Wednesday was productive for the Miami Dolphins and not just because they signed two offensive linemen for depth purposes and agreed to terms with receiver Greg Jennings to improve the wide receiver corps.
These moves upgraded the roster's talent and more importantly gave the Dolphins something they didn't have before:
The luxury of unshackling themselves from definite needs in the draft. The Dolphins will be free during next week's draft, starting with Thursday's first round, to follow alternative paths to getting where they want to go.
With Jennings in the fold once he signs his two-year, $8 million deal, the Dolphins no longer must sweat the idea of having to trade up in the first round to grab DeVante Parker or Amari Cooper or Kevin White. That was going to be a difficult move especially with Miami missing a third-round pick traded away for Kenny Stills.
Now that is no longer a must-do move.
Yes, the Dolphins can do it if the price and player and situation is right. But if not, they can sit tight and wait because they are not desperate to fill out the WR room with higher rated player. The Dolphins can instead draft a receiver in the second round, which is expected to offer talent in a deep receiver class as well, and be comfortable knowing Jennings is on board as a safety net while the young, presumably more raw receiver develops.
The Dolphins also might not feel forced compelled to reach for a receiver at No. 14 if they don't believe the available player is a solid value at the spot -- someone such as UCF's Breshad Perriman or USC's Nelson Agholor.
The Dolphins now have alternatives. Options.
The wide receiver desperation is relieved even if the need is still present.
Suddenly, in the first round, the Dolphins can address another need, such as cornerback with Michigan State's Trae Waynes if he's there. Or they can trade back and grab perhaps U-Conn's Byron Jones ... and then tackle the wide receiver issue in the second round.
There's also this:
The Dolphins, perhaps thinking Jennings along with Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry are a viable set of starters, can go completely away from expectations and perhaps chase a running back -- either Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon -- when they pick at No. 14. (Yes, assuming either or both are there).
Let's face it, Lamar Miller is solid. But the longterm prospects for both these youngsters is better, especially for Gurley who is special when he's healthy.
In such a running back in the first round scenario, the team can address cornerback in the next round and wide receiver later on. Remember players such as Brandon Marshall, were not first or even second round picks. Marshall was a fourth-rounder.
And that leads me to Dorial Green-Beckham. I've been told the Dolphins are not early-round high on the kid for obvious reasons of limited tape and the domestic violence red flags. But I've been fibbed to at this time of year before. So if the 6-foot-6 receiver sitting there sometime in the third round (unlikely) of course someone could try to trade into the round to grab him.
As to the offensive line additions... I still do not think the Dolphins have two excellent starting caliber guards on the roster today. They've got a very good prospect in Billy Turner. And they've got experienced veterans in Dallas Thomas, Jeff Linkenbach, and Jacques McClendon.
(My opinion the experience these vets have is mostly in experiencing troubles on the field but my opinion doesn't matter).
The Dolphins think they've added the bodies for a competition.
"You compete, you compete to try and put the best five out there, the best seven or eight out there on game day that give you the best chance to win, to win every week in order to win a championship and that’s the ultimate goal," Linkenbach said after signing. "So you compete with yourself, you compete with your teammates, you compete with the other 31 teams. It’s a constant competition, whether it’s an official competition or if it’s with yourself. But as far as that, yeah, the coaches talk about competition, and that’s at all positions. That’s what I’m coming to do. That’s what I’m expecting, to get better every day.”
That is apparently how the Dolphins view the guard position. And if that is true, you can easily cross that spot off the need list.
What does that mean for Miami? Mike Tannenbaum and Dennis Hickey can add talent elsewhere and feel good about themselves.