2009 Draft Countdown: Defensive/nose tackles

With the 2009 NFL draft only days away, we offer our extensive position-by-position breakdown. Each report includes an analysis of the Dolphins' status at the position, the likelihood of a draft pick being spent at the position, a look at which prospects the Dolphins have worked out or visited with, a list of the top prospects, and the sleepers. We continue with the defensive and nose tackles.

Where the Dolphins stand: The Dolphins got a steal last offseason when they were able to get veteran Jason Ferguson from Dallas for what essentially amounted to a sixth-round pick. Ferguson was solid last season and he's probably got a couple more years in his body. The problem for the Dolphins is they don't have an ideal backup and/or replacement on the roster. The only other two players listed on the roster as defensive tackles are 2008 practice squad member Joe Cohen and Tony McDaniel, who was acquired in a trade with Jacksonville this offseason. The problem is that Cohen appears too light to handle the position, while McDaniel's height (6-7) probably makes him better suited for defensive end in the 3-4 alignment.

Likelihood of the Dolphins using a pick at the position: Very strong. The Dolphins need to protect themselves in case something happens to Ferguson because his backup last season, Paul Soliai, didn't get the job done. In fact, Soliai now is listed as a defensive end on the roster. This position will be addressed, and very well could be addressed early in the draft.

The top prospects: 1. B.J. Raji, Boston College; 2. Jeria Perry, Mississippi; 3. Evander "Ziggy" Hood, Missouri; 4. Ron Brace, Boston College; 5. Fili Moala, USC; 6. Sen'Derrick Marks, Auburn; 7. Vance Walker, Georgia Tech; 8. Dorell Scott, Clemson; 9. Corey Irvin, Georgia; 10. Ricky Jean-Francois, LSU.

Summary: The list of top prospects includes both prospects who project for a 3-4 defense and a 4-3. For the Dolphins' purposes, you can eliminate from consideration the No. 2 guy on the list, Jerry, who fits in a 4-3 system. In fact, the only prospects among the top 10 who look like prototypical nose tackles are the two BC guys, Raji and Brace and perhaps Scott. Others who could interest the Dolphins at nose tackle include Terrance Knighton from Temple and Chris Baker from Hampton by way of Penn State.

Sleepers: Vaughn Martin, Western Ontario; Sammie Lee Hill, Stillman

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