The Dolphins were poised to make a splash this offseason because they had copious amounts of cap space and 11 draft picks at their disposal. They used the cap space to address several needs during free agency and now they have a chance to tick off a few more boxes with all those picks. With five of the first 82 picks, they’ve got a good chance to deal their way up the board from the 12th pick if there’s someone they really want to have.
Offensive Line: If there’s a spot they’re likely to address by trading up, it’s tackle. Jake Long signed with the Rams, leaving the team with Jonathan Martin and Nate Garner as their top tackles. Martin can play on either side of the line, so the Dolphins could be aggressive in a move to acquire one of the draft’s top left tackle prospects. With Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson all bunched at the top of many draft boards, Miami would likely have to deal up to get one of them but it would be worth it to nail things down at left tackle.
It’s not the only way for the Dolphins to go, however. With right tackles like Tyson Clabo and Eric Winston still looking for work as free agents, the Dolphins could opt to look in other directions to shore up the line. Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack would upgrade the talent on the interior of the line and they could find a tackle like Menelik Watson or Terron Armstead in the second round. If they do keep all their picks, the Dolphins will probably be spending more than one on blockers.
Defensive End: Cameron Wake was the only consistent pass rusher on the roster in 2012, something that can’t be the case next season if they want the defense to help push them into the hunt for a playoff spot. If they did acquire a pass rusher, Jared Odrick could move inside to take better advantage of his strong work against the run alongside Randy Starks. Such an alignment would make for a better line across the board. Ziggy Ansah could be on the board when the 12th pick rolls around and his athleticism is intriguing and the Dolphins could also get a chance at a player like Damontre Moore in the second round or by trading back up into the back end of the first round.
Cornerback: Upgrading the pass rush is going to be essential if the Dolphins are going to compete in the AFC East and strong cornerback play won’t be too far behind. If Brent Grimes is able to return from an Achilles injury, the Dolphins will have one corner spot locked down but there’s going to be a need for help either way after losing Sean Smith in free agency. As with the two previous entries, the Dolphins’ surplus picks give them a chance to approach the need in a variety of ways. They could wind up with Dee Milliner or Xavier Rhodes with the 12th pick, deal back up into the back of the first round for Jamar Taylor or stay put and add multiple guys with their second and third-round picks.
Safety: The Dolphins brought back Chris Clemons on a one-year deal, which means that they’d be well-served by taking someone to groom as a replacement in 2014. It’s a less pressing need than the others discussed in this space, with Clemons’ presence giving the Dolphins the luxury of selecting a player who might not be ready to play in the defense right away.