The Miami Dolphins had free agency to figure out their defensive problems and while they made some additions they haven’t really solved the problem.
Miami’s biggest defensive addition is linebacker Lawrence Timmons. Timmons came relatively cheap for the Dolphins. Over the age of 30, Timmons’ production the last few years has started to slip. Miami is hoping that Timmons can return to a higher level of play.
Timmons stands out because he is very good against the run and the Dolphins were pretty poor against the run the last couple of years. Last year was especially horrible. So much so they jettisoned Earl Mitchell and turned the tackle spot over to Jordan Phillips. Phillips is very inconsistent however.
While the Dolphins extended Cameron Wake they opted to pay nearly $8 million a year to retain edge rusher Andre Branch. Branch is adequate at being a pass rusher but he does not set the edge well enough to warrant $8 million a year. In that area he needs to improve and maybe this year he does. It will likely be a focus of off-season training and training camp.
The biggest help to the defensive line however comes in the form of a healthy Reshad Jones. Jones is excellent against the run and was sorely missed last season but Miami needs better play out of their defensive line with less need to rely on the safety to help.
Timmons should excel behind Ndamukong Suh but Miami still needs more help. Phillips is far too inconsistent to be relied upon for an entire game and Branch as stated above needs to learn to set the edge. Miami needs someone who can that can rotate with Branch.
The trade for DE William Hayes is a good start but it’s expected that Hayes will rotate more with Cameron Wake than Branch. Hayes is also on a one year deal. The Dolphins must address both the tackle and end positions on the defensive line and still need to find an outside linebacker.
Koa Misi remains on the roster for now but that is likely to change. His neck injury is too serious to risk further harm. Miami needs to address that need as well. All of these needs will directly impact how the Dolphins stop or don’t stop the run.
It appears that the draft is where Miami will place its attention. The Dolphins have picks in the first three rounds but their 3rd round pick is the first selection in the compensatory selections. Needing a defensive tackle, an edge rusher, and a linebacker, the Dolphins should be primarily going defense on the first two days of the draft.
While there are still options available in free agency the Dolphins might want to wait until after the draft to sign players to fill those positions. They seem to be taking a cheaper route to fill holes these days so it makes the most sense.