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October 23, 2011; London, ENGLAND; Chicago Bears offensive guard Lance Louis (60) blocks Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett (71) during the third quarter in the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. The Bears defeated the Buccaneers 24-18. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Miami Dolphins Pursue Defensive End Michael Bennett?


 

For the entirety of Miami Dolphins‘ All-Pro defensive end, Cameron Wake‘s, destructive career, the Miami Dolphins have lacked a legitimate pass rushing threat opposite the former Penn State standout.

 

Last season, Jared Odrick was the team’s latest attempt to fill the void opposite Wake. Odrick played to the best of his ability against the run, but had little to no presence as a pass rusher – which is to be expected from a defensive tackle playing defensive end…

 

The team desperately needs to find a young threat to pair with the athletic and destructive Wake. Sure the Dolphins are in a great position via the draft to select a youngster to pair with Wake. But two of the better options for Miami (Dion Jordan of Oregon and Ziggy Ansah of BYU) shined during February’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. If Miami were to decide to select a pass rusher with their first round selection, currently slated at number 12, the team would likely have to take the time to develop a player rather than select a player ready to play right now.

 

If the team does not feel comfortable about their current position in the NFL Draft, who could Miami possibly sign to pair with Wake? Options such as Dwight Freeney (Indianapolis), John Abraham (Atlanta), and Osi Umenyiora (New York Giants) are all aging quickly. And Michael Johnson, the Cincinnati Bengal‘s standout defensive end, was recently slapped with the Franchise Tag.

 

Enter defensive end Michael Bennett.

 

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Michael Bennett, could be an under-the-radar player to keep a close eye on during the fast approaching free agency period. Bennett, who played left defensive end for the Bucs last season, managed to collect 9 sacks last season on his way to 15 for his young career. The former Texas A&M Aggie also managed to tally 48 quarterback hurries last season, ranking third among 4-3 defensive ends according to Pro Football Focus. Bennett is incredibly athletic for his position displaying speed and quickness off the edge as a speed rusher.

 

Take a minute to check out Bennett if you are unfamiliar with the name.

 

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap1000000065063/Romo-sack-fumbles

 

Now, let’s break down Bennett’s game using the video above.

 

As I had mentioned above,  Bennett is quite a good athlete at the defensive end position. Possessing the desired “get-off speed” that defensive coordinators covet, it’s crazy to think how Tampa does not want Bennett’s services for the next four to six years. His explosiveness off the line of scrimmage gives him the ability to set up whichever technique he wants to use to beat the blocker.

 

 

The next step is the bench press process (I tend to call it the “Smash AND Trash”) or whichever technique the defensive player decides to use (swim, rip, spin, etc.). Yes, we all can see that in this instance the defensive end is being blocked by a tight end, but Cowboys’ tight end, Jason Witten is no slouch when it comes to blocking. Bennett possesses the technique to get his hands inside on the opposing player, and use his strength, as my high school coach used to say, to “JACK HIM UP!!” If a defensive end can get the opposing blocker on his heels, the defender will win the situation every single time.

 

 

The next process is known as “the pursuit”. Bennett’s athletic ability allows his speed to take over after he sheds the blocker. His pursuit of Cowboys’ quarterback, Tony Romo, here, is almost “text-book” as they say. Staying low with sprinter-like form while also remaining in an attack mode. Warning, the next part is amazing if you hate the Cowboys.

 

 

And finally, we have that special moment that every defensive lineman absolutely L-O-V-E-S! The sack. Bennett’s form on his tackle is absolutely excellent. Not only is Bennett launching his body into the quarterback, his head is “attacking” the ball – which eventually leads to a forced fumble if you viewed the video. Bennett’s slightly arched back is what gives his hit power – which truly comes from his legs (which is a reason you DON’T skip leg day! Do those squats, guy!).

 

Is Michael Bennett the answer at defensive end for Miami? That remains to be seen. Last season was the first time in Bennett’s three-year career that he actually played in all sixteen games. Durability could become a question mark for Bennett’s incredibly lean 274-pound frame. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Bennett could form a deadly-duo with Cameron Wake in south beach.

 

Bennett surely is quite an intriguing option for Miami moving forward, though. Look for Miami to, at the very least, bring Bennett in for a work-out when the free agency period officially begins.
Verdict: PAY THE MAN and address the secondary in the first round of the NFL Draft come April (Xavier Rhodes???).

 

Tags: Cameron Wake Featured Free Agency Jared Odrick Miami Dolphins Michael Bennett Popular

  • just_bobness

    Bjorn Worener of FSU.

    • TylerMcMullen

      Werner is an interesting prospect. Some GM’s have him rated as their best player available, and some have him ranked as a third round prospect. I definitely would not mind seeing the team select Werner at number twelve, but I also think it’s highly unlikely he slips past teams such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo and Tennessee to name a few. Thanks for the read and the comment, man!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-J-Bailey/1055197089 Matthew J Bailey

    It would seem unlikely Miami will spend on a front line DE in free agency. With Starks tagged, Odrick and Vernon will be opposite Wake. Odrick has stated he’ll drop weight if left at DE, to increase his short area quickness for improved pass rush.

    I think it’s more likely we take a 2nd tier rookie (Gholston from Michighan St for example, who should be there with our 4th or projected compensatory 4th) than use valuable cap dollars.

    • TylerMcMullen

      I’ll be surprised if Odrick opens the season as the starting defensive end opposite Wake, to be honest with you. He’s just not a very good defensive end. Awesome defensive tackle. But that is just what he is. Vernon is an interesting story. He will have to bulk up a bit if he is to play end in Miami’s scheme. But rumors are that he will be taking a full-time position change to linebacker, challenging Koa Misi for his starting job – obviously coming in on passing situations and what not similar to his role last season.

      As for the most likely situation, I honestly view this as one of the team’s top priorities this season – which is why it won’t surprise me if they do spend to find a stud pass rusher to pair with Wake. The thought of it just sends chills down my spine.

      Surely the team could elect to select a pass rusher in the first or second round – but like I stated above, Miami will likely have to groom any player they select rather than plugging them in from day 1. Thanks for the read and the comment, man!

    • Derrick Frazier

      I like your thinking matthew. Lets say we addressed three important offensive needs in wr, te, and rt,. Then we could adress de in the first with a top pass rusher the draft is cornerback deep and all corners will not be gone we can get 2 corners in the second solving big portion of the secondary problem. We then can draft another wr and a free safety in the third a running back in the fourth. And we may get a compensatory pick which i feel we should add depth to our weak spots considering it wont be many in later rounds.

  • Derrick Frazier

    I say in free agency we get brent grimes cb and ed reed if he comes cheap enough trade down to get a extra 2nd or third rounder. Grab best available pass rushe werner, damontre moore, dion jordan, barkevious mingo, sam montgomery, ezekiel ansah with the first use two of the third rounders abd trade into the early second. Keenan allen may be there in the second due to his injury deandre hopkins tavon austin justin hunter quinton patton and wheaton.2 of those wideouts with the first two picks in the second round. With the last second rounder get david amerson cb or zavier gooden if gooden is tgeir we take him because we still need a pass coverage lb. 3round pick cb tyrann mathieu or best offensive tackle available. With the fourth round pick fastest te available we still need weapons. With compensatory pick best o lineman available and pick 7 on very big dlinemen to develop for the potential loss of soliai next year and get starks a multi year contract. What do you guys think

    • TylerMcMullen

      Good thoughts, Derrick. I like the idea of trading down to pick up some extra picks if we can, also. A team such as Cincinnati could be interested in moving up for S Kenny Vaccarro. I’m not so sure any of those pass rushers will be there in the bottom portion of round 1 besides Montgomery, which I would not mind. Honestly, though, if the team did trade back, it would be a perfect time to take Austin. The kid solidified his place in the first round during the combine. Thanks for the read and the comment, Derrick!

      • Derrick Frazier

        Your welcome, i was also thinking that more than ten pass rushers would not go in the first 30 picks because some teams have serious needs waiting until the second or third round could really hurt a team in a position that is not draft deep. Which means if teams drafted by best player available it would cost great player to fall to other teams which i think i would like we have 5 picks in the first 3 rounds. Go phins!

        • TylerMcMullen

          You’re definitely on the right track, Derrick! Still crossing my fingers that Dion Jordan or Ziggy Ansah falls to us at twelve!!

          • Derrick Frazier

            Me too that would be the steal of the draft.

  • Miami Jules

    Congratulations Tyler on an excellently written article, the illustrative analysis and for staying away from mentioning the name Ireland in it.
    I happen to emphatically disagree with you on the priority of a pass rusher versus other positions, most notably corners and WR (as in speedy deep threats). It that dire needs which has me, almost bullishly calling for either a corner/safety in F/A and a WR in the 1st round.
    Should we get a corner in F/A, I’m calling for Keenan Allen to be drafted with the 12th pick. Should we get a WR in F/A, then I’m calling for Xavier Rhodes to be our selection in the 1st. Whichever way it goes in FA, I’d like to see Ryan Swope selected by the Dolphins, in either the 3rd Rd. or with the 2nd, 2nd Rd pick if he moves up in the draft charts. There it is. My name is Miami Jules and I approve this comment.

    • TylerMcMullen

      That means a lot my man! Thank you for your kind words! I somewhat agree with you. I think finding a pass rusher to pair with Wake is a priority. But it is certainly not the team’s top offseason priority. Wide receiver tops the list and I see the team spending for Wallace or Jennings – probably Wallace because this team needs speed and a play-maker which Wallace possesses both attributes. Corner is next on the list – possibly shooting to the top of the list if Smith walks. Honestly I am a little torn on this subject. I love Xavier Rhodes and if he is there at twelve, I would waste no time handing in the pick. But the team needs two quality corners. I wouldn’t mind a player such as Derek Cox or Dominique Rogers-Cromartie. It’s too early to tell. And we cannot sleep on addressing the offensive line, also! Thanks for the read and the comment, my man!

    • Derrick Frazier

      I know you may like xavier rhodes he is aggressive and hard hitting but struggles in zone coverage and is also not so great at man coverage i believe he is a bit overrated. He got away with alot of pass interference calls which will be called at nfl level and is slow to turn his hips at times. I like trufant, banks despite his fourty time and amerson. All three can play the man but struggle in zone. Trufant has speed and cover skills to stay with any wr and struggles in the zone he makes solid open feild tackles and has quick hips he only had four int’s his senior year but no reason to pass on him because he still led in passes deflected fhey also nicknamed him tru’s island that sounds familiar. Also banks and amerson both are ball hawks and are consistent as long as they are not always trying to jump a route. Example banks stayed consistent in passes defense and solid number of int’s. Amerson played well at times but tried to jump routes like he did his junior season to get double digit int’s which was only his fault because teams began t o realize he will try to always jump route and that became a weakness because teams started to run option routes and hit him with pump fakes. As long as he is not always trying to be greedy his cover skills are great. Rhodes just has upside over these guys because he a bit younger and has played well but played inconsistently but he does make plays.

      • Miami Jules

        Thank you for the input and added analysis on Rhodes, Derrick
        . I appreciate it and as they say, I embrace debate. I think he could be developed in the pros but I do like your front runners. Not crazy about Trufant, but he is a local guy so I will support him too.

        • Derrick Frazier

          No problem. I also believe he can be developed i saw some tape on rhodes and i am now high on high

          • Derrick Frazier

            High on him

          • Miami Jules

            Glad you are Derrick… What do you think about FA ao far?

          • Derrick Frazier

            Dude i am so surprised i think ellerbe’s signing was great and cutting of dansby gives us more cap to make more moves. We now have a wide receiveing core with addition of wallace. Wondering if we could still get winston and bennett or the bennent brothers on a deal.

          • Miami Jules

            I’m just very nervous because we still have no help in the secondary and as of this afternoon, no quality starter at the TE position.

          • TylerMcMullen

            Can we sign a Corner!? PLEASE!? LOL

          • Miami Jules

            Oh Tyler, from your mouth to Ireland’s ears. I am almost livid as I read my Twitter about Miami rebuilding the LB corp… that’s just great! Except we have no bleeding TE and the draft is weak on TE’s so unless his royal geniousness has some trick up his sleeve, we are going into the season with Eggnog or Eggnew being our best TE or maybe he’s planning on choosing one with our 1st pick because there’s a definite drop off after pick # 1. That my admired writer would leave us with the same brilliant secondary squad we had last season, maybe even worse. We can still end up with an over .500 record and into the post season (in the most exaggerated of best case scenarios), but a good QB will tear us up with screens and quick passes in the flats to speedy slot receivers. I could go on, but at this point, although i’m nervous (does it show?), I shall remain optimistic and hope boy wonder has a smart plan indeed.

          • Derrick Frazier

            We have gotten faster at the lb position. Still have roughly 20 plus mil in cap room we are on position to get either brent grimes and ate hopefully michael bennett. But yes your right tyler ” we need a corner”. And jules your right about the te thing but atleast our linebackers wont get roasted by tight ends all day anymore thus far ireland has been doing great

          • TylerMcMullen

            At this point Ireland’s plan so far was to get faster at the linebacker position. We signed two players that are younger and can make more of an impact. Which is awesome! But it is now time to work on the secondary. Definitely wouldn’t mind looking at Rhodes at twelve come April, but we cannot put all of our eggs in one basket. San Diego is right ahead of us and needs a solid corner also. At this point I’d love to see the team look at Houston, Grimes or my personal favorite – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. And then go from there. I’m hearing that Ireland’s next issue to fix will indeed be the secondary, and we can only hope that is true fellas!

          • Derrick Frazier

            Your right.good news though dustin keller is visiting today hope we sign him dude that would be one problem solved. Im hoping they cut dimitri patterson now i liked his upside but chris houston is a definite upgrade cutting patterson should free enough cap to help us get houston maybe even rodgers-cromartie. Crossing my fingers on this one.

          • Derrick Frazier

            Maybe we will either tight end or elite corner. We have space and are getting faster for once. But to fix all needs before the draft would be great atleast tight end and corner then maybe we can get werner in the first the a tackle in the second and add depth and talent with the rest

          • Miami Jules

            I’m glad you’re staying positive and looking at the bright side of things. No one is hoping we’re better off as a result of this draft than I. Dolphins do well, and I feel good. I just can’t help to be guarded. MY elation lasted for as long as both Fassano and Cook were available once they were gone, I started getting red eared (sign of high blood preasure). The Heat managed to calm me down for now, but there’s a lot of concern out there in Twitter world… I hope you’re right Derrick.

  • Derrick Frazier

    Tyler mcmullen is now one of my favorite writers

    • TylerMcMullen

      Thanks for your kind words, Derrick! Working on a Pre-Free Agency Mock Draft NOW! Should be up tonight!! Be sure to check it out!