>\n\nWorst to First: 12. Miami Dolphins \n\n\n\n

Worst to First: 12. Miami Dolphins

Written by Ben Morgan on 04/09/2010

So the Parcells revolution continues in Miami. After a good showing last year the Miami Dolphins find themselves in the lower half of the league again. The Wildcat continues to do good work in Miami and if they can sort out some problems on Defense and get some big plays outside of the Wildcat on Offense this could be a team worth watching in 2010. 2009 gave them a young QB they may be able to build around and the offseason has seen them cut ties with a couple of more older players leaving them a very young team. But in order to move forward to the playoffs they're going to have to fill at least a couple of spots in the draft. Let's crack on and glance over the roster and see what those positions need to be.

UPDATE: With the Dolphins' blockbuster trade for Brandon Marshall check out further down for the updates of how this affects their needs and their draft strategy. But I'd say that barring any other trades, this leaves Miami free to concentrate on their Defense with the first pick. Trading down and getting another pick out of it is a distinct possibility too. 

2010 Free Agent Losses 2010 Free Agent Additions
Nate Jones S (Broncos,UFA), Joey Porter OLB (Cardinals,UFA-cut) Karlos Dansby ILB (Cardinals,UFA), Richie Incognito OG (Bills,RFA), Brandon Marshall WR (Broncos,trade)
2010 Unsigned Free Agents 2011 Potential Free Agents
Will Allen CB (UFA), Akin Ayodele ILB (UFA-cut), Ronnie Brown RB (RFA), Anthony Fasano TE (RFA), Quentin Moses LB (RFA), Jason Taylor OLB (UFA), Gibril Wilson S (UFA-cut) Ikaika Alama-Francis DE (RFA), Charlie Anderson LB (UFA), Ryan Baker DL (RFA), Davone Bess WR (RFA), Dan Carpenter K (RFA), Patrick Cobbs RB (RFA), John Denney DL (UFA), Brandon Fields P (RFA), Joey Haynos TE (RFA), Richie Incognito OG (UFA), Tony McDaniel DL (UFA), Chad Pennington QB (UFA), Paul Soliai DL (RFA), Tyler Thigpen QB (RFA), Ricky Williams RB (UFA)

Quarterbacks No Need
Chad Henne is more or less installed as the long term answer to QB in Miami. He didn't set the world alight with his play, he needs to bring the Interceptions down, but he matured well as the season went on, culminating in 3 300 yard games in his last 5 games. Not bad. Certainly something to build on. Chad Pennington has somewhat surprisingly decided to come back as the Fins 3rd QB, behind Tyler Thigpen. Quite why he's #3 I'm not sure. It could be just because he's not yet healthy enough to take the snaps in OTAs. It could be because they fancy trading Tyler Thigpen. Or it could be just because Pennington loves the game and loves the Dolphins... we'll see as the offseason wears on but with those 3 and Pat White on the roster I don't see much need for a QB here unless they do trade Thigpen AND there's remaining questions about Pennington's health. I'm classing it as No Need until we know more about their intentions for Thigpen.

Runningbacks No Need
Ronnie Brown has not finished 2 of the last 3 seasons. Going down with season ending injuries both times. But when he's on the field he's extremely effective, especially out of Miami's original (and still the best IMO) Wildcat formation. In support of him is the ageing but equally effective Ricky Williams. Ricky had stated he'd retire after this coming season but recent news reports seem like he might continue longer. A 1000 yard 11TD season will do that for you. Yeah Ricky's still got it. Those 2 or 3 years off mid-career seem to have given him a fresher pair of legs than most 32 year olds. Clearly the Miami RB situation is the envy of many teams around the league. The only iffy situation being Ricky and Ronnie are both free agents in 2011. Miami's tendered Brown at a first round level though so they may be willing to pen a longer term deal after the draft. And at any rate, even if they do lose both Ricky and Ronnie in 2011, RB is one of those positions rookies can truly excel at so probably no need to go burning a draft pick on one this year. Beyond the two major players lies Lex Hilliard, a back with nice size and nice hands. They also have Patrick Cobbs and Kory Sheets so depth ain't a problem either.

Wide Receivers No Need
Miami's got a nice collection of complimentary type WRs but the problem is they have nothing to compliment. This WR corps is in desperate need of a big play #1 WR. Brian Hartline was drafted last year and he had a nice 16+ yard per reception average. Patrick Turner was also a 2009 draft pick but he appears to be a long way from contributing at this point. Davone Bess runs real nice routes and always seems to be open. As evidenced by him netting over 70 balls. Ted Ginn Jr, well it's probably safe to start using the term bust next to his name. Which is a little unfair, I thought he was overdrafted. He was never going to be the playmaker the pick Miami used on him would suggest. Can he still have a role on this team? Very definitely. But he may have to be content with a #4 WR role ultimately. Hartline will hopefully step into a starting role this year and offer a deep threat. Bess should continue to torture nickelbacks out of the slot but I would love to see Miami look for a bigger, physical target like Dez Bryant at #12. There'll be other players to consider but there is a huge need for a playmaking WR and Bryant is the best in the draft and should fit fairly well into that #12 slot. Greg Camarillo and Ginn are contributors, not dominators. Bryant/Hartline/Bess/Ginn would give Henne every chance to succeed, and that can't be overlooked with a young QB. Especially one like Henne who didn't carry a top grade coming out of College. With other needs I can see this easily being overlooked and if they can't get Bryant they are probably better served just leaving the slot alone and trying to develop Hartline and Turner. UPDATE: Well, you can forget most of what's said before this. The Fins traded 2 second rounder for the Broncos Elite WR Brandon Marshall. Yes he comes with issues but whenever he's on the field he catches balls. Lots of them. Henne's going to love him, the other WRs are going to love him. Well all except Ted Ginn who probably gets traded now. So how does it affect the need? Well it was a Major Need because of the lack of #1 WR. Clearly they now have him. You're looking at a depth chart of Marshall/Hartline/Bess/Ginn/Camarillo/Turner. Even if Ginn is traded I think this instantly goes from Major Need to No Need.

Tight Ends Minor Need
Speaking of giving a young QB every chance to succeed, what better way to do that than with a TE. Traditionally young QBs love their TEs. And this is a great draft to get one with several great pass catching prospects out there. From the finished product to the raw talent and probably spread out over the rounds too. After a good first year in Miami Anthony Fasano's play dropped off and the Fins have only given him a low RFA tender. They have a collection of other guys, none of which have the look of a future star. Fasano should be back but maybe they could look at any one of the top 4 or 5 TEs. In the 3rd or 4th round BYU's Dennis Pitta or Local product Jimmy Graham provide some contrast. Pitta will fall because of his age (BYU guys fulfill missionary work and typically graduate at 25) but from what I've seen he looks NFL ready and BYU players have a habit of giving 110%. Jimmy Graham is younger and an exceptional blend of size and athletic ability (and a former Basketball player) but will need plenty of work and patience. With Fasano around another year they could use him as a stopgap and develop the athlete. Elsewhere Rob Gronkowski could be around in round 2. Jermaine Gresham is the consensus top TE and a first round guy but #12 would be reaching for him really.

Offensive Line Minimal Need
With former first rounders Jake Long and Vernon Carey entrenched at the Tackle positions and Center Jake Grove signed to a long term deal that's 3 slots nailed down nicely. Richie Incognito's been brought in. He's a talented player but a real wild child prone to penalties. If he doesn't change that he's not going to last long on a team Bill Parcells is involved with. Assuming he can stay out of the doghouse he should win that Right Guard slot. Justin Smiley is supposedly on the trade block as a result. Left Guard is questionable. Nate Garner has the lead but Donald Thomas could compete for the job as well. The Fins seem pretty happy with the Guard situation though if they're prepared to shop Smiley. On the whole the Dolphins are pretty young on the Offensive Line. I'm not totally sold on the depth there, particularly at Center so a mid to late pick is a possibility. Using whatever pick they might get back for Smiley on a Center would be smart. There's a few good ones in this draft and some may be around a little later due to lots of teams having drafted Centers high in recent drafts.

Defensive Tackles Major Need
Jason Ferguson is 35 and suspended for 8 games, there's a chance he could call it a career too. Leaving Nose Tackle as probably the number 1 priority for the Fins this offseason. The Dolphins sat by helplessly watching NT after NT get franchised or given a new deal right on the cusp of free agency so now they have little option but to use the draft to find one. And there's lots available this year. Dan Williams has been getting a lot of hype and wouldn't represent much of a reach at #12. Brian Price, Terrence Cody could both be options as well. Paul Soliai has massive size for the job but there was a drop off when he was forced into action last year. Without a NT the 3-4 Defense goes to pieces in a hurry too so it's a real big, and urgent need and they should be in a position to draft the best NT at #12.

Defensive Ends Minimal Need
The Dolphins aren't blessed with 3-4 DEs of the reputation of a Richard Seymour or an Aaron Smith but Kendall Langford did a bang up job last year and for a kid who's only 24 and out of small school Hampton he's only going to get better as well. In a couple of years we may be talking about him in the same way as Seymour and Smith. At the other end slot Randy Starks can consider himself unlucky not to be a Probowler but it's tough to get the recognition whilst playing DE in the 3-4. It's a pretty thankless task, just ask the aforementioned Aaron Smith. So the starting slots are sewn up nicely by 2 young players who still have upside as well. A nice situation. Phillip Merling is still young as well though it's fair to say he's not justified his draft position yet. But not everyone transitions to 3-4DE quickly so let's give him another year. There's some other depth there as well so it's a fairly secure position with the one proviso. If the Fins can't get that NT then one of Langford or Starks may have to split time at NT. Which isn't a good situation.

Major Need
As I mentioned earlier the NT slot in the 3-4 is absolutely key to the success of the run defense. It's reflected in what sort of stuff your Inside LBs can do. If your NT can't occupy 2 blockers that usually leaves your ILBs having to face down a Guard. We know who's going to win that situation. When it does happen you're going to see your Safeties having to make more tackles than your LBs. For the second successive year Yeremiah Bell had over 100 tackles. Channing Crowder meanwhile barely managed 50 in 13 games. The Dolphins have brought in probably the best Linebacker in free agency, Karlos Dansby. He has plenty of 3-4 experience from Arizona and whilst he was probably over-rated he's still a very good ILB. He'll be an improvement for sure and Channing Crowder should benefit hugely too. Meanwhile on the outside the Fins look like losing Joey Porter (who's already gone) and Jason Taylor (who looks like landing on the Jets). That leaves them with very little experience. Cameron Wake hasn't had to do much other than rush the passer and Charlie Anderson had one great game filling in for Porter last year but hasn't shown much else yet. All in all I've got to rank this as a Major Need and with lots of guys who look like transitioning well to the 3-4 OLB slot I can honestly see the Dolphins taking advantage this year and going NT in round 1 and 3-4OLB in round 2 where guys like Sergio Kindle, Jerry Hughes and Ricky Sapp may be around.

Cornerbacks Minimal Need
As you'd expect of 2 rookie CBs both Sean Smith and Vontae Davis had their growing pains last year but when you invest so strongly in 1 position in one draft (Davis was the team's first round pick and Smith one of 2 second round choices) it's unlikely they'll be keen to use up another early pick before they really know what that got last year. If the two youngsters can step up as Miami hope they should be in a pretty strong position anyway. Though with a possible drop off in pass rush up front they could be exposed. Will Allen should return following an early season ACL tear and he has starting ability so he'd be a strong #3 CB. Despite having former first rounder Jason Allen still on the roster as well though there looks to be a need for another viable cornerback. We're probably talking mid to late rounds developmental type here though. In a division that bosts the Patriots multiple WR looks having that extra CB would be useful.

Safeties Major Need
Whilst Yeremiah Bell holds down Strong Safety as well as any in the league the Fins do have a need at Free Safety. Gibril Wilson was benched a couple of times in 2009 and got cut in the offseason. Chris Culver filled in but didn't give much indication he's the long term answer. Culver was only a later round pick last year though so there's plenty of scope for him to develop. Clearly were an Eric Berry to fall to #12 (which is exceptionally unlikely) the Dolphins probably wouldn't be waiting long before handing in a card with his name on it. Were Earl Thomas to be around? Well I'm sure they'd have to consider him as well. A deeper look at strong safety reveals that Bell is 32 and with little depth under him as well. Got to be looking at this as a Major Need at Free Safety...

Specialists No Need
With 2 young players who are both in or near the top 5 at their position means they ain't likely to be looking for a replacement for either for a number of years.

Return Game Minor Need
Ted Ginn Jr, despite his struggles in the receiving game has been a genuine impact guy on Kickoffs. Davone Bess does an okay job on punt returns but could be upgraded, especially as I'm sure they'd rather not be risking a guy so important to their offense on special teams. I'll call it Minor Need but not sure if it's something they'd consider a draft pick on.

Dream Day One
 1.12 Earl Thomas S Texas

Player Visits
Jason Worilds DE Virginia Tech
Jacoby Ford WR Clemson
Austin Spitler LB Ohio State
Chris Cook CB Virginia
Reshad Jones S Georgia
Tim Toone WR Weber State
Major Wright FS Florida
Rolando McClain LB Alabama
Derrick Morgan DE Georgia Tech
Mike A. Williams WR Syracuse
Daryl Washington LB Texas Christian
Dez Bryant WR Oklahoma State
Earl Thomas S Texas
John Destin CB Tulsa


Last Edited: 04/09/2010

Get Firefox!

© 2004-2009 DBI Media, LLC (Photos by AP) | Terms of Use and Disclaimer | Privacy Policy