Yesterday may have been the first Sunday without football since last September, but that doesn’t mean that the NFL has slowed down at all. In fact, business is about to pick up, as the homestretch of the NFL draft process is about to kick off with the NFL combine fewer than two weeks away.
One of the most important times of the year in the National Football League, the NFL draft is the culmination of months of work by front offices everywhere, as scouts and personnel executives have spent hours upon hours searching for the right players to fit their team. With the Miami Dolphins just missing out on the playoffs last season, they’ll be one of the many teams hoping to find those collegiate players that can help push them over the top and into the postseason and further.
Of course, come draft time, everyone has an opinion on which players that teams should go after, but there’s only a select few who can call it their occupation to prognosticate upon which players will pan out as NFL starters or even stars. Three of those men are the legendary NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN, former NFL scout and current NFL Network Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah, and Bleacher Report’s NFL Draft guru Matt Miller. All three recently spoke about which players would be a potential fits for the Fins.
Miami’s biggest need is obviously on the offensive line, as the Fins 2013 unit surrendered the most sacks in the league with 58, eight more than the closest team in Jacksonville. It was a group that suffered from several major inconsistencies in their play, including the fact that it was rare that the same five players started together at the same position on multiple occasions. To help stabilize the foundation of their offense, all three pundits believe that Miami will look to use their 1st round pick on an offensive lineman, and the name that keeps coming up in conversation is Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin.
Martin may have played left tackle in college and could become a starter in the NFL at that position, but Jeremiah believes that Martin could be really special if he moves inside to guard in the pros.
“The thing I love about him, he’s got so much balance. He’s never on the ground, he’s got real strong hands,” said Jeremiah. “I wish he was just a little bit taller, a little bit longer to play tackle, but I think he’s got the feet to do it. But when you slide him inside to guard, I thought you saw a really special player because he can move people, he can adjust in space.”
Kiper Jr. agrees with Jeremiah’s sentiment on all fronts, believing that Martin likely has a successful NFL career. He thinks he’d be a good pick for the Dolphins in the 1st round.
“Zack Martin to me would be the guy because you can put him at left tackle, he can play guard or right tackle. He gives you great versatility,” said Kiper. “Zack Martin would be a real good pick for Miami at that point (#19 overall).”
Miller of Bleacher Report also could see Martin going to the Fins at that point as well, but there’s another name that he sees that could easily end up in a Dolphins uniform. That’d be Taylor Lewan, the 6’8” offensive tackle out of the University of Michigan.
“I think Taylor Lewan from Michigan is a guy to consider. People have kind of forgotten about him throughout the process because of Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson, but I think Lewan is still a quality pick in the middle of the first round,” said Miller. “You have a guy who’s a prototypical left tackle and does such a good job with his timing, with his punch. He’s strong enough to help in the run game. I think if he’s there at #19, he’d be a great pick for Miami.”
Another position that the Dolphins could look at come draft time would be running back, specifically a bruising power back that could help alleviate the short yardage problems that the Fins had last season. But don’t expect them address that need in the first round according to Kiper. In fact, he doesn’t see any teams spending a first round pick on a running back given the way the NFL is today.
“Running backs, I’ve always said for 35 years, I wouldn’t take one in the first round and now over the last five years, definitely not,” said Kiper. “In the first round I don’t even see a running back going. Maybe Carlos Hyde from Ohio State, but there’s a chance that no running backs could go in the first round.”
Hyde is a name that keeps coming up around the league as the consensus top running back in the draft, and the bruiser from Ohio State who excels after contact and is productive in pass protection may be someone that could interest Miami. But if the Dolphins decide to use their first round pick on an offensive lineman, it’s more than likely that Hyde isn’t available the next time they come around on the board barring a trade. There are plenty of other options at the position though according to Jeremiah, including guys like Andre Williams of Boston College and Tre Mason of Auburn.
“(Andre) Williams from Boston College is 230-something pounds and he’s got maybe the most unique running style I’ve ever seen,” said Jeremiah. “But when he gets into the open field, he can go a little bit.”
“You know, he’s not a 230 pound back but when you think of a power back, you look at Auburn and you look at Tre Mason,” said Jeremiah. “He’s a great short yardage back, so he’s one to keep in mind. Mason to me differentiates himself from the standpoint that he’s more of a power guy rather than just a quick change of pace guy.”
Another possible power back according to Matt Miller is Charles Sims of West Virginia. Originally pegged as more of a pass catching back from his days at Houston, Miller sees Sims as a short yardage specialist that can also catch the ball out of the backfield.
“He’s a big thick kid. He has the strong legs and the drive to get those 3rd and threes, 3rd and two type situations,” said Miller. “He’s a guy I’m thinking third round definitely they could be taking a look at him.”
There are needs on the defensive side of the ball as well, and with guys like Brent Grimes, Nolan Carroll and Chris Clemons free agents, Miami will need to add depth in the secondary, regardless of whether any if not all three players stay with the team or not. Possible safeties that could interest the Dolphins in the middle rounds according to Miller include some guys that play as intimidators, including Ahmad Dixon from Baylor and Deone Bucannon from Washington State.
“I think it’s a second or third round need for the Dolphins. Ahmad Dixon from Baylor is a hitter, a guy who’s more of an intimidator in the secondary,” said Miller. “Deone Bucannon from Washington State is another guy with a similar mold, someone who will come up and be a hitter and help you, kind of control the middle of the field and give you more of that physical presence opposite (Reshad) Jones.”
RELATED: Dolphins Sign Seven Players For 2014
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.