During the next few weeks I will do a series on the lesser known players currently on the Miami Dolphins roster. In no particular order, I intend to identify the backups of positions that could be targeted for an upgrade through the upcoming draft or free agency, should an agreement be reached between the players and owners.
Last year the Fins made a MAJOR upgrade at the LB core with the signing of Karlos Dansby. In a 3-4 defensive scheme the LB position is critical. In my opinion (IMO), Miami is just one guy away from having a top 6 or 7 linebacking group. Dansby, as stated is outstanding. Cameron Wake grew up last year and became the beast we all hoped he would be. Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the constant improvement and play of rookie Koa Misi.
That brings us to Channing Crowder. Crowder was drafted out of the University of Florida by Nick Saban in the third round of the 2005 draft. The intention was clearly to groom him to replace an aging Zach Thomas. While Crowder has had his share of accolades in Miami, there has also been criticism. IMO, he has never quite lived up the high expectations and could be the target of an upgrade. His recent critical comments regarding the owners wanting to “mess us up” probably didn’t help his cause. In fact, I believe the last guy to criticize his boss was Charlie Sheen? Ha
Who knows if the LB position will be addressed this off season, and it certainly will not be a priority. The ideal solution would be able to promote from within. The Fins have a couple of guys that could possibly push for a starting spot and today we will meet the first one; Mike Rivera.
Mike , a former Kansas Jayhawk, was originally signed by the Chicago bears in 2009 as an undrafted free agent (FA) and spent brief periods in Tennessee and Green Bay, where has was acquired by Miami this past season. His college career includes being a three year starter with 300 tackles, 26 for a loss and 6.5 sacks. For being only 25 years old, he certainly has accumulated more than his share of frequent flier miles. Other than suffering a grade 1 hamstring injury while with the Titans, little is known why all the transistions. One promising factor is that GB and Chicago have extremely good linebackers and those teams would be hard for anyone to win a position with.
At 6’2” and 250 pounds, physically, Mike is perfect for the LB position. He is extremely athletic too. During his pro day workout, Mike ran the 40 in 4.67 seconds and had a vertical leap of 38.5 inches, well within the criteria of a NFL linebacker.
During his short time with Miami, Rivera has played in four games. He had a total of 8 tackles and a defended pass in three pre-season games. He also played in the last game of the regular season against the Patriots, but did not record a tackle. It is not known if he participated in special teams, but considering his speed, athletic ability and prowess of tackling, I would have to wonder why not.
Who knows what the future holds for Mike and Miami. It may be asking too much to believe he may crack the starting lineup. However, he is of little financial risk to the team and could provide a much needed boost to the not so special, special teams.
Good luck Mike! Fins up!!!