6 Mid-Round Prospects Miami Dolphins Must Consider in 2014 NFL Draft
While the most importance is placed on the first- and second-round picks, a team builds the bulk of its roster in the middle rounds.
Miami has notoriously struck out with its mid-round picks in recent years. For this article, mid-round picks are defined as those in the third, fourth and fifth rounds.
Here are six mid-round prospects that the Miami Dolphins must consider in the 2014 NFL draft.
Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Miami has an interesting situation brewing on the interior defensive line. With both Paul Soliai and Randy Starks' contracts ending this offseason, decisions need to be made.
This isn't necessarily a huge need, because chances are one of those defensive linemen will be re-signed, and the Dolphins also have another legitimate starter in Jared Odrick.
But they could use some depth at the position, and Reid would be the perfect selection in the fourth or fifth round. You can read my full scouting breakdown on him here.
Essentially, he is a good athlete who has a solid build and would be a perfect fit as a 4-3 defensive tackle in the NFL. He didn't get much attention at Princeton, and his lack of experience against elite competition will keep him from climbing too high.
Miami could be getting a steal in Reid. At the least, the team would be getting a solid football player, hard worker and high-character individual, which it could use right now.
Brandon Thomas, OG/T, Clemson
Thomas isn't necessarily the solution to Miami's offensive line woes, but he could be a potential step in the right direction.
A left tackle at Clemson, he would likely be forced to move inside because of his height (6'3"). But he could also possibly move to the right side in a pinch.
He's an agile, balanced blocker who has great footwork and was notorious for shutting down Jadeveon Clowney. Miami's zone-blocking scheme would fit perfectly with his playing style.
The biggest problem with spending a mid-round pick on a tackle/guard tweener is that the Dolphins literally just spent a third-round pick on Dallas Thomas last year.
He did absolutely nothing for the Dolphins as a rookie. If Miami is going to give up on him, then a guy like Brandon Thomas would make a lot of sense. Even if the team is still holding out hope that Dallas develops in his second season, having two offensive linemen named Thomas on the roster couldn't hurt.
Christian Kirksey, OLB, Iowa
The Big Ten is still a defensive conference where linebackers reign supreme, and Kirksey is yet another prospect who is waiting his turn to make an impact in the NFL.
Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe were massive disappointments in their first seasons as Dolphins, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that they could be looked at as potential cuts or trade bait in the next year or so.
If the Dolphins were able to attain a quality all-around linebacker like Kirksey, that possibility might come to fruition sooner rather than later.
At almost 6'2" and weighing in at 234 pounds, he's the right size and has plenty of athleticism to fit in as either the "Will" or "Sam" linebacker in Miami's 4-3 base defense.
He turned in a great performance at the Senior Bowl and is solidly in the third- to fourth-round range.
Lamarcus Joyner, CB/S, Florida State
Probably the biggest reach in terms of a mid-round prospect on this list, Joyner is a good enough athlete that he may rise up into Round 2.
A ball hawk who played both cornerback and safety at Florida State, he will likely be a cornerback in the NFL due to his 5'8" frame.
His game has a lot of positives. He's an elite athlete who hits hard and competes on every down. He would bring an attitude to Miami's secondary and give the team some flexibility.
Brent Grimes will hopefully be re-signed, and Jamar Taylor needs to step up in his second season. But Joyner could fit in as the nickelback and also rotate in as safety or even push for the starting job if Chris Clemons is released.
Having an athlete in the secondary like Joyner is valuable for any NFL team, and Miami would be wise to keep him high on its board.
Joel Bitonio, OG/T, Nevada
Like Thomas, Bitonio is a former collegiate left tackle who could potentially move inside to guard because of his shorter stature.
He's a little taller than Thomas, however, and could be a candidate to move over to the right side. Bitonio impressed at the Senior Bowl and will continue improving his stock after flying under the radar with a solid career at Nevada.
Although he tends to play a little high and let defenders get under him and into his pads, his quickness, balance and versatility make him an ideal candidate for a zone-blocking scheme.
If Miami addresses some of its offensive line needs in free agency and then with its first- and/or second-round selections, then the team won't need to target Thomas and Bitonio, but having both as an option would still behoove the Dolphins.
Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
Simply put, Lamar Miller didn't get the job done last year as the team's No. 1 running back. The offensive line has to shoulder some of the blame, but he was still just not good enough.
Daniel Thomas is largely irrelevant at this point, and it doesn't seem like Mike Gillislee is going to step up and take the reins anytime soon. Enter Hill, who might be the most naturally talented back in this class.
At a buff 6'2, 236 pounds, Hill is a steamroller in the open field who runs aggressively but is also agile and explosive in the open field and can make guys miss.
Despite missing the first game of the 2013 season, he still rushed for 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns. He ran all over Auburn for 184 yards in LSU's victory on September 21.
What's the catch with Hill, and why is he not ranked more highly? Per NOLA.com, he pleaded guilty to simple battery on July 12, which violated his probation from a previous arrest of misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile in January 2012.
Clearly, he has some off-field issues. If Miami thinks that he's gotten his act together and is moving forward with his life, then it could get a future star at a bargain price.