Well, as a life long Dolphin fan, the off season has become my favorite time of the year. From February until August, my heart is filled with joy and optimism. The air is filled with excitement as there are endless possibilities through the draft and free agency. Aaaaaaannndddd then then the season starts....(yeahhhh smh). By mid-september I am already looking forward to the next off season, and the cycle continue. Until then, however, like most of you, I will continue to put together a dream off season in my brain (although I will surely be disappointed). Sooooo here is my first post....
Top 5 Priorities in order (1 = most important)
2. Pass Rusher (to complement wake)
My priority list reflects the need for starters at those positions. For example, although we need to add depth at LB and DT, we REALLY need true starters or at least significant upgrades at the positions listed above. Moreover, the above list presumes that none of the key soon-to-be free agents will re-sign.
Now, you may be thinking, "hey, if none of the current starters who will become UFA's re-sign, then perhaps OT should be moved up on the priority list." And you may be right. However, over the last 6-8 years or so, Miami has had some offensive lines that were really bad, and others that have been really really good. Yet, outside the 2008 season, a really good or really bad OL has not seemed to have much of an impact in terms of the success of this team. For years now, the #1 glaring problem with this team have been lack of play makers (and QB of course). And I mean play makers on both sides of the ball. I do not mean to under value a good OL, especially if we end up losing Jake Long and have to move Martin to LT and find a replacement at RT. While this would naturally create a need, I do not think its as big of a deal as most people are lead on to believe. All I am trying to say is that we do not need draft an OT in the first few rounds necessarily, even if we have a hole at RT. I am sure we can find a decent enough guy at a fair price through free agency or by drafting a couple in the mid-late rounds. On the other hand, we NEED guys who will catch a slant route and take it 40 yards to the house, or a sack - scoop - score. The best teams in the NFL give up lots of yards and lots of points at times, however, their offensive scores points as well. Ultimately, I don't care if our defense gives up 14 ppg or 30 ppg, I want a defense who will make that ONE play when its needed; a timely interception, or a sack on 3rd and 10 with less than a minute left. Its a little ridiculous to know that, at one point this season, Miami had not allowed a 100 yard rusher for like a season and half. As good of a stat that may be, the more damning stat was the one where our defense went like 6 games or something without a turnover.
Pre-Draft Free Agency
Mike Wallace WR:
This is a guy we should throw some money at. Its not so much that he is an elite WR per se, but the truth is he is exactly what we need, a guy who basically only makes big plays and stretches the field. This kid is young, but experienced. He has good size, speed and hands, and he is just about to enter his prime. Furthermore, there are no AJ Greens or Calvin Johnson's in this draft which means that it is likely the best WR's coming out this year may still take a couple years to develop. Although Wallace is young, we have seen what he can do and we do not have to play the waiting and hoping game with him.
Note: While I am sure Miami will be somewhat active with free agency prior to the draft, this pick up is the only one of real concern to me. We get a young guy who is proven at a position of need which will allow us to use our many early drafts on other things if we need to.
J. Byrd FS
Byrd is a solid starter who seems to find his way to the ball quite regularly. Although buffalo would like to re-sign him, if miami offered what Buffalo was offering plus $1, why wouldn't he want to come to Miami? If all else equal, would you want to play in South Florida or Upstate New York? I mean lets be real. I like the idea of taking a young FS with lots of starting experience from our rivals.
1. B. Werner, DE, Florida State
-honestly, I will be happy with Miami drafting the BPA so long as its not an OL or interior DL. I would even be happy if they draft the best WR available despite signing Mike Wallace. Why not have as many scoring threats as possible? Would you be disappointed if we signed Wallace and drafted someone like Keenan Allen or C. Patterson? However, drafting a great DE will also help our weak secondary as well. Some of the most frustrating parts of the season were watching Miami being one score up or down and being completely unable to create a pass rush while the opposing QB stands around all day and picks our secondary apart at the worst possible time.
2A. Robert Woods, WR, Southern Cal
-assuming we draft Werner or even a Dion Jordan, I would hope Miami goes for the best WR available. If not Woods, then maybe S. Bailey or Tavon Austin, Hopkins, etc. ( a truly dynamic player). for now I'll put Robert Woods, but in reality I just want the best WR available.
2B. Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
-Again, this is based on the presumption that we do not resign Fasano. But even if the Italian Stallion is resigned, we need an upgrade at TE for the goal line. I am a huge University of Arizona fan, so watching Gronk do his thing with NE both makes me happy and sad at the same time. Bottom line is that we need to get Much better at scoring TD's in the red zone. A versatile TE with size and speed will certainly go a long way for our young QB.
3A. Tryann Mathieu, CB, (formerly of) LSU
I don't care what anyone says about what an asshole this kid may be. But for those who have watched his highlight film, this kid is an absolute PLAY-MAKER in every sense of the word. If we picked him up in the second round I would not be upset even. I know he is under sized and has all that baggage, but this kid is scared of nobody and plays like it. Althought I think he would be a good nickel CB at the very least, I dont care if he does is return punts and plays special teams. This is a kid who needs to be on the field. How many years now has it been that we always talk about these low character guys Miami passes on or gets rid of. Its cool, I get it. I get why the old school types (a.k.a. old white guys...jk jk!!) always talk about having a clean cut, nice guy, team player etc. But for f*cks sake, I just want to see my team win now. If he can play, get him. Im not the one dealing with him in the locker room so its not my problem. I just am tired of being associated with an average to below average team.
3B. J. Franklin, RB, UCLA
-if he is available, get him, if not, go for Standford's RB S. Taylor since Bush may not be back. I am willing to see how D. Thomas and L. Miller perform together. On paper, the young tandem appears to be a damn good one-two punch (so long as Thomas can stay healthy). But in either case, we still need a 3d down back. History shows us that you can find a damn good RB in the first round or get an UDFA (see Alfred Morris and Arian Foster). Either way, RB is all a crap shoot.
Rounds 4-7 just draft the Best possible OL and DL for depth.
Top 3 Players to Resign
1. Anthony Fasano
-whether he draft a TE or not, Fasano is a solid- do everything guy. Every team needs a guy like this. So long as the price is right we should keep him no matter what.
2. Randy Starks
-Let McDaniel walk and keep Starks. He is too productive and versatile to let him go for now.
3. Brian Hartilne
-we have seen what Hartline can do and what he can't do. Although not a true #1 is a very QB friendly WR to have. In fact, if we do bring in a serious WR or two, Hartline may in fact be more productive. A smart player like Hartline could be a terror for the second and third CB of an opposing defense.
FA's we should not be in a hurry to Re-sign
1. Jake Long
-I've loved this guy from the moment he came in. Not to say that I would have drafted him at #1 overall, but thats not Jake Long's fault. he is big, strong, tough and damn good. Unfortuenatley, at the price he will be had at is just not worth it anymore in today's game. I cannot remember the last time an OL has won a game. Furthermore, we can add a couople big weapons with what we would spend on Long. Even if Long had been able to stay healthy I would let him walk. I mean, Long is no doubt better than J. Martin, and may always be. But can you honestly say he is 10 million dollars a year better? Hell NO!!
2. Sean Smith
-there is no more frustrating of a starter to me than S. Smith, just when you are about to write him off he has a big game. But when you need him to make a play he disappears. I think it would be nice to keep Smith but not at the price he will look for and liekly get. He is wayyyy to one dimensional of a CB. He can lock down bigger #1 WR's. But he cannot cover smaller, quicker WR's. Again I ask, is Sean Smith 4,5, or 6 million dollars a year better than Nolan Carrol?
3. Reggie Bush
-Love Reggie, but he has played his way to a decent pay day once again. unfortunately, for what we have on the team already, and what we can pick up through the draft its just not meant to be unless he takes a big discount. I only wish that Mike Sherman had an effin clue how to use Reggie properly (although to his credit the last couple of games it seemed they may have figured it out). If Reggie was used properly, I would say resign him.