The Miami Dolphins went on a spending spree in free agency during the 2013 offseason, hoping to strengthen the roster so as to compete with the New England Patriots for the AFC East crown. A 3-0 start to the season had the Dolphins thinking playoffs, but a four-game losing streak, the notorious bullying scandal and inconsistent play had them at 5-6 with five games remaining.
After a three-game winning streak to pull to 8-6, the Dolphins controlled their own destiny to secure a Wild Card spot for the playoffs. However, listless performances against division opponents to close out the season resulted in two losses, an 8-8 overall record and no postseason appearance. Head coach Joe Philbin kept his job but General Manager Jeff Ireland was relieved of his duties following the season, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Director of Player Personnel Dennis Hickey was tabbed as the latter’s successor to lead the Dolphins into the future.
The Dolphins entire offense struggled in 2013, ranking 27th in yards per game, 312.9, and 26th with 19.8 points per game. The run game was essentially a nonfactor in 2013, as the offensive line could barely get any push or open holes, resulting in a cumulative 3.9 yards-per-carry average for running backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas (the Dolphins had the fourth-fewest rushing attempts, 21.8, and ranked 26th in the NFL with just 90.0 rushing yards per game). Knowshon Moreno was signed away from Denver in the offseason to be the starter, but that will not matter unless the blocking vastly improves.
Though the team is set at quarterback with Ryan Tannehill, the offensive line was a disaster in pass protection, as well, giving up a league-high 58 sacks in 2013. Hickey started rebuilding the line by signing former Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert, but more help is needed. As such, most pundits feel an offensive lineman is the most logical choice at the 19th overall pick in the first round. With Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan off the board, the versatile Zack Martin of Notre Dame, who can play both guard and tackle, appears to be a perfect fit. Depending how the Dolphins feel following his medical evaluation, Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio might also be an option at this spot. A potential dark horse to consider: Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses. If the Dolphins want to select a pure guard here, UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo could be of interest.
The Dolphins spent big money in 2013 to sign wide receiver Mike Wallace, who failed to break 1,000 yards receiving (930) and posted career lows in yards-per-catch (12.7) and receiving touchdowns (five). The steady Brian Hartline was the team’s top receiver from a production standpoint, registering 76 catches for 1,016 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end/H-back Charles Clay is one of the NFL’s most versatile, underrated offensive players and ranked third on the team with 69 receptions for 759 yards and first in touchdown catches, with six. It is certainly not outside the realm of possibility to think the Dolphins might be interested in taking advantage of this draft’s wide receiver class at the 19th pick, especially if Brandin Cooks, Marqise Lee, Kelvin Benjamin, Cody Latimer and Davante Adams are all still on the board.
The Dolphins defense ranked 21st in yards allowed (359.4) but eighth in points allowed (20.9) in 2013. The run defense ranked 24th (124.9 yards per game) and the pass defense ranked 16th (234.5). The unit was opportunistic, however, ranking tied for 11th in sacks (42) and tied for 10th in interceptions (18). Defensive tackle Paul Soliai departed for Atlanta via free agency, but the team retained fellow defensive tackle Randy Starks on a two-year deal to pair with 2010 first-round pick Jared Odrick. Defensive end Cameron Wake is still an effective pass rusher, but at age 32 is at the end of his prime. Luckily for the Dolphins, 2012 third-round pick Olivier Vernon had a breakout 2013 season with 11.5 sacks to lead the team and emerged as one of the NFL’s top young pass rushers.
The Dolphins still need to find the right fit for 2013 third-overall pick Dion Jordan in its 4-3 defense, whether it is at end or outside linebacker -- though the linebacker trio of Philip Wheeler, Dannell Elerbe and Koa Misi seems set. That said, Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley is still on the board and may be too tempting to pass up. The secondary needs find a full-time starter in one of Cortland Finnegan, Jamar Taylor or Will Davis to play opposite Pro Bowler Brent Grimes. Louis Delmas, signed as a free agent, will replace Chris Clemons next to Reshad Jones at safety. If the Dolphins choose to address defense at the 19th pick, one of the three top cornerbacks remaining on the board – Kyle Fuller, Jason Verrett or Bradley Roby – makes sense.
So, what will the Dolphins do at 19th overall?
1. Houston Texans -- LB Jadeveon Clowney
2. St. Louis Rams -- T Greg Robinson
3. Jacksonville Jaguars -- QB Johnny Manziel
4. Cleveland Browns -- WR Sammy Watkins
5. Oakland Raiders -- LB Khalil Mack
6. Atlanta Falcons -- OT Jake Matthews
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- WR Mike Evans
8. Minnesota Vikings -- QB Blake Bortles
9. Buffalo Bills -- TE Eric Ebron
10. Detroit Lions -- CB Justin Gilbert
11. Tennessee Titans -- DE/OLB Anthony Barr
12. New York Giants -- OT Taylor Lewan
13. St. Louis Rams -- S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
14. Chicago Bears -- DT Aaron Donald
15. Pittsburgh Steelers- CB Darqueze Dennard
16. Dallas Cowboys -- DE Kony Ealy
17. Baltimore Ravens -- S Calvin Pryor
18. New York Jets -- WR Odell Beckham