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 ...
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.