Let’s face it, the Dline preview was kind of a throwaway. You know it and I know it. Even as I wrote it, I knew it. With Jeff Ireland gone we simply don’t know what Dennis Hickey’s “style” is but it’s likely not stock piling bulking defensive lineman. So rather than wait until tomorrow to hit you with the LB’s I figured I would try and atone for the Dline preview.
The Dolphins have a need at LB and there is, to many, a clear need on the inside. Rumors lately have Miami moving Koa Misi inside and Phillip Wheeler outside. Moving Dion Jordan back to LB and possibly spending a first round pick on a middle LB’er. We obviously at this point don’t know what is real or not real.
Last season Jeff Ireland spent some good money on improving the middle of the Dolphins LB’er group. Gone was Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett and in came Dannelle Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler. The signing of Ellerbe surprised a lot of media and fans considering the Dolphins didn’t have a true need at the position. On paper the team was supposed to get faster and stronger but instead they got a lot production than what they expected. So much so that still this off-season there is questions whether or not Wheeler makes it training camp.
Enter the NFL draft.
The Dolphins haven’t looked at free agent linebackers but have instead discussed moving players around. In round one, the Dolphins have clear needs at many other positions but it will be hard not to take a look at Alabama middle linebacker C.J. Mosely. Mosely doesn’t come as highly touted as previous LB’ers like Patrick Willis but make no mistake this kid has a strong worth ethic and knows how to get to a QB. Something that Wheeler and Ellerbe failed to do consistently last year.
Mosely is a highly active linebacker but and is well rounded in all three phases of his position, run stopping, pass protection, and rushing the QB. His biggest problem is he is too inconsistent in run stopping. Mosely could be gone before Miami selects or could be available if Miami trades down. His projected draft slot has about a 10 spot range. He is slightly undersized and that is exactly the same thing they said about Zach Thomas. Mosely is the only round one ranked middle linebacker.
After Mosely the talent dips into mid-round grades but Yawin Smallwood could be a potential for the Dolphins in rounds four or five.
While the Dolphins need to change something with the way their defense ran the pickings this season is slim on the inside. The Dolphins don’t have a huge need on the outside given their defensive scheme and frankly Misi has been holding his own. The issues have been in the middle and while the Dolphins will likely add a LB from the draft class it won’t likely be in the first three rounds. Personally, Mosely would be 2nd pick in round one behind TE Eric Ebron, unlike Ebron however, I expect Mosely to be there. I don’t however expect Miami to take him.