly have been searching for wide receiver help since the dynamic tandem of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt last played in St. Louis. The teams wants to get faster and more explosive on offense after finishing 25th in scoring offense and 23rd in total offense. In addition, the team has lost a perennial 1,000-yard rusher in Steven Jackson (voided contract, signed with Atlanta in free agency), as well as two of their top three wide receivers from last season in free agent Danny Amendola, to New England, and free agent Brandon Gibson, to Miami. They have only 3 WRs on the roster who have ever caught an NFL regular-season pass in Chris Givens, Brian Quick, and Austin Pettis. There are only two RBs with NFL regular-season carries on their resumes minus Jackson in Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead. Quick, the WR, and Pead, the RB, were seldom-used disappointments as rookies. Pick: The Rams would've loved to have gotten Austin, but there are seven or eight picks available to them here that could help the team: DT Sheldon Richardson (more of a luxury pick), LB Alec Ogletree (lots of baggage), OG Jonathan Cooper (need a guard, but signing of LT Jake Long helps shore up line), OT D.J. Fluker (see Jake Long above), RB Eddie Lacy (big back to replace Sjax), WR Cordarelle Patterson (obvious reasons), best S available (Vaccarro or Cyprien). So the pick here is CORDARELLE PATTERSON, the WR from Tennessee. He's considered a project. But he'll be playing for a veteran staff and a head coach (Jeff Fisher) who's got plenty of job security. Patterson has speed, size, and great run-after-the-catch potential. And keep in mind, if this is how the actual draft scenario shakes out, the Rams can get one of the remaining seven players I've listed above when they select six picks later at No. 22. Selection by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

17. PITTSBURGH: Eight picks, one in each round plus a compensatory pick in the sixth round. Needs: RB, LB, S, WR.  The Steelers are in a state of transition from their past two Super Bowl teams (’08, ’10 of which they were 1-1). They released OLB James Harrison and have little depth either on the outside on the inside, and the linebackers make the plays in their 3-4 defense. They need more than one. With the loss of Mike Wallace and with Emmanuel Sanders probably joining him in ’14, they need to restock their receiving corps. They have no starting running back after Rashard Mendenhall left. They have two good safeties, but Troy Polamalu is 32 and Ryan Clark turns 34 in October, and their top two veteran backup safeties left as free agents. They also could use a tight end. Heath Miller, 30, had major knee surgery to repair four torn ligaments at the end of the season, including his ACL.
  If Jarvis Jones isn’t picked, I think they’ll grab him. But, of course, the Saints got him first. So ... Pick: Tight end Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame. (If Eifert is gone, S Kenny Vaccaro could be the pick). Selection by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

18. COWBOYS – Six picks, having lost their seventh to the Dolphins in a trade that brought C Ryan Cook last year. Needs: OG, DT, S, DE, RB. The Cowboys have spent a lot on their offensive line the past three years, drafting LT Tyron Smith with a first-round pick, re-signing RT Doug Free to a four-year, $32 million deal, and then signing free agent guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings in free agency last year for deals with $6.2 million in guaranteed money. Yet, they could use upgrades to their line. If Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper is there, Dallas will take him. That is doubtful. Safety is a real need after they cut Gerald Sensabaugh. Kenny Vaccaro is a real possibliity with this pick, but they also like Eric Reid if they think they can get him in the second round. That leaves defensive tackle, where Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff both are better fits at the 3-technique than the 1. Ratliff has had declining production because of injuries in recent seasons, and he played in only six games last season. Hatcher is in the final year of his contract. Pick: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina. Selection by Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

19. N.Y. GIANTS -- Giants have eight picks -- their own in each of the seven rounds plus a compensatory pick in the seventh round. Needs: LB, DE, OL, DB. GM Jerry Reese would prefer not to pick this high, but that's what happens when you follow up a Super Bowl championship season by not making the playoffs. The Giants always seem to need linebacker help -- they are a long ways from the days of LT, Carl Banks and Harry Carson. MLB Chase Blackburn signed with the Panthers, OLB Michael Boley was released and hybrid LB-DL Mathias Kiwanuka is apparently being moved back to defensive end to make up for loss of Osi Umenyiora, who signed with Falcons. Reese loves to stockpile defensive ends, but the Giants have a greater need at linebacker and have not drafted a linebacker in the first round since Banks in 1984. Still, DE Tank Carradine is a possibility. They can also use reinforcements at guard and tackle on the offensive line. Pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia. Selection by Gary Myers of New York Daily News. 

20. SAN FRANCISCO:. There's been a trade! The 49ers and Bears were on the phone and have switched spots in the first round. The 49ers get the Bears' first-round pick, No. 20 overall, while Chicago gets San Francisco's first-round pick, No. 31, a third-round pick, No. 74, and a sixth-round pick, No. 180. (Mark Potash argued vociferously for a second-round pick, but the 49ers held firm). Chicago has talked about moving down while the 49ers, who have 13 picks in this draft but no where close to 13 roster spots, get rid of some of their selections. Needs: S, DL, TE, WR, CB. The biggest need is finding a replacement for starting safety Dashon Goldson, who is now a Buccaneer. However, the 49ers still have the 34th overall pick and could take care of this there. There's also a need for someone to take over Delanie Walker's role in two tight-end situations. They could do this later in the second round (No. 61) or with their other third-round pick (No. 93). However, the trade up in the first round was for a defensive lineman. Justin Smith turns 34 this year and is signed for just one more season. The 49ers also are well-aware of the negative ripple effect that went through their defensive when he was out with an arm injury last year. His heir apparent? Another Show-me State product. Pick: Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri. Selection by Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

21 CINCINNATI: 10 picks (2 each in rounds 2, 6 and 7). Needs: S, OT, RB, Depth on offensive and defensive lines and linebacker. After Reggie Nelson there is a huge dropoff at safety. Taylor Mays started at the beginning of the season but things got so bad in the secondary that they brought Chris Crocker back before Week 4. Right tackle is a need as well with Andre Smith being unsigned but they still have Anthony Collins and Dennis Roland on the roster, who have combined for 24 starts. Running back they would like to get a change-of-pace guy to pair with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Even with the signing of James Harrison, depth is thin at linebacker and with Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap slated to be free agents next year they could draft a defensive end much like they did last year when they added two defensive tackles. Pick: S Kenny Vacarro, Texas. The Bengals like the fact he can play either free or strong safety and think he can be a younger version of Chris Crocker as far as keeping things settled down in the secondary. Selection by Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enqquirer.

22 ST. LOUIS:  Under this scenario, Fluker, Lacy and Cyprien are still available _ the first two are especially tempting for the Rams. Pick: Eddie Lacy, the Alabama running back at 22. They need a big back replacement for Steven Jackson. Selection by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

23. MINNESOTA: 23rd and 25th picks, 11 selections overall. They got the 25th pick, a seventh-rounder this year and a third-rounder next year in the Percy Harvin trade with Seattle. They have one pick in Rds. 2, 3, 5 and 6, two picks in Rd. 4 and three picks in Rd. 7. Needs: MLB, WR, CB, DT, KR. The Vikings have no one capable of starting at MLB, no receiving weapon of note beyond Greg Jennings and renewed concerns at cornerback after choosing to cut Antoine Winfield, who was their best defensive back, in a cost-cutting move. Jasper Brinkley, last year’s starting middle linebacker, was one of only three free agents the Vikings didn’t retain or even attempt to re-sign. They’re looking for a faster, more instinctive three-down playmaker to plug in the middle of a 4-3 defense that utilizes a lot of Tampa-2 schemes. General Manager Rick Spielman has stockpiled five former Notre Dame players, three of them starters, and probably would take Manti Te’o if he’s still on the board.
Ideally, the Vikings would like to come out of the first round with starters at middle linebacker and receiver. Without a second elite receiver, the big money spent on Jennings in free agency will be for naught because opponents will simply load up on stopping the former Packer. The Vikings re-signed Jerome Simpson, who was a flop during an injury- and suspension-marred season a year ago. They also have 2012 fourth-round pick Jarius Wright, who showed promise when Harvin’s season ended because of injury after nine games. The Vikings will be very interested to see how the receivers come off the board. Waiting until the second round (No. 52) for a receiver is a risk because the team needs to surround erratic third-year QB Christian Ponder with enough receiving weapons to accurately determine whether he’s the long-term answer or not. Cornerback could be the pick, especially if the big-name prospects tumble this far. Chris Cook is the No. 1 corner now, but he’s missed 26 of 48 possible games because of injuries and legal issues. Josh Robinson, last year’s third-round pick, was tabbed as Winfield’s heir apparent, but wasn’t expected to start until next year. The third corner is A.J. Jefferson, a big, young corner who can cover but needs work finishing. Defensive tackle also is a possibility. Although Kevin Williams is still a good player, he’s turning 33 in August and is not the force he once was. Since getting Williams ninth overall 10 years ago, the Vikings have drafted only four DTs, none of them higher than the fourth round. Pick: Notre Dame MLB Manti Te'o. Minnesota has thrown its challenge flag and wants Commissioner Gaughan to fine the Bears and 49ers $500,000 and two first-round picks apiece for a phony trade. Why? Because under this scenario, the Twin Cities media will now have to try and interview Lennay Kekua to get her thoughts on Manti. Spielman loves him some Notre Dame guys. Three of the Vikings -- S Harrison Smith, DB Robert Blanton and TE Kyle Rudolph -- played with Te'o and have been singing his positive points. Spielman did a lot of extra work on Te'o and seems comfortable that he's fast enough and instinctive enough to be a three-down player in the Vikings' defense. The thought is the Bears could take him at No. 20. But unless we nullify the trade, this is the Vikings' pick. Selection by Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

24. INDIANAPOLIS: Six selections6 (1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 7th comp). Needs: OLB, WR, CB, RB, G/C. Ryan Grigson filled a lot of holes in free agency. Signed 10 UFAs for $138 million. I’d rather see Grigson get a stud pass rusher (maybe UCLA’s Datone Jones) or a receiver (USC’s Robert Woods or Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins) who has the chance to develop and eventually replace Reggie Wayne. Wayne has two years left on his contract and turns 35 in November. As for a pass rusher, the only proven one on the roster is Robert Mathis, and he’s 32. Everyone’s patience is wearing thin on 2010 first-round pick Jerry Hughes (five sacks in 40 games). Pick: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
 All that being said, if CB Xavier Rhodes slips to them, how do they not take him? Too good of a value at No. 24 to pass up. I won’t be a bit surprised if the Colts try to move out of the first round. They don’t have a second-round pick (traded to Miami last year for CB Vontae Davis) and might be able to get a player at the top of the second they really like while picking up an additional third-rounder. Selection by Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

25. MINNESOTA: The Vikings could go defensive tackle (Slyvester Williams) or cornerback (Desmond Trufant), but logic says they have to swing big on a receiver and not wait for later rounds. If they're going to determine once and for all whether Christian Ponder is their QB of the future, they need to surround him with more receivers. Swapping Greg Jennings in after shipping Percy Harvin out isn't going to cut it. Hunter has the size (6-4, 196), the long arms and the top-end speed (4.49) this team has lacked for a long time now. Pick: Justin Hunter, WR, Tenn. Selection by Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 

26 GREEN BAY: Packers have 8 picks, including an extra D5 as compensatory. Needs: T, DE in 3-4, NT, S, RB, OLB. GB lacks some toughness and some size. This team was punched in the face by the Giants and, at the divisional level, by the 49ers. I don't believe they would take T D.J. Fluker here. He is a RT only, and their problem is at LT where Marshall Newhouse is so-so and Derek Sherrard wasn't any good before he blew out his leg in December 2011 and sat out all last year. Their D-line is thin, especially since DE Jerel Worthy blew out his ACL late and had surgery in mid-January. RB figures to be another group effort of mediocrity once again. Safety is a major concern. Morgan Burnett is a good player, but with Charles Woodson gone it falls to MD Jennings and Jerron McMillian to start. I don't think the Packers want that. With Eric Reid a medical risk for several teams because of bad shoulders, the Packers bypass him. Pick: S Matt Elam, Florida. His reckless style of play will bring back memories of Chuck Cecil and bring a level of toughness the Packers need badly. Selection by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

27. HOUSTON: (9 picks, 2 in the third round, 4 of top 95). Needs: WR, OLB, OT, ILB, NT, S. Notes: GM Rick Smith has never traded up without trading down first. He’s made a trade in all but one of his six drafts. He’s taken five defensive players in the first round of his six drafts. Last offensive player: LT Duane Brown (2008). Last offensive player before Brown, WR Andre Johnson (2003). GM Rick Smith swears the Texans won’t reach, but they always take a first-round prospect who fits a need. This season, the most glaring need is a receiver to start opposite Andre Johnson. Kevin Walter, who started the last six years, was waived for cap purposes. Next in line would have been DeVier Posey, a rookie last season who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in the last game and shouldn’t be ready before midway through the season, if that. Last year, Texans lost OLB Mario Williams, leaving them with Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed at outside linebacker. They drafted OLB Whitney Mercilus in the first round. Mercilus will start opposite Reed with Barwin gone to Philly. I think they’ll draft another OLB high. They also need a right tackle. Derek Newton, last year’s starter who rotated with journeyman Ryan Harris, underwent surgery to repair a patellar tendon in his knee. He’s supposed to be healthy by camp. He didn’t play very well. Harris re-signed for one year. This is a need position, too. Texans need depth at ILB, NT and S. The three ILBs on the roster, Brian Cushing, Darryl Sharpton and Tim Dobbins, finished last season on IR. They need an influx of youth, probably in the third round. Starting nose tackle the last four years, isn’t coming back. He’s recovering from back surgery. Earl Mitchell, who actually played more than Cody, becomes the starter. They need a backup. Texans also need a young free safety for Ed Reed to groom. Smith has never drafted a safety higher than the fifth round and might not this year, either. Pick: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson. Selection by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

28. DENVER: Broncos have 6 selections (No 6th rounder). Needs: DE, DT, RB, CB, LB, S. They'll be looking to trade down, but so will everybody else from the 23rd pick on down or so because if the way this board is structured, so the market won't be great. They lost Elvis Dumervil in free agency – fax machine, etc ... -- but Elway said this week he’s OK with where the defensive line is at the moment. But Elway will always take best player available, regardless of need, and if the best guy here is a D-lineman that’s the pick. They’re looking at corners as well even though they signed Rodgers-Cromartie in free agency. It’s only a one-year deal and they are looking for someone to help in the dime, which they play plenty under Del  Rio, and for down the road. They signed guard Louis Vasquez in free agency, but also have four starting offensive linemen coming back from some kind of surgery in the past eight months and left tackle Ryan Clady is both coming back from shoulder surgery and disgruntled that they have used the franchise tag on him. Under our scenario here they’ll look at DEs like Tank Carradine and Datone Jones, but .. Pick: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. Selection by Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post.

29. NEW ENGLAND: Pats have five picks – first, second, third and two sevenths. Needs: WR, CB, DE, DT, DE, G. The Patriots haven’t had this few picks since 2002, when they drafted just six players. So Bill Belichick will be looking to trade out of this spot (like just about every other team). The Patriots, as part of their philosophy, do like to go into any draft with glaring needs. They did a pretty good job plugging most of their holes, but they left one big one: receiver. Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman will replace Wes Welker, but not much has been brought in to fill the hole/lack of talent at the X receiver position. Aaron Hernandez’s versatility gives them some cover, but signing (and not getting) Emmanuel Sanders of the Steelers to an offer sheet for a third-round pick shows the Patriots are looking for help at the spot. The question is, do they think a receiver is worth a first-round pick? They’ve never taken one in the first round. Of course, we were saying that last year about edge rushers before they traded up and took Chandler Jones. Pick: Robert Woods, WR, USC. The Patriots have completely bombed drafting receivers because their scheme is so complicated, and Tom Brady is so demanding. Woods wins out over solid fits Keenan Allen and Marcus Wheaton because Woods is a little more polished and the most plug-and-play ready. Also considered: Allen, Wheaton; CBs Desmond Trufant, Johnathan Banks and Jamar Taylor; DTs Sylvester Williams, Kawann Short; DEs Datone Jones, Alex Okafor. Selection by Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe.

30. ATLANTA: The Falcons have 11 picks -- 1st Round (No. 30 overall), 2nd Round (No. 60 overall), 3rd Round (No. 92 overall), 4th Round (No. 127), 4th Round (No. 133 overall) – compensatory, 5th Round (No. 163 overall), 6th Round (No. 198), 7th Round (No. 236), 7th Round (No. 243 overall)– compensatory, 7th Round (No. 244 overall) – compensatory and 7th Round (No. 249 overall) – compensatory. Needs: CB, DE, LB, TE, RG. They Falcons are looking to trade up in order to get a quality starter for the defense, which finished last season ranked 24th overall. They could go in several directions, but because they released three of the top five cornerbacks and are a“needs-based” drafting team keep an eye on the cornerbacks. If there’s a run and their guy is coming off the board, look for the move. If their guy is slipping to them at 30, look for them to stand pat. Keep an eye on cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Desmond Trufant. That will dictate which direction they could. They could stand pat if tight end Zach Ertz slips through. Pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington. Under this scenario Trufant, who I believe is their guy, slips through to them. Selection by D. Orlando Ledbeter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

31. CHICAGO: Bears have five picks: (1-20, 2-50, 4-117, 5-153, 6-188). The Bears traded their third round pick to Miami as part of the WR Brandon Marshall deal; they traded their seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay for DT Brian Price. Needs: LB, OG, OT, WR, CB, DE, QB. The Bears have filled enough holes for 2013 in free agency (MLB D.J. Williams, SLB James Anderson, LT Jermon Bushrod, G Matt Slauson, TE Matellus Bennet) that they aren't compelled to find a starter in the first round. So with only five picks overall, they are looking to trade down from No. 20 to acquire more picks -- presumable an additional second-rounder and a third-round pick to make up for the one they traded to the Dolphins. In his first season as an NFL GM, Phil Emery was highly unpredictable. I have yet to find a mock draft from 2012 -- and certainly not a local one -- that had him taking Shea McClellin at No. 19. So while the Bears' big-picutre need is an impact LB, fortifying a strength (DT) or upgrading a previously upgraded position (TE) are possibilities. Pick::OT D.J. Fluker of Alabama is the best available player and fills a need. Selection by Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.

32. BALTIMORE: Selections: 12 total (four compensatory and sixth-rounder acquired in Anquan Boldin trade). Needs: ILB, S, LT, WR, NT, pass rusher. The Ravens, as has been the case for five straight years now, will be picking late in the first round. I can envision one of the prospects who have already been drafted in this mock unexpectedly dropping to the Ravens, and don’t be surprised if they use one of their 12 picks to move up for a player they like. If they stay put at this pick, the two most logical positions they might address at inside linebacker and strong safety, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they took a tackle or a wide receiver or even another pass rusher early. Given who has already been selected in this mock draft, I was basically picked between LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter and Florida International safety Johnathan Cyprien. Both are possibilities who could immediately fill a hole in the starting lineup. Since I’m personally not high on using a first-rounder on a two-down inside linebacker, I went with Cyrpien, who would bring youth and versatility to the secondary. But Ozzie Newsome might feel differently and go with Minter. Pick: Johnathan Cyprien, S, Florida International. Selection by Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun.

April 24, 2013

Davone Bess, man on the outs, on the trade block

The first thing everyone thought when the Dolphins re-signed Brian Hartline and added receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson was that Davone Bess was on the outs.

The Dolphins denied it.

When coach Joe Philbin was asked if Bess was in the team's long-term plans he said:

“Absolutely. Yeah," Philbin said. "As you guys know, I envision us bringing 10 or 12 guys to training camp. We’re going to get a lot of reps as we see and we’re going to let guys go out there and compete and earn spots and take it from there."

Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland also said Bess would not be traded.

Well, the Chicago Sun-Times just reported the Dolphins are in talks with various teams, most notably the Cleveland Browns, about trading Davone Bess. The newspaper also reported the compensation being discussed is mid-round compensation at best.

The Herald's Adam Beasley confirmed Bess is being shopped. And he is also reporting a trade is more likely than not.

Bess is under contract for one more year and is scheduled to be a free agent after 2013. A deal would likely include a new contract for Bess.

So what could this mean?

I mean aside from the fact one cannot believe anything an NFL team, it's coach or GM say ...

Tavon Austin.

If the Dolphins deal Bess, they could be planning the acquisition of the playmaking West Virginia slot receiver either with the No. 12 pick in the draft or with a draft trade up.

I was on a national writers' mock draft Tuesday and Austin went to the New York Jets with the No. 9 overall pick.

Texas A&M wide receiver Ryan Swope, a favorite of former coach and Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, also becomes a serious possibility. (This makes more sense to me).

Bess, who caught 61 passes for 778 yards in 2012, cannot be pleased by this news. If he isn't dealt, it becomes clear to everyone what we all assumed but the Dolphins denied: Bess is a man on the outs in the Miami offense.

If Bess is not dealt, the Dolphins could easily cut him. He is going to cost $3.433 million against the cap in 2013. The Dolphins can save $2.633 million by simply cutting him. They would take a $750,000 cap hit. Obviously this is not the best option, but it would open the roster spot.

Me? I'd be surprised if Davone Bess remains with the Dolphins past this weekend.

Holdup in Albert trade: Miami's deal with KC

The Dolphins have the parameters of a contract ready and practically agreed with left tackle Branden Albert. The sides -- the player and the Dolphins -- have an understanding of what it will cost in money compensation to get a contract done.

That's apparently not a problem.

The problem, as first reported by the NFL Network, is draft choice or player compensation between the Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs.

It is not known what the Chiefs want in return for Albert. It is not known what the Dolphins are willing to give for Albert. That part is all speculation. The consensus is that the exchange could involve a second round pick in the draft that begins Thursday night and continues Friday and Saturday.

The Dolphins have two second-round selections.

The Dolphins, as Steve Wyche of NFL-AM reported, are the only team talking to the Chiefs about trading for Albert.

By the way, the Dolphins and the Chiefs are gaining quite a history of trade emnity. They disagreed on compensation for sending Patrick Surtain to KC before getting it done. They disagreed on compensation for sending Trent Green to Miami before getting it done.

My sense is the two teams will get this done. Eventually.

Me? I'd offer the Chiefs one of my third round picks this year or a 2014 second rounder. And then I'd call them Saturday. Trust me, Branden Albert will still be on the trade block then.

Branden Albert and Dolphins talking again

The on-again, off-again talks between the Dolphins and the Branden Albert camp are on-again and they are quite hot right now, a club source is telling me this morning.

On Tuesday I sent out multiple texts to club sources and, as expected, got the silent treatment across the board. (I'v been told by sources that when I don't get responses, that usually means something is happening). But this morning I got one response and this team source tells me the Dolphins remain interested in Albert, are talking with Albert's camp, want to give him a physical, and will be talking to the Chiefs about him in the coming hours or days.

So this possible trade for the Kansas City Chiefs left tackle -- derailed recently by the Chiefs' wanting high draft compensation for him, the Dolphins declining to make a significant and tangible offer, and the Albert contract demands -- is back on track.

There are still hurdles apparently so it is too early to say this will definitely happen. But my sense is we're getting to that point where all the parties want answers and the answer is going to be get it done. The NFL draft begins tomorrow at 8 p.m.

I cannot say with certainty, but my speculation is the Dolphins would like to know by that time what Albert's health status is. That means they'd probably like to get him a physical by then. It's possible the Chiefs won't allow a physical before a trade is agreed to and make the trade contingent on that physical -- as is custom in most trades. So already you have different agendas at work.

It remains interesting to me that the draft-choice or player compensation to the Chiefs is more of a sticking point for the Dolphins than the contract with the player.

It boggles because the Albert camp wants significant money. Reports have been that Albert, who is currently signed to a $9.8 million franchise tender, wants to average $9 million per season and he wants it structured so that he's protected from being cut after just one year. The $9 million is elite left tackle money and one can argue that Albert is a good player but not an elite player.

The Dolphins, which have approximately $9 million in salary cap space now but get another $10 million after June 1 (from the release of Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett), have the necessary cap room to sign Albert and eventually sign their draft picks.

 

Players Dolphins might trade at No. 12

The first thing you must understand about draft trades is that intelligent and successful general managers do not trade for draft picks. They trade for players.

That's why the second overall pick last year was worth a mint to the Washington Redskins. They didn't trade for the slot. They traded for Robert Griffin III.

That's why the second overall pick in this year's draft won't be worth nearly as much to anyone interested. The reason is a team would be trading for Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel or Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah. Not the same value as RG3.

And so in discussing trade up possibilities for the Dolphins consider what player the team would covet so as to give up its own No. 12 pick plus multiple more picks this year and next to climb five or six slots. Who is worth that?

Is Dee Milliner, the most versatile cornerback in the draft, worth that? He's not Deion Sanders, people. Indeed, some teams are concerned about his durability because of the number of times he's required surgery to correct various problems.

Is Ziggy Ansah worth that? The kid is a project. Yes, he might become Jason Pierre Paul. Or he might become a tremendous bust who never figures it out.

Are either Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel worth that kind of ransom? Let me rephrase, are they worth giving up a No. 1 this year, a No. 1 next year and probably both No. 2s this year and perhaps another next year? Some of you are freaking out because the Dolphins might give up second-rounder for Branden Albert but you'd be ok with mortgaging this draft and possibly next for Fisher or Joeckel?

When you do the exercise this way it becomes hard to fathom the Dolphins trading up in this draft unless the price for doing so has dropped dramatically.

Remember, the Dolphins are not one player away from going to the Super Bowl.

There is not a sure-fire superstar that will make 10 Pro Bowls among the first 11 players of this year's draft. I've had two NFL personnel men tell me there are more likely six solid players and multiple busts in the group.

So that out of the way, let us concentrate on what players will available at No. 12 that the Dolphins would be willing to trade away.

That's right, what player that will never play for Miami is Miami willing to trade to another team wanting that player. That's how you must think of it. It's not Miami selling the No. 12 pick. It's Miami selling a player another team covets.

Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei will probably be available at No. 12.

Quarterback Geno Smith will probably be available.

Wide receiver Tavon Austin might be available.

Wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson will probably be available.

OLB Jarvis Jones will probably be available.

The two prized guards -- Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack --  will probably be available.

Of all those players, I see only three that might create enough of a buzz to cause a team to try to get up to No. 12 to get them. Those players are Lotulelei, Austin and Smith.

Smith is intriguing because if he's not drafted by Arizona, Cleveland or Buffalo, he's going to fall at least to No. 13 and the New York Jets. So a team wanting him has to get ahead of the Jets, which is perfect for the Dolphins.

Who might be interested? Obviously, this is all conjecture but Minnesota might want a QB.

Lotulelei is one of four defensive tackles that are likely to be drafted in the first round, along with Sharrif Floyd, Sheldon Richardson and Sylvester Williams.  

What teams might covet him more than the Dolphins do?

The Cowboys want DT help. So does San Francisco. So does Minnesota.

Austin is a wildcard. Yes, he's too small. Yes, he might be gone (perhaps to the Jets at No. 9). But if he's there, he might draw the attention of multiple teams that badly want a playmaker.

St. Louis might be interested. They've got two first round picks --  at Nos. 16 and 22.

San Francisco makes sense. The 49ers have 13 picks this draft but nowhere near 13 available roster spots. Seattle is loading up on defense. The 49ers lost Randy Moss and, ahem, Ted Ginn Jr. Anything  to help their young QB?

The point is think players when thinking draft trades. Don't think picks.

April 23, 2013

Dolphins uniforms leaked right here

The Dolphins new uniforms will be unveiled Thursday, along with the helmet.

But as the Jacksonville Jaguars unveiled their new unis today, they accidently leaked the Miami uniforms as well. And the pictures, sent to me courtesy Dolphins in Depth contributor Joe Alvarez, are below.

The other day when I spent some time with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and CEO Mike Dee, they joked with me about the new orange pants and aqua jersey combination. Yes, they were kidding. When they turned serious they said that the new Dolphins look will be "clean."

That's the only thing they'd say to me about it.

Well, there's more to say. But I'll let the pictures tell the story. These are the Dolphins new uniforms below. There will only be two combinations this year. There will be NO aqua on aqua like in the past and there will be NO orange jersey this year.

Enjoy ...

Or rip away ...

Unileak1

Unileak2

 

Dolphins seriously exploring trade-down market

The Miami Dolphins have spent the past couple of days phoning various other NFL teams trying to gauge interest in the No. 12 overall selection as they try to prepare themselves for an attempt to trade down from their first round selection, multiple NFL sources are telling me.

Although the Dolphins have perhaps a handful of players they would be satisfied taking in the first round of the draft, which begins Thursday at 8 p.m., they clearly believe some of those players will be available and thus be a better value later in the first round.

It's impossible to know what players exactly the Dolphins have eyes on, so to speak, particularly for later in the round. But these are some of the possibilities:

Cornerback D.J. Hayden of Houston.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro of Texas.

Tight end Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson of Missouri.

Defensive tackle Sylvester Williams of North Carolina.

Guard Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina.

And yes, Manti Te'o of Notre Dame.

The fact the Dolphins are clearly doing much more work on trade down scenarios and not trade up scenarios suggests two things:

One: The club is likely exploring ways of retrieving a possible second-round pick in the exchange because it may give up one of its current second round picks to Kansas City for LT Branden Albert between now and Friday. Trading down, getting a late first-rounder and getting back a second-rounder in the mix could mitigate the sting of giving up a second-rounder for Albert. It would leave the Dolphins with multiple second-round selections, which is what the team has today anyway.

Two: The Dolphins don't love their options at No. 12 and believe there is more value in players lower in the draft.

A caveat, however, is that the Dolphins aren't the only team wanting to trade down. Because this draft's strength and greatest value are expected in picks 15-17 to around 35ish, there may be several teams looking to trade down.

The more teams looking to trade down ... the harder it will be to trade down.

 

Contradictory reports on Albert, Dolphins contract

I do not understand the media. And I'm in the media.

Last week's heinous and cowardly terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon showed that the media can often go after the same story and come away with contradictory facts.

Remember the New York Post reporting there were 12 deaths when there were three? Remember CNN reporting there had been an arrest and the Boston police having to tweet there had been no arrests because, well, there hadn't been any? Remember the reports of the bomber being dark-skinned? A right winger? A lone wolf?

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Are you getting the drift?

We in the media often miss it. I am no exception.

Most of us are doing the best we can with the information others are willing to share. Some of us have good sources. Some of us ... not so much.

And that brings me to Branden Albert.

Remember him?

It's all we've been talking about for several days, it seems. And as the possibility of a trade happening is floating out there, the national media has caught wind and is also working the story.

But, lest you forget, sometimes excellent and well intentioned reporters get contradictory information from their sources. So I present to you the Monday night tweets from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

Rapoport tweeted that the Dolphins have agreed to pay Albert's contract demands, which are basically similar to those Houston LT Duane Brown got from the Texans last season. He added that the deal is thus merely waiting on KC -- obviously meaning the Dolphins and Chiefs have to agree to the trade compensation necessary to complete the deal.

Fine.

Mortensen, among the best in the business, reported quite the opposite several hours later. He said the Dolphins have been "turned off" by Albert's contract demands. And he said there has been little or no communication for two weeks. 

 Well now, that presents something of a contradiction in my mind. They both cannot be correct if they're saying polar opposite things -- that contract parameters are agreed to and that the contract parameters turned the Dolphins off.

I don't know who is correct. I don't have any tiebreaking information. 

I do know Brown got a seven-year $56.2 million deal in August of 2012 that included a six-year extension worth $53.4 million. Do the math: The extension averages out to $8.9 million per year. And the $22 million in guaranteed money is an armored truck load.

And the Dolphins are going to pay that and give up a draft pick, too?

If that is true, I smell desperation.

Look, Brown was the best left tackle in the AFC and perhaps the NFL last year. He's been elite for a couple of years now. He finally got recognized for his play with a Pro Bowl berth last year -- not that that is the truest measure of his worth. Bottom line, he's worth the money.

Albert, meanwhile, is a good player. There is no arguing that. Scouts say that. The metrics people at ProFootballFocus rated him the 11th best pass blocking left tackle last year. And from what I've seen, my eyes tell me he's solid.

But he's not $8.9 million a year plus a draft pick good. 

Aside from his play when he's healthy, I'd be worried about the guy's durability. Look, the primary reason the Dolphins didn't grease up Jake Long with the love and respect (read big-money contract that didn't question his durability) he wanted is because he had durability issues.

Well, in Albert's five NFL seasons he's played 16 games once -- that in 2011. Last year he missed five starts and three full games because of a back issue. Albert missed more starts than Long last year. 

And the Dolphins are going to give Albert nearly $9 million per year?

Let me put it this way: I hope Mort is right. 

April 22, 2013

Draft week: Will Ireland panic on Branden Albert?

Jeff Ireland has generally not been one to panic throughout his tenure as the Dolphins general manager.

Once he realized that Chad Henne was not the answer as Miami's franchise quarterback, he didn't panic and pick Ryan Mallett in the 2011 draft. He didn't panic and make the deal for Kyle Orton later that summer. He didn't panic earlier this offseason and give cornerback Brent Grimes or tight end Dustin Keller multi-year deals. He didn't panic and fill an offensive line need by immediately committing to Eric Winston -- either last year or this year.

Indeed, the only Ireland move I can really think would even come close to being a panic move was the trade up for running back Daniel Thomas in the second round of the 2011 draft. The Dolphins desperately needed running back help after moving on from Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams and apparently feared losing out on Thomas so the move was made.

Despite that one apparent indiscretion, Ireland has been a fairly cool customer when it comes to acquiring players. (No, he doesn't always get the right one. No one does. But he doesn't get flustered about going after anyone, either). He certainly played it cool with left tackle Jake Long and that is one reason I've confirmed Long went to the St. Louis Rams.

Seems Long didn't think the Dolphins showed him enough love or respect, probably by the structure of their offers to him, to return to Miami.

And that brings us to the Branden Albert situation.

Albert is the Kansas City Chiefs left tackle who is on the trade block. And the Dolphins have shown considerable interest. But the interest has not been to the point where the Dolphins had offered the Chiefs a trade proposal as of this writing. The interest had not been to the point where the Dolphins had worked out a contract with Albert's agent as of this writing.

Ireland had so far played it cool. 

As of Sunday afternoon, this was still in the pending file.

But as this is officially the dawn of draft week, and all three parties -- the Chiefs, the Dolphins and the Albert camp -- would like a resolution to the issue that involves them all, the pressure on Ireland is about to mount exponentially. And pressure often causes folks to panic.

Because the draft is less than four days away, the Albert camp wants the Dolphins to get a deal done. The Chiefs want to bring this to some sort of conclusion because they'd like to know if Albert is going to be on their roster or if they're going to have an extra draft choice -- a fairly high one apparently -- for Albert.

And there is a certain amount of pressure on the Dolphins to figure out both draft compensation and a contract for Albert if that's the direction they're going to go. And if that's not the direction they're going to go, the Dolphins need to figure out how else they'll solve their left tackle vacancy that apparently they're not thrilled with Jonathan Martin filling.

So, yes, there is pressure. And this is about the time someone might panic.

Will it be Ireland?

He's the most likely choice of the three parties involved.

Albert's camp doesn't have to panic. They've got a signed franchise tag they're holding which guarantees the player $9.8 million in 2013. Yes, they want a multi-year deal. But are they going to cave to get that done?

Absolutely not. Indeed, the Albert camp believes it is working from a position of strength. They have a guaranteed one-year deal. They have a player that can hit the free agent market next year and get major bucks because it's unlikely the Chiefs would franchise him again at 120 percent of this year's cap value. They also have a suitor on the line for a multi-year deal. So there is not real timing pressure on them.

And that's why I'm told Albert wants to get paid. He wants a contract that is better than the four-year, $34 million deal with $16 million guaranteed the Rams gave Jake Long.

Yes, Branden Albert expects to get a better deal from the Dolphins than Jake Long ultimately believed the Dolphins were offering him. Now, one can play with the numbers. It's possible the Dolphins' offer to Long might have been higher than the Rams' but was structured in such a way as to make it easy to get rid of him after one year if he was injured again.

But on the face, Albert wants to do better than the deal Long thought was the best one on the table.

And they're not under undo pressure.

The Chiefs are playing it coy, too. They've not giving Miami permission to speak with Albert personally or give him a physical until they have a signficant trade offer on the table. And as of this writing, that was not yet the case.

They can argue they'll draft as planned and simply keep Albert and there will be opportunities to trade him later. Of course, we know this is posturing. The Chiefs want the draft pick compensation for Albert by Friday the latest. And if they don't get it by then, they're losing the maximum benefit of trading him. But I'm simply telling you what they might be pitching as a stance.

Ireland and the Dolphins?

They seem more desperate. They don't have a left tackle. The veil of using Martin as the answer has been removed. That's not what the team wants. That would only be the last resort move.

They aren't going to ransom their entire draft to trade up for Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher as those two left tackles might go No. 1 and No. 2 when the draft begins Thursday. They're not in love with Lane Johnson enough to mortgage a signficant part of their draft to trade up for him. (Maybe if he drops to them, they go with him. But trade up for him? Not in the plans as of today).

So what's left? Pick the fourth-best left tackle and hope?

It's a time for lesser men to panic because there are not wonderful options.

But this is my advice to Jeff Ireland:

Do you. Be yourself. Do not panic.

Paying Branden Albert -- a good but not great left tackle -- like he's an elite left tackle is not a palatable move to begin with. And paying a 2013 second- or third-round pick to Kansas City for the privilege makes it less appealing.

So hold fast.

Offer a 2014 second-rounder instead of 2013.

If it must be a 2013 pick, make absolutely sure that it's the second of Miami's two second-rounders (Nos. 42 and 54) and make sure that a trade down from No. 12 in the first round is available so you can regain that extra pick to mitigate the sting of trading for Albert.

(That likely means waiting until Thursday because very few teams will be willing to make a pre-draft trade for the No. 12 overall selection before then). 

If the Chiefs don't want to budge, call their bluff. Seriously. What are they going to do after picking Joeckel? They have to trade Albert. So wait them out.

If Thursday comes an goes and Friday comes and goes, Braden Albert will still be on the trade block. And then the pressure on K.C. will indeed mount. They're not going to waive the guy. Make the trade for a '14 pick. Give them that second-rounder, tell them they beat you up, shake their hand and call it a day -- all the while knowing they didn't win because they didn't take your current picks.

Remember Jimmy Johnson's old axiom: A second-rounder next year is like giving up a third-rounder this year because experience and maturity will likely cause the third-rounder to produce faster and more. So giving up a second next year for Albert is more of a bargain for Miami.

That strategy would give the team Albert this year, plus its full complement of draft picks this year. And that 2014 pick you trade away might be a lower selection anyway if your moves this year pay the kind of dividends you expect and you're in the playoffs.

Does waiting out K.C. come with risk?

Of course it does. Maybe another team jumps into the picture. Maybe the Chiefs rethink their strategy and keep Albert.

But those risks seem marginal. Albert's been on the market for a while and no one else has stepped up. And Albert has made it known to the Chiefs he's dead set against playing right tackle so he's causing them some pressure on that front.

Look, this deal could be done by Monday night or Tuesday if Jeff Ireland panics. Yes, he'd immediately have the solution to his left tackle issue. But the move would seem unthoughtful in the wake of losing Jake Long because the cost would be higher on multiple fronts (trade compensation as well as big contract compensation to the player).

Or ...

Ireland could strap his belt a notch tighter and hold his breath. He could wait out the Chiefs and the chances he'd get Albert could diminish. There's uncertainty there admittedly.

But sometimes testing that uncertainty is better than being the guy that panics.

April 18, 2013

Complete Dolphins schedule right here

The 2013 season is important for the Dolphins.

It's the 40-year anniversary of their last Super Bowl win. It's the year we're supposed to see Ryan Tannehill become a franchise quarterback. It's the year Joe Philbin is supposed to have enough horses to win. It's a make or break year for general manager Jeff Ireland.

And this is how it is going to stack up according to NFL and media sources:

September 8              at Cleveland Browns                    1 pm

September 15            at Indianapolis Colts                     1 pm

September 22            Atlanta Falcons                             4:05 pm

September 30            at New Orleans Saints (Mon)           8:40 pm

October 6                  Baltimore Ravens                           1 pm

October 13                 BYE  

October 20                 Buffalo Bills                                   1 pm

October 27                at New England Patriots                  1 pm

October 31                Cincinnati Bengals (Thurs)                8:25 pm

November 11             at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Mon)        8:40p

November 17             San Diego Chargers                            1 pm

November 24             Carolina Panthers                              1 pm

December 1               at New York Jets                                1 pm

December 8              at Pittsburgh Steelers                          1 pm

December 15             New England Patriots                          1 pm

December 22             at Buffalo Bills                                    1 pm

December 29             New York Jets                                     1 pm

Dolphins get multiple prime time games in 2013

The Dolphins have been limited to the league minimum number of prime time games for a while because they haven't been all that good or all that compelling.

But after spending nearly $100 million in guaranteed money on free agents this offseason the networks are obviously seeing the franchise as much more interesting one. That's why Miami will get three prime time games on national television in 2013, NFL and media sources are telling me.

The Dolphins will be on ESPN's Monday night football broadcast at New Orleans on Monday, Sept. 30.

The Dolphins will host the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night, October 31 on NFL Network.

And the next Monday night, on November 11, the Dolphins will travel to Tampa Bay to play before a national cable audience on ESPN.

The NFL will announce the full schedule starting at 8 p.m.

As I reported in the previous blog post, the Dolphins will open the 2013 season at Cleveland on Sunday Sept. 8. The game will be a 1 p.m. kickoff.

The Dolphins haven't won a season-opener since 2010. The Browns stink and have a new coach in former University of Miami tight end Rob Chudzinski. This one seems like a good chance to open the season with a victory.

Dolphins to open '13 season at Cleveland; close vs. Jets

The NFL is releasing its regular season schedule at 8 p.m. but media and league sources are telling me that the Dolphins will open the 2013 season on the road. [Update: And they will close the season at home.]

The Dolphins will open the season that is the 40-year anniversary of their last Super Bowl at Cleveland on Sunday Sept. 8. The game will be a 1 p.m. kickoff. The season finale will come on Dec. 29 at Sun Life against the Jets.

The Dolphins haven't won a season-opener since 2010. The Browns stink and have a new coach in former University of Miami tight end Rob Chudzinski. This one seems like a good chance to open the season with a victory.

[BLOG NOTE: Hit refresh often as I'll have schedule updates as they come in.]

 

Dolphins move on Albert should depend on details

Sometimes the devil is in the details and that's where the Dolphins are with Branden Albert.

As multiple media sources reported Wednesday, and as I reported on this blog on March 22, the Dolphins are considering making a trade for the Kansas City Chiefs franchise player.

[Update: John Clayton of ESPN is reporting the Dolphins have been given permission to speak with Albert and he'll visit the Dolphins and take a physical soon. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald is reporting the sides are talking contract.]

On its face, the idea makes sense.

The Dolphins lost left tackle Jake Long to St. Louis in free agency. The club has a need and coach Joe Philbin didn't exactly endorse the idea of Jonathan Martin as his starting left tackle when he discussed the issue last month. The Dolphins also had a price point for Long and they have not used the cap space that was intended for Long on anyone else.

So the team can afford to sign Branden Albert and believes Albert to be a left tackle upgrade over Martin.

But ...

The devil is in the details.

The only way this trade makes sense is if the Dolphins do it in conjunction with another trade and only after Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel comes off the board on draft day. That's right, this trade only makes sense if Joeckel isn't available because if he is on draft day, the Dolphins look like fools.

Consider:

If Joeckel goes No. 1 overall to Kansas City, then the Dolphins can be certain the best LT in the draft is gone and they move on. But if KC picks Eric Fisher and Joekel drops to No. 3 or No. 4, the Dolphins must, must, must try to trade up to get him. That move would be expensive in that it would require a second-round pick and other considerations. But it makes more sense than the Albert trade because that also will require a second-round pick plus a more expensive contract than Joeckel.

And Joeckel, unproven in the NFL as he is, is probably going to be a better player than Albert.

So the Dolphins would be going for a better player (Joeckel) using basically the same draft pick compensation (well, maybe more expensive but only slightly) and pay a lower contract in the transaction.

So if the Dolphins don't wait for draft day to make this Albert trade, they're not really thinking through all the contingencies. And if Joeckel then falls, the Dolphins will look downright foolish.

Then there is this:

Even if Joeckel goes No. 1 overall as expected, the Dolphins can simply trade a No. 2 for Albert, but they would still look kind of silly. You see, why pay a high draft pick and a big contract to Branden Albert when you could have had Jake Long for the big contract and kept the pick?

You mean to say the Dolphins played hardball with Long only to cave on Albert?

I understand Long is seemingly diminished and often injured. Trust me, I made the point here many times. But Albert comes with no guarantees, either. He basically had a very good season in 2012. But it was only good enough for the Chiefs to want to trade him. He's been injured during his career. He's struggled with weight issues. He was a turnstile in 2009, giving up nine sacks.

And, again, the Chiefs are willing to let him go so they can draft a rookie to play the same position.

So it's not like Branden Albert is a slam dunk worth-it move.

This is where the devil has to be in the details.

If the Dolphins pay Albert as much as Long got in St. Louis, they look dumb. If the Dolphins get Albert for much cheaper, they still have a find a way to recover that second-round pick they still gave up for him.

And how do they do that?

Well, here is my perfect scenario that would prevent me from thinking the Dolphins got ripped off on getting Branden Albert. If the Dolphins trade away their lower of two second-round picks for Albert and then trade down from No. 12 overall to a lower pick in the first round while then pickinng up a second-rounder for the move, I'll be straight. I'll be good.

The haul would then be a lower first, Albert (albeit at a big contract) and two second rounders for all those moves.

The trade down would mitigate the sting of giving up a second for Albert because it recovers a second-rounder for the trade down.

By the way, if the Dolphins somehow end up giving Albert more money than Long got from St. Louis, something is significantly amiss because even with his multiple injury issues, Long was still a better player than Albert when healthy.

All this has to play out.

The devil will be in the details.

 

needs to be part of another draft-day trade down

April 17, 2013

Lemonier among last of private visits Dolphins will host

Today is the final day NFL teams are allowed to bring in prospects for private visits. The Dolphins are taking advantage of this by hosting Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier, a Miami native, whose statistics the past two years are impressive.

The visit, first reported by CBSports.com, began Tuesday evening with dinner.

Lemonier (pronounced Lemon - wah) had a great 2011 season but fell off somewhat in 2012. He recorded 9.5 sacks in '11 but that production dropped to 5.5 in '12. If he'd transposed that production he'd be projected a much higher pick than he currently is. He'd perhaps be a bottom of the first round prospect instead of being considered a second round or third round pick.

It's interesting that Lemonier, playing in the very competitive SEC, still had more sacks than BYU's Ezekiel Ansah (4.5)  and Oregon's Dion Jordan (5.0) last year. Ansah and Jordan are considered high first round selections.

Lemonier also ran the fastest 40 time at the combine when he covered the distance at 4.60 while carrying 255 pounds on his 6-3 frame.

The Dolphins, as you know, are winding down their draft meetings now. And as that is happening, I'm told the club is still trying to identify a couple or three players it truly loves at No. 12 overall where it is scheduled to select in the coming first round.

Lane Johnson? Like. Not love. (By the way, I've consistently reported that GM Jeff Ireland has some concerns about Johnson. I've been told he's not sure about Johnson at No. 12. And he's going to move up to get Johnson? I find that hard to believe . Something significant would have to change).

Tavon Austin? Like. Not love.

Xavier Rhodes? Not even a lot of like.

You know what I see?

I see a team that seems more likely to try and move out of No. 12 than not. And unless the move is to go up to try to land perhaps Eric Fisher, I'm thinking the attempted move will more likely to be down rather than the much-speculated trade up.

 

April 16, 2013

Star Lotulelei in the first round makes sense (which is bad)

I know Jeff Ireland loves defensive tackles. A lot.

In two of the past three years the Dolphins have used their franchise tag on, you guessed it, defensive tackles -- Paul Soliai in 2011 and Randy Starks this year.

Only days after tagging Starks with the franchise tag, Ireland made no secret to his personnel people that he still wanted to add another defensive tackle because those guys are good to have and he already knew Tony McDaniel was headed out the door. Ireland also sees the defensive line as a Miami staple and he wants to keep it strong.

Ireland has said in at least two drafts that he's always looking for big bodied nose tackle/defensive tackle types because men built to play the position are hard to find.

One of the Dolphins signings this offseason? Defensive tackle Vaughn Martin, who was inked to a two-year deal.

So we've established Ireland likes to have defensive tackles in the fold.

And that leads me to my concern:

That on April 25, sitting at No. 12 in the first round, Ireland will look at his horizontal draft board and see Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei sitting there and he'll pull the trigger.

Lotulelei is by any measure a solid NFL draft choice at No. 12. Indeed, he might be the highest player on the Dolphins board at that time if the selections go as most of the experts have it mocked so far. For example, Mel Kiper of ESPN and the NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, Charles Davis, Gil Brandt and Charley Casserly all have Lotulelei on the board when Miami picks.

Furthermore, most of those experts have the big man going one pick later to Tampa Bay.

So what we have is the Starman being available and not being a reach around the No. 12 spot where Miami is scheduled to pick.

Then you have the fact the Dolphins like Lotulelei, you have the fact they've met with him privately, you have the fact both Starks and Soliai are in the final years of their deals, and it spells the Dolphins giving serious consideration to Lotulelei. I mean, very, very serious consideration.

And why do you sense tripidation about this on my part?

Three things:

Star Lotulelei doesn't play cornerback. And the Dolphins need to add a starting-caliber cornerback fairly high in this draft because I'm a lot more certain that Tom Brady will be his old self in 2013 while I'm not nearly as certain that Brent Grimes will be.

Star Lotulelei doesn't play offensive tackle. And if the Dolphins want to keep quarterback Ryan Tannehill's head on his shoulders next year, they need to add a starting-caliber offensive tackle in this draft.

Third, Star Lotulelei has a reputation for being very good on plays he didn't take off. In other words, his motor wasn't in gear every play he's on the field. Yes, he's on the field a lot. But I still don't like players that take plays off.

Fourth, and this one is thrown in as an aside because the problem has apparently been resolved, Star Lotulelei had that heart issue during the Indianapolis Combine. And having players with a past history of heart issues (even small and temporary ones) is scary in South Florida where the July and August temperatures are trying even for players with strong hearts.

I guess I'm worried the Dolphins will draft Lotulelei in the first round because he's a value pick and it makes sense addressing a future ... but he doesn't resolve either major need today.

The Dolphins have had no issues addressing future needs this offseason. They replaced Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett. But in the face of needing a starting OT and a starting CB (my opinion) are they going to address DT in the first round?

It's possible. Very possible.

 

April 15, 2013

Not a fan of draft-day trades but if you must then ...

You know how I feel about draft day trades? They have rarely factored to any large degree for the Dolphins, as I demonstrate in this column. They were meh before meh was a thing.

And I do believe if you read the column the proof is indisputable.

But personnel men being personnel men, they still think that despite the fact they bat .500 at best -- meaning they miss as a group on half their picks despite all their meetings and tape study and visits and workouts and interviews -- somebody is definitely going try to jockey around the draft board because he thinks himself smarter than everyone else.

So what's my prediction if the Dolphins end up doing that?

Well, while everyone is predicting a trade up because the Dolphins have assets move up if they wish, I see them moving down. That's right down.

Why?

Because if the Dolphins personnel department is smart -- and there are indeed some very intelligent people in that group -- somebody has recognized that there are not 100 percent can't-miss superstars in the top seven picks. Going up in the draft will offer some good but no truly amazing player this year.

The value in this draft, I've been told on multiple occasions by personnel men I speak with is lower in the draft where, they say, the 12th pick might not bring any better a player than the 15th-35th pick. In other words, a lower pick might get you as good a player.

If that is the case, then logic says trade down and augment your number of picks and thus your number of equally talented players.

Following that logic, the Dolphins should trade down in the bottom third of the first round and add another second round pick and possibly another later-round pick in the process. That way, instead of picking up one player at No. 12, you pick up two -- with the lower first-rounder and an additional second-rounder -- and those two players can have about the same value as the one player at No. 12.

Logical, yeah?

Obviously, the Dolphins have to find a partner willing to do that.

Look to the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers are a ready-made team. They are a player or two from winning the Super Bowl. Maybe they want the best wide receiver in the draft and the way to do that is to be at No. 12. They're also locked in a talent war with Seattle. What better way to get the jump on the 'Hawks?

The 49ers have the 31st pick in the first round and have two second-round picks, including No. 34 overall. If they throw in a later-round pick, I'd give them the No. 12 overall pick. (Indeed, they can keep their later-round pick for all I care).

Such a sceaniro would have Miami picking 31st in the first round, three more times in the second round and two more times in the third round. Six picks in the first three rounds in this draft is a treasure.

Now, all of a sudden, fake GM Salguero is adding perhaps OT D.J. Fluker or OT Menelik Watson if Fluker goes earlier. Now I'm adding cornerback D.J. Hayden at the top of the second round with San Fran's second-rounder and I can go chase Stanford tight end Zach Ertz or San Diego State's Gavin Escobar with the 42nd overall knowing that I've already filled my two primary needs. Or maybe Florida safety Matt Elam or FIU safety John Cyprien is the guy at 42.

And the Dolphins would still have another second rounder after that. Imagine?

The Dolphins worked hard to give themselves choices for the draft while operating in free agency. They should be smart and work hard during the draft to give themselves more choices during that very draft.

One way to do that is to trade down, the opposite direction of what most speculation out there has them doing.

If the Dolphins don't trade down and stay at No. 12, they're likely to look at Star Lotulelei, in part because he's a good player and not a reach at that spot. But will he be a tons better NFL player than any of the guys I just mentioned?

No one can guarantee that. And that's the point of trading down in this draft.

 

April 11, 2013

Everything Jeff Ireland said today

Yes, you know Jeff Ireland talked to the media today.

I gave you the highlights here.

So I give you the long, all-you-can-read version below:

(On how excited he is about what happened in free agency and heading into the Draft) –“Well, we’ve got a long way to go. Free agency’s not over. Obviously, we like the progress. We felt like we’ve made some progress. There’s been a lot of work that went into it obviously. I’ve got a lot of people to thank. Actually, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank my team, obviously, up to this point, our personnel department, our football administration, in particular, (Executive Vice President of Football Administration) Dawn Aponte and (Manager of Football Administration) Ryan Herman, my right hand guy (Assistant General Manager) Brian Gaine, (Assistant Director of Pro Scouting) Chris Shea. Coach (Joe) Philbin and I worked extremely well together during this process, along with Dawn, and it’s been a lot of fun to work with them. It’s been a lot of busy work, a lot of ups and downs in the process, but nothing we weren’t prepared for. But we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got some holes to fill."

(On having a lot of draft picks and how that impacts what can happen during the Draft) – “It really hasn’t changed too much of the preparation process. I don’t think I’m going to go into the Draft with more guys on the board or anything like that. We’ll still attack it in the same process we’ve always done and obviously we’ve got to be more prepared to take more players. Obviously, you have options to, I like to use the word ‘ammunition’ to kind of go up if you wanted to and certainly there’s opportunities to do that and there’s also opportunities to move back and move around. So we’ve had a lot of opportunities to do that as well.”

(On how the free agent acquisitions have impacted the team’s needs going into the Draft) – “I think it gave us a lot of flexibility in the Draft. Obviously, I think we helped ourselves in the front line in certain areas, obviously at the wide receiver position (by) getting Brian (Hartline) back, adding Mike (Wallace) and Brandon (Gibson). Adding that to Davone (Bess) and some of the young players we have, obviously that helped us in the wide receiver position. I think that’s a strength of our team now, one of the strengths of our team. Certainly from a depth perspective, Vaughn Martin, Lance Louis, those guys helped our depth. Brent Grimes, adding Brent to the schematics, obviously helps some of the front line things. I think going into the Draft or coming out of free agency, at least this part of free agency, has helped us from just having a little bit more idea of just being able to do what we do in the Draft, and that’s hopefully just picking the best player that we feel like marries a need if we can and not have to reach for anybody."

(On if it’s essential to select a cornerback high in this Draft) – “Well, I don’t want to say it’s essential. Certainly, I’m not going to pinpoint myself exactly where I’m going in the Draft, but I think a corner, I think corners can be selected and have an active role just about anywhere in the Draft. That’s one position that, they develop differently and you can find them, just like Brent Grimes, you can find them in free agency. You can find them in the fourth, fifth, sixth rounds obviously. I don’t think that’s particularly a position you have to have to take high."

(On his philosophy on drafting a need versus taking the best player available) – “We don’t draft vertically. We draft more horizontally. I don’t go through the board and say, ‘This guy over this guy over this guy over this guy over this guy.’ I don’t do that. I have the draft more horizontally by position (and) by round. So if you’re in a position where you have a guy at guard and you have a need at guard, he’s up there, but you have maybe two other players at the same value then you might take the guard because it’s a player of need. But you may have two or three other players that have the same value as that player, but it marries the need. The value marries the need. That’s basically how I go into it."

(On if he views Jonathan Martin as Jake Long’s replacement or if he will replace him through the Draft) –“You basically answered the question for me. There’s a lot of options still open. I’m going to let my coaching staff pretty much decide at the end of this process where Jonathan Martin plays. I think what we do have is a flexible player, a versatile player that can play left, that can play right. I think his development has been good. I think he’s got a long way to go to play right or left to be a really, really good player. That’s what we want him to be. Obviously, we have all of our options open. There’s still free agents on the street. There’s still guys in the trade market that are available and then we have the Draft that’s two weeks away that certainly we could go that route as well. Obviously, I think we’ll probably be active in maybe one of those pieces and maybe more."

(On the offensive line in the Draft and how far the position falls off after the first round in terms of quality)– “I think it depends on how many guys you have in the first round. If you only have two guys in the first round, then the second round is probably pretty strong. I think there’s a good level of guys that have a lot of experience, that can come in right away and play. And then there’s some really good players that may be a little bit further down in the Draft that have the potential to play and be really good in this league, that may not have the level of experience that you’re looking for early. I think that’s the beauty of this Draft is that there’s some at the top, there’s some second and third round that all can, at the end of maybe a year, that you have exactly what you’re looking for."

(On having ammunition to be able to trade up and how high up he could conceivably go) – “I’ve got enough ammunition to get to the first pick if I wanted to, but I don’t see myself doing that personally. I don’t know. It depends on what’s there and we haven’t gone through the process of (figuring that out) and talking to other teams at this point and seeing where we would go up or back. Right now, we’re trying to get the board right and we’re kind of grinding through the process. We’re in our second week of Draft meetings. We’ve got about six more days left to kind of finalize the board and so, at that point, we have about a week-to-10 days to kind of work the kind of the nuances of moving up (and) moving back. So we’ve got a little ways to go."

(On having five selections in the first three rounds and the options that brings)– “Yeah, you have to play out all of the options. That’s what we’re in the business to do is look at your contingencies. I can certainly sit here and say I’m going to have three players out of the five. I can certainly say I’m going to have six players out of the five. I think there are certain levels of the Draft that are really attractive to me. So I think all options are open, absolutely."

(On when he would be willing to deviate from his approach to select a player)– “When a player is still on the board high and you may have passed him by once or twice because maybe you’ve gone to a need, maybe. I’ve been in a couple of drafts where there’s a guy sitting there and it’s not particularly, it’s not a need, it’s not a must, it’s not a want. He’s just not a position that I have in my radar. So sometimes you might not draft a player that you have a high grade on. Then, you go two rounds and that guy’s still staring at you, I’m probably going to go get that guy."

(On how much his philosophy of what kind of player he would select has changed with Coach Philbin coming in)– “One of the things I liked about Joe in the interview process was that he and I see players pretty much the same. Schematically is where maybe it’s changed. Character and makeup, those things, we see very much eye-to-eye on. I’m probably a little bit more of a risk taker than maybe Joe, but we certainly see eye-to-eye. We want guys that are highly competitive. We want guys that have a specific combination of intangible ingredients that form a desired football personality. That’s absolutely what we’re trying to look for. Schematics are obviously different, maybe form a defensive line standpoint, maybe from and offensive line standpoint."

(On how the development of the tight end position has changed)– “You kind of mirror what the college game is doing right now and the college game is spreading out. So you’re getting guys that the college game is playing with. There’s not many traditional ‘Y’ big blocking tight ends that are playing with them. Certain programs have them and certainly you really study those programs that are playing with those kind of tight ends. But the tight end position all together has gotten very athletic. It’s gotten fast. It’s gotten big. It’s gotten athletic. And I think that’s made the NFL trend that way too. I think there’s some very athletic, big, fast tight ends that are making a lot of plays in this league and so I think you’ll see obviously the NFL going that way."

(On drafting core positions high and if tight ends are becoming a core position)– “It depends on your coach sometimes. It hasn’t necessarily been a core position. I think it becomes a core position when you may not have other pieces to your offense. I think you’re trying to control the middle of the field in some cases and if you don’t have kind of the horses on the outside that control the perimeters, then you certainly want to be able to control the middle of the field and, in a lot of cases, you want to be able to do both. But I wouldn’t call it an absolutely core piece."

(On if he’ll be comfortable with not having an offensive tackle by May 1)– “I feel very comfortable with Nate Garner. I feel comfortable with some of the young developmental players. Obviously, I could look at the whole offensive line in particular, we’re going to try to upgrade the offensive line as whole. Where we do it (and) how we do it, right now, we have a really good core of players with Jonathan and Richie (Incognito) and John (Jerry) and obviously (Mike) Pouncey, and I think Nate’s in that core group of guys at this point. Behind them, we have a very young group of guys that don’t have a lot of experience. So we need to add depth there. We need to add some experience. We certainly need to add some talent on the offensive line."

(On if he’s inclined to take more risks in the Draft because he has a lot of selections this year)– “I don’t want to go into it thinking that way. I really don’t. I would really kind of, more or less, to kind of go about it in the way I’ve always gone about it. I think you could think that way, that you could take a risk, but I’m still going to go into it trying to get really good football players that have a high upside that we can develop that are our kind of guys and I think, if you go into that way, then I think you’re going to come out the best way."

(On whether he wants to exit the Draft with quality or quantity) – “It depends. I mean both. You would like to have a bunch of good players. That’s what you would like to come out of it with. It depends on how the board falls. You know if the guys that you have on your board are clipping off at a fairly high rate, then you’d better go up and get what you really like. Again, the Draft falls differently every year. It’s very hard to predict how it’s going to fall. We start trying to predict how things are going to fall right about now, and we’re just now getting through the process of strategizing."

(On how he views his 30 official Draft visits) – “I think everybody does it differently, and I‘m one of those everybody. Again, I don’t have a strict philosophy about how I do it. Sometimes I’ve got a guy that I need a little bit more medical information on. Some of the guys I didn’t get a chance to visit with them at the Combine, or I did visit with them at the Combine and didn’t get the information I wanted. There’s no rhyme or reason. Some guys I have a lot of interest in, and some I guys I have no interest in at all, but there is really no rhyme or reason."

(On why he brought Manti Te’o in for an official visit) – “Well I think Manti is a good football player. We had 15 minutes with him at the combine, and so I think he is a good football player that is going to be drafted, and in that particular case, I wanted to spend some time with him. Kind of get to know a little bit more about the whole process he has been through, how he has handled it, and how he is moving forward with it."

(On whether this draft is more important than past drafts) – “Well I mean we have 11 picks, and that’s why it’s important. A lot of time, a lot of planning is put into this offseason not only just for the draft picks, but to this point to have the cap space and the draft picks in the same year, a lot of thinking and a lot of planning went into this. But the fact that we do have 11 draft picks and five in the top three rounds, that’s important. It doesn’t come around very often that you have that kind of clout in the draft. We need to take advantage of it, so it’s very important."

(On the atmosphere in the war room on draft day) – “Last year was pretty quiet. We didn’t have a lot of action early in the draft, but it can get chaotic. You have guys that have been through it before, and I’ve been in drafts where it is extremely chaotic. I’ve been in drafts with (Dallas Cowboys Owner and General Manager) Jerry, Mr. Jones, in Dallas where he is wheeling and dealing, and it can be very exciting. In our particular case, we’ve had a couple of different scenarios, and it gets really hectic when you have five minutes in-between each round. Sometimes the phone doesn’t ring until you are on the clock and you have to make a decision (snaps fingers) to trade back, or maybe another team is on the clock and you want that pick. So, I’m telling Brian (Gaine) to call and Dawn (Aponte) to call and Chris (Shea) and I’m calling, you know did you make the trade? Did you call the league? Did they get the phone call from the league? A lot of things have to happen. Did you turn the card in? So it can get pretty hectic. It’s fun, it’s an adrenaline rush no doubt about it."

(On whether he expects a similar situation this year where the majority of picks in the top 10 are traded) – “It all falls differently. Do I expect it? I think last year was a little unique, but again, we’re all in a whole different time frame at this point with the CBA and the contracts and all that. I think you can take any player, any position and there is no rhyme or reason why you do it. If there is a need and there is a conviction by the team to take any particular position, then you go up and get it. It’s not the losers curse anymore. I think it makes sense to do those things if you want the player."

(On whether he thinks he needs to address the wide receiver position early in the Draft after how the team addressed it in free agency) – “I like the unit that we have. We have some complementary skill sets that make us a lot better than we were last year. I think there are some good players at that position, but to say that I am going to be active early at that position, I can’t say at this point. I do like where our wide receiver position is obviously. Again, I think the complementary skill set is what we have been able to add to this football team, to what we already had on this football team, are very good. I think it is the strength of our football team."

(On whether he knows who he is going to pick in the first round of the Draft) – “Not exactly. It’s a little bit different this year. There are a lot of different things that I’m playing through my head right now that Joe (Philbin) and I are talking about. There are still a couple positions that we haven’t actually talked about in our meetings yet. I’ve sent Joe off to watch different guys and said, ‘hey let’s get back together.’ So this is the time we bring our coaches back and try to marry what we see as a personnel department to what our coaches see and the schematics of where they are at. I have a pretty good idea of three or four guys that I am looking at, absolutely."

(On what Jonathan Martin needs to do to be the starting left tackle) – “I think the offseason for Jonathan is important. You know just getting stronger and getting his technique, his use of hands, (getting) his punch down properly, the timing of his punch. Skill set is not a problem. This guy’s got great feet and he's big enough. He needs to work on some anchor, but he needs to be more consistent with some of the things he is going to see. You’re going up against probably the best athlete per pound on the football field in the right defensive end or right outside linebacker. So, you’ve got to be on your game when you’re playing left tackle in this league. He just needs to work on his consistency."

(On Brent Grimes’ health and when he expects him to be ready) – “We did our due diligence obviously with a guy coming off an Achilles injury. I personally am qualified as Dr. Ireland at this point. I studied a lot on just the particular injury itself. I certainly like the player. I talked to our doctors, talked to his surgeon or had my people talk to his surgeon, and I think he is in a really good place right now. I don’t want to make any time tables because I don’t know exactly what we’re doing with him when he gets in the building. I know he's doing really well and he's almost to the point, in his mind, where he's ready to participate in the offseason program, but to say when he is going to be 100% or anything like that, I’d have to see him move around a little bit."

(On whether Grimes’ injury impacts what the team’s needs are) – “I feel good about him. I feel very good about him right now."

(On whether he is aware of the fact that a lot of players he has picked in the second and third rounds of past drafts are no longer on the team and whether that affect the way he drafts) – “Well I am aware of it. You guys keep me aware of it quite often. I don’t take any different than the way I’ve always gone into it. I’m going to put the board up the way I put it up. I have different aspects of the draft room itself to try and help improve that process. One is my head coach. Brian Gaine is a little more involved in this process. So, obviously you are trying to upgrade the room and the dynamics of the room. Certainly I haven’t changed too much in regard to picking players. I have been doing it a long time now."

(On how the volatility of the top 10 picks impacts the Dolphins at pick 12) – “I wouldn’t say it’s volatile. I think there are a lot of different scenarios. I think last year, in comparison, you knew where one, two and three were going to go. You obviously had Andrew Luck and you had the Washington Redskins trading up to that pick (number 2 overall) and you knew who they were going to pick, so that’s two off the board right away. I think there is a lot more confidential information right now in the clubs. I don’t think anybody has just come out and said who they’re taking or anything like that. Nobody has shown their hand yet, which is good. That’s the way we all want it to be honest with you."

(On how valuable it is to find a true press corner in the draft and how deep the cornerback class is) – “Well it depends what kind of scheme that you run whether it’s important to get a press corner. We don’t play a ton of press, but we do play a lot of man-to-man. There is a difference. So, is it extremely important that we get a guy who plays 90% press? No it’s not, but it’s important that the guy we draft can play man-to-man. But also, we play some zone and we play some off-man. Off-man is very difficult. There is a different skill set to that, so finding a guy that can have a pretty good skill set that is not strictly one thing or the other is important."

(On whether he wants to continue to address offensive line high in the draft after committing so many high draft picks to the position in the past) – “If I get another (Mike) Pouncey and another Jake Long I would do it every draft. Those kinds of guys are pretty darn good. I wish I had a whole team full of Mike Pouncey’s and Jake Long’s to be honest with you. Those guys are really good players. They are productive; I know what I’m getting every single day with the guys. Particularly, I’m not going to pigeon hole myself just to take an offensive lineman. I think we have a couple other positions that we might go after obviously. I think there is going to be a good player for us. I’m excited about going into this draft."

Jeff Ireland talks draft today

Jeff Ireland, calm, tanned and comfortable, talked about the draft with the media today. I was impressed with how at ease the Dolphins general manager was compared to how he's been at past pre-draft pressers.

Man's growing.

And everything he said was not spin or vague or purposefully unclear.

Some nuggets:

At this time last year, Ireland knew he was picking quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Today, two weeks before the April 25-27 draft, he said he doesn't know who he's picking but has "pretty good idea" about a number of players he really likes. He said he's got three or four candidates.

Ireland and coach Joe Philbin still have several positions to discuss before they nail down whom they really want.

Offensive line will be addressed in this draft. Ireland said he's comfortable with Nate Garner. He said he thinks Jonathan Martin can play either left or right tackle and that coaches will make that call. But ...

"We're going to try to upgrade the offensive line as a whole," he said.

I asked him (inartfully, I might add as I stumbled and bumbled) about spending more high resources on offensive line. The Dolphins have spent a lot of resources on offensive over the years --including first-round picks on Mike Pouncey and Jake Long, a second on Martin, a third on John Jerry. You get the deal.

Ireland said he's not worried about doing it some more.

"If I get another Pouncey and a Jake Longs I'd do it again," Ireland said. "I wish I had a whole team of Mike Pouncey and Jake Longs."

Ireland said he has not begun to talk to other teams about trade-up or trade-down scenarios so the rumors that pretend to know this stuff is going on ... take it with a grain of salt.

Having said that, Ireland said he has the "ammunition" to get up to the first overall pick if he wannted to.

Ireland is very optimistic about cornerback Brent Grimes. The unrestricted free agent addition is "almost to the point in his mind" that he can participate in the offseason conditioning program.

Perhaps that's the reason Ireland says he doesn't have to pick a cornerback high. (But he might).

Ireland confirmed that Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, who visited the Dolphins Wednesday and today, is on the radar.

"I think Manti is a good football player that is going to be drafted," he said. "I wanted to spend some time with him."

Addressing rumors circling the Dolphins

This is the bunk and debunk edition of Dolphins in Depth:

In this post I will look at various so-called rumors that are starting to circle the Dolphins' possible moves during the coming draft cycle. I will tell you what I know and then let you decide whether the rumor is bunk.

Rumor No. 1: The Dolphins are going to trade up in the draft to get one of the three offensive left tackles expected to go before they pick, with Lane Johnson being the most likely pick because Eric Fisher and Luke Joekel will be going too high to attain.

Part of it is bunk: Obviously, because the Dolphins are among the teams with multiple picks in the second and third round, everyone is pointing to them as a team with ammunition to trade up. That does not mean they are going to do it. Let's establish that. Secondly, most teams in the top 10-12 of this coming draft will be looking to trade down because the value of this draft is from about the 17th pick to the 35th in the top of the third round. So if the Dolphins want to trade up, they'll probably have partners, but why would they want to do the exact opposite of what everyone else wants to do? You're telling me the Dolphins want to trade away from the value? Hmmm. Finally, if the Dolphins do try to trade up, I can almost guarantee it won't be for Johnson. Yes, he is a legitimate first-round selection. Yes, he plays a position of need. But the Fins like Joekel and Fisher much, much, much more than Johnson and have some concerns about Johnson as a left tackle. And that's the guy they're going to give up extra picks to get? I don't think so.

Rumor No. 2: The Dolphins love Xavier Rhodes so he's the pick at No. 12.

It's bunk: Well, Rhodes is a very good player for Florida State. The Dolphins have done a lot of grinding on him. You know what I hear? Press corner. A little stiff. Struggles to recover ground. Yes, he's physical. Yes, he's a huge corner at 6-1. But he doesn't seem to be a system fit for a team that doesn't usually play press coverage.

Rumor No. 3: The Dolphins brought in Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o to camp on Wednesday and so they're going to pick him at No. 12.

Debunk: No. He's not the guy at No. 12. He might not even be the guy if the club trades down, which is the exact opposite of what rumors say about trading up. Seems to me the Dolphins are guarding for the possibility he'll be around in the second round or very, very late in the first where they might trade back into the first round.

Rumor No. 4: The Dolphins are going to pick a tight end with the No. 12 overall selection and that pick is obviously Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame.

Debunk: I cannot do it. I have no confirmed information on this one way or the other. My gut, however, tells me if the Dolphins end up picking Eifert, it would be after a trade-down scenario. No. 12 is mighty high even for the best tight end prospect in the draft. And, I remind you, there are other good tight end prospects later. I also remind you that though I am using my gut here, I have a very large gut to use.

Rumor No. 5: The Dolphins would use the No. 12 pick to select right tackle D.J. Fluker of Alabama. This one has been circulated ad nauseum lately by Mel Kiper.

Debunk: Can't totally do it. But I do know that if the Dolphins are looking at Fluker at No. 12, they better be projecting him as a left tackle. If they pick this guy and project him as a right tackle, then they overdrafted him. You do not pick right tackles at No. 12. If you do, Salguero rips you until such time that the player makes the Hall of Fame. General manager Jeff Ireland is also on record as saying he wants to draft players at "core positions" at the top of the first round. Core positions are QB, WR, CB, DE or pass-rush OLB, and LT. Not, I repeat, not RT.

 

April 10, 2013

Where Dolphins needs, wants and must haves stand

First a quick refresher course on material covered over the years on this blog: The Dolphins personnel department, at least this group that has been mostly together since 2008, rates their offseason priorities in three general categories ...

Needs.

Wants.

Must haves.

Must haves are players that play positions that are an absolute necessity to field a team in the fall. Must haves have the ultimate priority. If the Dolphins don't fill their must have list, they are doomed. And that obviously means the world is doomed. So not wanting to doom life on the planet, the Dolphins always address their must haves.

By the way, when the team fails to properly address must-haves, it goes to training camp and ends up signing stopgap veterans such as Marc Colombo in 2011. Who wants that?

Needs are players that play positions that are necessary to upgrade the team but don't meet the urgency of a must have. A need, for example, comes at a position where a player already at that position is lacking and the team wants to replace. But if you don't upgrade the spot, at least the team has a body to play the position at some tolerable level, even if it requires holding your breath and pinching your nose.

Wants are the least urgent of the categories. These are players that play positions that the personnel department would love to address, but often cannot. The last three years or so, the Dolphins wanted to upgrade the tight end position. But because starter Anthony Fasano was a C-plus to B-minus player at the spot, the team put it off and put it off. The team had a want at tight end. But, well, the franchise didn't fall apart because tight end wasn't properly upgraded.

Got it? Good, refresher over. Now let's skip to today.

The Dolphins are about one week past their breakneck run through free agency and just over two weeks from the draft. And so it is time to assess where the Dolphins stand going to that draft. It is time to assess what the team's wants, needs and must haves are today.

This, of course, is my opinion. It does not reflect what the team is thinking because I have not asked team personnel. (Frankly, this is a bad time to talk to those guys because they are locked in rooms for long hours everyday in draft meetings. Nobody has time for wittle 'ol me :-(

Here we go:

Must haves: Offensive tackle qualifies because the Dolphins lost Jake Long to the St. Louis Rams and didn't really replace him. The club either needs a left tackle so that Jonathan Martin can go back to right tackle, or it needs to add a right tackle to start while leaving Martin stays at the left tackle spot where he finished last season. Either way tackle is a must have ... Cornerback is a must have in my humble. The Dolphins might not agree based on how much love GM Jeff Ireland showed Dimitri Patterson weeks ago while at the NFL annual meeting. Me? I'm not sold on Patterson as a solid starter and I cannot be completely sold that Brent Grimes will be back to his old Pro Bowl self by the start of the season. Richard Marshall is also back from back surgery, but again, the next season he plays without being injured for the Dolphins will be the first. Yes, the Dolphins have bodies at the position but all of them, ALL OF THEM, come with question marks.

The must-haves this year are particularly important to address because they both involve the passing game. The tackle must protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The cornerback must defend the pass. And the NFL, by the way, is a passing league.

Needs: Defensive end has to fal here because Cameron Wake cannot do it all by himself. Yes, the Dolphins have high hopes for Josh Kaddu as a rush specialist (which I reported last month). Yes, Olivier Vernon has promise. Yes, the club has a starter opposite Wake in Jared Odrick. But none of the players I just mentioned is proven as a very good 4-3 NFL defensive end ... Tight end makes this list because while the Dolphins added Dustin Keller, that was a one-year rental. Charles Clay isn't the answer and neither is Michael Egnew. Meanwhile, Fasano is gone. So you need to draft somebody for the future.

Wants: The club wants to add a defensive tackle. Yes, another one. Remember that Paul Soliai and Randy Starks will be in the final year of their deals in 2013. Also, Vaughn Martin is only signed for two years ... The club wants to add a safety. Yes, Reshad Jones is a keeper. But Chris Clemons is on a one-year deal that shows the team likes him, but doesn't love him. While Clemons can be the starter this year, Miami wants to upgrade the spot for long-term ... Kicker qualifies here. Dan Carpenter had a poor 2012 and finisihed the season on injured reserve so the club cannot go into 2013 without bringing in someone -- perhaps a priority free agent -- to at least compete ... A running back would be nice, too. Yes, Lamar Miller will be the guy and Daniel Thomas is expected to back him up. But Thomas is often injured and you probably need three guys. Are  Marcus Thigpen or Jonas Gray that guy? I don't know. I'd rather bring another body in there just in case.

Discuss ...