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2014 NFL Draft primer: Miami Dolphins

Zack Martin played offensive tackle for Notre Dame.

Zack Martin played offensive tackle for Notre Dame. Credit: AP

This is the latest primer in our NFL Draft two-a-days that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit. The draft begins Thursday, May 8.


2013 record: 8-8

Key offseason acquisitions: OT Branden Albert, G Shelley Smith, FS Louis Delmas, CB Cortland Finnegan, RB Knowshon Moreno, DT Earl Mitchell.

Key offseason departures: CB Nolan Carroll, G John Jerry, G Richie Incognito, OT Jonathan Martin, DT Paul Soliai, OT Tyson Clabo, TE Dustin Keller, OT Bryant McKinnie, CB Dmitri Patterson.

Biggest holes: Offensive line, linebacker, cornerback.

The Dolphins' offensive line was a disaster last season, and in more ways than one.

On the field, they gave up a league-high 58 sacks. Off it, they were the focus of a bullying scandal that rocked the NFL and prompted a formal investigation by the league. They took steps toward fixing both issues in the offseason, trading tackle Jonathan Martin to San Francisco and letting guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry walk in free agency. They also signed ex-Chief Branden Albert and former Ram Shelley Smith, but they still could use some more help on the right side of the line, specifically at right tackle

However, the Dolphins are in somewhat of a no-man's-land when it comes to picking at 19. All three of the top tackles - Auburn's Greg Robinson, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Michigan's Taylor Lewan - almost certainly will be off the board by this point.

The only offensive lineman that would be worth taking at 19 would be Notre Dame's Zack Martin, and even he's not a lock to be available when the Dolphins pick. Martin is a versatile lineman who can play pretty much any position on the offensive line.

If none of the above four linemen are available, the Dolphins could decide to go after a second-tier lineman such as Virginia's Morgan Moses, UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo or Nevada's Joel Bitonio at the tail end of the first round. Moses is a top pass-blocker at right tackle, Su'a-Filo is an athletic guard and Bitonio is an undersized yet versatile lineman. None of those three would be worth taking this high in the draft, so the Dolphins could either trade down into the late first round to take one or simply wait until the second round and hope someone falls to them.

Of course, the Dolphins don't have to take a lineman with their first-round pick. They do have other pressing needs, such as at linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler, last season's free-agent signees, combined for just 1 1/2 sacks and eight tackles for loss, while Koa Misi had two sacks and six tackles for loss.

C.J. Mosley would be a good pick here. The Alabama inside linebacker had a great four-year career with the Crimson Tide, racking up 319 total tackles (23 1/2 for loss), 6 1/2 sacks, and five interceptions. He has great instincts and can rush the passer, drop back into coverage and stop the run equally well. There are a few injury concerns - notably his hip - but he has great football IQ and is an every-down presence in the front seven.

The Dolphins could also go with Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier here. Shazier was a weak-side linebacker in college but is versatile enough to play inside. He has blazing speed (an unofficial 4.36 in the 40 at his Pro Day) and is an every-down, sideline-to-sideline, run-and-chase defender. He's a solid tackler (317 total tackles in three seasons, including 144 in 2013) and looks as comfortable dropping back in coverage as he is when in pursuit or rushing the passer. His lack of ideal size (6-1, 237 pounds) may be cause for concern, but his talent and upside are tough to pass up. Shazier's father, Vernon, is the Dolphins' chaplain.

Possible second-day or third-day picks include Tennessee tackle Ja'Wuan James, Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, Mississippi guard Gabe Jackson, Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland, Stanford ILB Shayne Skov, Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir and Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson.


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