Players The Miami Dolphins Should Target This Off-Season

aaron donaldIt has been an interesting 2014 off-season for the Miami Dolphins. The team fired general manager Jeff Ireland, hired a new general manager (Dennis Hickey) and a new offensive line coach (John Benton).
The Dolphins have a lot of questions on and off the field. Here are the positions the Dolphins need to address in free agency and in the NFL draft.
Offensive Tackle: 
Everyone knows the number one thing the Dolphins need to target this off-season is the offensive tackle position. Jonathan Martin certainly will not return to this team in 2014 and quite frankly he hasn't produced on the field. The team acquired Bryant McKinnie last season, but he’s a free agent. Cyrus Kouandjio from Alabama and Zack Martin from Notre Dame are  draft options for Dolphins at pick 19 of the draft.
I believe Miami will choose to go the free agency route and sign Branden Albert or Eugene Monroe to play left tackle. Head coach Joe Philbin needs to win now and he doesn't have time to wait for a rookie left tackle to develop.
Running Back: 
Some Dolphin fans still have faith that Lamar Miller can be an every down running back, but I'm not one of them. He doesn't break a lot of tackles and his catching and pass blocking skills are questionable at best. While I wouldn't spend a first round pick on a running back, I would look to upgrade the position in the second or third round. Tre Mason from Auburn and Carlos Hyde of Ohio State would both give the Dolphins a running back that can run in between the tackles and someone that can get yardage on third-and-short situations. The team hasn't had a running back like that since Ricky Williams.
Free Safety: 
Chris Clemons is a free agent this off-season and according to James Walker of ESPN, the Dolphins don't think of him as a priority. Clemons was very average last season and Miami needs more of a game changer at the free safety position. While I don't expect the team to draft a safety because of their other needs, I could see them making a strong push for free agent Jairus Byrd.
Despite missing five games last season playing for the Buffalo Bills, Byrd still finished with four interceptions and was selected to his third Pro Bowl. Not only can he get interceptions, he can also force fumbles and tackle the ball carrier. Something that Clemons would often struggle with.
Offensive Guard
If the Dolphins sign a free agent tackle like I project them to do, they probably will address the guard position during the draft. With Richie Incognito and John Jerry not likely to return to because both are free agents, the team may have to sign or draft two guards.
David Yankey of Stanford, Baylor's Cyril Richardson and Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson are all draft options for the Dolphins. All of them are projected to go in round two of the NFL Draft, so the Dolphins will have a number of options on day two of the draft.
Defensive Tackle: 
Paul Soliai and Randy Starks are both free agents and it seems the Dolphins will not bring either one of them back for the 2014 season. It appears the team wants to get younger at the defensive tackle position. The Dolphins were 25th in rushing defense and 16th in pass defense and will be looking for a player that can get behind the line of scrimmage and create havoc in the backfield.
If the Dolphins wanted to use their first round pick on a defensive tackle, they could look at Pitt's Aaron Donald. He can rush the passer as well as play the run. During Donald’s senior season, he sacked the quarterback 11 times and had 28.5 tackles for loss.
The only reason Donald will go later in the first round is because there are questions about his size.  He may be 6'1, 285 pounds, but the 22-year-old plays a lot bigger than his size.

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