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As we wrap up these posts that highlight the "game changing" moves that this Dolphins' front office engineered this offseason, I'd be crazy not to devote a little bit of time to perhaps the single biggest decision by this regime - one that has already greatly impacted some personnel decisions already and will have a huge impact on the field.
Of course I'm talking about the decision to move Randy Starks to nose tackle, taking the place of Jason Ferguson for at least the first eight weeks while Ferguson serves his suspension. Even after Jason returns, Starks will likely remain the starting nose, assuming he's performing well in his new role.
The Dolphins seem to think that Starks won't have any problem transitioning to his new role. After day two of the draft, Jeff Ireland told the media that the team had "played Starks there last season a little bit. When he was in there he was very good. Body type to be a nose. Very powerful."
To his credit, Starks himself seems very excited about his new role - even after being a Pro Bowl alternate at defensive end last year. After the Dolphins announced the move, Randy told the media, "I’m excited. It’s a new challenge and I feel at home because I’ve played inside before. It’s nothing new for me."
Starks also said that he doesn't plan on adding any weight. He played at 310 pounds last year and will do the same this year as he transitions to the nose. How long this move is for, though, is anyone's guess.
My guess, however, is that if Starks shows he can play the position effectively, this will be his new home. After all, with so many teams running a 3-4 these days, quality nose tackles are at a premium - meaning more cash when it's contract time.
"That’s what I hear," says Starks. "But I have to perform first before I think about it."
This move made by the organization was huge, too, because of the impact it had on the Dolphins' draft. No longer was nose tackle an early to mid round priority. More importantly, it gave the Dolphins the flexibility they needed to move back in round one of the draft and recoup the second rounder they gave Denver.
With Starks willing to accept the move to nose tackle, Miami was able to drop back to pick 28, add pick 40, and then spend that first rounder on whichever defensive lineman was still on the board. If Dan Williams was still on the board at 28, the Dolphins may have gone with the Tennessee nose tackle and kept Starks at defensive end. But with him gone, the Dolphins were able to take the next highest rated guy on their board, Penn State defensive end Jared Odrick. By doing so, the Dolphins filled their void at nose tackle with Starks and filled the new void at defensive end with Odrick.
And all the while, the Dolphins were able to recover that second round pick and draft linebacker Koa Misi, who just happens to be running with the first team defense.
That is why the decision to make Randy Starks the anchor of Miami's 3-4 defense was a "game changing offseason move."