Nose Tackle Need: Where to Look?

Free agency begins next week, but the Dolphins' hopes of filling their need at nose tackle with a veteran are fading away with each passing day. It's obvious that teams around the league recognize the value of a good nose tackle and those who have one are making sure they hang on to him. We've already seen three nose tackles get tagged in advance of free agency, and there might be a fourth coming.

Vince Wilfork and Aubrayo Franklin have been tagged by the Patriots and 49ers, respectively, and it's highly anticipated that the Steelers will follow suit with Casey Hampton, and there's also a strong possibility that the Packers will do the same with Ryan Pickett.

That leaves the Dolphins will no one to go after in free agency.

And that's a problem considering we still don't know whether Jason Ferguson will come back for another year. Even if he does, Ferguson's age and the fact he's coming off a season-ending quad injury makes this a position of need because Paul Soliai just hasn't shown enough since joining the Dolphins as a fourth-round pick in 2007.

Minus a free agent solution, that means the Dolphins will have to turn to the draft to get a nose tackle.

The top prospects who are projected as nose tackles in the NFL are Tennessee's Dan Williams, Alabama's Terrence Cody and North Carolina's Cam Thomas.

Williams is projected to get drafted anywhere from the middle to the later part of Round 1, Cody is projected to go late in the first or early in the second, and Thomas is projected as either a second- or third-round pick.

Linebacker and wide receiver are two other major priorities for the Dolphins this offseason, but the possibilities for success in free agency are better at those positions.

For example, Antonio Bryant could be a good addition at wide receiver or the Dolphins could go after one of the top restricted free agents — Miles Austin, Vincent Jackson or Brandon Marshall.

At linebacker, the Dolphins could make a push for Karlos Dansby.

The bottom line is the Dolphins might not have a choice but to spend an early draft pick on a nose tackle. That might not be a sexy pick, but free agency obviously won't provide any help at that position.

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