Ranking the Dolphins' needs

The day before the 2006 NFL draft, we rank the Dolphins' positions of need from the very top to the very bottom. Most of the major needs happen to be on the defensive side of the ball, but not all of them.

1. Outside linebacker -- Following the offseason release of Junior Seau, the Dolphins are short on proven talent at this position. Nick Saban would really like a pass-rushing specialist to line up opposite Jason Taylor.

2. Safety -- The Dolphins' projected starters right now would be free agent pick-ups Renaldo Hill and Deke Cooper. There's also little proven depth at the position.

3. Wide receiver -- The Dolphins have a Pro Bowl starter in Chris Chambers and another solid starter in Marty Booker, but there's a major drop-off after those two.

4. Defensive tackle -- It's clear the Dolphins are looking either for a backup or a replacement for veteran nose tackle Keith Traylor. The Dolphins should be OK with defensive tackles in the 4-3 after drafting Kevin Vickerson and Manuel Wright last year, but they're missing a big run plugger because Traylor wears down.

5. Running back -- With all due respect to Sammy Morris, the Dolphins need another starting-caliber back to join Ronnie Brown because Nick Saban likes to use two backs extensively.

6. Cornerback -- The Dolphins have a decent amount of cornerbacks after the offseason acquisitions of Will Allen and Andre' Goodman, but they still could use a shut-down cover corner.

7. Offensive tackle -- The Dolphins have depth after signing L.J. Shelton and re-signing Damion McIntosh to join Vernon Carey and 2005 draft pick Anthony Alabi, but the line could use an anchor at this position.

8. Quarterback -- The need here is for a backup because the Dolphins should be set at the starting spot with Daunte Culpepper.

9. Guard -- Starters Rex Hadnot and Jeno James are back, but there's virtually no depth at this spot. Getting another starting-caliber guard also would give the Dolphins the flexibility to line up Hadnot at center.

10. Defensive end -- The Dolphins have a lot of quality ends, either for the 4-3 or 3-4, thanks to the likes of Taylor, Kevin Carter, Vonnie Holliday and David Bowens. And you also have 2005 second-round pick Matt Roth.

11. Center -- With Seth McKinney being re-signed and Hadnot always a possibility to move over from guard, the Dolphins are pretty set here.

12. Inside linebacker -- With Zach Thomas and Channing Crowder, the Dolphins have two really good players to man the inside in the 3-4 defense.

13. Specialists -- The Dolphins would be just fine if they went into the 2006 season with the same kicker (Olindo Mare), punter (Donnie Jones), kick returner (Wes Welker) and long-snapper (John Denney) as last year.

14. Tight end -- Randy McMichael is a solid starter with Pro Bowl potential, while Justin Peelle was signed as a free agent to join returning backup Alex Holmes.

15. Fullback -- Former 49ers starter Fred Beasley was a solid acquisition, and the Dolphins also have blocking specialist Darian Barnes on the roster.


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