Miami Dolphins

Will Dolphins break tradition and draft a linebacker early? Here are four options

Myles Jack, right, has injury concerns that could cause him to drop in the draft. Could he fall to the Dolphins at 13?
Myles Jack, right, has injury concerns that could cause him to drop in the draft. Could he fall to the Dolphins at 13? AP

In a perverse way, the Dolphins are in a near-perfect situation to pick 13th overall.

They can both pick the best player available and draft for need.

Based on their roster, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Dolphins took pretty much anyone in the first round aside from a defensive tackle, wide receiver or quarterback.

Most think they'll go corner if they miss out on ex-Panthers star Josh Norman and Ezekiel Elliott is off the board at 13. Defensive end can't be discounted either, with Clemson's Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd among the top options.

But what about linebacker? The Dolphins haven't taken one in the first round since Marco Coleman in 1992 -- and that was just the fourth time ever they did so.

Needless to say, they're due. But if so, then who?

Here's a look at the top four possibilities:

▪ Myles Jack, UCLA: When healthy, he's an athletic freak, playing both linebacker and running back for the Bruins his sophomore year.

He would have been a sure-fire top 5 pick if he hadn't torn his meniscus during practice early in the 2015 season.

Jack withdrew from UCLA to focus on his rehab, but questions persist about how long he'll hold up physically. The Philadelphia Daily quoted an anonymous NFL source who said Jack is “a time bomb;” Jones' knee has “bone and cartilage starting to break away,” the report continued.

How much of that is true and how much is subterfuge remains to be seen.

“There's some concern long-term about his knee. ... But it's probable that he'll be fine” in the short term, said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, who doesn't believe Jack's injury will cause him to fall to far.

Could he fall to the Dolphins at 13? Perhaps. Jack is projected as a 4-3 weakside linebacker, a job that tentatively belongs to Jelani Jenkins.

▪ Darron Lee, Ohio State: Perhaps the most anonymous of Ohio State's six likely first-round picks, Lee was the rock of the Buckeyes' 2014 national championship defense.

He recorded 16.5 tackles for loss as a redshirt freshman and 11 more as a sophomore.

The knock on Lee is his size; he's just 6-foot-1 and 232 pounds. Still, the athleticism is elite (he had the highest SPARQ rating of any non-edge rushing linebacker in the draft), and Mel Kiper projects the Dolphins will take him at 13 in his latest mock draft.

▪ Leonard Floyd, Georgia: Another physically gifted defender, Floyd could fill two needs as a rangy linebacker -- either inside or outside -- and a pass rusher.

That is, if Floyd’s production meets his ability. The 6-6, 244-pound freak can run the 40 in 4.6 seconds and jump nearly 40 inches flat-footed, but he can't seem to get to the quarterback on a regular basis.

Floyd had just 4.5 sacks in his final year on campus.

When asked why, Floyd replied: “I’ll say on some of the plays, some plays I could have made and some plays I set it up for my teammates to make. I was happy all-in-all.”

Floyd said that multiple teams see him as a pass rusher, while other see him as an inside linebacker. Perhaps the Dolphins see him as both.

▪ Reggie Ragland, Alabama: It's hard to envision the Dolphins taking Ragland with the 13th pick, but he might enter the equation if they trade back to the 20s.

Drafting Ragland, who was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2015, would let the Dolphins put arguably their best lineup on the field: Ragland at middle linebacker, Koa Misi on the strong-side and Kiko Alonso on the weak-side.

▪ The Dolphins also have met privately with Clemson’s B.J. Goodson and have interest in Southern Cal’s Su’a Cravens (although some project him as a safety).

Miami Herald sportswriter Barry Jackson contributed to this report.

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

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