The Miami Dolphins not only have an unproven roster, but the roster is very deep with potential in numerous positions. Although most believe Miami should sign a veteran Wide Receiver, Jeff Ireland believes the position is set. Could this mean Miami has a “hidden gem?” Ah yes, and what exactly should we make of new Dolphins head coach – Joe Philbin’s comments about the “hidden gems” on this roster?
Many questions need to be answered, so with your Miami Dolphins officially working through OTA’s, I would like to take a look at six potential break out candidates for the upcoming season.
WR Marlon Moore – Moore has cracked the active roster only a few times during his short stint with Miami, with his best game coming against the Oakland Raiders (1 reception, 57 yards, 1 touchdown). Although this young WR has yet to really make an impact on offense, Moore has been a quarterback’s best friend throughout each mini-camp he has been apart of. Moore possesses the natural athletic ability desired in the new west coast style offense Miami’s coaching staff will be installing.
WR Roberto Wallace – Yes, I have mentioned Wallace numerous times in other articles I have written. Why? The kid can “ball.” Wallace is, ironically, almost a carbon copy of recently traded WR, Brandon Marshall (both are 6’4”, Wallace is 5 pounds lighter than Marshall at 225 lbs). Take a gander at each of Miami’s wide receivers who played in at least one game last year. What’s that? No size? That’s where I feel as though Wallace comes into play. Wallace has the ideal size to be a number one target. Although Roberto has not done much in his time as a Dolphin, he really hasn’t been given a shot. Miami is in need of a red-zone threat, which could end up being Roberto Wallace.
CB Sean Smith – Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Smith has all of the tools to be a lock down corner in the NFL, but the kid simply cannot put it all together. #24 seems to have a great game, and then a so-so game. Smith was drafted to blanket the new breed of “Alpha” receivers, which he can do with safety help (we all know that’s been one of Miami’s achilles heels). Honestly, 50+ tackles and 4+ interceptions seem like a reachable goal for Smith this season. Not only is Smith in desperate need of a break out year, but Miami’s talented corner is in the final year of his rookie contract. With questions looming about whether or not Miami will bring the former Utah Ute back, look for Smith to finally put it all together and form a deadly duo with Vontae Davis.
CB Nolan Carroll – Carroll is actually one of my favorite Miami Dolphins. After putting together an impressive rookie season, this speedy corner took what many would consider a HUGE step backward. Although I can agree that he took a step back, I would argue that Carroll looked like a normal second year player. With the new scheme Kevin Coyle is bringing to the table, Miami’s corners will look to play more of a zone than a man to man type of coverage. Zone, in my opinion, is an easier type of coverage, especially for a speedy corner such as Nolan Carroll. Carroll will be asked to be more of a tackler and a ball hawk, rather than a lock down corner (which fits his play style perfectly). Look for Carroll to break out this season and challenge for the nickle spot.
RB Daniel Thomas – Boy, this kid was impressive in his first three games. Thomas was leading the league in rushing yards and per carry average for rookies over that span. Then, we all saw a very dramatic drop off in production. After a disappointing rookie season, Daniel Thomas should be at full throttle and fully healthy for the upcoming season. Thomas has everything you would want in a running back with size, speed, great hands and blocking ability (he’s also surprisingly shifty for his size). With the shift to a west coast style of offense, Miami will also implant a new zone blocking scheme for running plays (Mike Shanahan’s Denver Bronco’s days???). With the new zone scheme, Thomas should be able to come in and pick up four yards a pop while spelling Reggie Bush. Look for Thomas to be Miami’s primary goal-line and short yardage back during the 2012-2013 season.
FS/SS Reshad Jones – Oh dear, what kind of list would this be without a safety? Jones, like most Dolphins defensive backs besides Vontae Davis, took a step back last season after quite an impressive rookie campaign. Jones, who seems better suited for strong safety, played out of position many times last year spending most of the season at free safety. Jones is an excellent tackler, but seems to over think things while on the field and find himself out of position. With Yeremiah Bell gone, who was a team leader and captain for the past three seasons, Jones will need to step up and take control of the back end of Miami’s very talented defense.
WR Brian Hartline – While everyone is “hootin’ and hollerin’” about Miami’s void at wide receiver, Brain Hartline seems to be in line for a large role in the new offense. Although almost every analyst seems to think Hartline “stinks”, #82 has been one of the best offensive pieces Miami has had in years. Hartline has great hands, great field awareness and he runs crisp routes. He’s not fast? That is a complete and utter lie. Hartline is actually very fast. #82 may be Miami’s best receiver, and that may not be so bad after all (He’s no slouch at WR). It would be ignorant to say that Brian Hartline will have a similar season to Packer’s WR Jordy Nelson, but I will say that it wouldn’t surprise me.
Regardless of the “lack” of talent on the Miami Dolphins roster, the ‘phins will be competitive in every game this season. With a very talented defense and an offense on the rise, look for your Miami Dolphins to climb themselves out of the deep and dark hole they have been in for twelve years now.
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