Jonathan Brownfield-US PRESSWIRE
With the 2012 NFL season in the rear view , the Miami Dolphins are now looking to next season and the draft to fill the holes on both offense and defense. Before the first game of the 2012 season the Phins didn’t exactly make a huge splash in the Free Agency pool and barely made any ripples during the season either. They signed players like Chad Johnson and Jabar Gaffney only to release them weeks later, while also signing players that were, “serviceable”, but not meant to fill positions past this season. Miami’s 2010 had some true gems in it as well as wasted picks which left the same holes that they were supposed to come in and fill. This years Draft is not really stacked with skill position players like Wide Receivers and Corner Backs which Miami needs the most.
Miami’s best option to upgrade some of their positions will most likely be through free agency. There are several wide receivers that will hit the market this year that could dramatically improve the receiver corps and give QB Ryan Tannehill more weapons. The other major area of concern is the defensive secondary which was picked apart by just about every QB they faced this season. Unfortunately there are not too many, “NFL ready” corner backs in the draft and those that are available might be gone by Miami’s pick at 12. The free agent corners available aren’t shutdown corners either, but will be an upgrade over Nolan Carroll and can compete with Dimitri Patterson and Sean Smith for starting positions. Other major needs are O-line, Tight End and Defensive End.
The rumor mill has been churning for the last few weeks with speculations of Green Bay’s Greg Jennings wanting to go to Miami and play with his former Offensive Coordinator, now Head Coach Joe Philbin. While this would be a great fit for both Jennings and the Phins, is Jennings that much better then say Brian Hartline? Truthfully they are similar players in style, but Hartline is 3″ taller and Jennings is .4 seconds faster. With Tannehill being comfortable with Hartline and Hartline knowing the playbook then it would seem smarter to stay with Hartline and not bring on another receiver that mirrors him. Rather bring in a receiver that can help stretch the field and open up the underneath routes for Hartline and Devon Bess as well as open up the running game.
Mike Wallace has that ability, and then some. Wallace was tagged as troublesome when he sat out of training camp wanting a new contract. He actually hurt his chances of a big contract because of that and at the same time learned that he is easily replaceable and was apparently humbled by the experience. Late in the season a article was released where Wallace was quoted in saying” I made my bed and now I have to lay in it. Maybe it was just to please the right people but it might be a step in the right direction. Wallace would immediately make Miami’s offense much more dangerous and give them the deep threat that they severely lacked in 2012. Wallace would force safeties to play over and make Hartline, Bess and even Marlon Moore much more dangerous on the opposite side.
On defense, there should be a few great picks left for the Phins to upgrade their D-end position since Jared Odrick had less then a average season. Odrick should have benefited from teams double teaming Cameron Wake on the opposite side or Paul Soliai but instead was almost invisible in the pass rush and average in run prevention. What might not be overly available in the draft is corner backs, but there are a few serious options in free agency. Sean Smith should be allowed to walk after a severely subpar season. Smith started strong and then seemed to fall apart towards the end of the season, showing he is not the answer at corner that Miami thought he was. With players like Brent Grimes, Tracy Porter and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie becoming available why bring him back at all. Now Grimes is going to be expensive but probably worth it and also probably staying put in Atlanta. Porter will probably be available and not very expensive and brings a lot of experience. The Philadelphia Eagles are going into a major change and Roger-Cromartie might find himself expendable and looking for a job. His skill set and experience would be a great addition to Miami’s secondary even though he might be a little expensive. Miami does have almost 50 million if not more to spend on free agents. Also available are Quentin Jammer, Derek Cox and Chris Houston who will all be cheaper and possibly better then Carroll, Smith or Patterson.
Tight end is also in dyer need, especially since the latest word out of Miami is that TE Anthony Fasano is going to be allowed to walk. Last years draft pick Michael Egnew embarrassed himself on Hardknocks and was only active for 3 games the whole season. Charles Clay has shown flashes of talent but has severely underachieved. With two inexperienced TEs already on the roster maybe its better to bring in some experience that can still play and make a difference. Fred Davis is available but most likely staying with the Washington Redskins after making the playoffs in 2012. The under rated Jared Cook is big, strong, fast and available and desperately wants out of Tennessee. Cook can make a big difference blocking and as a safety valve for Tannehill. Another great pick would be Delanie Walker from the San Francisco Forty Niners. Already running a West Coast offense and very underrated he could break out in Miami’s offense, but might be a little expensive. Also available are Dustin Keller and Heath Miller who have been great third down converters for both of their former teams.
Miami has a lot of needs to fill this off season, and even with 9 drafts pick, 5 in the first 3 rounds, they can not hope to fill the needs of the team through the draft. GM Jeff Ireland and HC Joe Philbin must be open to free agency to improve their team. There are players available for both permanent fills and even temporary fills until the right guy comes along. The Phins are not far from being a dangerous team in the AFC East and rivaling the New England Patriots for the top spot. Corners should be a top priority since they have to play Tom Brady twice as well as Matt Ryan, Ben Rothlisberger, Andy Dalton, Andrew Luck and Drew Brees in 2013. Followed by a seriously threatening receiver and tight end for Tannehill to throw to an open up the offense. Miami has the money and the time right now to make a educated decisions on who to pick up and extend contracts to. No one knows who management already has an eye on or what the plan of the future is. But if Ireland does not make some great picks in the draft and acquires some great free agents to help this team, he might be looking at his last year in Miami. Phin fans are tired of waiting, 9 draft picks and 50 million in cap space should be sufficient enough to fill the holes on the roster, not rebuild for another year.