Miami Dolphins: Free Agents To Consider
By Josh Binder
With the NFL draft in the books and OTA’s rapidly approaching (start May 26), the Miami Dolphins have a promising group for the start of the 2015 NFL season. Whether you’re a fan who believes the Dolphins have what it takes to reach the playoffs, or are skeptical because of their consistent late year blunders, everyone should agree there is always room for improvement. So, how does a GM go about improving the team at this point in the offseason? I’ve got two words for you: free agency.
There is a plethora of free agents available for the Miami Dolphins to bring into camp for 2015. However, there’s always a viable reason why free agents aren’t on a NFL roster (i.e. injury, off-field behavior, age, etc). In my last article, I discussed the need for a proven middle linebacker. While I still see this as a need and a big question mark in terms of projected production for the 2015 NFL season, the biggest immediate need is quality offensive lineman. So, before we get into the free agents that could be good fits for the Fins, lets evaluate the state of the o-line.
It was reported by CBS Sports that left tackle Branden Albert is on schedule to be healthy and ready to go for the regular season opener. With Ja’Wuan James manning the opposite side, it’s safe to say the two offensive tackle positions are locks (barring injury) for the 2015 season. As for the center position, Mike Pouncey looks to prove his worth after receiving a huge contract worth $52.15M over the next five years. That leaves us with the two positions along the offensive line that desperately need improvement: Left and Right Guard.
While the Dolphins drafted Jamil Douglas (Left Guard out Arizona State) in the fourth round in this years draft, both guard positions still remain a concern, for now. Many Fins fans were upset that GM Dennis Hickey didn’t pull the trigger on a Guard in round 2, but recent news suggests that the 4th rounder out of AZ State has the confidence and determination required to become a starter on opening day. “There’s definitely a sense of urgency,” he told ESPN. “…I want to contribute to this team as much as possible and help this team win games.”
When looking at his tape from Arizona State, you immediately notice Douglas’ athleticism, quickness, and ability to make impact blocks when pulling on run and screen plays. For those who doubt the rookies ability to start, remember that he played LG in his first 2 seasons as a starter and made a seamless transition to LT during his senior year at AZ state. Furthermore, Douglas was selected to the 2014 First-team and 2013 Second-team all-Pac 12, all while never missing game.
If Douglas is able to start for the Dolphins and become a productive member of the o-line, the only other position of need is Right Guard (RG). ESPN’s Miami Dolphins writer, James Walker, wrote an article about Billy Turner and his need to show and prove his worth to the Fins franchise. While Turner has a lot to prove, he is currently the Dolphins best bet to start at one of the Guard positions. As for Dallas Thomas, he is nothing short of a joke and I’ll leave it at that.
Now, time to discuss some of the free agents currently available for the Dolphins. In order to shore up the o-line, the Dolphins should consider bringing in 2 big bodies, or as I like to call them, Hog Molly’s. The two players that jump off the free agency board are former Dolphins #1 pick Jake Long and consistently productive veteran Justin Blalock. While Jake Long is known as a LT, and one whom is often injured, he may be worth bringing into camp (depending on the asking price) to provide depth. Regardless, the player I want the Dolphins to take a look at is offensive Guard, Justin Blalock. He was a valuable asset for the Atlanta Falcons in years past; and while he is north of the 30-year-old age mark, he still has plenty of gas in the tank. He may not be the best scheme fit for the Dolphins, but he could definitely compete for a starting spot with Jamil Douglas and/or Billy Turner.
As for other offensive free agents that aren’t o-lineman, some players to consider bringing into camp are RB’s Pierre Thomas, Knowshon Moreno, and David Wilson. While I’m a believer that Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi can get the job done for 2015, there is always chance of injury. Other notables on the offensive side of the ball are WR’s Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne (shout out to the U), and James Jones. If one of the current starters goes down during the offseason, look for the Dolphins to snag up one of these veteran wide-outs.
When taking a look at the free agents available on the defensive side of the ball, some names garner consideration. As for middle linebackers, look no further than Brandon Spikes and Nick Roach. Both veteran players have the ability to be plug-and-plays, but are limited due to either injury concerns or skill set. Roach was released in March of 2015 for lingering concussion issues and Spikes has been known for being a 2-down player who only excels against the run. If I’m the Dolphins, the only way I’m bringing in these players is if I’ve lost confidence in Koa Misi or someone goes down due to injury. Some other notable defenders to consider bringing in are Aaron Ross (Cornerback), Bernard Pollard (Safety), Quintin Demps (Safety), and Lance Briggs (OLB).
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The Dolphins have a solid roster entering into 2015 OTA’s. Fans should applaud GM Dennis Hickey for his offseason activity and hopefully this years draft picks can make an impact somewhere on the team. I would like to see some added bodies along the offensive line, but would understand if they tested the waters with the current players. If Tannehill can keep upright this year, the Dolphins will have a solid shot at coming out on top of the perpetually competitive AFC East. Don’t forget to follow @PhinPhanatic and me on twitter @joshbinder86.