The Miami Dolphins are right on the cusp of making a deep playoff run. For once this off-season, there will be no questions surrounding the team's most important position, quarterback. That job belongs to Ryan Tannehill for the foreseeable future, especially after Tannehill finished as the 13th QB in the league before getting injured.
The Dolphins also will have no questions surrounding their coaching staff. Adam Gase did a tremendous job in his first year, and should only get better. He is confident, poised, and knows X's and O's better than any coach in the NFL. The only thing he lacks to build a complete playoff ready squad, is the squad.
The Dolphins have a solid foundation with a good balance young and old players at the right positions. After re-signing key free agents like Kenny Stills and Andre Branch, and re-structuring contracts like Jarvis Landry, the team must turn to its most pressing needs in Free Agency and the draft.
Those needs, as of now, are the following (depending on who you ask too).
This is the most pressing and obvious need. After finishing ranked 30th in the league at stopping the run, the Dolphins can no longer use a band-aid player at this position. Kiko Alonso was passable at times, but he should be complimented with at least one proven veteran and another rookie or two via the draft. This defense will only get better with better play in the middle. Spencer Paysinger simply won't cut it another year.
2. Defensive Backs
Part of why the defense struggled so much was thanks to injuries in the secondary. Reshad Jones, Byron Maxwell and Isa Abdul-Quddus all went down at some point in the season, and while Tony Lippett and rookie Xavien Howard showed growth throughout the season, the Dolphins need more depth at the position. Look for the team to address the need by drafting 1-2 more defensive backs to bolster a growing unit led by veterans Jones and Maxwell.
3. Pass-Catching TE
The Dolphins found a gem in MarQueis Gray, and have seen great improvement from Dion Sims. However, they still lack that Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham match-up nightmare at TE. Tannehill has never had that throughout his career, and I think it would take the offense to the next level. Imagine having to guard a mammoth, fast TE as well as Landry, Stills, Parker and Ajayi. Look out. The best place to do this will be the draft, where the talent at the position is abundant this year.
4. Offensive Guard
Jermon Bushrod did a hell of a job filling in at Guard all year, and may have been the only Fins lineman who was not hurt at some time. But the Dolphins can't count on Bushrod forever, and it has still been left unsaid what will happen to Branden Albert. If the Dolphins are unable to retain the big man, that will push Laremy Tunsil outside to LT, opening up a guard spot. There are great free agent guards out there, but it would be much cheaper to take one in the 2nd or 3rd round of the draft.
5. Defensive End
Let's face it. Cameron Wake did WAY more than anyone expected out of a 34 year old coming off an ACL injury last year. However, Wake's days are numbered (however high that number may seem to be), and the Dolphins will have to address this need sooner rather than later to be successful down the road. If the Dolphins can find a LB that can also rush the passer, even better. But this is a must need position heading into the next 2-3 years.