This week's analysis will feature a player few expected would be back in Miami in 2012. With Miami's shift from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3, it was assumed Paul Soliai was as good as gone. Much to the dismay of some, Soliai ended up being a player Miami focused on bringing back in 2012 and he was re-signed to a two year deal.
Soliai is the prototypical 3-4 NT, but many don't think of a 355 pound beast as a good fit for a 4-3 scheme. Chances are, Soliai's presence will benefit the stats of those next to him more than his own.
Floor: The statistical floor for Soliai may be very low, but it may not be fitting to judge him more on stats. Unfortunately, I'm going to post a worst case scenario for a statistical season for Soliai anyways. Soliai will be helping keep blockers from getting to Karlos Dansby and may open attack lanes for Randy Starks next to him, but he may suffer from not being able to make the plays himself. There is a solid chance Soliai will be taken off the field in passing situations. On top of that, Soliai was never one to played fewer than 50% of defensive snaps even though he played in every game the past two years. Stats: 20 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 FFs.
Ceiling: There ceiling for Soliai may be hard to judge. A large part will depend on how offenses choose to attack Miami's front four and how well Randy Starks performs next to him. If Starks commands attention as well because of his ability to rush from the inside or if teams feel they don't want to or can't double-team Soliai, he could have some monstrous games against centers and guards that struggle with heavier linemen. While this doesn't mean Soliai will go on a tear and generate many sacks, he could be a run-stuffing force in the middle with less attention being given to him. Still, if that happens, it wouldn't be long before defenses figure it out and stick another blocker on him, opening up lanes for other defensive players. Stats: 40 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 FFs.