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Deeper & Down – Miami Dolphins


MIAMI DOLPHINS


MAJOR NEEDS:
NT, WR, FS, OLB, RB


 

DEFENSE

The Dolphins have a steadily increasing problem in that their decent unit is creaking under the combined machinations of both age and injury.

Like so many teams, the 3-4 defense is prevalent in

Miami
, and the outside linebackers are not bringing nearly enough heat off the edge to make them viable in 2010. Both Jason Taylor and Joey Porter are likely done – though in Porter’s case the reasons are not solely due to age or performance, and he might easily get a one-year contract, despite

Miami
’s already failed attempt to cut him. Maybe. Even so, he won’t be/isn’t going to be featured in the majority of downs, nor will he be expected to accumulate much in the stat columns … not unless something goes radically wrong in free agency and the draft.

In Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues, I’d be looking for Cameron Wake to step up after having had a year to acclimate to the NFL and working alongside Taylor and Porter. He absolutely demolished the CFL for two seasons running before

Miami
acquired him in 2009. Interestingly, he is also an

ex-Penn
State
product (aka
“Linebacker U”) like recent NFL products Dan Connor and Paul Posluszny. In only limited play, he was on the field long enough to make 23 tackles over the season … but managed to accumulate 5.5 sacks in the same timeframe. In a division that faces
New England twice a season, anyone that has actually sacked Tom Brady is always worth having along for the ride. If

Miami
can get a decent nose tackle and an outside linebacker on the other side that can make a play or two, then the sky could be the limit for Wake.

The Dolphins have a good cornerback corps (Vontae Davis, Will Allen, Sean Smith). Sadly, most of whatever good work they could do was undone by the absolutely atrocious play of Gibril Wilson, who must have the league’s greatest agent. He has somehow managed to get signed on not only $39 million from
Oakland (six years) but $27.5 million from

Miami
(five years). Gratefully “only” $8 million is guaranteed.
Miami will not be looking at

Wilson
as a solution this offseason; only as a problem. There are a number of decent free safeties in the draft, and while I don’t expect them to go after one of the elite talents there, I definitely think head coach Tony Sparano and special advisor Bill Parcells won’t pass on one of the top talents should it fall.

Like so many other teams in this year’s draft; however,

Miami
will be looking at not only rushing “3-4” outside linebackers but nose tackle too. At 35 and after an injury-ridden season, Jason Ferguson is not the run stuffing double-teaming player of old and free agency has come at the worst time for him. While there are a number of players that do project well to nose tackle, given the number of teams looking to acquire one, I think it would be no revelation to see them go earlier than in seasons past.

Like Buffalo, I think Miami will be casting their eyes over a number of free agents this season – Karlos Dansby would be a perfect fit (in fact truth be told, I’m sure Parcells would love to take both receiver Anquan Boldin and linebacker Dansby off Arizona’s hands), but linebackers Elvis Dumervil, D’Qwell Jackson and Barrett Ruud could also be in the frame and perform for Sparano.

Outside of Wake – and whomever else they acquire – I couldn’t recommend any of the

Miami
players in IDP whole heartedly, at least until we see who they acquire to shore up the middle and other outside linebacker slot. As a defense/special teams unit there is too much transition going on to make them viable this year as well. Any strides made will only bring it back up to its decent 2008 standard and it’ll be at least another season before you would start them on a regular basis.

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