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Offseason Needs: Miami Dolphins

(Originally posted by me at Mocking The Draft)

For a team coming off of a very disappointing 6-10 season and a coaching change, the 2012 Miami Dolphins are surprisingly solid at many positions. There is every reason to believe that a good offseason by GM Jeff Ireland and new coach Joe Philbin could get the Dolphins into playoff contention. Here’s a look at their 2012 offseason needs:


On offense, the Dolphins have some talent. WR’s Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess are solid targets and TE Anthony Fasano is serviceable. 2011 6th round pick FB Charles Clay was a pleasant surprise,  hauling in 16 receptions for 233 yards and showing a knack for getting open down the field. He figures to get more playing time in 2012, possibly seeing some snaps at TE as well as FB/H-Back. The Miami OL is anchored by two high quality young players – LT Jake Long and C Mike Pouncey. The rest of the offense could use some work, as evidenced by their 20th overall ranking in points scored and 22nd ranking in total yards.

QB:  The Dolphins biggest need, as it has been since Dan Marino retired, is a QB who is more than a short term stopgap or journeyman. Incumbent Matt Moore did a surprisingly good job down the stretch, finishing with a respectable 87.1 QB Rating (12th best in the NFL) but there is reason to think he isn’t the long term answer. Ireland and Philbin will have to decide how highly they will value an upgrade at QB. They probably don’t have the ammo necessary to trade up to get Robert Griffin III so their options for a true upgrade are limited. Peyton Manning’s name has been linked to the Dolphins, but he isn’t a long-term solution – especially with his neck being a question. Matt Flynn is expected to be traded and could probably be had for the Dolphins 1st rounder, but that might be too steep for Miami. 2nd tier prospects like over-aged Brandon Weeden, Ryan Tannehill or Brock Osweiler could be options in the early stages of the draft.

RT: The Dolphins used Marc Colombo at RT last year and he wasn’t particularly good. Finding an upgrade has to be a fairly high priority. An early/mid round pick on a RT like Bobby Massie or Andrew Datko could make some sense. The pickings are very slim for veteran upgrades, with Bengals free agent Anthony Collins the best of the bunch. Lydon Murtha, on IR in 2011, is a possible in-house option.

RB: Reggie Bush had an excellent year and the Dolphins probably want to give 2011 2nd rounder Daniel Thomas some more time to develop, but depth at the position is lacking. Thomas didn’t do much to establish himself last year and Steve Slaton is unlikely to return. A mid/late round pick like Robert Turbin or veteran like Mike Tolbert could add some power to the Miami backfield and complement Bush’s flashiness.

OG: Vernon Carey (RG) is a pending free agent and Richie Incognito (LG) is upgradeable. Re-signing Carey or finding a quality replacement has to be a priority. Depth could be found in free agency with a veteran like Geoff Hangartner or Jeremy Zuttah or in the middle stages of the draft.

The Dolphins don’t have huge holes at WR or TE but could use a playmaker if the value is right. If Coach Philbin is looking to build a similar offense to the one he oversaw in Green Bay, Ladarius Green could make some sense in the middle rounds as a Jermichael Finley type player.

The Dolphins defense performed pretty well in 2011 – ending up 6th in the league in points allowed, though their run defense was much stouter than their pass D. There has been a lot of talk about the Dolphins potentially switching schemes from a 3-4 base to a 4-3. However, they Dolphins have pretty good personnel for either scheme and the potential shift shouldn’t affect their offseason shopping list too much:

OLB/DE: The Dolphins have a glaring hole opposite pass-rusher Cameron Wake. It doesn’t look like 2010 2nd rounder Koa Misi is going to fit on the outside and 2011 starter Jason Taylor retired. Adding a high-quality edge player has to be the Dolphins biggest priority on defense. The Dolphins have about 15M in available cap room – probably not enough to be a serious bidder for Mario Williams and maybe not enough for Cliff Avril (should he hit the free agent market). Kamerion Wimbley could be a possibility if he is let go by the Raiders. Other options, though not long term solutions, include Jeremy Mincey, Mark Anderson, Andre Carter or John Abraham – all better fits for a 4-3 base. Draft options could include 1st round prospects Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram or Nick Perry. In the early 2nd round, the Fins could hope to snag Chandler Jones, Vinny Curry, Whitney Mercilus or Andre Branch.  Another possibility is Quinton Coples in the 1st round, if Miami thinks he can play DE in a 4-3 scheme.

S: Yeremiah Bell (SS) is old and expensive. He’s a good candidate to be cut between now and opening day. At free safety, the Dolphins have a couple of younger players, Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons though neither has established himself. A 2nd round safety like Markelle Martin or George Iloka could be a good fit and help tighten up Miami’s pass defense. It’s unlikely that the Dolphins make a big splash at safety in free agency, but depth could be added with a veteran such as Thomas DeCoud, Brodney Pool or Sean Jones.

DT/NT: Reliable nose tackle Paul Soliai is a free agent and it’s not clear if he will be back. One would think the Dolphins will bring him back but if he doesn’t return, the Dolphins will have a big hole in the middle of their defense. A veteran like Antonio Garay or Aubrayo Franklin could be a short term option if Miami needs a NT. The Dolphins will have to make a decision on young veteran Kendall Langford, one of the most underrated 5-techniques in the game. With Jared Odrick and Randy Starks already in tow, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Langford is allowed to test the free agent waters. Tony McDaniel is a good depth player but the Dolphins might need reinforcements inside if they go to a 4-3 scheme. Local prospect Marcus Forston could be a good addition in the middle parts of the draft, as could Baylor’s Nick Jean-Baptiste or North Carolina’s Tydreke Powell.


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