With training camp at last getting underway I have been reviewing position battles and depth charts and wanted to post my thoughts but various posters have already gone over our depth chart, roster cuts to come, bubble players, etc. etc. I thought I would do something slightly different and list my top 5 players of interest going into camp. This is based on several factors including, likelihood to make the 53 man roster, overall ability, chance of impact (likelihood of playing during season), and desire to see player succeed. I’m excluding anyone that is a given lock at their position since I am more interested in how they perform when they have something to prove. The list after the jump.
1. Ryan Grice-Mullen (WR, KR/PR) – Without question the most interesting player for me personally because (1) we need a new KR and could stand to upgrade at PR but don’t want to burn a roster spot on a guy who will play on only returns. (2) If RGM can establish himself as a #5 WR he could be retained for the return duties as well as add a new wrinkle in our passing game. Right now we have short possession guys and Brandon Marshall. Two of those guys will catch anything that gets near them and the other two are pretty sure handed as well but none of them really stretches the field vertically. RGM has the talent to actually replace Ted Ginn at this facet of the game (and will assuredly catch more balls than Ginn even with only 1/10th the number of snaps) since he has all the speed Ginn had and none of the Chicken Little that Ginn has in spades. For consideration the two men’s dash times; Ginn: 1.47 (10 yd), 2.48 (20 yd), and 4.38 (40 yd) vs. RGM: 1.45 (10 yd), 2.49 (20 yd), and 4.36 (40 yd). Flat speed isn’t everything but it is important and if Ted Ginn could bomb Revis Island one has to assume so can RGM. (3) If RGM is keeping FSs honest, it will open up the opportunities a little bit more by taking some of the spotlight off of Marshall. (4) Who wouldn’t love the many “Fear the Dread-Heads!” signs at home games for RGM and Bess. Granted, its unlikely RGM will be used in this fashion but one completion on a bomb in week one will have teams thinking about it through at least week 4. Also I can't forget Colt Brennan saying about RGM: "He'll take a quick, flat route and turn it upfield and take it to the house. He has unbelievable speed. His jukes are awesome. He catches balls in ways nobody's ever really thought of catching them." I would love to see them try RGM out and see if he can still be a YAC machine but I will be satisfied if he can average 20+ on KRs and 10+ on PRs.
2. Cameron Wake (OLB) – Every Dolfan is holding out hope that the EarthqWake will make J “Pissy Pants” Porter look like a rookie washout this season with double digit sacks and a more complete game. This will start in Camp. If Wake doesn’t elevate his game it will lead to more of the same that we saw last season except now he won’t have JT and Porter in front of him forcing us to turn to Charlie Anderson. My biggest complaint all offseason was letting JT go without a viable replacement in place when he could have been retained so easily. Bear in mind I consider Wake to be Porter’s replacement but if Misi fails to perform out of the gate we are gonna be in trouble but if Wake fails to perform we are screwed! Wake has the tenacity and ability to give QBs fits but if he can’t stop RB he is gonna be a liability and our only safety valves at OLB are a rookie 4-3 DE turned 3-4 OLB and a backup that has little ‘Wow’ factor. Wake is going to be a huge factor in both our pass rush and the development of Koa Misi since Misi may be forced to play when unprepared and the perpetual exploitation could forever shatter his confidence (Remember John Beck?) which could ruin him. If Wake elevates his game to every down starter, even John Clayton will be talking about Miami’s pass rush as something to be feared.
3. Jonathan Amaya (FS) – We all know this defense this year will live and die by the 4 guys in the secondary. Many have asked where the pass rush will come from but bear in mind that Tom Brady needs less than 1 full second to spot Moss separating from his CB and less than 3 seconds to deliver the pass. Except for an all out blitz, Brady will have the two seconds to throw the ball. What will be key is insuring he needs more than the 1 second to figure out where to throw it. In short, if a WR is gaining quick separation it won’t matter who is applying the pressure so it will fall to our safeties to provide cover when Sean or Vontae lose their man (It will happen sooner or later) and right now we have no one sold on our FS's. Amaya appears to have a lead step over Reshad Jones coming out of OTAs and is thought of highly. If Amaya can be as good as we hope he may be ready to step in should Clemons falter. If not, he may still establish himself as the future at SS. Either way Amaya has EVERYTHING to gain and nothing to lose and that tends to make a player very exciting to watch in camp and the preseason.
4. Jared Odrick (RDE) – This may be farther down other fans list of priorities but I think about teams running on an unbalanced line which will put Odrick and Misi on the same side. The Jets are gonna run off tackle and probably some sweeps against us to use their speed to take advantage of our weakened flanks. With no JT and no JP on the outside, the margin for error of our DE’s goes down. Factor in one rookie unused to the 3-4 DE position and a rookie OLB and an OLB presently weak at run stoppage, we could see havoc if Odrick gets manhandled in the trenches. Odrick was known to be vulnerable against big run-blocking linemen while at Penn State and that cannot be allowed at this level without great run-stuffing talent at linebacker. We have the talent at ILB with Dansby and Crowder but our OLB run-stuffing is suspect at best. If Odrick can’t penetrate, it will fall entirely on the OLB behind him and the CB to shut down the run for no gain and we face to many good RBs to expect our guys to make the play that often. Odrick is also needed to replace some of the production of Randy Starks from last year and that is a daunting task for anyone not named Randy Starks let alone a rookie used to playing as a 4-3 DT. Can Odrick truly adapt to the 5 technique? This will be a big thing for me to look at as we progress towards the season.
5. John Jerry (OG) – The thought of this beast holding down Henne’s blind side along with Jake Long gives me goose bumps. Remember that one of Henne’s keys to taking his game to the next level is cutting down on the sacks and reduced pressure from the defense will make this happen and allow Chad to settle into grooves in the big games. Needless to say, a pro bowl performance will be needed from Long and whoever plays LG to keep Henne vertical against Minnesota. I had Jerry as a potential pick for us in the draft and was thrilled when we picked him but even the biggest, nastiest, strongest beast in the world needs to understand his blocking assignments if he is going to matter at the NFL level. I am pretty confident that Double J will transition nicely and look forward to seeing him mow down opposing defenders to spring Ronnie for a 7+ yard gain. If Jerry struggles, he will still make the squad (Unless he struggles REAL badly) and it will be intriguing to watch his improvement up to the end of August. If not for the fact that he will make the 53 man roster unless he proves to be completely rubbish Jerry would be higher on this list.
Just my thoughts. Let the Football begin!!