Here's a question a reader sent in:
With the draft coming up, some are speculating that the Phins might get a chance to pick Rolando McClain ILB with their first overall pick. Is he worth it? If he is off the board do you think Dan Williams NT or Terrence Cody NT would be the next choice? I don't see the Phins picking a WR with their first choice. How likely is it the the Dolphins will get a wide receiver through free agency?
That definitely hits on the major areas of need for this team right now - ILB, NT, and WR.
Of course, some of those needs could be addressed in free agency - particularly ILB and NT. For instance, Miami may be able to make a run at Karlos Dansby who would immediately push Akin Ayodele out of the starting lineup. The team could certainly get by with a starting duo of Dansby and Crowder for a couple of years, but Dansby won't come cheap and he is 29 years old.
At NT, Jason Ferguson recently said that his return is still up in the air. It would be great to re-sign him to a one-year deal, but regardless, the team should also explore signing one of the top NT in free agency like Vince Wilfork, Casey Hampton, Aubrayo Franklin, or Ryan Pickett. Signing any of those guys to pair with Soliai and/or Ferguson would not only be a great boost to the defense, but it would take away the need to use a draft pick on one of the premier NT prospects in this draft, freeing up that choice to be used elsewhere like at OLB or WR.
But whether the Phins sign Dansby or not, Rolando McClain is definitely worthy of being picked at the #12 spot. He has everything this regime looks for in a player - he's big, fast, and has a ton of experience in college, even for a junior. If he's available, it's hard to see Miami passing on him, unless they get a tremendous offer to trade down. And even if Miami was to trade down only two or three picks with a team looking to get in position to snag a top QB, McClain might stay on the board into the mid-teens. That would be the ultimate win-win situation.
As for Williams and Cody, assuming the team didn't address this need in free agency, I still don't think either is worth taking so high in the draft. In fact, I have a feeling one or both of them may still be available when Miami picks in the second round, so it would not make sense to reach this greatly for either one. They both have serious conditioning issues that make them prime boom or bust candidates. With the 12th pick, Miami needs much more of a sure thing. And if they can get Ferguson back for one more year, they can put off this need until next year.
Unfortunately, I don't see Miami taking a WR in the first round either. I say "unfortunately" because Parcells and Ireland seem to be stuck in the mindset that they can simply throw a receiving corps together out of undrafted free agents and a gaggle of #3 guys. Well, it doesn't work that way. If this team wants a stud receiver (and it should) it needs to take the risk and invest highly in one. And there may not be a riskier pick at WR than Dez Bryant, but if he's sitting there when Miami picks, I would hate to seem them pass him over.
WR help is just not going to come via free agency. All the best WRs will be restricted free agents this year, which means they probably aren't leaving their current teams, and if they do, whatever team gets them will likely be overpaying by a sizable amount. The most attractive unrestricted free agent WR is probably Antonio Bryant, and while I wouldn't mind seeing him in Miami for the right price, he's 29 years old, and he showed this year that he isn't a true #1 guy. Parcells and Ireland are going to have to come to terms with reality and get over their ridiculous fear of drafting a WR early.