Dolphins draft preview: DB

With the 2005 NFL draft fast approaching, we take a look at the Dolphins' situation at each position along with a prediction as to what the team might do during the draft. This story looks at the secondary.

The Dolphins pass defense has ranked among the best in the league on a regular basis in recent years, but it also has undergone some changes. And more probably are in stores.

For years, the Dolphins could count on the cornerback tandem of Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison, but Surtain appears on his way out because of his contract situation.

Already, the Dolphins will have two new starting safeties next season with Sammy Knight now in Kansas City and Arturo Freeman in Green Bay.

The Dolphins picked up two possible replacements in the offseason in free agents Travares Tillman and Tebucky Jones. Tillman is a good athlete and a former second-round pick whose career has been a disappointment so far, while Jones is a former first-round pick who is a big hitter but lacks playmaking skills. That's why the Dolphins are going to move him from free safety, where he played for New Orleans, to strong safety.

There's not much else at safety in terms of proven commodities, and both Yeremiah Bell and Chris Akins are coming off season-ending injuries. In fact, the last we heard about Akins there were questions as to whether he'd be able to come back at all from the blown knee he sustained last summer.

At cornerback, the departure of Surtain -- he's still expected to be traded to Kansas City -- would leave a big hole, one the Dolphins would try to fill with either 2004 free agent acquisition Reggie Howard or 2004 rookie sensation Will Poole.

The Dolphins picked up additional depth by signing former Dallas starter Mario Edwards.

The secondary isn't necessarily the Dolphins' biggest priority heading into the draft, but it would not be a major surprise if the Dolphins selected a defensive back, perhaps even in the first round if they wind up trading down from the second overall selection.

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