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Miami Dolphins Draft: 5 first-round sleepers

The 2013 NFL Draft is only two days away. And the closer we get to Roger Goodell announcing that the Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock, the wilder rumors have become. It seems as though the Dolphins have been linked to players from nearly every position on the field with their first-round pick.

Several favorites have emerged; like Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper, and Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes. But in this draft, more so than any other in the Jeff Ireland era, the possibilities are endless for the Dolphins.

Let’s take a look at five under-the-radar prospects that could become Dolphins on Thursday night:

D.J. Hayden, Cornerback, Houston

Mike Mayock turned some heads last week when he slotted D.J. Hayden ahead of Dee Milliner on his cornerback big board. Truth be told, the Dolphins are high on Hayden. Maybe not as high as Mayock, but they were interested enough to invite him to Miami for a pre-draft visit last week and they attended his private workout yesterday.

Hayden has a remarkable story. He almost died during a practice last season when he collided with a teammate, tearing a vein in his heart. But Hayden has recovered. Recovered enough to run a blazing 4.33 forty at his pro day in Houston.

And If the Dolphins feel comfortable drafting Hayden given his medical situation, they’d potentially be getting the top corner in the draft. I still think that title belongs to Dee Milliner, but Hayden has the instincts and quickness to excel in off-man or zone coverage.

Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, Defensive End, Florida State

Another player whose stock is skyrocketing in recent days is Florida State defensive end Tank Carradine. Carradine tore his ACL in November, but proved he is on the fast road to recovery on Saturday, running a 4.75 forty-yard dash. He is an all-around defensive end that is solid against the run and has a knack for getting after the quarterback.

While he isn’t the most explosive athlete, Tank demonstrated a strong bull rush and swim move on his way to 11 sacks for the Seminoles as a senior. He would be a great fit for a Dolphins’ defense that could use another pass rusher to complement Cameron Wake.

Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri

It certainly wouldn’t sit well with the fan base, but don’t rule out Jeff Ireland selecting a defensive tackle in the first round. Randy Starks and Paul Soliai will both be free agents in 2014. The interior D-line has been a strength for the Dolphins and Ireland wants to maintain it as a staple to Miami’s success.

Richardson is an explosive athlete for his size. He projects to be very disruptive against the run and could also bolster the Dolphins’ interior pass rush.

Chance Warmack, Offensive Guard, Alabama

It hasn’t been discussed much, largely in part because Warmack is expected to be selected in the top ten, but don’t rule out the dominant Alabama guard with the Dolphins’ first-round pick. Warmack grades out as one of the top three players in this draft class by many, but he could slip out of the top ten given the importance of other positions.

He isn’t exactly an ideal fit for a zone-blocking scheme, but I believe the Dolphins could make an exception given how much of a bulldozer Warmack truly is. A one-two punch of Mike Pouncey and Chance Warmack could potentially pave the way for Lamar Miller to emerge as one of the league’s most productive backs this season.

Alex Okafor, Defensive End, Texas

I don’t see Okafor at 12th overall, but if the Dolphins trade down, which they are rumored to be contemplating, the Texas end will become an option later in the first.

Okafor could use some added bulk in order to play in a 4-3, but he possesses the tools to develop into a productive pass rusher at the next level.

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