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Dolphins are in prime position to make a big splash in NFL Draft

A single draft class doesn't make a franchise but there are a few teams this year that have a real chance to make a difference next week when the draft takes place in New York City.

The Vikings and Rams both have two picks in the first round and should improve significantly, but salary cap issues doesn't make it a perfect world for either team, especially the Rams.

I thought the San Francisco 49ers were in the driver's seat heading into the draft with 13 picks and five of them in the top 93, but they have a very tight salary cap and don't select until pick No. 31. It is still a very good situation, but after looking at all the teams and considering the number of picks, the number of quality picks, and the salary cap space, it's the Dolphins that are in the best position to change the fortunes of the club.

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2013 NFL Draft

Miami has 11 picks in the draft with five of them in the top 82 (Nos. 12,42,54,77,82)and just under 10 million in salary cap space. GM Jeff Ireland can still sign a quality veteran or two, trade for a player like Brandon Albert if he cares to or simply use his draft picks to move up in the draft and get the players he wants.

For example, he could package his 12th overall pick with pick No. 42 and possibly get up as high as No. 5 or No. 6. Ireland could take picks No. 42 and No. 54 and package them up and get back into the first round in the low twenties. He could take his two third round picks and sell them for another spot in the second round.

Obviously the Dolphins could stay put and take five players. Finally, the Dolphin brass could sell off a few picks for better picks in the 2014 draft if they were so inclined. The possibilities are endless.

I think it is realistic to believe Miami is going to come out of this draft with at least four starters and set up for 8-10 draft picks in 2014.

If Miami can parlay their draft opportunities into an offensive tackle, a cornerback, someone who can rush the passer, a safety and a running back, they will be ready to make some noise in 2013. I would really like to see them grab DJ Fluker, a right tackle from Alabama, in the first round; or move up for Lane Johnson, a cornerback like Johnathan Banks; or his teammate Darius Slay, a pass rusher like Cornellius Carradine; or Alex Okafor, a safety like DJ Swearinger; or Phillip Thomas and a running back like Stepfan Taylor. It is possible the Miami Dolphins could hit on all of these guys with the picks they have in 2013.

Miami added six new starters in free agency, led by WR Mike Wallace, and if it hits on this draft class like it should, we could see a Dolphins team back in contention. Last year the Dolphins finished 7-9 with two overtime loses and a 3-point loss to the Colts. Now is the time for this franchise to make its move and it has the firepower to do it.


Pat Kirwan has been around the league since 1972, serving in a variety of roles. He was a scout for the Cardinals and Buccaneers, a coach for the Jets as well as the team's Director of Player Administration where he negotiated contracts and managed the team's salary cap. He is the author of Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look, and the host of Sirius NFL Radio's Moving the Chains.
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