The Miami Dolphins had relatively high standards coming into the 2014 NFL season, but for the sixth season in a row they failed to make the playoffs. After an 8-8 record in 2013, the Dolphins barely managed to finish 8-8 again in 2014.
The Dolphins biggest obstacle to success seems to be their division—specially the New England Patriots. The Dolphins live to beat the Patriots, it is almost like their Super Bowl. Well, they did it this season. The Dolphins opened the season at home with a 33-20 stomping of the Patriots. Unfortunately, they just didn’t seem to have that same spark the rest of the season as if that win was all they wanted.
The Dolphins really struggled to close out games against teams above .500 this past season. In fact, the Dolphins were 1-6 against winning teams outside their division with their only victory coming Week 9 in their 37-0 shutout victory over the San Diego Chargers. However, the Dolphins losses against the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers came by three points each. The Dolphins are very close to being a legitimate competitor once again, but they do need some help. Head coach Joe Philbin and general manager Dennis Hickey will definitely be scouting out some new young talent at the NFL Combine to fill in some of their biggest holes. Here are the Miami Dolphins biggest needs heading into the 2015 NFL Draft:
Offensive Line: The Dolphins offensive line really never recovered from the bullying scandal with Richie Incognito a few years back, and for the second year in a row quarterback Ryan Tannehill seemed to find himself on the ground more times than not. After Branden Albert went down with an injury, rookie Ja’wuan James did a great job filling in for the veteran; so the Dolphins seems to at least have one of the five offensive line positions filled. The Fins biggest hole is at the two guard positions. Mike Pouncey proved that he is unable to play guard so he will either be playing center or riding the bench come September. Tannehill has the potential to lead the Dolphins moving forward, but he can’t bring them anywhere with his face in the turf. Look for the Dolphins to try and improve their offensive line in the draft possibly as early as the 14th pick.
Secondary: Brent Grimes is still playing at a high level, but he is getting older and he can’t play forever. Reshad Jones rounds out the list of the best players in the secondary, but that’s not enough. The Dolphins play the Patriots twice a season, and two good defenders cannot stop an onslaught of receiving core talent that the Patriots possess. Also, the Dolphins are expected to let Cortland Finnegan go this offseason in order to get a little more cap space to work with, and Jamar Taylor and Will Davis are not reliable enough yet. Clearly the Dolphins need to do something here, but the question is how early do they make a move and draft a corner or safety.
Linebacker: While we’re on the Dolphins defense, they could certainly use some improvement at the linebacker position as well. Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe have not worked out, and it’s time for the Dolphins to find their replacements. Jelani Jenkins showed his stuff this season and definitely earned his keep; however, the Dolphins could definitely get better by drafting an inside linebacker with a mid-round selection. Look for Miami to pick up a linebacker come May 1st.