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Weekend Roundup

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So the Super Bowl is now set.  Cardinals vs Steelers.  Should be an interesting game.  I'll be pulling for the Cardinals, but as long as it's a good game, I'll be satisfied.  After all, with Bruce Springsteen performing at halftime, there's a chance that the halftime show is actually more entertaining than the game itself.

Also, thoughts and prayers are with Willis McGahee.  That hit on him by Ryan Clark looked really nasty.  But McGahee was able to move his limbs.  Hopefully it's not a serious injury.

But enough about that, let's talk about some Dolphin-related news that you might have missed from this past weekend.  And later in the week, I'll continue with my "team needs" posts.

As you all know, Julius Peppers is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in just under 40 days.  And you may have heard that Peppers is hoping to go elsewhere and leave the only city he's ever called home in the NFL.  Of course, the Panthers could always just slap the "franchise tag" on Peppers and at least try to trade him rather than just letting him walk.  However, the Panthers also have to attempt to re-sign All-Pro tackle Jordan Gross this offseason as well.

So what does this have to do with the Dolphins?  Many Dolphin fans, I know, would love to see Peppers come to Miami.  Here's what Julius' agent, Carl Carey, told the media:

"...the decision that he faced was, do I stay in Carolina and perhaps never reach my full potential? Or do I open myself to the possibilities to finish my career elsewhere? He chose the latter."

"He certainly feels that he can excel and thrive in a 3-4 defense. He is also open to just another system in general that will allow him to maximize his athletic abilities."

At 6'7, 280 pounds, Peppers would make a monster outside linebacker in a 3-4.  His speed and athleticism would make Peppers a potentially monster force as an edge pass rusher.  And yes, the Dolphins need another pass rusher opposite of Joey Porter in their 3-4 alignment.

But there's risk involved here that people don't seem to be mentioning.  Peppers has never played outside linebacker.  So we don't know for sure that he'd be successful.  How would Peppers do dropping into coverage?  We don't really know.

Peppers would also come with a hefty price tag.  With the rumblings in Carolina that Peppers doesn't work as hard as he should, is a large long-term investment in a risk like Peppers a good idea?  Personally, I'd be hesitant to sign him.

But, as usual, I'll trust the trifecta.  They'll do what's best.

I generally don't like getting into heavy NFL Draft talk until free agency kicks into high gear - mainly because teams will address needs by signing players, altering how the draft might unfold, at least in the 1st 2 rounds.  But Barry Jackson has some draft info in his latest article.  In particular, though, I wanted to quickly focus on one specific player.

The article says:

Sporting News draftnik/ex-Browns scout Russ Lande predicts Ohio State's James Laurinaitis ''will be there'' at No. 25 -- though some project him higher -- ''and would fit well at inside linebacker in Miami's defense.''

I'm expecting the Dolphins to have a hole at inside linebacker that they will need to address either in free agency in the draft once Channing Crowder departs for a payday that he probably doesn't deserve.  And while there are a couple if possible replacements available in free agency, the prospect of drafting Laurinaitis really intrigues me.

Laurinaitis would fit perfectly in Miami's 3-4 scheme.  At 6'3, 240, he's got the size and speed needed to excel.  He's a terrific run stuffer, mainly thanks to his ability to dissect plays as they unfold.  He's smart and will read and react quickly.  And he'll rarely miss a tackle.  Think of, dare I say, Zach Thomas.

Over his past 3 seasons at Ohio State, Laurinaitis has 24 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks, and 9 interceptions.  And he's one of few who have ever been named an All-American three times.

So my question to you is this: if Laurinaitis was still available at pick #25, would you select him over an outside linebacker like Brian Cushing, Clint Sintim, and Everette Brown?

I certainly would.

Barry Jackson's article also includes this quick nugget:

One NFL person who spoke to Miami's front office said the Dolphins do not want to lose Vernon Carey and will make signing him a priority.

Sounds good to me.  No need to create more holes.  Bring back Carey, Yeremiah Bell, and Andre Goodman.