Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The NFL Draft is a little more than 24 hours away and business is about to pick up in a major way in the National Football League and for the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins have several holes to fill heading into the draft, most notably: left offensive tackle, tight end, defensive end opposite Cameron Wake, and cornerback. Unfortunately for Dolphins fans, the top tackles will likely be gone by the time the Fins get on the clock.
That’s why much of the focus this week has surrounded the Dolphins and the team with the number one overall pick, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are shopping left tackle Branden Albert and are hoping the Dolphins will take him and give up a second-round pick.
Complicating the trade will be Albert will have to pass a physical and a long-term contract will have to be worked out. Plus, the Chiefs are trying to get the Fins’ first second-round pick instead of the second one. ESPN reported Wednesday the two teams have restarted discussions.
According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Albert wants a contract that will pay him approximately $36 million over four years, or $9 million per season. The Dolphins haven’t said if they’re willing to go that high, but some reports say the price isn’t the problem, but the draft pick compensation.
However, since we’re looking at the possible selections the Dolphins may make, let’s assume the Fins and Chiefs work out a trade and Albert is Miami’s new left tackle.
That will change the draft board for Miami in a big way. The Fins can remove tackle from consideration in the first round and instead focus on cornerback, defensive end, and tight end, or trying to trade down.
Miami has reportedly looked into trading down out of the 12 spot, which would make sense if they can recoup the second round pick they give up to acquire Albert.
Looking at recent mock drafts from CBS Sports’ experts yields two players heading to the Fins at number 12: right tackle D.J. Fluker or cornerback Xavier Rhodes. However, if we’re taking Albert in as a tackle, Fluker will not be needed.
Rhodes has been considered one of the top cornerback prospects in the draft along with Alabama’s Dee Milliner. Rhodes has the measurables, 6’2”, 210 pounds, and runs a 4.39 second 40-yard dash. The question with Rhodes has been does he fit with Miami’s preference for more zone defensive schemes.
Milliner was widely expected to be gone when Miami went on the clock. He’s been the consensus top corner until the past week when he began to slip due to injury concerns. ESPN reported that Milliner has had five surgeries on both shoulders, which could hurt his draft status on Thursday.
One cornerback who has seen his name flying up the draft boards is Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden. He’s ranked as the best corner by NFL Network’s Mike Mayock and is Mayock’s 14th best overall player in the 2013 NFL Draft.
If the Fins pass on a cornerback, there’s only one tight end who could command the number 12 overall pick and that’s Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert. Mayock ranks him as the 13th best player in the draft and he would fill one of the two glaring holes on the Dolphins’ offense, the other being left tackle.
At the defensive end position, the Dolphins will probably too late to have a chance at drafting the top defensive end Dion Jordan. However, there’s a chance LSU’s Barkevious Mingo or BYU’s Ziggy Ansah could be available.
Mingo is a pure pass rusher who would have to develop into an every down end. Ansah’s draft position is purely on potential as his numbers at BYU were not that great, which should be a red flag for teams in the first round.
Past those three positions, defensive tackle could be a wildcard pick for the Dolphins at number 12. The Fins have Randy Starks and Paul Soliai at defensive tackle, but both are free agents next season and defensive tackle is deep in the current draft.
There’s a chance the Fins could choose from either Star Lotulelei or Sheldon Richardson, both considered in the top 10 of overall players, if the team wanted to go defensive tackle in the first round.
But again, all of this can change if the Dolphins choose not to acquire Albert before or during the first round of the NFL Draft. If Miami doesn’t get Albert, there’s a chance the Fins could go all-in and try to land either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher if either one falls to the third or fourth pick in the first round.