The case for a DT
As promised, I will spend the next few days explaining why the Dolphins have needs at certain positions. Let's take care of the defensive tackle position today.
At first glance, the Dolphins seem loaded at DT. They have starter Keith Traylor, veteran backup Jeff Zgnonina, and youngsters Manny Wright and Kevin Vickerson on the roster. But it's clear the team knows it has a need at the position based on it bringing two DTs in for visits during free agency so far.
The reason is Traylor will be 37 years old by the season-opener and coming off a season in which he played very well, but had a knee injury that held him back. He missed one game when his right knee locked up just before the game and missed two more games recovering from surgery to that knee. To believe a 300-plus-pounder can continue to play indefinitely is ridiculous so the Dolphins need to find tomorrow's DT today.
That's where Wright and Vickerson come in, right?
I don't know about that. At the end of the day, Vickerson is a seventh-round pick who has not played a down in the NFL. Yeah, he could turn into a latter day Michael Carter (49ers in the 80s) but he could also be the most recent coming of Davern Williams (2004 draft) or Ernest Grant (2000 draft). We just don't know, and neither do the Dolphins.
Wright? Are you kidding me? He has done nothing to suggest to anyone he's the future. He gained only five pounds this offseason, which is encouraging because he had weight issues last year. But he seems better suited to being a DT in a 4-3 than a nose tackle in a 3-4. In the 3-4 the Dolphins need a guy who will cause a stalemate with the center and sometimes even require a double-team.
That's not Manny Wright at the point of attack. He's more a guy that relies on quickness than sheer strength. And I'm not sure he likes the idea of offensive linemen coming at him from every side as a NT.
Zgnonina, meanwhile, is a good complement at the position, but if he's your fulltime starter, you are not a great defensive line and not the strength of the team as Kevin Carter suggested earlier in this blog.
So that's the thinking. Who is likely to be available at No. 16?
Unfortunately, Oregon's Haloti Ngata will be gone in the top 10, while Michigan's Gabe Watson and Rodrigue Wright of Texas could go soon after that. That leaves LSU's Claude Wroten and FSU's Broderick Bunkley as the most likely candidates available where Miami picks.
I'm not saying the Dolphins will take either of those guys, but both Wroten and Bunkley are classic one-gap tackles and Nick Saban is extremely familiar with Wroten, having recruited and coached him at LSU.
Are both players a reach at No. 16? Probably. But neither will be available in the third round when the Dolphins pick next after making their pick in the first round.