Following the madness of March and the flurry of offseason activity in the NFL over the last few weeks, we turn the calendar to April. Attention is now focused on The Annual Selection Meeting or commonly known as, The NFL Draft. Buckle up if you thought the last several weeks were flooded with mock drafts on social media because you’re in for over twenty days full of scenarios, speculations, and smokescreens.

Focusing on the Miami Dolphins’ side of things, it’s well-documented that third-year head coach Mike McDaniel will have a first-round pick for the first time in his tenure. The Dolphins are currently slated to pick at #21 and #55, yet they have a rather large gap until their next scheduled selection in the fifth round, pick #158. In McDaniel’s first season heading into coaching Miami in 2022, the Dolphins only had a third and fourth-round pick, with a pair of seventh-rounders, and last year’s draft saw just four overall selections, with a second-rounder, a third, and two Day 3 picks in a sixth and seventh-rounder. The Dolphins, McDaniel, and general manager Chris Grier have six scheduled selections at the moment. Combining Grier’s draft habits and tendencies with what appears to be skills of mass interest from McDaniel, it will be very interesting to see how the team approaches the 2024 Draft.

Since 2019, when this “rebuild” began, you can look at the picks Grier has made in the first round, which includes a defensive tackle, a quarterback, an offensive tackle, a cornerback, an edge rusher, and a wide receiver. Heading into this draft, several of Grier’s positional tendancies have many options. At pick #21, a few multiple-position offensive linemen would make tremendous sense. The names most frequently tossed around are Washington’s Troy Fautanu and Duke’s Graham Barton. Offensive tackle Fautanu has experience playing left guard, and Barton can play left tackle and center, which makes him massively intriguing for several reasons.

First and foremost, Dolphins’ left tackle Terron Armstead will need a successor, and each could check that box. Either could even see substantial snaps as a rookie with Armstead’s injury history. Specifically to Barton, who could play center, the Dolphins signed free agent Aaron Brewer, who is penciled in at the pivot, yet the former Titan does have experience as a guard. Miami could use Brewer on the inside if drafting Barton. In this instance, 2025 could see Barton on the left tackle slot, with Brewer moving to center. Regardless, Fautanu and Barton create plenty of short and long-term options for the Dolphins, especially with the departure of Robert Hunt added to this.

Another area of significant interest for Grier, as it should be, is the edge rusher. The unknown timetables of Jalen Phillips and Bradley Chubb returning from their respective injuries, plus Andrew Van Ginkel and Emmanuel Ogbah’s departures, leave many sacks to make up for in Miami. 2023 was a franchise record in sacks with 56, but new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will have several fresh players to work with, and on the pass-rushing side of it, free agent signing veteran Shaq Barrett will lead the charge for now.

Some mid-late first-round candidates are at the edge position in this year’s draft class, including UCLA’s Laiatu Latu, arguably the premier pass-rusher of the bunch, and a name to look for a bit later in Penn State’s Chop Robinson. The issue with these two would be the unlikelihood of Latu falling to #21, and that slot is a tad too early for Robinson, who could have gotten in the late 20s or even a last name for the first round. Something to keep in mind for those who fancy a Miami trade back in the opening round to pick up some Day 2 action, yet still selecting a player like the Nittany Lion.

Miami could have the most success immediately from a rookie in these two areas. They have not seen this in the last two draft classes with McDaniel as head coach. There is no blame here, as those picks were Tyreek Hill and Bradley Chubb. However, this season, the first-round pick must be a Week 1 contributor at worst case and, hopefully, a plug-and-play starter of significant impact. After free agency, Miami arguably improved in the secondary with the addition of free agent cornerback Kendall Fuller, safety Jordan Poyer, and linebacker Jordyn Brooks, another market hit.

So, the trenches are a solid bet, whether offensive or defensive slash interior or exterior, where the instant starter could be. The Dolphins also said goodbye to Christian Wilkins. Yet another area of the defensive line could be in play at #21, especially if a player like one of the Texas teammates, Byron Murphy or T’Vondre Sweat, is available. The longshot and near improbable area for Miami is quarterback, as Tua Tagovailoa is rumored to be in play for a long-term deal. However, this is a slot where a quarterback-needy team could phone in, and Miami could potentially move back so another team can roll the dice on a signal-caller.

And should Miami not sign a wide receiver before the draft, such as rumored names like Odel Beckham, Jr. or Tyler Boyd, in a wide receiver-rich class, selecting one could be a viable third option behind Hill and Jaylen Waddle. The Dolphins were highly reliant on their dynamic duo, yet with Hill’s career longevity a tad ambiguous, it could be wise to find a running mate for Waddle and a 2024 rookie as the soon-to-be 1B option.

Popular names are LSU’s Brian Thomas, Jr. and another Texas Longhorn to join that defensive duo, Adonai Mitchell. Thomas and Mitchell are taller targets than Hill and Waddle by several inches. However, McDaniel is a speed connoisseur, so speaking of Longhorns, a guy who could sneak into the first round is Xavier Worthy. While most will still say he is more of a Day 2 player, his record-breaking 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, coupled with the NFL’s new kickoff return rules, could make Worthy that much more intriguing option on the Draft’s opening night.