Miami Dolphins 2018 holes are not deep and fixable

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 01: Head coach Adam Gase of the Miami Dolphins looks on during a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock Stadium on September 1, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 01: Head coach Adam Gase of the Miami Dolphins looks on during a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock Stadium on September 1, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Miami Dolphins will not begin making roster changes for a few more weeks and they won’t add any new players for another month and a half. When they do, they will need to fix problems on both sides of the ball.

In Adam Gase’s first season with the Miami Dolphins Miami went heavy in the draft on offense. They drafted Laremy Tunsil, Kenyan Drake, Leonte Carroo, Jakeem Grant, Brandon Doughty, and Thomas Duarte. Of those six offensive players, only Tunsil and Drake have started while Grant showed some promise to end the 2017 season.

Defensively the Dolphins went with Xavien Howard and Jordan Lucas. Howard is starting to emerge. Lucas is still a project. All of this changed in 2017 when the Dolphins went heavy on defense drafting only one offensive player, guard Isaac Asiata who made zero impact his rookie season spending all but one game inactive.

So what will 2018 bring? Miami will have free agency to fill some holes and if they can make some solid acquisitions they can enter the draft selecting the best players instead of needs. But how does Miami get to that point?

Offensively Miami has only two real problem areas. Tight-end and offensive guard. Guard has been an issue for years and the same can be said for tight-end as well. Solving both can be done in free agency but Miami has another problem. Depth.

With Ja’Wuan James uncertain to return in 2018 Miami may need to hunt for a right tackle. At center Mike Pouncey finished only his second complete season. It could be argued that he wasn’t the same player he has been in the past. Behind him there is no one that can really step in and take control of the line should he get hurt.

As for Jarvis Landry, while his production will be hard to replace if he is not re-signed, he is a slot receiver and as such is easier to replace should Miami find a need at that position by him leaving. So Miami’s priorities on offense are simple.

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Find a guard, find a tight-end, find a right tackle, and get depth along the line and at quarterback where the Dolphins are not likely to bring back Matt Moore.

Defense however is a completely different monster. The Dolphins need serious help at linebacker and it is very likely that Lawrence Timmons will not return for the 2nd year of his contract. Miami needs to upgrade the position.

Corner seemed to get better as the season went on with Xavien Howard finding his place in the NFL and Miami still expects Cordrea Tankersley who was injured down the stretch to get better. Miami will also get back Tony Lippett from injury and Raekwon McMillan as well.

In reality, the Dolphins defensive issues are really at linebacker. The rest should be fixable by coaching and not personnel. Consider that the defensive line is pretty good. The lack of production this season is still a head scratcher.

Davon Godchaux played really well and so did Jordan Phillips. Add Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, William Hayes, and Charles Harris to the mix and the front five should be very good. But they weren’t. So was it poor linebacker play that made them look bad or bad coaching? A little of both I am sure.

For the Dolphins fixing the defense could be as simple as re-signing Hayes and drafting or signing a free agent linebacker. The corners played better and with better pressure up front, the Dolphins can eliminate some of the problems they had in the secondary.

This years draft is interesting, at least as it pertains to the top 15 players or so. One standout linebacker exists in Roquon Smith while a few defensive ends are also top 10 prospects. Miami doesn’t need pass rushing defensive ends in this years draft. That is why the drafted Harris and why the extended Andre Branch. They need to coach these players and properly scheme them.

While there are a few secondary top players, it is not a big need for Miami right now. Improvement yes but need? Not so much.

Offensively the Dolphins have only two options. Draft a quarterback or an offensive guard. Quenton Nelson is a top prospect and considered the best offensive lineman in this years draft but the problem facing Miami is that guards traditionally are not taken in the top 12.

Of course drafting a quarterback will bring its share of complaints as well. A first round quarterback sends the message that Miami may move on from Ryan Tannehill but Tannehill has never had a real competition for his job and has not had to look over his shoulder. He needs that  competition to improve. But a first round QB isn’t going to take the field in 2018 so in reality, for 2018, it is a wasted draft pick for next season.

So what does Miami do? Well if they can play their free agency cards right they should be able to fix the tight-end spot and depth along the offensive line. Maybe even at quarterback for the immediate future. They should also be able to get some help in the secondary and re-signing Hayes makes a lot of sense. That really just leaves linebacker, guard, and right tackle.

It would appear that there are a lot of holes on the Dolphins roster but in reality, there isn’t as much as it would seem. Injuries and bad coaching decisions didn’t help Miami in 2017 but those are not fixable in free agency and the draft.