As the weekend of April 24-25 nears, we preview the 2004 NFL draft with a series examining the top prospects at each position, how the Dolphins stands at each position and what the Dolphins might do at each position. We continue our series with a look at the cornerbacks.

The top prospects

It's already been well established that wide receiver is the best position in this year's draft, even if USC star Mike Williams winds up being ineligible to be selected. So it's a good thing that there also are a lot of quality cornerbacks available to cover those guys in the NFL. While not quite as bountiful as the wide receiver group, this year's class of cornerbacks offers quite a bit of quality at the top. It is expected that four or five cornerbacks could be drafted in the first round on Saturday. Virginia Tech's DeAngelo Hall appears to have moved at the top of the list following a spectacular pre-draft workout, and the other top-notch prospects include Dunta Robinson from South Carolina, Will Poole from USC, Chris Gamble from Ohio State and Derrick Strait from Oklahoma. There also are several small-school prospects expected to be drafted before the end of Round 2 or 3 at the latest, and that group includes Ricardo Colclough from Tusculum, Keith Smith from McNeese State and Joey Thomas from Montana State.

The Dolphins situation

This could have been a problem area because of Sam Madison's difficult salary-cap situation, Terrell Buckley's free agent status and Jamar Fletcher's continued sub-par play, but the Dolphins took big steps in the offseason by getting Madison to sign a restructured deal and by signing former Carolina starter Reggie Howard to add depth. Buckley remains unsigned, but there is a possibility he could be brought back to join a group that also includes Pro Bowl starter Patrick Surtain and young players Korey Banks, Mesene Louisdor and Alphonso Roundtree.

What the Dolphins might do

The signing of Howard was big in that it provided the Dolphins with some much-needed depth, particularly in the event Buckley winds up signing somewhere else, such as New England. The loss of Fletcher to San Diego in the David Boston trade is no factor here because Fletcher wasn't going to be brought back anyway. The Dolphins need to have at least four quality cornerbacks on the roster, so they very well could add one in the draft. But because of bigger needs (offensive line, wide receiver, safety, for example), it might not happen early in the draft.

Next up: The safeties.

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