The Miami Dolphins would love to draft Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds or Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round of Thursday's NFL draft. And the reason, beyond the talent both men obviously offer, is because either player would close a gaping hole in the team's defense.
That hole in the Miami defense is so alarming, the Dolphins are even considering Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans, more likely a value late in the first round, as a possibility to solve their problem if both Edmunds and Smith are unavailable.
So there's that.
But the Dolphins would also strongly consider drafting Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 11 if Edmunds and Smith are both gone because, well, he would plug a different hole in the Miami defense — this one, right in the middle of the defensive line.
And the Dolphins have also done extensive work on finding a coverage player, likely a safety type, because that has been a failing when trying to limit damage by tight ends or running backs or receivers in bunch sets, particularly in the middle of the field.
So players such as free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (he probably won't be available), strong safety Derwin James (who could maybe play nickel or dime linebacker), and free safety Justin Reid (a trade down or second round option) are viable options for Miami.
Are you seeing a pattern here?
The Dolphins were the 28th scoring offense in the NFL last season. They scored one offensive touchdown or less in half their games.
And yet here we are in 2018 thinking the team is really, really concerned about plugging holes on defense. Again.
This is vexing because the Dolphins spent tons of cap space and most of their draft resources on the defense in 2017. Remember that? When the Dolphins told us they were "fixing" their defense?
Well, here we are a year later still trying to fix the defense. Again.
And you wonder why this team has been on the mediocrity treadmill for so long?
So now we've hit the spot in this column where folks running the Dolphins think I'm dumb. And wrong. Or simply not tuned in.
Except I have eyes.
And my eyes tell me the greatest Dolphins need this offseason is strong side linebacker. The Dolphins lack a starting caliber player there, which is the reason for the Edmunds, Smith, Evans lust in the first round or the Fred Warner of BYU love later in the draft.
Problem is that need was supposed to be addressed when the team signed Lawrence Timmons last season. And then it was supposed to be addressed some more when they traded a fifth-round pick to New Orleans for Stephone Anthony.
Yet neither is the starter and Timmons isn't even on the team. So we're on the treadmill.
Same thing with the attraction to James out of Florida State or Reid from Stanford or Fitzpatrick from Alabama.
James is a strong safety. That is what the majority of NFL scouts have him best suited to play. That is what he played at FSU. Maybe he can cover in nickel and dime as a linebacker, but he's a safety.
As is Fitzpatrick.
As is Reid.
But didn't the Dolphins extend the contract for Reshad Jones last year? He's one of the NFL's best box safeties.
Didn't the Dolphins sign and then extend the contract of T.J. McDonald last year? He's supposed to be a great complement to Jones.
Except Jones and McDonald didn't complement each other as well as the Dolphins hoped. So now the Dolphins are thinking of addressing a need everyone — including them — thought they addressed last year in putting Jones and McDonald together.
The Vita Vea possibility is interesting. The Dolphins can play without adding him. It's not a pressing need. But he might be the best player available when they pick at No. 11 unless they trade down.
Vea is a defensive tackle. That's the position the Dolphins promised us was taken care of when they signed Ndamukong Suh in 2015. And drafted Jordan Phillips the same year. And drafted Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor last year.
Except Suh was cut because the team had enough of his toxic contract. And Phillips is in the final year of his deal. without the team certain it will keep him or not.
And the team needs defensive tackle help whether that is Vea or not.
On the treadmill.
The problem the Dolphins are having isn't totally exclusive to the defense. The Dolphins hoped Jordan Cameron would be their answer at tight end. And then they hoped Julius Thomas would be their answer at tight end. And right now they have no legitimate starting tight end so that position must be addressed this draft.
Regardless of the tight end need, Miami's treadmill ride seems more acute on defense and it's been that way for a couple of years.
Look at defensive end: In the past two years the team has extended Cameron Wake's contract, signed and then re-signed Andre Branch, traded for William Hayes, re-signed Hayes, and still felt the need to draft Charles Harris in the first round last year and trade for Robert Quinn this year.
Move after move made to get right in the same spot because the previous move somehow never seems to be enough.
The Dolphins have addressed all the positions they're in dire need of addressing in this draft multiple times. Of course, maybe the team goes crazy and picks a cornerback such as Denzel Ward or Josh Jackson or Jaire Alexander before this draft convenes Saturday.
That would make sense only in that Miami drafted Xavien Howard in the second round of the 2016 draft, traded for Byron Maxwell in 2016, drafted Jordan Lucas in the sixth round in 2016, drafted Cordrea Tankersley in the third round last season and signed Torry McTyer as an undrafted free agent last season -- all adding to Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett who were drafted in 2015.
Such is life on the mediocrity treadmill.