NFL DRAFT: Help! Dolphins go into draft needing a CB and RB
MIAMI (AP) Round numbers tell the tale. The Miami Dolphins allowed exactly 4,000 net yards passing last year, the highest total in their 50 seasons and a big reason they lost 10 games.
Against the run they ranked even worse, 28th in the NFL compared with 21st against the pass. So it's reasonable to assume the Dolphins will devote their first-round draft pick to defense.
In fact, they've already done so. Miami moved down five spots, to 13th from eighth, to acquire cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso from the Eagles.
Because of Brent Grimes' departure via free agency, the Dolphins remain in the market for cornerback help.
''At that position you can never have enough,'' new coach Adam Gase said. ''I know right now it's probably an area that a lot of people are looking at that we need to improve on, and we probably need to add some depth.''
Rookie reinforcements at linebacker or in the front four would also be welcome for a defense that was anything but dominant last year, even with tackle Ndamukong Suh, the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
The Dolphins have chosen an offensive player in the first round in four of the past five drafts, which might explain why the defense ranked 25th last year, worst since 1997. That contributed to Miami's seventh consecutive season at .500 or below.
Here are things to consider as the Dolphins mull their options:
TOP PRIORITY: There's a bountiful pool of cornerbacks, which may be why the Dolphins were willing drop in the first round. Potential picks include William Jackson III of Houston, Vernon Hargreaves of Florida, Eli Apple of Ohio State, and Mackensie Alexander of Clemson. Miami might trade down again and still land one of them.
OR A BALL CARRIER?: The offensive player most likely to tempt the Dolphins is Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, but he could be gone before their turn comes.
The position is high on the Dolphins' list of priorities because they lost three-year starter Lamar Miller in free agency and have had no success finding a veteran replacement.
Free agent Arian Foster met with Miami, but he's recovering from Achilles tendon surgery and still unsigned. Former NFL rushing champion Chris Johnson visited Miami but decided to stay with Arizona, and after the Dolphins signed C.J. Anderson to an offer sheet, Denver matched.
Miami needs someone to complement Jay Ajayi, who had only 49 carries as a rookie last year.
CHAIN OF COMMAND: The latest organizational shake-up left executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum in charge of the draft. He was consultant to the Dolphins in 2014 and was hired a year ago, but general manager Dennis Hickey had the final say on the 2015 draft.
Hickey departed after last season and was replaced by Chris Grier, who was director of college scouting the past nine years and has been with the Dolphins since 2000.
Gase was hired after one season as offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears; he also worked with Peyton Manning in Denver. He said preparation for his first draft as a head coach has gone well.
''Mike and Chris are sick of me, because we spend so much time together,'' Gase said. ''I tell them what we're looking for as far as a player, and that's why they're in the positions they're in - to go out and find those types of players that fit what we're looking for.''
TRADING DOWN: Miami will have a longer wait on the first night of the draft because of the trade for Maxwell and Alonso, which received mixed reviews. Both players had a disappointing 2015 season in Philadelphia. But Gase said the deal still gives the Dolphins appealing options with their pick.
''We got two starters, and we're going to add a third at No. 13,'' he said. ''I look at it as, we moved back five spots and got three starters, so I was all for it.''
DRAFT HISTORY: The Dolphins haven't won a playoff game since 2000, and their fortunes won't improve until their draft record does.
They've had 17 first-round picks since 1995, and only three of those players went on to a Pro Bowl for the Dolphins. The 33 players they've drafted since 2012 have combined for one Pro Bowl berth - by receiver Jarvis Landry. And none of the players drafted last year started even half the games as a rookie.
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