The Miami Dolphins head into the 2014 NFL Draft with a new general manager in charge, Dennis Hickey, whose early personnel moves have given fans some hope that the new guy might actually know what he’s doing. That stands in sharp contrast to the six year reign of outgoing GM Jeff Ireland, whose drafts often seemed out of sync with the team’s needs to the point of being incoherent. That was perhaps best crystallized in last year’s draft when the team desperately needed offensive line help, yet Ireland traded up in the first round to take defensive lineman Dion Jordan and didn’t bother addressing the offensive line until the third round. The fact that head coach Joe Philbin never wanted Jordan in the first place helps explain why Ireland is no longer in the building. But Hickey’s roster moves since taking over in February have made far more sense, making the 2014 Dolphins mock draft much easier.
That doesn’t mean the blanks can be filled in automatically. The Dolphins offensive line is still a mess even after landing Branden Albert in free agency. In fact, the addition Albert makes the first round more complicated. If he’s now the franchise left tackle, is there a right tackle worth taking that high? Miami could take a left tackle like Zack Martin of Notre Dame and flipping him to the other side. But the Dolphins could just as easily find a starting right tackle in the second round, meaning that the team’s other needs could be addressed in the first – and that gets tricky.
After the free agency busts of linebackers Phillip Wheeler and Danell Ellerbe last season, the Dolphins do need an upgrade at the position. But both players are being paid too much to simply be released, so drafting another linebacker in the first round would mean sitting at least one of the two veterans on the bench for the year. The team might instead decide to simply let both play, and hope that they’re able to raise their game back to the level that got them signed in the first place. Miami could instead go after a blocking tight end in the first round such as Austin Seferian-Jenkins (if he falls that far) to complement their existing receiving tight end Charles Clay. But that may depend on how many two-tight-end sets new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor plans to employ.