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2017 NFL Draft Miami Dolphins: Top needs, suggested picks, updates

By Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com
2017 NFL Draft Miami Dolphins: Top needs, suggested picks, updates
Most prognosticators say the Dolphins should pick Taco Charlton of Michigan to join head coach Adam Gase, shown here with QB Matt Moore last season. File photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

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When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Miami Dolphins have the No. 22 pick in the first round.

Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

RELATED 2017 NFL mock draft: Picks, predictions for each team

Who would you pick and why?

TOP 5 NEEDS:

1. Strong-side linebacker: Head coach Adam Gase wasn't specific on the linebacker alignment at the NFL league meetings, but conventional wisdom suggests Lawrence Timmons in the middle and Kiko Alonso on the weak side. That would leave an opening for a strong-side linebacker. Miami has a few candidates among Koa Misi, Spencer Paysinger and Donald Butler, to name a few. But there's a general feeling an upgrade is needed.

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2. Pass rusher/defensive end: This remains a priority. General manager Chris Grier, speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine, said this area would likely be addressed both in free agency and the draft. Look for the Dolphins to acquire such a player in the first three rounds. The group of returnees is led by Cameron Wake and Andre Branch, but among Terrence Fede, William Hayes, Nick Williams and others, more is required to form a reliable rotation.

3. Guard/center: Although the Dolphins re-signed right guard Jermon Bushrod, acquired Ted Larsen and still have players such as Kraig Urbik and Anthony Steen on the roster, they want to build a long-lasting unit. That was part of the reason they traded veteran left tackle Branden Albert to Jacksonville. Given that logic, it would be reasonable to think the Dolphins might want to upgrade at guard while grooming someone at center because Mike Pouncey (back, hip) has been bothered by injuries recently.

4. Cornerback: You can't have too many quality cornerbacks nowadays, and while the Dolphins think they're OK, reinforcements are necessary. Right now the starters would likely be Xavien Howard and Byron Maxwell with Bobby McCain at nickel. Tony Lippett, a starter for most of the season, also returns. But Howard is relatively unknown because of injury issues during his rookie season, and Lippett and McCain are still youngsters as they enter their third seasons. Maxwell remains a bit of an injury concern. Quality depth is always welcome.

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5. Safety: Miami signed a pair of safeties - Nate Allen and T.J. McDonald - but they could need more to go alongside Reshad Jones. Allen is considered a decent starter but not high-quality, and McDonald must serve an eight-game suspension to start the season. Michael Thomas, a starter much of last season, hasn't signed his free-agent tender so his return is uncertain. Walt Aikens, a special teams standout, also returns but he's still not trusted from scrimmage. Miami could be an injury away from a dire situation at safety.

THE PICKS

BEST FIT
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan. His speed and explosiveness off the edge would be a perfect complement to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Pro Bowl defensive end Cam Wake. Charlton, who has been called "inconsistent," had 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for losses in 2016, and had a good showing in the Orange Bowl vs. Florida State. While Miami returns defensive ends Andre Branch and Terrence Fede, among others, Charlton is a different type of pass rusher than anyone in the group except for Wake. And the Dolphins badly need defensive line help.
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RELATED 2017 NFL mock draft: Who will the Miami Dolphins pick?

Rob Rang: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky. Trading away starting left tackle Branden Albert (to Jacksonville) says a lot about the Dolphins' confidence in last year's first-round pick Laremy Tunsil. While Tunsil should have no problem reacclimating to tackle after starring at left guard last season, his absence inside could be an issue. Lamp looks like a plug-and-play solution after a seamless transition inside to guard at the Senior Bowl.

Dane Brugler: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky. The Dolphins have done some shuffling on the offensive line, shifting 2016 first rounder Laremy Tunsil from guard to his more natural left tackle spot. The left guard spot is ready and waiting for Lamp.

Pat Kirwan: Dolphins traded overall No. 66 to move from No. 22 to Denver's No. 20 spot and select Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA.

(Kirwan, Jim Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

Frank Cooney, IMO: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky. I'm not overly enthusiastic about this pick, but, looking at my teammates' choices, I think Lamp is closer to the correct value here than McKinley.

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YOUR TURN

OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

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