Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins likely in defensive posture as NFL Scouting Combine begins

Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith lays on the field after an injury during the first quarter of the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.
Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith lays on the field after an injury during the first quarter of the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1. Getty Images

The NFL Scouting Combine is this week, and it's time for the Miami Dolphins to get serious.

Serious about locking down their own free agents.

Serious about courting other teams’ free agents.

And serious about building their draft board.

The Dolphins own the eighth pick in the draft, and face a good news/bad news situation.

The good news is the Dolphins could pick a player at pretty much any position on defense and upgrade.

The bad news is the Dolphins could pick a player at pretty much any position on defense and upgrade.They have that many needs.

That's why talk of them targeting Notre Dame outside linebacker Jaylon Smith doesn't make a ton of sense.

Granted, Smith would be great value at eight. He might have been the No. 1 overall pick if he didn't tear the ACL and LCL in his left knee last month.

But ...

"It's not like we're expecting him to be able to play this year," ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper said Monday. "He's such a great player when he's healthy. I think you're going to have to go in thinking this is a red-shirt year. If you get anything at the end of the year, it's a bonus."

Can the Dolphins afford to again let their first-round pick punt on his rookie season? They largely did that in 2015, when a foot injury limited DeVante Parker until late in the year.

Plus who knows if their first-rounder from 2013 -- Dion Jordan -- will ever suit up for Miami again? He still has two months left on his yearlong suspension for a third violation of the league's substance abuse policy.

Of course, you can't rule Smith out completely, given the team's recent history. They were in love with similarly damaged Todd Gurley last year, and might have taken in had the Rams not picked him first.

[Jaylon Smith is] such a great player when he's healthy.”

Mel Kiper

But does new coach Adam Gase want to go into his first season at less than full strength?

Probably not, which is why several other players are a more likely fit at No. 8:

▪  Vernon Hargreaves, a smallish cornerback who earned All-SEC honors in all three of his years at Florida. He's viewed as the draft's second-best corner behind Jalen Ramsey.

▪  Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, a surefire top-10 pick who might not be the perfect system fit. Kiper called Buckner "a rare talent for his size" who "fits a 3-4." The Dolphins will run a 4-3 under Vance Joseph.

▪  Shaq Lawson, a pass rusher from Clemson who could use a strong workout to vault into the top 10.

▪  Alabama middle linebacker Reggie Ragland, whom Kiper called a "thumper." While Ragland doesn't have great speed, the Dolphins' run defense needs the help.

Then there's Smith's teammate Ronnie Stanley, whom Kiper has the Dolphins taking with the eighth pick.

The argument for the Dolphins selecting Stanley: He is probably the second-best tackle in the draft.

But he plays a position where the Dolphins don't have an apparent need, unless they move one of their tackles to guard.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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