Draft Discussion: Defensive Tackles, Linebackers
We all know the Dolphins biggest needs heading into the offseason: wr, cb, pass rusher, oline. Those are pretty apparent. But part of being a good GM is also looking toward the future, which brings me to these two positions.
Right now linebacker is a strength, at least the starting unit, and it figures to be that way for 2013. Dansby, Burnett and Misi all had good years, although it can be argued that none of them had many difference making plays. Plus, Dansby and Burnett are on the wrong side of 30 and Dansby will have a huge salary cap number in 2014.
Defensive tackle is also a current strength, but could quickly be a weakness in 2014. Solai is signed for one more year and I expect Starks to get the franchise tag. Both could be gone by 2014, however. Teams with playoff aspirations need to be strong on the defensive line so letting that unit slide is not an option.
Now, I'm not suggesting that we use a 1st round pick on a DT or linebacker (and the 2014 draft is an option as well). But, I think it would make sense to find some talent in the middle rounds at both positions. And if the best player available is a DT or linebacker, even at #12, that may not be a bad way to go especially if that player can get to the qb.
I haven't really studied those positions much so I want to open up discussion on middle round prospects and players that you would take at #12.
I'll start with two linebackers I really like: Chase Thomas of Stanford and Khaseem Greene of Rutgers. I think both are in the 2-3 round range. I love the versatility Thomas offers, plus he is very instinctive. Greene has great closing speed and could be a fantastic weakside linebacker.
At DT, I'm clueless on the middle round guys. But, there are a few that I would consider at #12 depending on how free agency plays out. Obviously if a guy like Star Lotulelei somehow made it to #12 I would love to have him. There are a few others I might consider there as well.
I don't have a good feel for how far certain DT's will go, but we don't have many great players on our team, so if I think I can get someone great, you have to bypass need for that. I can see us liking Arthur Brown. I think Ireland would be skeptical because of his size, but I think Philbin would see a guy who could be special. But I can see some other teams really liking him - as high as late 1st.
But I agree with your sentiment. I'd be looking for high talent guys who need extra grooming (long as they're also good character guys) since they'll likely have the time to develop.
The 2 guys I want us to draft more than anyone are stedman bailey and chase Thomas. Thomas would give us so much flexibility and solid young quality depth, can get to the qb, stop the run, cover TEs. I'd take them both in the second.
I'm very curious about Brandon Jenkins, the OLB/DE from Fla St. He suffered a Liz Franc fx and was lost for the season. Before the injury the guy really seemed to get after the QB.