Opinions Are Like...My Top Dolphins Needs

So it appears that every site and every major newspaper and every radio show and just about everyone else has an opinion on what the needs are for the Miami Dolphins.    They even have an order of preference but few bother to put in a realistic approach to finding the players that will fit the system or the need positions.  One media forum may think that a certain position is the top need and another person may laugh and say that their insiders know better and that the other is completely wrong.  (Armando dig here, but at least he smiled).

The reality is that everything that anyone says as fact from here until the day after the draft is pure speculation and conjecture and nothing else.  That goes for me here as well.

So how do you predict a teams needs?  Without having some inside knowledge that in reality no one does?  You study, you look at trends, examine possible scenarios that will allow you make some changes.  And then you compile that all together to make an educated guess.

While I am sure that many of our site readers will argue with me about anything when the word “educated” I will nonetheless try and give you my reasons behind my thoughts.

Here are my top 5 need for the Miami Dolphins off-season.

Number 1:  Offensive line. Whether it is a mauling center or a mauling guard the Dolphins need to fix the offensive line.  It has regressed since the failure in year two of this regime with the “Wildcat” which the current line can’t block for anymore.  Without a decent line, there is no running game and there is no passing game so it won’t matter what else you do offensively, it simply won’t work if you don’t start it up front.

I have never been a proponent of drafting a lineman in early to mid-round one of the draft.  For my money I want someone who will touch the ball or knock it out of someones hands.  Line isn’t a glory position and it isn’t going to excite anyone either.  But it is a need.  This year there are some solid prospects in the draft that could be had later in round 1 if the Dolphins are able to find a trade partner and move down.  They also have the option of drafting center, guard, or tackle as they currently have enough personnel to move someone if need be.  Vernon Carey for example can be moved to guard if your best option is a solid right tackle in the draft. Same can be said about Richie Incognito at the center spot.

Outside of the draft, if and when there is a free agency, the NFL has a ton of top pro-bowl caliber lineman that would instantly fix the issues for the Miami Dolphins, in fact, they could possibly bring in more than one and really solidify the unit and make it one of the best in the NFL.  For a current list of possible free agents click here.

Number 2:  Running Back. I think this is the easiest position to fill this off-season as there are draft options and free agent options as well as the teams own free agents if need be.  Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, and Patrick Cobbs are all scheduled to be free agents and that leaves the Phins with a monster hole at the position.  BUT there are options and some think better options than those three.  Could the team look at Mark Ingram of Alabama if they stay at 15 in the draft?  What about Marion Barber who looks to be released in Dallas?  DeAngelo Williams is expected to be available from Carolina.  Both under 30 and still very viable.  LaRon Mclain, Michael Bush, and Pierre Thomas are also FA options.

In other words, there are plenty of options and there are not a lot of NFL teams that are in desperate need for RB’s.  Throw Ronnie and Ricky into that pool and the Dolphins, if they choose will have some nice players to choose from.

Number 3:  Wide-Receiver. Some will question why I selected WR over QB for the number 3 spot.  Frankly it’s because the team lacks serious speed that also has good or even decent hands.  Lay off the “Ted Ginn should never have been traded” comments, the fact is he was too inconsistent to draw safety help.  The Dolphins need someone that can.  If they do indeed have plans to run more 4 wide sets, they need a barn burner.  This years draft doesn’t provide that type of high end speed early on and later rounds will get you more of the Marlon Moore  types that are already on your roster.

The free agent market doesn’t provide much help in this department either.  The top WR names are Vincent Jackson, Santonio Holmes, and Sidney Rice.  All will be expensive and the Dolphins spent a boatload on Brandon Marshall.  Other solid veteran names in free agency are proven hands guys like Lance Moore, Malcom Floyd,  and Steven Breaston.  Breaston would be my top choice here.  I think he is ready to break out of his reserve roll.  Another cheaper option is Dallas’ Sam Hurd who has all but disappeared in Dallas behind Dez Bryant, Mike Williams, and Miles Austin.

WR is going to be a hard buy but it’s a need that could really help open up the rest of the offense, especially if the team fixes it’s line and adds a solid speedy running back.

Number 4:  QB. The Dolphins are in a bit of a bad spot here.  The draft will only yield a prospect and the free agent market is not piled with talent.  Even a trade for someone like Kevin Kolb or Kyle Orton comes with issues attached.  The Dolphins need to fix their QB position but this doesn’t appear to be the year to do it without making some serious reaches in the process.  They may very well need to do that though as you can’t have Chad Henne entering the year as the undisputed starter and Chad Pennington is no fix for even a reliable back-up spot anymore.

Some will argue that all of that is the reason this should be the number 1 priority but to me, it’s the one area that will be the hardest to fix and the most expensive.  Miss on another high-end trade and your saddled again for another 3 years with nothing.  Remember A.J. Feely?  I try not to as well.  Having this position as a need is important but it can’t consume your off-season to the point you miss out on fixing other areas.  Besides, with a better offensive line, better RB’s, and a legit deep threat, the Dolphins may be able to get buy with Chad Henne and one of the 2nd tier or even 3rd tier free agents until next season when better options may be available.  Besides, who’s to say that don’t target a Christian Ponder after day one of the draft anyways?

Number 5: ILB: This one is really subjective.  Some believe the Phins need a TE.  I think that Anthony Fasano was solid last year and I also liked what I saw out of youngster, Mickey Shuler.  So if I’m Miami, I’m skipping the rest of the offense and moving to defense where in my opinion, finding someone to take over for Channing Crowder is a must.

Crowder made the defense better when he was in the game, but that only speaks to the continuity of the team compared to their production without him.  Meaning, the defense may have been better with him, but it wasn’t as though they were great.  Crowder is not a game changer, never has been.  He rarely is able to get to the QB on blitzes and while he is solid at stopping the run, he often stops after the runner has made positive yardage.  It’s bad when Crowder does make a tackle for no gain or loss of yards and fans quip that it’s rare.  Tough but true.

The free agent market has some solid names but the problem is they will be expensive as well and last year Miami tossed the dough to Karlos Dansby.  The draft won’t offer much because the soonest the Dolphins should realistically consider spending a draft pick on that side of the ball is round 4 and aside from the rare Zach Thomas’ of the world, you don’t often find immediate impact LB’s late in the draft.

This will make finding an interior linebacker difficult and the Dolphins will have to weight what they can realistically afford at the other positions before they start tossing money on the lower portions of their needs list.

IN reality, this list of needs won’t match the Dolphins list of needs at least in order but when it comes to finding the position you have on the field that need improving, teams often will go with the second name on a list as opposed to the top one so they can buy more groceries.  Or they simply value one part of the team more when compared to what certain upgrades a player may have over what is or isn’t on the roster now.

But that’s my two cents in the matter.

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  • jon

    Your 5 needs are fairly in line with my thoughts. It’s clear this team has many needs, but they will have work within the availability of talent to fill those needs and the finances/picks that allow them more opportunities to fill needs in the future. That being said, It seems apparent to me that Tony Sparano lost confidence in Henne midway through this past season. My personal opinion is that Chad doesn’t have the mental makeup to be a top tier QB in the NFL. Also as you say they have no back ups signed an Pennington could only be considered as a 3rd option at best. So how can this be 4th on the list? I agree that Orton would come at a price and he has only shown to be a mid tier QB to this point. But I think he does have the mental makeup to win. I feel he has had many more good performances than bad performances. Beyond Orton, If Cam Newton were available at 15 I’d grab him. Otherwise maybe trade down and look to draft Kaepernick or McElroy in a later round. So, to reemphasize, I think QB is Miami’s #1 need. If your head coach doesn’t have confidence in your current QB, you need to move on sooner than later.

  • glenn

    the steelers have a good line? it’s way worse than miami’s! get a @#$%ing qb! once and for all!! then watch what happens!

  • Kolby

    I’d like to see what Edds has next season, think he could challenge Crowder for the starting position if he comes off that injury alright. The kid was great in coverage at college and I think he would be far more effective at getting to the quarterback.

  • mike

    Agree with your assessment. My fixes are:
    1. O-line – Sign FA G Carl Nicks from New Orleans then (if Ireland gets that #2 pick back like he says) draft C or OT at #2.
    2. RB’s – Resign Ronnie and sign FA RB Deangelo Williams then draft a little speed burner RB later in the draft like RB Derrick Locke from Kentucky.
    3. WR’s – Draft WR Torrey Smith #1. Not w/15th pick but hopefully with a trade down pick.
    4. QB – It will be a wasted pick if they trade one for a QB but need to resign Thiggy or pick up another FA QB then draft QB T.J. Yates of UNC in the later rounds. I also like Ponder in the later rounds.
    5. ILB – Draft ILB Kelvin Sheppard from LSU in the 3rd round.
    TE need is up there but not as much as the top five but would like to see them draft TE-Virgil Green from Nevada in the 4th or 5th.

  • mjl

    Don’t forget about Vince Young. He’s leaving Tennessee and may provide a spark while we fix other needs. Then, next year, we could trade up for Luck.

  • edls4475

    THE most important position in all of sports is QB and when you don’t have the answer then it should always be #1 on needs, no question. Henne sucks and a good line will not change that. Ponder sucks as well for that matter and I don’t see him ever turning into a Super Bowl winning QB.

    • mike

      edls4475, …and I am sure you saw Brad Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Super Bowl XXXVII) and Trent Dilfer, Baltimore Ravens (Super Bowl XXXV) turning into Super Bowl winning QB’s. It was good coaching, defense and supporting cast that made them Super Bowl winning QB’s. It can be done without a HOF QB. Unfortunately there is no clear cut #1 answer for QB out there right now in free agency or the draft. So our #1 need should be other than QB. I think that #1 need should be a speed burner WR. Either sign FA Santonio Holmes or draft one.

      I don’t think Henne sucks. It was the play calling and the fact that they would not let him change the play at the line. They called the play and Henne had to try and make it work or call an untimely timeout. I am sure at times it was like being given a screw driver and told to hammer a nail. That is not Henne’s fault. Sure he made some bonehead plays but every QB does, even the HOF QB’s.

      Lastly, Ponder sucks? You know this because… He only out shined all the other higher rated QB’s at the Senior Bowl. Why, because he had better players around him than he did at FSU. You know John Elway had a 20-23 record as the starting QB at Stanford. I guess that was because he sucked.