Dolphins trade up and fill team's biggest need

Posted April 29, 2011 @ 11:59 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

When the Dolphins traded three draft picks to the Redskins to slide into the 62nd overall slot, everyone started wondering if they would take QB Ryan Mallett, someone that had been connected to Miami.

But the 'Fins made the right choice, giving up three picks for a serious need, running back, by taking Kansas State's Daniel Thomas.

Miami entered the draft between a rock and a hard place. No free agency, no second-round pick, and a weak running back and interior O-line class put the Dolphins in a precarious situation this offseason, with a clear need on the offensive side of the football.

They got an immediate helper on the interior by selecting Florida OG-C Mike Pouncey at No. 15, and then the wait began. GM Jeff Ireland has said since the Senior Bowl that he wanted the second-round pick they traded to Denver for WR Brandon Marshall back in Miami's hands. The Dolphins simply weren't going to be able to draft an impact offensive player if they didn't make a move, so they did, and Thomas could challenge to be the team's starting running back in 2011.

Though there's a good chance that both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown have seen their final days in South Florida, head coach Tony Sparano has maintained the team will run the football with two backs, the system that gave the team so much success on the ground in 2008 and ’09.

The only two backs under contract in Miami are Kory Sheets and Lex Hilliard and neither is starter-caliber, so it's easy to see why the team grabbed Thomas, a big back at 6-0 1/4, 230 pounds, who's built to be a workhorse.

If Brown returns, he would make a good complement to Thomas. One rumor is that Panthers star RB DeAngelo Williams could find himself in Miami when free agency begins, another good back to pair with Thomas.

In his last season at Kansas State, Thomas had tons of production, and that was with defenses keying on him. The offensive line should be improved with Pouncey stepping into the starting lineup and Nate Garner, who missed all of 2010, ready to take a prominent role.

None of the three picks that Miami gave up — a third-, fifth- and seventh-rounder — likely would have produced a back the caliber of Thomas. There are no real glaring needs on defense, and the Dolphins could benefit by drafting a speedy wide receiver or tight end to add depth.

So with two picks, the Dolphins addressed their two biggest needs by selecting players who can start. Not a bad first two days for a team and a coaching staff that need to win in 2011.