The Miami Dolphins have been on a significant spending spree this off-season. We have agreed to free-agent deals with Mike Wallace, Dustin Keller, Brandon Gibson, Danelle Ellerbe, and Phillip Wheeler. The Dolphins have addressed a significant weakness from last season: our inability to be a threat in the passing game. Yet we've also made some curious moves, most notably being our seemingly nonchalant attitude to re-signing our star LT Jake Long. Assuming that he doesn't come back, we have a huge hole to fill on the line, and not much money left to do so. All this has led Dolphins fans to ask themselves "what are we going to do with our first round pick?". Allow me to run through some scenarios.
The first scenario is that we stay where we are and draft a WR, most likely Tavon Austin. While I love the speed receiver from West Virginia, there are some questions about him. Austin led the Mountaineers with 114 receptions for over 1200 yards, and ran a blazing 40-yard dash time at the combine. But he is small, at only 5'8" and 173lbs. Does Austin have the durability to stand up to the abuse that he would take in the NFL? Where exactly does he fit, is he a slot receiver? Can he be a number two receiver? Is he merely a special teams guy? These questions and the additions we've made in the off-season make this a silly choice in my opinion. As much as I love Tavon, I will not be happy if this is the route that Miami chooses to go.
The second scenario is that we again stand pat and use our selection to grab Xavier Rhodes, the cornerback out of Florida State. The talented corner had only an average Combine workout in my opinion, running a 4.43 40-yard dash, and not looking entirely smooth in his on-field drills. That being said, he is considered to be the top cornerback prospect by many analysts. This year's draft might be the deepest draft I have ever seen at the cornerback/safety position, so I feel like the Dolphins could find talent later on in the draft at this position and could use their first pick for better purposes.
The third scenario, the one that makes the most sense to me personally, is one that has us trading up in the first round to draft a star LT. With the departure of Long, our QB of the future is going to need someone to protect his blindside. I would like to see us package some of our picks and move up to a position to draft either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher. These are the preeminent LT's in this draft, and I have seen prognosticators who have ranked both of them the top of the class, so I would be happy to see either one of them on the Dolphins roster. Conventional wisdom says that Joeckel would be taken before Fisher, but if he isn't, I would be thrilled to see Miami take this route with their draft picks.
While there are a lot of holes yet to be filled, the Dolphins have made a lot of progress in the free agent market this off season. It's safe to say they will have some tough decisions to make come draft day, April 24th.