This post is part of a series of posts that will break down and evaluate the Miami Dolphins position by position. If you haven't read up on how players are being classified (the number and letter that follow each player's name), you can read this post explaining the evaluation system. You can also read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.
There probably wasn't a unit that entered the 2010 NFL season with as many question marks as the Dolphins outside linebackers. Gone were veterans Jason Taylor and Joey Porter, who had combined for 16 sacks in 2009. And Porter was just one year removed from his 17.5 sack performance in 2008.
The front office, though, felt like it was time to move on. They wanted to get younger and more athletic at the position. Clearly the decision paid off.
Cameron Wake (1-A). What can you say about Wake that hasn't already been said? The former CFL star proved to be everything we thought he might be, leading the entire NFL in a stat I like to call "stops behind the line of scrimmage" - the sum of the player's total sacks (14) and tackles for a loss (12). Cameron just turned 29 and will only continue to get better as he gets more NFL experience. Jason who?
Koa Misi (2-C). Misi had an up and down rookie season. But for a guy playing a position that was essentially new to him, Koa held his own and certainly gives us all reason for optimism. He got better as the year went on as a guy who can set the edge. He may have had just 4.5 sacks, but he did also add in 5 tackles for loss. His non-stop motor and great work ethic make me believe Misi will eventually develop into a good pass-rusher.
Ikaika Alama-Francis (3-E). IAF was a guy who the coaches seemed to grow fond of in training camp. But an illness just before the start of the regular season ended up costing Ike a starting job. He ended up playing in 11 games, all as a back-up. His strength was supposed to be as a run-defender. But with Misi developing well, Alama-Francis is nothing more than a back-up at this point.
Quentin Moses (4-F). This former 3rd round pick has now been in Miami for over three years since being released by Arizona - the second team to give up on the promising draft prospect. In his time, he's somehow managed to avoid getting churned by this coaching staff. But he has rarely ever flashed and now at 27 years of age, it might be time to cut bait.
Mike Rivera (4-F). Signed off of Green Bay's practice squad late in December, this former undrafted free agent out of Kansas spent all of 2009 on Tennessee's practice squad. For his one game in Miami to close out the year, Rivera was inactive. Odds are he's nothing more than camp fodder.
Contract situations: Quentin Moses will be a free agent this offseason whenever a new CBA is reached. Depending on the terms of the new agreement, Moses could be a restricted free agent. But most likely, with four years of NFL service under his belt, Moses will be unrestricted. Ike Alama-Francis, it's worth noting, only has one year left on his deal and will be a free agent after the '11 season.
Outlook: As we previously discussed, the Dolphins could surprise and spend a high pick on a pass-rusher to play opposite Cameron Wake. But most likely, the Dolphins will look to add depth behind Wake and Koa Misi. The draft and free agency are both in play here considering IAF is the primary backup at OLB as of right now.