2004 DRAFT PREVIEW: WHAT WILL DOLPHINS DO?

So who will it be? Wide receiver Lee Evans from Wisconsin? Offensive tackle Shawn Andrews from Arkansas? Who will the Dolphins select with the 20th overall selection in the 2004 NFL draft? Will they even make the 20th overall selection or will they trade up or trade down? So many possibilities. Trying to predict what the Dolphins — if any team, for that matter — will do in the draft is always very difficult, but that's not going to stop us from trying.

If have you checked out the multitude of mock drafts available everywhere, you have noticed that the overwhelming feeling seems to be that Andrews, the massive prospect from Arkansas will be the choice.

And Andrews certainly would make sense because the Dolphins offensive line clearly could use some reinforcements.

The left side of the offensive line appears solid with second-year tackle Wade Smith and new left guard Jeno James, and there's every reason to believe Seth McKinney will be a quality starting center.

But the right side still is mediocre at best. Greg Jerman and second-year player Taylor Whitley are the two top choices at right guard right now, while the options at right tackle include free agent acquisitions John St. Clair and Damion McIntosh. The only problem there is that Whitley and Jerman haven't proven anything yet, while St. Clair and McIntosh were average at best as starters for their former teams.

So the offensive line needs a boost, no question about it.

And Andrews, despite concerns about his work ethich and his ability to maintain his weight, has plenty of talent. In fact, he has enough potential that he could start right away.

The concerns about Andrews are serious enough that it's the reason he could be available at No. 20. Can the Dolphins afford to take a gamble like that? Can they afford not to?

The argument against going with a wide receiver here is that the Dolphins have two quality starters in Chris Chambers and David Boston and also can get a good prospect in the third round.

A guy like Evans or Michael Clayton from LSU obviously would be very tempting because they both look like future NFL stars, but how much would either be able to contribute as a rookie.

Remember, the Dolphins don't need four stud wideouts because tight end Randy McMichael is too good a receiver to keep on the bench on third down, and the Dolphins also can keep their base formation unless it's third-and-long because of fullback Rob Konrad's much-underused receiving ability.

So we're thinking a wide receiver takes a clear back seat to the offensive line as a priority.

In fact, we're thinking guard/tackle Vernon Carey from the University of Miami makes more sense at No. 20 than Evans or Clayton or Reggie Williams from Washington.

Carey has the advantage of being able to play guard or tackle, and guard is where it seems the Dolphins have a bigger need right now.

Trading up will be next to impossible because the Dolphins don't have a second-round pick, either this year or next year, and they probably won't want to give up a third- or a fourth-round choice.

Trading down is a distinct possibility, although finding a trade partner willing to give Miami a second- or third-round pick to move up a few slots might be difficult.

Yet another scenario has defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, whose contract status is a problem at this point, being traded for a first-round pick. If that happens, then the Dolphins would have to select a defensive end (Will Smith from Ohio State, Antwan Odom from Alabama being two possibilities) to come in as a less expensive replacement.

We're hearing the Bears simply don't want to give up the 14th overall pick for Ogunleye, so we'll project no trade of this kind.

Which brings us back to the first-round pick: We like Carey's versatility and the fact he doesn't have the question mark surrounding Andrews. But Andrews has a huge upside and could be a steal at No. 20. Of course, he could turn into a bust as well, but we're saying the Dolphins will take that risk.


Dolphins Report Top Stories