The Dolphins took a bit of a step back in 2010, and they’re coming up on a very important season in 2011. Without any big signs of improvement, it could be the end of the road for head coach Tony Sparano and quarterback Chad Henne. That’s why the Dolphins needed to make sure they really hit on their draft class.

The Picks
First round, No. 15 overall: Florida interior lineman Mike Pouncey
Second round, No. 62 overall: Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas
Fourth round, No. 111 overall: Abilene Christian wide receiver Edmond Gates
Sixth round, No. 174 overall: Tulsa fullback Charles Clay
Seventh round, No. 231 overall: Alabama A&M defensive tackle Frank Kearse
Seventh round, No. 235 overall: Montana defensive back Jimmy Wilson

Best Prospect
If Pouncey is as good as his twin brother, Maurkice, the Dolphins will have another staple to add to their offensive line with left tackle Jake Long. However, Pouncey will need to be among the NFL’s elite to justify that high of a pick on an interior lineman. It’s still too early to know for sure if he’ll play guard or center, but he’ll bring some attitude and tenacity to a line that needs a major boost.

2011 Impact
Pouncey will start, and Thomas should turn out to be the Dolphins’ primary back, though that still hinges on their plans with Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and the league’s other free agents. Gates ran the combine’s fastest 40, and at the very least, he’s got the potential to spread the field, create space for Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess, and give Henne a chance to showcase his big arm. After that, Clay, Kearse and Wilson will provide depth if they make the team.

Overall Impression
The Dolphins did a good job with their first three picks, and they deserve credit for trading up to take Thomas. However, the last three picks didn’t make a ton of sense. They’ve already got a very good fullback with Lousaka Polite, and Kearse will add depth behind nose tackle Paul Soliai, who probably spit out his coffee when he found out the Dolphins franchised him. Kearse could still be a good pick, but the second half of their draft might have been better utilized if they attacked positions of need, particularly at linebacker or on the offensive line. Also, while the Dolphins could still add a quarterback through free agency, it’s a great sign for Henne that they didn’t draft one.