The draft is over. It was not a sexy draft for us like the Lions but we were able to fill some needs and leave a couple for free agency. So let's go through things we needed to address for the offseason and possible options for needs we didn't cover.
The most important position on a football team. We decided to not take a risk on a quarterback in the draft, which is fine. They said they will bring in competition for Henne and the only option now is free agency. So who could we sign/trade for? Here are some options that come to mind:
Trade: Orton, Palmer, Kolb
Sign: Young, Bulger, Hassleback,
I can see us trading for any of thoseinn three QBs up there and possibly signing Vince Young or Hassleback for a year. Orton isn't a franchise QB, but is a good game manager and the perfect fit for Sparano's strategy on offense: Hand off the ball and don't make turnovers. Vince Young is the high risk/reward QB on this list. When his head is on straight he is a great talent and a winner. He's still young and has been to 2 pro bowls. Palmer would be a good fit, but how much will he cost? 3rd at most is all I'm paying for any of these QBs.
Don't count out Henne, either. He has a good chance of starting next year and with a solid free agency could have all the pieces around him to make him look good. I want him to just play his style, not Pennington's. It's OK to check down, but don't make it a habit. Throw it into open holes if you see them. Play instinctive and smart.
I think we went into the draft with 2 needs at RB, and we obviously covered half of that with bruiser Daniel Thomas. He is exactly what Daboll and Sparano want in a running back and I actually see him kind of like a Peyton Hillis, which Daboll used a lot in Cleveland last year. He is not going to burn anyone, but he'll make the chains move and will be a good goal line back as well. He used to play QB and has experience with the Wild Cat. I'm sorry guys, but it's not dead yet. It's a cat. It has 9 lives. This isn't such a bad thing because Daboll is one of the most creative coordinators with it.
We still have a need at RB, though. But the Dolphins will look for a change of pace back that can catch the ball out of the backfield and do screens and another tradtitional RB to do the 2 back system with..They thought they could fill this in free agency and there are some good options. But I want to say one thing so fans aren't dissapointed when it doesn't happen: We aren't getting Deangelo Williams. If it's 2011 rules, no doubt in my mind he is a phin. But it is almost certain going to be 2010 rules if an injunction is ruled. Is Deangelo really worth a 1st and 3rd? No way. But here are the options:
We aren't going to trade for a RB. Plain and simple. The option I most want to see happen is Reggie Bush. The guy is electric. He was key to the Saint's offense, but they just signed Ingram and Bush is due $11 million next year. Will Ross have to open the bank? Yes. He is a game changer in the punt game and often makes punters punt it shorter to avoid him. With signs pointing towards us using the wildcat again, he would do a good job in replacing Ricky's position and beating defenders to the sideline. Would compliment Thomas well and could return punts while Gates returns kickoffs. Sproles is another option if Bush is taken by another team.
What about 2 RB sets that Sparano loves? Is Hilliard really the answer? Why did he not even get a carry last year with Ricky and Ronnie struggling. This might be a surprise, but I like signing Cedric Benson. He's only 28, and he would do well sharing carries because he will stay fresh. He wasn't very productive last year, but he's had 2 straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons. He's not going to burn anyone, but he'll fight for yards and hurt defenders. Fits what Sparano and Daboll like in a running back: powerful and strong.
Was a need going into the draft. Right now? Not so much. I like the addition of Gates because he is going to spread the field out a lot for more space for our recievers. I think he can take the number 2 spot from Hartline, but I still like Hartline as the 4th reciever. He has great chemistry with Henne and is able to get himself open and has reliable hands. When we run Daboll's spread Hartline will flourish. I only have one option I see the Dolphins signing, and I would love to have him:
Sign: Brad Smith
Why Brad Smith? His versatility is on another level. He can catch, run, throw, and return kicks. Why would he be a good fit for us? I really think that he is related to Joshua Cribbs from Cleveland. They both play in the wildcat. While Cribbs returns kicks better, Brad throws and runs better. New OC Daboll would love having a wildcat with Brad.
Another need entering the draft was a pass catching, athletic TE. John Clay was among the most athletic tight ends at the combine. He has a good speed for a TE, running a 4.69 40. He has good versatility, which I think is the new movement at Miami. He can run the ball occasionally, and I see him being a threat who can come out and be a mismatch for LBs and playing really well in goal line situations. When I see Clay and Fasano I think of Hernandez and Gronkowski. You have one that is extremely quick and versatile and one who has sure hands and can block. With us also having something like 3 rookie TEs last year I think we are covered at the position for this year.
A huge need entering the offseason. So what do we do? Sign one in the first round in Pouncey. Was it a safe pick? Yes. But we went into the draft with a plan for the other picks and were able to go through with it. Was it a bad pick? Some think so, but I don't. He filled a gaping LG, since Incognito was moved to center. To almost guarantee Incognito is playing center he was snapping the ball to Gabbert and Ponder on Game Changers. Maybe he requested it to get in extra work, who knows. But Incognito can't pull for s*** and Pouncey can't snap the ball for s***. But we have finally solidified the line, which has to go against Wilfork, Wilkerson, Dareus, and Williams from Buffalo 8 times a year. This will prove to be key for our run game and will open up the wildcat with the guy that can finally pull. No free agents here.
Dark Horse- Outside Linebacker
We did not fill this need in free agency and we only have 3 on the roster: Wake, Misi, and Alama-Francis. I want to see us target a OLB in free agency and start him opposite of Wake. Why? Misi wasn't good at it last year. He was great in the run game setting the edge. I'll give him that. But when Wake is constantly getting doubled team and you're only able to get 4.5 sacks, with half of them coming against the Buffalo Bill's line. Rookies usually get better as the season goes on and gains experience, right? Misi had 1 sack in the final 10 games, coming against the Bills. Impressive. I don't have anything against Misi, but I just want to move him inside and get an elite pass rusher outside with Wake and cause havoc. It makes everyones job easier when you get constant, quick pressure on the QB, giving less time for recievers to get open. It will cause more interceptions with the ball coming out early. It may not be likely. But I want to see it happen.
Sign: Kamerion Wimbley
Wimbley is obviously that one piece who could put this defense in the elite category. We have 2 rising stars at corner. We have the D-line. The safeties will play well and learn from Bell. The ILB spot is open next to Dansby, and either Crowder, Edds, or possibly Misi could take that spot. But we need that 2nd pass rusher opposite of Wake and Wimbley has ideal size for an OLB at 6-4 and 255 lbs. Would flourish across from Wake and in Nolan's system. He had 9 sacks last year and is only 27. Has only missed one game in his career, so durability is not an issue.
Projected 2011 Miami Dolphins Team (People that will get playing time)
QB: Chad Henne to start season, Vince Young starts as backup.
RB: Daniel Thomas, Cedric Benson, Reggie Bush
TE: Anthony Fasano, John Clay, some blocking scrub
LT: Jake Long
LG: Mike Pouncey
RG: John Jerry
RT: Vernon Carey
NT: Paul Soliai
DE: Randy Starks, Philip Merling
OLB: Kamerion Wimbley
ILB: Karlos Dansby
ILB: Koa Misi, Edds on 3rd down
OLB: Cameron Wake
FS: Chris Clemons
SS: Reshad Jones