71° Good Evening
71° Good Evening

2013 NFL Draft primer: Miami Dolphins

Alabama offensive lineman D.J. Fluker (76) and offensive

Alabama offensive lineman D.J. Fluker (76) and offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio (71) react after a win over Auburn during the second half of a game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Nov. 24, 2012) Credit: AP

The future stars of the NFL are almost here. The first round of the 2013 Draft kicks off on April 25, and every team will look to build for both present and future. This is the 12th in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.


2012 record: 7-9

Key offseason acquisitions:

Mike Wallace, wide receiver

Phillip Wheeler, linebacker

Brent Grimes, cornerback

Dustin Keller, tight end

Dannell Ellerbe, linebacker

Brandon Gibson, wide receiver

Key offseason departures:

Jake Long, tackle

Reggie Bush, running back

Sean Smith, cornerback

Karlos Dansby, linebacker

Anthony Fasano, tight end

Biggest holes in roster: offensive line, cornerback, safety, inside linebacker

Miami has retooled after losing some big names to free agency. The Dolphins bolstered their front seven, found an inexpensive replacement for Smith and gave second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill some new toys to play with. But despite all of that, they still have one glaring need -- one that was left when former first overall pick Jake Long signed with the Chicago Bears.

Upgrading the offensive line is essential for Tannehill to avoid a sophomore slump. The problem is that by the time the Dolphins pick at No. 12, all of the top-tier tackles figure to be off the board (unless they trade up -- more on that later.)

Alabama's D.J. Fluker leads the second tier of tackles, and the Dolphins might want to give him a look. He projects as a right tackle at the next level, but the Dolphins may let Jonathan Martin, a second-rounder last year who started all 16 games at right tackle, take over on the blind side. Fluker lacks the strength of the other three tackles, only putting up 21 bench press reps at the Combine. But he has the build (6-5, 339 pounds) to make an impact.

There is one way where the Dolphins could land one of the Big Three tackles. In addition to their first-round pick, the Dolphins have the 10th and 22nd picks in the second round (Nos. 42 and 54 overall). It's not difficult to envision a scenario where they package their first-rounder and one of the two second-rounders in an attempt to trade up and get a bigger-name tackle. The most likely trade partner would probably be Cleveland, especially if Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner is off the board by the time the Browns are on the clock at No. 6. The Browns would slide back to No. 12, pick up an extra second-rounder and could still focus on someone such as FSU's Xavier Rhodes or Washington's Desmond Trufant. Meanwhile, the Dolphins would leapfrog ahead of Arizona -- a team in obvious need of a tackle -- and snap up Lane Johnson, the athletic left tackle out of Oklahoma.

If the Dolphins aren't enamored with any of the first-round tackle prospects in the draft, they can always address other needs. They could pick up Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, who can do a little bit of everything out in center field. They could go for Rhodes or Trufant as a complement to the newly-signed Brent Grimes at cornerback. They could even trade back, net a few extra draft picks and pick up an inside linebacker such as Georgia's Alec Ogletree.

New York Sports