Like I said last week, our new offseason Thursday feature will be "3 Up and 3 Down" - where I look at some topic and give three positives and three negatives. With today's organized team activity being open to the media, meaning we'll get another chance to hear about the players, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about how the 53 man roster might shape up.
Last year, the Dolphins got big contributions from two undrafted free agents - Davone Bess and Dan Carpenter. So let's focus on which undrafted free agents could make the biggest splash in 2009. And that will be followed by three players who were on the 53 man roster last season but whose days might be numbered in Miami.
THREE UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS WHO COULD MAKE AN IMPACT
1. Louis Ellis, NT - Measuring in at 6'2, 320 pounds, Ellis has the physical build and the necessary strength to play the nose in Miami's 3-4 defense. Undrafted out of Shaw University, a Division II school, Ellis is strong but also has the agility needed to play the position. However, he's very raw and will need technique work as well as improved conditioning if he wants to become Jason Ferguson's future replacement - a job the Dolphins desperately want to fill by 2010. Click here to check out a scouting report on Ellis from SI.com.
2. Orion Martin, OLB - Martin was a defensive end at Virginia Tech, but at 6'2, 260 pounds, he's the perfect "DE to OLB" conversion player. He's strong and has decent speed. While he tallied 14 sacks and 23.5 tackles for a loss over the past 2 seasons at VT, Martin fits more as a strongside outside linebacker (a la Matt Roth) rather than as a pass rusher. He's a smart player as well, with a good football IQ. The key stat with Martin is how unsuccessful teams were in college at throwing in the direction of Martin when Martin was asked to drop back into coverage - completing just 19% of their passes thrown into Martin's area with a 1.15 yards per attempt.
3. J.D. Quinn, G - Quinn is a guy who has a lot of talent but carries some baggage with him into the NFL. It's been well documented since the Dolphins signed him that Quinn was dismissed from Oklahoma, despite having early success as a Sooner, for accepting money that he didn't earn from a car dealership. He transferred to Montana to finish his college career. But it's pretty clear that Quinn has a less than likeable personality (see this video) and has had problems with alcohol. But you can't deny Quinn's ability to play football and, following the injury to Donald Thomas, Quinn instantly has a chance to make an impression on a new coaching staff. He'll be a player to watch as this offseason progresses.
THREE VETERANS WHOSE DAYS COULD BE NUMBERED
1. Quentin Moses, OLB - Moses will be entering his third season in the NFL and he has yet to show any kind of reason as to why he should remain in the NFL. Last season, Moses was active for 12 games - mostly as a special teamer - and recorded three tackles. With the return of Jason Taylor, the successful conversion to OLB by Matt Roth, and the additions Orion Martin and Tearrius George, there isn't really much room on the roster for a guy like Moses.
2. Jason Allen, CB - Allen is entering his fourth season in the NFL and it's getting very close to the time (if it isn't the time already) to being able to call Jason a 100% bust. This is definitely Allen's final chance to prove himself to Miami's coaching staff. With the free agent signing of Eric Green and the drafting of Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, it's clear that Allen's role in 2009 will be limited even if he remains on the roster. He'll likely be battling with guys like Nate Jones and Joey Thomas for the 5th corner spot. The Dolphins could potentially keep six corners - especially if they can made contributions on special teams. But one thing is certain about Allen right now - he's clearly on the roster bubble as training camp approaches.
3. Rodrique Wright, DE - Wright is entering his fourth season with the Dolphins and will be a free agent following the season. He missed all of the '06 season recovering form a shoulder injury he suffered in college. Last year, Wright was inactive for all 16 games, but was active for the playoff game against Baltimore. Whatever happens to Randy Starks could play a role in Wright's future in Miami, but this Dolphins regime has brought in a number of defensive ends over the past two offseasons - including Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling, Lionel Dotson, and Tony McDaniel - which could make it tough for Wright to keep his roster spot.