Playbook: Miami must tinker through draft

When one looks at the Dolphins, one sees a team with much to decide about its future.

Miami’s offensive identity will depend on a decision about the quarterback position. On defense, a switch to a 4-3 base means the team will have to find some square pegs that can be shaved down and reinserted into round holes.

With about $13 million to work with — franchising defensive tackle Paul Soliai for the second time would eat up most of that spending money — the Dolphins aren’t in a position to remake themselves with wholesale purchases. But tweaks are necessary, and, considering how little the Dolphins can afford to spend on veteran upgrades, the draft will be critical to their remodeling effort.

Moore of Matt?

Yes, the Dolphins could try and bring in Peyton Manning. They could trade up for Robert Griffin III in the draft. On the other hand, why not give Matt Moore another year?

Moore developed chemistry with the Dolphins’ No. 1 receiver, Brandon Marshall, by season’s end and led Miami to six wins. Displaying above-average athleticism in the pocket, Moore also showed an ability to fit balls into tight windows down the middle of the field.  The Dolphins could work to Moore’s strength by adding depth to the tight end position behind Anthony Fasano or giving an expanded role to H-back Charles Clay.

Regardless of who is under center, he has to be better protected. While Jake Long, Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey make up a solid left side of the offensive line, the right side was a constant source of breakdowns and inconsistent run-blocking. Drafting a guard with a top-10 pick might seem unorthodox, but Stanford’s David DeCastro would be worth a look.


The Dolphins’ 3-4 defense was great at stopping the run (No. 3 at 95.6 yards allowed per game), but with no one but Cameron Wake providing a pass rush, the passing defense was just mediocre (tied at No. 15 with an 83.7 pass rating allowed).

The Dolphins could use a linebacker who can cover and more depth at corner and safety, but their first priority might be finding a defensive end who can play opposite Wake.

Quinton Coples (North Carolina) has all the measurables. At 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, he has the speed and strength to dominate versus the run or pass — but he’s a “raw” prospect who has had bouts with inconsistency. Another interesting choice could be South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, who might not be a prototypical defensive end (6-2, 278 pounds) but has the athleticism to excel at almost any position, from nose tackle to linebacker.

In the end, what the Dolphins really need is someone who can make plays; they ranked 26th in takeaways in 2011 with only 19.

“Playbook” — the ultimate football Xs and Os show — aired Thursday and Friday on NFL Network during the season. Check the NFL Network broadcast schedule for further details. Follow “Playbook” on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

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