Time’s approaching when the Miami Dolphins will be on the clock in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Dolphins hold the 12th overall pick in the draft that will begin Thursday night in New York City.
Miami selected 12th overall once before, in 1992 when Don Shula’s team took Georgia Tech defensive end Marco Coleman.
The Dolphins own a total of 11 picks, including two each in the second (Nos. 42 and 54 overall) and third rounds (Nos. 77 and 82), which will be held on Friday. The draft will conclude with rounds Nos. 4-7 on Saturday.
General manager Jeff Ireland already has taken advantage of free agency to bolster the Fins’ receiving and linebacker corps. Now, Ireland and his staff need to address glaring holes at cornerback and on the offensive line, where left tackle Jake Long exited via free agency.
The Dolphins also could use a pass-rushing end and help at running back and tight end.
Still, the first-round pick likely will focus on a corner or offensive lineman.
Miami would need to trade up to acquire one of the top tackles in the draft — Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher and, in all likelihood, Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson.
Guards Jonathan Cooper, from North Carolina, and Chance Warmack, from Alabama, generally are rated the best guards.
Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes and Alabama’s Dee Milliner are considered the draft’s two top corners.
It’s unlikely that all of them will be plucked before Miami’s pick. So unless the Dolphins trade down or out of the first round, one of the following is expected to be chosen with Miami’s top pick:
G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina Pros: The 6-foot-2, 311-pounder is good at both run blocking and pass protection. Cons: Can be overpowered at times; had shoulder surgery before senior season.
TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame Pros: Offers a huge target at 6-6 with great athleticism and speed; can block, too. Cons: The Dolphins took tight end Michael Egnew in last year’s third round last year; Miami never has used a first-round pick on a tight end.
T Eric Fluker, Alabama Pros: Massive right tackle – 6-5, 339 pounds – immediately would improve any running game. Cons: Might not have the quickness to play left tackle spot and take on elite pass rushers.
DT Star Lotulelei, Utah Pros: Once considered a potential No. 1 overall pick, the 6-2, 311-pounder is strong and versatile at nose guard or tackle. Cons: Was held out of the NFL Pre-Draft Combine due to a heart ailment but has been given a clean bill of health; expected to be gone before Dolphins select, but if not, would Ireland take the risk?
CB Dee Milliner, Alabama Pros: Would fill a huge hole at corner for Miami; enters with pro-ready size and athleticism at 6-0, 201 pounds. Cons: Underwent surgery last month to repair a torn labrum and might not be ready for training camp.
CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State Pros: Big (6-1, 210 pounds) and physical three-year starter who sticks to receivers in man-to-man coverage. Cons: Needs to improve in zone coverage; had bad knee sprain in 2011.
G Chance Warmack, Alabama Pros: The 6-2, 317-pounder has dominant strength at the point of attack. Cons: Loses leverage at times; size means he’ll remain at guard and won’t play tackle.