As we continue on with our look at the needs of this team, it's time to talk about the safety position.
Currently on Roster
Dolphin Free Agents
Without question, the safety position is one of the Dolphins' most glaring needs. And personally, I think that this position is often one that gets overlooked in the eyes of the fans. But it shouldn't. It's a position in which having a great player makes your defense immensely better. That's because one great player at the safety spot improves both your pass defense and run support. Don't believe me? Then ask the Colts and Steelers how they like their star safeties.
Entering 2007, we all were expecting Yeremiah Bell to really have his breakout season. And back in training camp, reports were they he looked very good. But as our luck would have hit, Bell suffered a torn Achilles' in week 1 and was lost for the year. He's now a free agent and the Dolphins new regime will have to decide whether or not to bring him back. It's likely he'll come cheap because of the injury, so I'd like to see him back in Miami in 2008. However, no one knows how the injury and lost time will affect his play on the field, so counting on Bell as a starter for '08 isn't logical.
Renaldo Hill, the team's other starter heading into 2007, was also lost for the season with an injury. And this created a revolving door at the safety position for the Dolphins. They tried Travis Daniels, but he couldn't cut it. They brought in veterans like Donovin Darius and Lance Schulters. Darius was cut but Schulters didn't play too bad. He's now a free agent, though, and likely won't be back in Miami next year. [editor's note, by Matty I] Correction: Schulters signed a 2 year deal, so he is still under contract with Miami. Thanks to Chris for bringing this to my attention. Regardless, I'd imagine he still won't be back in 2008, but now there's at least a possibility. [end note]
Late in the season, many Dolphin fans turned their attention to Jason Allen, our 2006 1st round pick who has been...well...disappointing so far to say the least. He's a guy with all the physical tools to be a great safety. But the mental part of the game at this level seemed to trip him up, as did a lengthy hold out his rookie year. Some look at him and see a bright future after he made some plays last year late in the season. Others see him as a total disaster. Personally, I'm somewhere in the middle. But what I do know is that he still has issues in pass coverage, something a safety can't have happen to them. Because of this, I'm not banking on him being a major contributer...ever. Hopefully, I'm proven wrong about this one.
The others, like Worrell, Bryan, and Harris, make decent backups. But clearly, at least one good safety is very much needed in 2008.
Here's a list of guys who the Dolphins might give a look to help improve them at the safety position:
Ken Hamlin - Hamlin, coming off a one year deal he signed last year with Dallas, is the top free agent safety available. He's a hard hitter who is also very good in coverage. Over the past 2 seasons, Hamlin has 158 tackles, 8 interceptions, 23 passes defended, and 2 sacks. Considering his secondary coach from last season, Todd Bowles, is now Miami's assistant head coach (and secondary coach), there's a decent shot the Dolphins could land him, if they so choose to. But the question is what Bowles, Sparano, Ireland, and Parcells think of him.
Madieu Williams - Williams is a vastly underrated safety. He's got terrific coverage skills and can also make plays in run support. The catch with him, besides being slightly injury prone, is that he reportedly wants to stay in Cincinnati. And the Bengals are supposedly very interested in keeping Williams around. So it's unlikely he hits the open market.
Will Demps - Demps career was believed to be on the rise when he was in Baltimore. But he signed with the Giants in 2006 and had a disappointing season. Last year, Demps took over midway through the season at safety for the Texans. He is pretty good in run support, but lacks a bit in coverage. And a good coverage safety is what the Dolphins need.
Gibril Wilson - Wilson is coming off a breakout season with the Super Bowl champion Giants. He moved to free safety in 2007 for the first time in his brief career and played very well. He's a good cover safety, but reports are that the Giants are high on him and have begun preliminary contract talks to keep him in New York...er, I mean New Jersey (technically).
Eugene Wilson - Wilson has become expendable in New England, considering he was mostly a special teams player in 2007. He was held in high regard his first 2 seasons, making 131 tackles and picking off 8 passes. But since 2004, his play has declined. He could be a rather cheap option for the Dolphins.
Mike Doss - What the heck happened to his career. Coming out of Ohio State, Doss seemed to be on his way to a good career in Indianapolis. But in his 2nd season, he got hurt and missed time and seemingly fell out of favor. In 2007, he joined the Vikings, but was basically Darren Sharper's backup the whole season. As for his play, he was also effective in run support, but could get exposed in coverage. However, he might be worth a look if he comes cheaply. Maybe Bowles and company could resurrect his career a bit.
'08 Draft Class - There really aren't too many impressive safety prospects out there. I do love Kenny Phillips (not that that), but it's unlikely the Dolphins spend a top pick on him. Reggie Smith, a safety out of Oklahoma, could fall to the 2nd round. If so, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Dolphins consider him. Other mid-round possibilities include DaJuan Morgan (NC State), Thomas DeCoud (Cal), Craig Steltz (LSU), and Marcus Griffin (Texas). But none of those really excite me at all.
My Best Guess
The Dolphins have to make some key decisions this offseason, and the safety position is one that requires a lot of attention. The Dolphins had 8 safeties on their roster (some on I/R, some active) at the conclusion of 2008. So decisions have to be made, and upgrades are needed. So here's my best guess for 2008's roster:
Cameron Worrell (mainly for special teams)
Like usual, your thoughts below...