WHAT WE HOPE WILL HAPPEN
It's pretty clear the Dolphins have a lot of needs entering this draft, and those include nose tackle, free safety, outside linebacker, tight end and, to a lesser degree, running back, defensive end and inside linebacker.
At those positions, the two players who really stand out are a couple of safeties, Tennessee's Eric Berry and Texas' Earl Thomas.
Berry generally is recognized as the better prospect of the two, although NFL Network analyst likes Thomas better.
Regardless, we'd be happy if the Dolphins selected either at No. 12. Sure, safety isn't supposed to be a premium position, but think back to last season and try to imagine how much more successful the Dolphins could have been with a really good free safety.
We can find a problem with all of the other four players in the Sporting News mocks. Kindle didn't have a great senior year until the national title game and isn't a difference-making pass rusher; Spiller is a situational player who's a big-time game-breaker but a little bit of a luxury for a team with as many needs as the Dolphins; Morgan was a college defensive end who may or may not be able to transition to 3-4 outside linebacker and would bring a lot of the same kills that Cameron Wake already provides; finally Dan Williams only had one really good year at Tennessee and nose tackles can be found later in the draft.
If the Dolphins stay put at No. 12, our wish list ranking would be: 1) Berry; 2) Thomas; 3) Spiller; 4) Kindle; 5) Morgan; 6) Dan Williams.
Another scenario we like is a trade down in the first round. Dallas and Philadelphia are both believed to be interested in moving up, and the Dolphins should accommodate either if the price is a second-round pick.
The Dolphins then would have either the 24th (Eagles) or 27th (Cowboys) pick, plus a second-round pick to make up for the one they lost in the Brandon Marshall trade.
Under that scenario, the most logical options then would be a pass-rushing outside linebacker, say, Jerry Hughes from TCU. The Dolphins then could go for a safety or a nose tackle in the second round.
WHAT WE THINK WILL HAPPEN
The idea of a trade down isn't just wishful thinking, it's going to happen.
The Dolphins will be moving down, and we think the trade is going to be consummated with the Eagles, who have seven picks in the first four rounds to play with.
That would give Miami the 24th overall selection, and it indeed will be used on a pass-rushing outside linebacker.
In his SI mock draft, Peter King had the Dolphins trading down with the Eagles and then selecting Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews. While Mathews is the most complete running back in the draft, it would be hard to imagine the Dolphins taking him without trading Ronnie Brown.
We're thinking the most logical scenario is an outside linebacker.
So the final verdict is the Dolphins trade down in the first round, most likely with Philadelphia, and take an outside linebacker. For the sake of going out on a limb, we'll make it Brandon Graham, University of Michigan.