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Chris Perkins: Here’s what Dolphins should do with their first two picks in the NFL draft

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Terron, Jevon, Jaelan and Jaylen.

One of those four key players is almost certain not to be with the Miami Dolphins next season, and there’s a reasonable chance two of them depart.

What’s the Dolphins’ plan?

Net week’s NFL draft might offer us insight into how the Dolphins are thinking regarding left tackle Terron Armstead, safety Jevon Holland, edge rusher Jaelan Phillips and wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.

General manager Chris Grier said Tuesday the Dolphins will utilize the fifth-year option on the contracts of Phillips and Waddle, their 2021 first-round picks, by the May 2 deadline if they don’t reach agreement on a contract extension.

So that leaves Armstead and Holland.

From where we sit now, I think both will be gone for 2025.

It seems like a likely scenario.

What does that mean for the draft?

Well, you never want to lock yourself into draft picks, but the more I think about it the more I think Dolphins need to draft an edge rusher and an offensive tackle in the first two rounds.

I’m conflicted on the order.

Yes, the Dolphins need a defensive tackle.

No, you can’t ever have too many cornerbacks, and, yes, you might still need a No. 3 receiver.

Set all that aside.

To me, the Dolphins must find a successor for Armstead, an almost invaluable team leader and talent, in this draft.

But I also favor the Dolphins drafting an edge rusher, probably in the first round.

There’s a lot of impactful talent in this draft at edge rusher, and I think the Dolphins need to plan for the realistic possibility that neither Phillips (Achilles) nor fellow edge rusher Bradley Chubb (knee) fully recovers from their injury this season.

In today’s NFL, edge rusher is one of the top three most important positions along with quarterback and wide receiver.

If neither Phillips nor Chubb is at 100% until, say, midway through the season the Dolphins could be screwed. Quarterbacks will have all day to throw the ball for half the season.

And we all know the importance of the Dolphins getting as many wins as possible in order to secure a home playoff game.

In the first round, perhaps the Dolphins could get pass rushers such as UCLA’s Laiatu Latu, Missouri’s Darius Robinson or Penn State’s Chop Robinson with the 21st pick.

There’s also a lot of impactful talent at tackle. At that position the Dolphins even have the option of selecting a player who could play guard this year and then move out to tackle next year, the way they did with Laremy Tunsil in 2016.

The Dolphins could go offensive line with Duke’s Graham Barton, Houston’s Patrick Paul or Arizona’s Jordan Morgan.

You can rest assured the Dolphins have thought about both scenarios for 2024 and beyond.

“You’re always looking at your roster,” Grier said. “You’re always taking a two-year look at what it could be.”

In reality, the Dolphins could go a lot of ways in this draft but I usually favor drafting by need, then drafting by talent, and then drafting by positional impact.

The Dolphins need to have a left tackle successor plan for Armstead. Backup left tackle Kendall Lamm is a 31-year-old, nine-year veteran with back issues. And neither of the youngsters on the roster, Kion Smith nor Ryan Hayes, seems ready.

In fact, considering Armstead’s injury history there’s a good chance the Dolphins need significant playing time from a backup left tackle this season.

Beyond that, the Dolphins need to have an edge rushing plan for Phillips and Chubb just in case neither returns at full strength, or in the event they don’t reach full strength until later in the season.

There’s talented draftees at edge rusher and offensive tackle through two rounds of this draft, and they’re both key positions in today’s NFL.

The Dolphins, of course, could go lots of ways in this draft.

I favor going with a plan that both looks ahead and also secures strong talent for 2024.

I favor drafting an edge rusher and offensive tackle, in either order, in the first two rounds.