Last season, all signs pointed to another tough year for the Miami Dolphins. A 1-4 start was going to make it extremely difficult for new head coach Adam Gase and his team to end the team’s seven-year stretch of non-winning campaigns (dating back to 2009). But a change in philosophy proved to be the wisest move of all. The club finished 11-5 and reached the playoffs for the first time since ’08. The Dolphins’ stay in the postseason didn’t last very long but the fact remains that they got there. Now Gase’s squad must build on that brief bit of success. And it starts with hitting a home run with the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft.

What the team needs

The decision to put the onus of the team’s attack on running back Jay Ajayi and the offensive front was the main reason the Miami Dolphins won nine of their final 11 games and grabbed a playoff berth. The ground game also succeeded at times in keeping a very shaky defense off the field. But that five-man blocking unit will have a new face at Left Tackle in 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil. The club dealt veteran Branden Albert to the Jacksonville Jaguars for tight end Julius Thomas. Tunsil played and started 14 regular-season contests as a rookie and saw action at both left guard and left tackle so the transition figures to be somewhat smooth. That also means the Dolphins could be looking for some help on the interior of the offensive front.

Via free agency, Miami did add center/guard Ted Larsen (Chicago Bears) but they could address his area early. The Dolphins have used a first-round pick on offensive line help (Tunsil, RT Ja’Wuan James and C Mike Pouncey) in three of the past six drafts.

Top choices

The Miami Dolphins own pick No. 22 and there are numerous attractive candidates in terms of the guard position.

The team also picks at No. 54 in the second round and could wait until then to address this spot. What’s fascinating here is the fact that the franchise has three selections in the fifth round. Could they use this as ammo to move up in either the first, second or even third round? CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com has Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp is their top-rated guard and project him as either a first- or second-round pick.

So it’s indeed conceivable that this is the direction could go early in the draft. Along with Lamp, other highly-rated performers at the position include Danny Isidora (Miami, Fla.), Isaac Asiata (Utah), Dan Feeney (Indiana), Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh) and Dion Dawkins (Temple).

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