The Miami Dolphins have been one of the most active teams in free agency this year. General Manager Jeff Ireland has been spending money and looking to increase offensive weapons, get younger on defense, and lay down the gauntlet that the Dolphins are in to win this year. But, even with all of the moves the team has already made, there are still holes on the team. Here's a break down of the top five needs for the Dolphins as they continue to work through free agency and get ready for the NFL Draft:
- Offensive Line - The team is doing everything it can right now to get 2008 first overall draft pick Jake Long back in a Dolphins jersey. After a marathon meeting with the St. Louis Rams last week, Long left Missouri with an offer in hand, but did not sign. He is back in Miami and is supposedly still considering the Dolphins' offer. If Long does bolt, Miami will turn to Eric Winston to fill the hole, likely sending second year tackle Jonathan Martin to the left side of the offensive line, and putting Winston on the right. The team could also be looking to upgrade the right guard position which was held by John Jerry for most of last year.
- Cornerback - Upgrading the cornerback position is probably a bigger need than the offensive line need, but will most likely be addressed second as the team focuses on Long. Currently, the team's starting corners are Richard Marshall and Nolan Carroll or R.J. Stanford after seeing former starter Sean Smith head to the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency. The team will likely use more zone coverage this year, but there still needs to be some sort of move here. The team has visited with Brent Grimes, but have not made an offer to him. Cornerback could be the main focus of the draft in April.
- Defensive End - Adding someone opposite Cameron Wake has been a need for this team for the past couple of seasons. The team drafted Olivier Vernon last year, hoping he was the answer. After a rookie season where he played well at times, but clearly hit the "rookie wall," he could still be that answer, but the team is also going to continue to look for another option. John Abraham did, did not, did visit the team this week, and could be an option, especially if the team wants to fill the hole with a veteran pass rusher while continuing to develop Vernon or a rookie they draft this year.
- Tight End - Miami signed Dustin Keller this year, adding a pass catching tight end to the offense, while taking a weapon away from their AFC East division rival New York Jets. However, the team still needs to address a blocking tight end. Anthony Fasano leaving for the Kansas City Chiefs was probably the free agency loss the team was (a) not expecting and (b) least prepared to immediately answer. The Dolphins will likely look to bring in a cheap option to serve solely as a blocking tight end (Jeron Mastrud?).
- Running Back - Okay, now we are down to depth needs, which is strange for Dolphins fans. There are a couple of places to look for the fifth need, but running back may make the most sense. The Dolphins let veteran running back, and last year's starter, Reggie Bush leave in free agency, and will likely look to second year running back Lamar Miller to be the new starter. Behind him will be third year running back Daniel Thomas, fourth year runner Marcus Thigpen, who was used primarily in the return game last year, and second year runner Jonas Gray, who was on injured reserve last year. The team could be looking to add a veteran running back, specifically a power back, to help develop the stable of young runners.