Raise your hand if you can make the Miami Dolphins a contender. - Bob Stanton-US PRESSWIRE
The Dolphins need to be aggressive this offseason to transform into a contender.
There are three games left in the 2012. That means it's time to start looking at potential offseason maneuvers for the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins have had a disappointing season. They started out strong getting to 4-3, which included some close overtime losses the Dolphins could and should have won. But the team struggled down the stretch, losing 5 out of 6 and that was that. Most people expected the Dolphins to struggle this season with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback. It was a rebuilding season after the previous reconstruction project with Sparano and Henne failed. And the Dolphins have some serious structural issues to fix, to continue the metaphor, before they can become a contending team. On defense, the team is solid, with a good defensive line, an elite pass rusher, and a solid set of linebackers. The secondary is an issue, but a few players have stood out, like Reshad Jones. The offense however is lacking, and that's putting it nicely. The team traded Brandon Marshall in the offseason and that left the wide receiver group without a real playmaker. They put up decent numbers, but they don't really threaten anyone. The offensive line has been inconsistent, led by the struggling and now injured Jake Long. That resulted in a struggling run game, which features the team's one true playmaker, Reggie Bush.
Regardless of what happens in the remaining three games, Dolphins fans can look to the offseason with some hope. First of all, the team has a large amount of cap space they can use to improve the team. Secondly, rookie Ryan Tannehill has looked the part of a franchise quarterback this season, despite having a weak receiving corps. Another positive aspect is that head coach Joe Philbin seems like a good coach that knows what he's doing. He has made some mistakes, but wasn't Cam Cameron 2.0 like some feared and seems to have a better feel for the game than Tony Sparano.
But even with that positivity, there are some concerns that must be alleviated this offseason. General manager Jeff Ireland will be on the hot seat and will need to upgrade the offensive talent. He will need to be shrewd in free agency, finding the right fits and not overpaying. He will need to nail another draft to replenish the offense with talent and add some playmakers to the defense. There are many fans who do not like Jeff Ireland, but he has a chance this offseason to change their minds and the fortunes of this team with good decisions.
That said; let's have a look at how I would approach this offseason.
CAP SPACE AND FREE AGENTS
Miami will have approximately $50M in cap space next season. While that gets fans excited at the possibility of a free agency shopping spree, the reality is that a majority of it will be spent signing the team's own free agents. About $5M of that space will count for the draft class, so Miami will start with $45M in cap for free agents. There are a number of team free agents, but only a few key players that would matter in terms of cap and importance. They are: Jake Long, Sean Smith, Brian Hartline, Randy Starks, Chris Clemons, Anthony Fasano, Matt Moore, and Reggie Bush. Miami could also add to that figure by releasing, restructuring, or extending current contracts. The biggest targets for that would be: Richard Marshall, Karlos Dansby, Richie Incognito, Paul Soliai, and Dan Carpenter. How should Miami handle this situation?
Starting Cap Space - $45M
Richard Marshall - release
Marshall was brought in to be the nickel corner. He ended up taking the starting job away from the struggling incumbent Vontae Davis, who was traded. Unfortunately, Marshall was hurt early in the season, and eventually ended up on IR. But that circumstance revealed one very important fact: while the depth at corner was thin without him, the depth at corner was thin WITH him. In other words, Marshall is superfluous. His absence opened up a hole at the nickel spot that teams began to exploit somewhat. But overall, the secondary remained the same or even improved in his absence. His value isn't worth his contract. The team was going to have to sign or draft another corner anyway. Cutting him will save over $5M in cap space. In essence, cutting him will pay for the rookie class. Cap Space after move - $50M.
Richie Incognito - release
Incognito has been a good run blocker this year for Miami. But guards are not a high priority position and Incognito doesn't exactly fit the zone blocking scheme. Incognito is set to make over $5M in 2013, and that is too high for a guard in my opinion. Cutting him could save over $4M in cap space and it's not like he couldn't be replaced in the draft or free agency. Andy Levitre is a good guard that could end up in free agency, but he might cancel out Incognito's cap savings. A better free agent option would be Evan Dietrich-Smith, who Philbin is familiar with from Green Bay. Or they could draft a guard. In any case, I'd rather have the $4M in cap than Incognito. Cap Space after move - $54M.
Karlos Dansby - restructure and extend
Dansby has been a solid middle linebacker this season, despite having never played that position. He has been a tackling machine and been solid in his coverage assignments. Dansby was the marquee free agent signing in 2010. Because that was an uncapped year, he got much of his money up front. Dansby's contract isn't that bad in 2013, actually dropping in cap value to $8.5M. However, the deal is set to go back up in 2014. Dansby is not so great that he cannot be upgraded. But the free agent market will be thin at middle linebacker. While visions of Manti Te'o in a Dolphins uniform might dance in some fans' heads, Miami likely won't be drafting high enough to select him. And given the other needs, especially on offense, it would be a better idea to keep Dansby and offer him an extension. The team could save some cap space both now and into the future. Releasing him would only save about $3M in cap space and I think a savvy restructure/extension deal could save around that mark. I'm not an expert on contracts, but if there is a way for Miami to work a deal with Dansby to save about $2M this year, then I think they should. Cap Space after move - $56M
Paul Soliai - restructure/extend or release
This is a tough call for me. Soliai is a key part of the defensive line and the run defense. He eats up blocks and opens things up for Starks and the linebackers. He is rarely single blocked effectively, and it usually takes elite interior linemen to do so. He plays well as a 3-4 one-gap nose tackle or as a 4-3 one-tech defensive tackle. So why would a guy like that be considered for release? First of all, releasing Soliai is a last resort. I'll get to that, but I want to talk about his contract. Soliai is only signed through the 2013 season. His cap hit for next year is over $7M. Like Dansby, the Dolphins should try to extend Soliai for a few more years. Not just for cap relief, but because of his impact on the defense. He is a talented defensive tackle and the team should just let him walk away after 2013, if he chose to do so. There lies the issue. He took a hometown discount to stay with Miami, but he may not do that again in 2014. The team also has another defensive tackle on the roster that could replace him: Jared Odrick. Odrick is playing the right defensive end position now, but that is not his natural position. He is better fit in a 4-3 as a three-tech defensive tackle. Randy Starks plays that position now, but could slide over to the one-tech spot if Soliai was released. Odrick and Starks would be a good defensive tackle combo and finding some depth behind them wouldn't be too difficult. Plus if Soliai was released, it would free up over $6M in cap space for 2013. But again, release is a last resort that is contingent upon Odrick playing inside. I would try to extend Soliai to keep him with the team for a long time. As with Dansby, a good extension/restructure deal could give the team around $2M in cap relief. Cap Space after move - $58M.
Dan Carpenter - doesn't matter
Carpenter is the top ten highest cap hits for Miami in 2013. Let that sink in a minute. A kicker is in the top ten highest cap hits. That is almost crazy. Carpenter has been given the nickname DC$ from Phinsider faithful and he is literally earning that nickname. His cap hit will be over $3M, but only around $300K of that is dead money. This call is entirely up to the coaching staff. Kickers aren't super valuable commodities and the difference in reliability from one guy to the next is negligible. The Dolphins could keep Carpenter, despite his struggles this year. The Dolphins could release Carpenter and find a free agent replacement. They could draft a guy late and that contract wouldn't even count against the cap. Personally, I don't really care about this situation. The Dolphins COULD release Carpenter to free up some cap, but why worry about it? This would be an absolute last resort move in my opinion. Stephen Ross has never been one to skimp on his team, so I doubt he is worried about Carpenter's salary compared to others. I only brought it up because it technically IS a possibility, but I wouldn't concern myself with finding a replacement. Cap Space after (non)move - $58M.
The Dolphins can free up an approximate additional $8M by my calculations. That makes a HUGE difference because that is equivalent to one big-time contract for a receiver. The team can cut some dead weight and use those resources to sign a weapon for their young quarterback. But first the team needs to sign a few of their own free agents. And it starts with Big Jake.
Jake Long - do not resign
This is going against my normal stance on Long. Personally, I think we should resign Long. I don't think it will be as difficult or expensive as most fans fear. I am not a fan of creating a personnel issue unnecessarily, but after giving it some thought, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and discuss why the team SHOULDN'T resign Long. The main issue is his health. A healthy Jake Long is at worst, a good left tackle. At best, he is one of the best in the game. The problem is Jake cannot stay healthy anymore. He has accumulated a number of injuries that have limited his play and earned him a spot on the injured reserve list in consecutive seasons. Long will want a huge, long term contract, but I believe that teams will steer clear of that because of his injuries. I think Miami will get into the bidding for Jake, but will be outbid because some GM will offer more guaranteed money. Long may take the hometown discount, but I think he will take the money and go elsewhere.
On the flip side, the Dolphins now have a gaping hole to fill on the offensive line. Jonathan Martin will finish this season at left tackle, but he is not assured of staying there past 2012. In his first start, he played decent. The Dolphins had to use backs and tight ends to help at times, but aside from that one embarrassing moment where Aldon Smith tossed him on his butt, he held his own. PFF gave him a very low rating for his performance, but I will cut Martin some slack. Smith is one of the emerging young pass rushers in the league and he is giving many left tackles fits. Martin will hopefully settle in and play more effectively against some good pass rushers in the next three games. That still leaves a tackle position open, and I think Long's departure almost guarantees that one of the Dolphins first three draft picks will be on an offensive tackle. Cap Space after move - $58M
Sean Smith - franchise tag
Smith is the epitome of inconsistency. In some games, he looks like an elite corner capable of locking down anyone. In other games, he looks like a rookie. I think part of the problem is Smith is limited in coverage styles. He can be a devastating corner in press-man coverage. His size, strength, and speed can give him an advantage over receivers. In off-coverage (off-man and zone), his size works against him. Savvy receivers can exploit that. Therein lies the problem with Smith. His is a one-trick pony so to speak, even if he is very good at that one trick. Smith also has confidence issues. He looked lost in 2011, but displayed better maturity in 2012 and his play consequently improved. Smith has struggled with some confidence issues this season, though part of his struggles may be more scheme-related.
In any case, Smith has not displayed enough growth this season to warrant a big contract. He would likely get a big contract in free agency because cornerback is a premium position. While teams may not overpay with injury-prone players like with the Jake Long situation, team always seem to overpay for potential. Some team out there will believe they can turn Smith into a shutdown corner after all this time. Miami knows this. Sean Smith knows this. Miami has the leverage though and will franchise Smith to prevent him from leaving. While some players might balk at the tag and hold out, I doubt Smith would. The tag number for corners will be around $10M. That is not a bad price for a solid corner on what amounts to a one year tryout. If Smith continues to develop, Miami will be happy to sign him to a long term deal that will earn him top corner money. If Smith continues being inconsistent, Miami will let him walk in 2014 and move on. Cap Space after move - $48M
Randy Starks - resign
Starks has played very well this season. He has been a force in the run game and created some pressure in the passing game. He has earned a new contract and the team would be remiss not to give him one. The only potential drawback would be if the team felt Jared Odrick could handle the position as effectively as or better than Starks. But I don't see that happening. If anything, Odrick will be placed into a rotation with them and decisions regarding his status will be made later. Starks will more than likely get a similar deal to what Kendall Langford got with St. Louis. That deal was a 4 year, $24M deal with $12M in guarantees. Starks will get a bigger deal in the neighborhood of 4 year, $30M, with $15M or $16M in guarantees. The first year should have a cap hit of about $5M. Cap Space after move - $43M.
Chris Clemons - resign
This is pretty simple. Clemons is a safety with starting experience. Safeties aren't a highly paid position (only kickers, punters, and tight ends have a lower franchise tag amount). Clemons hasn't stood out as a starter, but hasn't been terrible either. He won't get a massive contract, but he's still valuable because of his experience. Resigning Clemons does not preclude finding an upgrade for him either. His current cap hit is $1.3M. Accounting for inflation in contract values, figure a 2013 cap hit of $2M to be safe. Cap Space after move - $41M.
Brian Hartline - do not resign
For the record, I think Hartline is a good receiver. He has surpassed expectations this year. In my last post, I stated that Hartline has earned a right to start. He has the skillset of a reliable #2 receiver. But like I discussed in that post regarding Bess, it's about being irreplaceable. I said Bess is not irreplaceable and likewise, Hartline is not irreplaceable. I appreciate what Hartline has done this season. But I do not think his production is something the team could not find in free agency. I also believe the team can find something in free agency that Hartline does not have: speed. Hartline has decent speed, but cannot stretch a defense. This team needs to find speed on the outside. Then it comes down to the money. Hartline will likely get a contract around the $5M a year mark. The type of receiver Miami will look to add will be around the $7M a year mark. Looking at that, it seems to be a better choice to that money to find a faster receiver that could give equal production. (Quick note: there are no guarantees that Miami CAN sign a good receiver in free agency and that's probably why Hartline will be resigned. Something is better than nothing. But for this mock, we can assume Miami gets who they want). Cap Space after move - $41M
Matt Moore - do not resign
This is an easy call. The future in Miami is Ryan Tannehill. Moore wants to be a full time starter. He will have to go elsewhere for that. Matt, thank you for your contributions to the Dolphins. I enjoyed watching you play and you made the forgettable 2011 season worth watching. Cap Space after move - $41M
Anthony Fasano - resign
Another easy call. Fasano is a solid tight end who can make a few plays from time to time. He is a trustworthy blocker. He is a smart player who does the little things to be successful. His experience and blocking skills make him worth resigning. He would be a good second option at tight end, but can also start. He will not command a massive contract, and will get something similar to what he had before. Expect a 3 year, $14M deal. His 2013 cap number will be about $3M. Cap Space after move - $38M
Reggie Bush - do not resign
This call is considerably more difficult. There are so many questions involved in this situation. Can Miller become a dynamic running back? Can he and Thomas carry the load without Bush? Does Bush want to be back? Does the coaching staff want Bush to return? Can we find more playmakers on offense? The fact is that right now, Bush is the sole playmaker on offense. It seems to be a bad idea to let playmakers walk away, especially when are unsure of the alternatives. However there are some factors that affect this decision. One factor is age. Bush will be 28 at the beginning of the 2013 season. That isn't old, but 30 is kind of a magic number for running backs. Typically, once a back hits the age of 30, their production starts to drop off. While that isn't a guaranteed occurrence, it does have some bearing on how long of a contract to give Bush. The second factor is money. The current cap hit for Bush is $6M. Given that Bush has been the star player on offense, it's unlikely he would take a pay cut. The franchise tag figure for running backs is around $10. It seems more likely that Bush would request a deal in the $6M to $8M a year range. That's a lot for a running back that won't finish in the top 10 in rushing yards. The third factor is the position. Running backs are no longer the driving force of an offense. With a few exceptions, most teams are built or are being built around a quarterback. Not only that, but more and more teams are going with a committee of backs in lieu of a feature back.
When you add up all of those factors, it makes more sense to let Bush go than to pay him a huge salary. I know some fans will lament about letting a playmaker walk in free agency. But you can bet that Ireland is going to find more playmakers (a direct order from the top you can be sure) both in the draft and in free agency (especially in this mock). Bush is not an elite back like Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson. He can make some plays, but he can also disappear in some games. I believe that Lamar Miller, whom we traded up for, will be the starting back next season. He has speed, vision, and is a patient runner. The dropoff from Bush to Miller will not be significant when you consider the other moves being made. And when you also consider that Miami will get upgrades at the receiver position, the difference will become less prominent. Teams typically carry 4 backs, but having 3 running backs on the roster who will try to get carries is a bit much. It will be hard to get Miller, Thomas, AND Bush all enough carries. Thigpen can be the third back in the rotation or perhaps Jonas Gray. Maybe the Dolphins find a back in free agency or draft one late. In any case, I project that Bush will hit free agency and the Dolphins will roll with Miller and Thomas. Cap Space after move - $38M.
Everyone else that would be a free agent will either be replaced or resigned fairly cheaply. Tony McDaniel had a bigger cap number, but I doubt he will get a contract that will amount to much against the cap. However, I am going to hold $10M in reserve for signing depth players and such. Cap Space after move - $28M.
There you have it. With all of the projected moves I listed, Miami should have around $28M just to spend on free agents. That's a fairly large number, but Miami has plenty of needs to fill. Philbin and company seem to have started a youth movement, and they want players for now and the future, not just now. So I am ruling out players over 30 in free agency, which rules out guys like Greg Jennings and Wes Welker. So let us begin.
Mike Wallace - Receiver
The most visible need for the Dolphins will be the most visible position addressed in both free agency and the draft. Of all the potential free agent receivers, Wallace makes the most sense for Miami to pursue. First of all, he is a great option for a young quarterback with elite speed. His speed opens up all areas of the field. He has quickness and acceleration to get separation on any route. Plus he will be 27 when the season starts so he is entering his prime. Wallace tried to get a big contract offer from Pittsburgh in 2012, but since he was a restricted free agent, he had to play under that offer. Pittsburgh then went and signed Antonio Brown to a long term deal. His cap hit in 2013 will be around $5M. Therefore it seems unlikely that Pittsburgh will be willing to give Wallace a contract with a similar or higher cap number, given their other needs.
Wallace will not be cheap, but he isn't a $10+M a year type of receiver either. I don't think he will get a deal like Vincent Jackson got because he isn't the same type of receiver. A contract for him will likely be in the range of what Brown got, but a little higher. That was a 6 year, $43M deal with an $8.5M signing bonus. I figure a 5 year, $45M deal with about $20M in guarantees will be enough to sign Wallace. That would give the Dolphins around a $6M cap number for 2013. Cap Space after move - $22M.
Mike Jenkins - Cornerback
Miami needs to bring in a legitimate starting corner to pair with Smith for 2013 and possibly replace him if Smith isn't resigned long term. Jenkins was a first round pick in 2008 for the Cowboys and has been productive for them. He made a Pro Bowl in 2010. However, Dallas has continued to add corners and Jenkins got pushed down the depth chart. Dallas traded up to draft Morris Claiborne in 2012 and signed Brandon Carr to a big deal in 2012. They gave Orlando Scandrick an extension in 2011. It would seem the writing is on the wall for Jenkins in Dallas. They probably won't offer him a big deal considering the money they are spending on the position and that he is third on the depth chart at best. Jenkins will be let go and Miami should give him a call.
Jenkins is a better corner than Marshall and would fit the defense better. He will be more expensive than Marshall, but is money better spent. Jenkins was not a starter this season, but has starter experience. He will get a contract somewhere in between what Carlos Rogers got with San Francisco (4 years, $29M) and what Marshall got from the Dolphins (3 year, 16M). I project a deal around 4 years, $24M with about $8M in guarantees. You can figure about a $5M cap number for 2013, just to be safe. Cap Space after move - $17M.
Michael Johnson - Defensive End
This is probably a reach because I don't really see the Bengals letting Johnson walk. However, it's not out of the realm of possibility, so I'm going to go with it. Johnson was a third round selection of the Bengals in 2009. He has steadily increased in productivity and has a career high 8.5 sacks this season. Miami needs to get some help opposite Wake to bolster the pass rush. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle will be familiar with Johnson from his time in Cincinnati. With Wake working the left defensive end spot, Johnson, along with Vernon, can work the right defensive end spot and give Miami a fierce pass rush.
Johnson is a decent young player at a premium position so he will not be a cheap acquisition. But he is not an elite player, so the contract should be reasonable for the position. He will probably get a deal similar to what Mark Anderson received in Buffalo (4 year, $20M, $8M guaranteed). I figure a 4 year $24M deal with $9M in guarantees, with a 2013 cap number around $6M. Cap Space after move - $11M
Evan Dietrich-Smith - Guard
Most fans would probably only know Dietrich-Smith because he was the guy Ndamukong Suh stomped on last Thanksgiving. EDS has been a part time starter for the Packers and may not be resigned. He has experience with the zone blocking scheme and with coach Philbin. He could be brought in to replace Incognito as the starting left guard or at worst, just for depth. His contract would be relatively light on the cap, with no more than a $2M hit for 2013. Cap Space after move - $9M.
That would wrap up free agency. The Dolphins would have addressed three positions of extreme need with young impact players and added another potential starter on the offensive line. While I'm not a huge fan of building through free agency, Miami has too many areas that cannot be addressed strictly through the draft. Using about $19M in available cap space for 2013 isn't overkill either. I am going to leave the remaining cap space alone for now. An amount of $9M means that Miami could easily go after another big time acquisition (Andy Levitre, Martellus Bennett, Reshard Mendenhall). However, Miami will need to add some depth at various positions, and that will eat into the remaining cap space. And I don't want to take it down to zero, so I will stop at $9M.
Based on current standings and projected win and loss total for this season, it is safe to assume Miami will draft anywhere from the 10-20 range. For this mock, I am going to use the drafting position currently on walterfootball.com, which has us drafting at 11, 42, 54, 71, 84, 107, 138, 182, 200, and 207. The Vontae Davis trade has netted us an additional second round pick with will give Miami 3 picks with the first 62 picks. I fully expect Ireland to make some moves and trade around, perhaps even trading for another first round pick. But trades are hard to predict, so I am going to stick with the current slate of picks. For the players and where they are projected to be drafted, I am using walterfootball.com along with cbssports.com.
First Round - Keenan Allen, Receiver, California
Miami addressed the need at receiver in free agency, but they still need more weapons on the outside. Allen is considered by most to be the best receiver in this class. Allen has good speed, projected to be in the 4.4 range. He has good acceleration to create separation and to get in and out of his breaks. He has good size at 6'3", 210 pounds. He excels in getting yards after the catch and makes plays across the middle. He is a smart route runner and possesses good hands. He can line up outside or in the slot. He is a shifty player with punt return ability. Drafting Allen will give Miami a red zone threat, along with a playmaker that can work the middle of the field AND create some deep separation. Paired with Wallace on the outside and with Bess in the slot, Allen will give Tannehill a great weapon to open up this offense.
Second Round, Pick One - Lane Johnson, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma
This is a player that seems to be moving up draft boards. At 6'6", 303 pounds, he has the size to be a good tackle. He is also athletic for a big guy. Miami is going to be in the market for another tackle with Jake Long moving on, and Lane gives Miami a starting right tackle, but also a potential starting left tackle should Martin struggle. Having given Tannehill some weapons, it's now time to give him some more protection.
Second Round, Pick Two - Desmond Trufant, Cornerback, Washington
I have Miami picking up Jenkins in free agency, but this position will still need to be addressed in the draft. The main reasons are it is uncertain if Sean Smith will be retained past 2013 and Nolan Carroll probably isn't the answer either. But regardless of what happens with Smith, Trufant would be a great addition. He has good speed for the position and teams have shied away from throwing his direction. He can play outside or move inside to play nickel if needed. At worst, he will be a good nickel corner. At best, he can become a starting corner with potential lockdown ability.
Third Round, Pick One - Joseph Fauria, Tight End, UCLA
Fauria is a big, athletic tight end. At 6'7", 255 pounds, Fauria has the size to be a devastating red zone threat. His projected 40 time is around the 4.7 range, which gives him good, but not elite speed for the position. He is not a great blocker, but with his size, he can be developed better in that regard. Fauria would give Tannehill another weapon and if Egnew ever develops, Miami would have a deep group of tight ends that can create mismatches.
Third Round, Pick Two - Bacarri Rambo, Safety, Georgia
His name is Rambo. That is all. But seriously, Miami needs to find an upgrade for Chris Clemons. Reshad Jones is having a breakout season and appears to be moving forward as the starting free safety. Clemons has remained steadily average. He doesn't make a great deal of mistakes, but he doesn't make a great deal of plays either. His two interceptions this season came at the expense of Mark Sanchez. While Clemons could remain the starter and the secondary wouldn't suffer that much, the Dolphins could find a potential playmaker with Rambo. Rambo is a good tackler and makes plays around the ball. At this point in the third round, it's worth a shot.
Fourth Round - Omoregie Uzzi, Guard, Georgia Tech
Uzzi comes from a triple option offense so you know he can run block. Uzzi has the size and skillset to excel in a zone-blocking scheme. Offensive line coach Jim Turner believes he can turn John Jerry into a Pro Bowl caliber guard. If he cannot, Miami will need a replacement. If Dietrich-Smith cannot hold down the left guard spot, Uzzi could replace him there. If nothing else, Uzzi provides depth behind Dietrich-Smith and Jerry.
Fifth Round - Zavier Gooden, Outside Linebacker, Missouri
Gooden would be a great choice at this point in the draft. He is good athlete with elite speed for a linebacker. He is reported to have clocked a sub 4.5 forty time at 6'2", 230 pounds. He was recruited as a safety. He doesn't always play consistently well, but his athleticism makes him a good player to develop and to add depth. His experience as a safety could give him an advantage when it comes to coverage ability. If he develops fast enough, he could be used as a nickel linebacker to cover athletic tight ends.
Sixth Round - Aaron Mellette, Receiver, Elon
Mellette has been a highly productive receiver at the Division I-AA (not Division 2) level. He always seemed to torch my alma mater with regularity. Mellette has good size and speed for the position. While he is not quite the prospect Brian Quick was entering the draft, he has considerable upside that could be developed. He has rarely played against good college corners, so he will need some adjustment time. He can be brought in to compete with Rishard Matthews and Marlon Moore for the fourth receiver spot and will need to make his mark on special teams to make the roster.
Seventh Round, Pick One - Mychal Rivera, Tight End, Tennessee
The later rounds are where you hope to find talented players that may have dropped for one reason or another. Rivera is another late round prospect that could rise up draft boards. He is a receiving tight end who was overshadowed by the talented receivers at Tennessee. He is a reliable receiver and could give the team another option if Clay or Egnew cannot step it up.
Seventh Round, Pick Two - Armonty Bryant, Defensive End, East Central Oklahoma
Bryant has earlier round talent, but has major character concerns. Playing for a small school doesn't help either. However, Bryant is an athletic defensive end and stands 6'4" and 266 pounds. He has long arms and natural skills for rushing the passer. He would be worth a gamble at this point, and could be a developmental pass rusher.
So there it is; my plan for how the Dolphins can go from pretender to contender in the 2013 offseason.