MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The 2014 NFL draft kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. and while every draft is important, this one is a bit crucial for the Miami Dolphins.
The 2014 draft class appears to be one of the deepest in a long time with depth and talent at almost every position across the board.
But the Dolphins have an offensive line to rebuild. They also have some serious concerns on defense, especially stopping the run.
So what will new ‘Fins General Manager Dennis Hickey do?
So far, he remains a mystery man to much of the NFL. That will change by close of league business Thursday.
The Dolphins have a mediocre first-round pick — 19th overall. How will Hickey use it?
As it currently stands, Hickey and the Dolphins will go on the clock sometime in the 10 p.m. hour. The problem: the elite players will have been off the board by then, and much of the second tier will probably be gone, too.
Miami’s biggest holes are in the offensive line. The Dolphins gave up an NFL-worst 58 sacks last year and ranked 26th in rushing. Four of the five starters from the offensive line have departed, including tackle Jonathan Martin and guard Richie Incognito, who were at the center of a bullying scandal that helped sabotage last season.
Pro Bowler Branden Albert was signed to play left tackle, and Hickey also acquired veterans Shelley Smith and Jason Fox. But the Dolphins need a right tackle and more competition at guard.
That’s why there’s a growing belief that the Dolphins will package a deal and go get someone they truly like Thursday night. And that player is probably versatile Notre Dame lineman Zack Martin. Other possibilities in the first round include UCLA guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, West Virginia tackle Morgan Moses or Alabama guard/tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.
Some draft experts believe, with the top quarterbacks expected to slide, several teams will try to move up in the draft to get wide receivers and offensive linemen. The Dolphins are believed to be one of those teams. A jump into the top 10 would presumably require giving up a second-round pick in arguably the best draft in a decade.
Hickey, always guarded with the media, perhaps intentionally planted a seed last week, saying: “I always want more picks.”
The only way to get those additional selections is to trade down for additional picks.
Be sure to tune in to the CBS Local Sports Draft Party live from Jay-Z’s 40/40 Sports Bar and Club in New York City for celebrity interviews and expert reaction starting at 10:00 p.m. until 12:00 a.m.