2006 Draft Preview: Specialists

As the 2006 NFL draft gets closer, we present a complete preview, including the Dolphins' needs and possible picks, as well as the top prospects. We continue with a look at the specialists.

How the Dolphins stack up at the position

Olindo Mare has been a fixture as the placekicker since 1997, while Donnie Jones came on the scene last year and delivered a tremendous performance as the punter. Rookie free agent John Denney unseated long-time long-snapper Ed Perry and while he had a few mishaps, Nick Saban seems to think Denney's got a bright future. In the return game, Wes Welker wasn't nearly as successful last year as he was in 2004, particulary when it came to kickoff returns.

Dolphins' last pick at the position: Punter Brent Bartholomew, Round 6, 1999

Potential Dolphins pick(s) at the position

Because Jones and Denney are young, you can pretty much forget about the Dolphins wasting a draft pick on either a punter or a long-snapper. A return specialist is a luxury that few teams can afford if the player can't help at a position. So while someone like Devin Hester greatly would enhance the return game, it would be difficult to envision the Dolphins spending, say, a third-round pick on a guy like that. Where we can easily see the Dolphins using a late-round pick would be on a kicker. While Mare has been around a while, he carries a big price tag and it was widely reported the Dolphins asked him to restructure his contract in the offseason, something he reportedly balked at. With three seventh-round picks, it wouldn't surprise us in the least to see the Dolphins use one of those on a kicker. The logical choices would be the two kickers who worked out for the Dolphins this spring, Memphis' Stephen Gostkowski or Ohio State's Josh Huston.

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