Here is guest writer Travis Wingfield's latest article. This time, he takes a closer look at 5 Dolphins who are poised to breakout in 2007. Check it out and let us know who you think will be the breakout Dolphin of 2007. Here's his article:
There are plenty of players the Dolphins need to see a strong contribution from in 2007 for the team to be successful. Whether its guys making big plays on the field or backups pushing for starting jobs, 53 players on the team need to contribute for this team to compile wins. In this piece we'll exam some of those players further down the line that may not be well known around the league, but may soon become household names.
1. Yeremiah Bell- Bell headlines the list because he is already becoming a popular name amongst scouting circles. While the average football fan may not yet know his name, it's possible Bell could climb the ladder and begin nipping at the heels of Ed Reed, Adrian Wilson, Brian Dawkins, and the other big name safeties in the NFL. In 2005, Bell was a special team's standout who saw playing time in some dime and quarter packages. Despite playing well down the stretch, including 3 sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery during the 6 game winning streak, Bell wasn't the opening day starter in 2006. In fact, it took Bell 7 games to crack the starting lineup. In his first 4 games as a starter, the Dolphins were 4-0, including a 31-13 clubbing of the eventual NFC champion Chicago Bears where Bell forced a fumble and defended 3 passes. In the 2006 season, Bell had 65 tackles, registered 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumbles recovered and defended 13 passes.
Bell joins Renaldo Hill as the starting safeties for the Dolphins. Yeremiah is poised for a breakout year in what will be his first year as an opening day starter. It's difficult not to root for the guy who worked his way up from 3rd string DB and special team specialist all the way to starter. He struggles sometimes in coverage, but Bell can absolutely lay the wood on the run. He is the biggest ball hawk in the Dolphins secondary and will make some needed big plays for a poorly rated Miami defensive backfield.
2. Shirdonya Mitchell- I know, I know, Mitchell won't be a starter and most NFL fans that don't follow the Dolphins still won't know who he is after 2007, but he can still contribute. I also understand this list is for players who will break out, but I wanted to give Mitchell some credit for being named a first team all NFL Europa corner. The importance I see in Mitchell is in 3rd down passing situations. Despite Miami's 2006 defensive dominance, there were times it struggled to get off the field due to long pass completions. If Mitchell can be a serviceable nickel or dime DB, it would be a huge lift to a defense that specializes in pass rushing. Not only is he going to be a key backup, but with the injury history of corners Travis Daniels, Andre Goodman, and Jason Allen, there may be times he climbs the depth chart. It's not easy being allocated to the Europe league, but Mitchell responded and made a name for himself, and that's why I recognize him on this list.
3. Matt Roth- Matt Roth was drafted in 2005 to serve as a spell DE behind stars Jason Taylor and Kevin Carter. He was also drafted to develop and eventually become a starter along side Taylor. With Carter being released in the 2007 off-season, Roth will get his chance. He moves into the left end role to start the season and will benefit nicely from playing on the same defense as Taylor and newcomer Joey Porter. Roth has shown progression with each game he's played, recording a sack and a forced fumble in 2005 and 3.5 sacks last year in 2006. Playing in the 3-4, it's important for Roth to take on blockers and free up the linebackers to make plays on the ball carrier and pressure the QB. Weighing in at 272 pounds, Roth can do just that, freeing up Thomas and company to make plays. Roth can show explosiveness but sometimes struggles to free himself up from bigger tackles. Was releasing Kevin Carter a smart move? It all depends on Matt Roth; I think he will show us it wasn't a big loss.
4. Derek Hagan- No one was more impressive in the off-season minis than Derek Hagan. Unfortunately, he still finds himself behind veterans Chris Chambers and Marty Booker. Booker's name has surfaced in trade talks, but it doesn't appear the team will move him. Hagan presents a nice possession target that has a big frame (6'2'' 202 pounds) and reliable hands. Hagan struggled a bit on passes thrown with a high velocity but showed no bad habits in the mini camps this May and June. Hagan caught 21 passes for 221 yards and a score last season in a reserve role. He filled in for the oft-injured Marty Booker a couple of times and most notably so on Christmas night when he had 3 catches for 35 yards all in the 2nd half sparking the Miami offense. Hagan is pushing for a starting job and it's starting to look like he'll easily be ready to take over in 2008 as a full time starter. 2007 is the bridge year for Hagan; he could be around 40-50 catches this year.
5. Travis Daniels- Injuries hampered Daniels in all of the 2006 season, but it appears the ankle is 100% heading into training camp. Daniels showed great instincts, ball skills, recovery speed and physical skills in 2005, but was slowed drastically in 2006. It was obvious he wasn't at full health and most apparent when the ball was in the air and he, time and time again, failed to close on the football. Daniels has switched numbers and looks to grow and improve on his rookie success in the upcoming 2007 season. Daniels will battle Andre Goodman and Jason Allen for the starting spot opposite speedy Will Allen, but Travis looks to be the favorite for the job at this point. If Daniels can do a viable job (along with the rest of the secondary) this defense will be one of the league's best and will be very tough to score on. Again, the key for Daniels is health, and if he's healthy he can play a solid cornerback; and it appears he's doing just fine.
Well those are five guys we should keep an eye on in training camp, which is just a month away. Football season is approaching and will be here before we know it. These players can be looked at as catalysts; if they perform, we succeed. Looking at it from the other end of the spectrum, there are other ways to succeed as well, but these players could play key roles and it's imperative they contribute this year.