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.