First off I woud like to apologize for the lack of posts on the blog the past month, but I began writing for a new blog. The new blog I write for is Sports Unbiased. It is a relatively new site, but it features many quality writers who all have great insight on your favorite sports.
I would like to leave the links here for each team analyses that I post so you who do view this blog can see them. Just click on the titles to go to each article.
I hope you all enjoy the series as much as I enjoy writing them. I most likely won't be posting too much on this blog until the SOTF series is done, but feel free to head over to Sports Unbiased for plenty of great articles.
One last thing I woud like to mention is another blog I write for. I take this one to heart because it is driven by the students of the Drexel Sport Management Student Union. As a Drexel Sport Management student I write for the blog and it really is a great place to see the future of the sports business world. It is called The Sports Complex. Clicking on the title will bring you to the home page.
I will admit I have never heard of this kid until a few days ago, but since I found him I have liked everything I’ve seen him do. He is a respectable man on and off the field, but for some reason is greatly overlooked my most in the realm of the NFL Draft. As an All-SEC selection his junior year and a 2nd Team All-SEC selection it is hard to understand why Cameron Lawrence is flying so low under the radar.
Cameron Lawrence, OLB, Mississippi State
Weight: 239 lbs
Cameron Lawrence was an All-SEC player as a junior and a 2nd Team All-SEC player as a senior. His career stat line is as follows: 291 tackles, 7 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 3 fumble recoveries. He has more tackles and interceptions as a two year starter than Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, Arthur Brown , and Kevin Minter. He also has more sacks than all of those names besides Jarvis Jones. So why is he so overlooked? Mississippi couldn’t win in the big games they needed to. Unless you are a superstar in the sacks or turnover columns your team needs to have some big wins to get the recognition of being a solid all around player.
Their is not much publicly available film on Lawrence, but this is the best I found to show you.
The obvious strength of Lawrence is his ability to tackle. He misses very few tackles and wraps up the ball carrier at all times. His ability to shed blocks is much better than I expected for a linebacker in the 230 range. This also contributes to the high amount of tackles he has per season. Lawrence is also pretty good in coverage and doesn’t usually fall for the play action. His ability to cover will allow him to play all three downs in the NFL. He scrapes and fills on the line extremely well, and will meet a fullback in the whole and still make the play. Takes good and precise angles in pursuit to the ball carrier.
The greatest weakness Lawrence has is he doesn’t have great speed. He runs in the 4.75 40 range, but his game speed is much faster when you look at him on tape. He could also add on a little more bulk to help take on the next level of linemen and fullbacks in the NFL. Is able to handle man coverage out of the backfield, but may have a more difficult time against the more athletic tight ends at the next level.
Over Cameron Lawrence is a poor man’s Brian Cushing to me. He doesn’t have the same frame as Cushing, but he does know what he has to work with and uses it very well. Lawrence could be and absolute steal in rounds 5 or 6 for a team looking for a strong side linebacker. In my eyes the worst case scenario for Lawrence in the NFL is a outstanding special teams player. With his work ethic and natural ability Lawrence could be a great strong side linebacker in the NFL.
I had other ideas of corners to preview, but I was watching the Tyler Eifert highlights against Purdue and I could believe how well Johnson did against Eifert. A 5’9” corner shouldn’t do as well as he did against a 6’5” tight end. Johnson will probably be selected in rounds 6 or 7, but I personally would have no problem taking him in round 5.
Josh Johnson, CB, Purdue
Weight: 199 lbs
Josh Johnson is flying under the radar due to a lack luster Purdue squad this past season. In his 2012 season Johnson was named to the All-Big Ten Second-Team. He is a very confident and competitive corner.
Here is the Eifert against Purdue highlights that caught my eye. Even as you’re watching you can hear NFL Networks Mike Mayock talking about Johnson.
The first thing you notice about Johnson is how competitive he is against receivers when the ball is in the air. It also helps that he has quick feet and the ability to mirror receivers. The next thing you are able to see is that Johnson is aware in zone coverage. You can see him pointing out receivers entering and exiting his zone to not only keep himself aware, but also to keep his teammates aware. Johnson also displays the ability to undercut receivers and make a play on the ball. For his size he also do a nice job of tackling. He gets lower than the opponent due to his size and wraps up the ball carrier. For the size he is he sometimes plays bigger than he actually is.
Being 5’9” he will be overpowered and sized by bigger receivers. At times when he knows he has lost a step on his receiver he tends to get grabby and draw interference penalties. Johnson doesn’t show the ability to make the “wow” interceptions when they are presented to him. Bigger ball carriers will be problematic for him to stop. Plays faster on tape than he works out at (4.65 40 at the Combine).
Could come into the league and become an instant dime package starter, or maybe even a nickel 3rd corner option. He defiantly needs coaching and to learn how to take on receivers bigger than himself. He could be pleasant surprise to a team that drafts him late, and could surely contribute on special teams from day one.
Here is another player preview of a lesser known player, but one of my personal favorites in this years Draft. He has the potential to be selected as high as the 3rd round, but most likely will hear his name called in rounds 4 or 5.
Mark Harrison, WR, Rutgers
Weight: 231 lbs
Mark Harrison hasn’t been the most consistent receiver during his time at Rutgers, but he is surely one of the more intriguing receivers in this years draft. At 6’3” 231 lbs with 4.37 speed, Harrison would probably flourished in a receivers’ offense like Baylor and West Virginia spread offenses. Harrison defiantly has the build of a #1 receiver.
Here are Harrison’s highlights against Louisville, Arkansas, and Cincinnati.
Harrison has great size and a very powerful build. He also has very long arms that measure in at 35”. With his superior size he has a massive range to come down with passes and overcome smaller corners. Also due to his size he uses his big body to his advantage, boxing out corners from the ball. Harrison is hard to bring down in the secondary. He not only has the power to run through tackles, but quick enough feet to make players miss. The most exciting part about Harrison is his surprising speed for a receiver his size. He has pretty solid footwork when it comes to block players in the secondary. Is very competitive.
The biggest knock on Harrison is his production. During his time at Rutgers he never really posted the numbers some expected of him. This could be credited to lack of solid quarterback play, and sharing a field with 2012 draft pick Muhammed Sanu. Some of the draft “experts” also believe that Harrison isn’t quick enough off the line and will have problems with separation at the next level (I haven’t seen this). At times he doesn’t look the ball in and starts thinking about his next move before he settles the catch. Harrison also needs to attack more when run blocking.
Harrison is big and fast. Isn’t that what NFL teams want from receivers? Harrison is defiantly a measurables guy, and would probably be best to go to a team that has receivers he can sit behind and tweak his game. Some teams may not give him a look because of his inconsistent production, but in rounds 4 and 5 he is worth a pick.
Anyone can give you previews of the guys you will see drafted in rounds 1 through 3, but from now until the Draft I will be providing you with some players that will be drafted in round 4 through 7. My last post was on an offensive tackle from Ohio State name Reid Fragel. This post will keep it on the offensive side, but we will head south back into Florida to take a look at a young man from the University of Central Florida.
Latavius Murry, RB, UCF
Weight: 222 lbs
Latavius Murry is a big boy. At 6'3" 222 lbs Murry is a bigger back, but don't be fooled. He sported a 4.38 and 4.4 40 at his Pro Day. His length may provide more area for defenders to attach, but his long legs also provide strength to push the pile. Here is what Gil Brandt had to say about Murry's Pro Day.
"Latavius Murray, RB (6-foot-2 5/8, 223 pounds) — Murray ran the 40-yard dash in 4.40 and 4.38 seconds. He had a 10-foot-4 broad jump and a 36-inch vertical jump. He did the short shuttle in 4.36 seconds and the three-cone drill in 6.81 seconds. He also performed 22 lifts of 225 pounds on the bench press. Murray was not at the combine, but has had a lot of workouts with NFL teams. This is a hot prospect right now and will be a draftable guy later this month." (Gil Brandt NFL.com)
Here is Murry against SMU that features an NFL caliber player in Margus Hunt.
You can see in the video above that Murry is a strong runner who isn't afraid to make contact. At the same time you can see the 440 speed and that he provides a second gear when he hits the secondary. Murry eats up a lot of open field with his long strides. Murry also does a nice job of finding the open hole and using his field vision to cut back into opening running lanes. Murry runs north and doesn't spend a lot of time going east and west. On key passing downs Murry knows he can step up and meet a blitzing linebacker or even help chip defensive linemen.
The most questionable part of Murry's game is his catching ability. The fact that his quarterback doesn't check down to him a lot when he is open gives the feeling that maybe his quarterback doesn't trust him to make the catch. Even when he catches the touchdown on the double pass he halls it it with his body and not his hands. When it comes to pass blocking he could also use some work on his footing and placement to ideally take on incoming blockers.
If a team wants someone along the lines of Knile Davis of Arkansas or a faster Le'Veon Bell from Michigan State, Latavius Murry from UCF is your man in rounds 5 through 7. He almost has the full package in speed, power, vision, blocking, but his hands are still in question. Murry could be an excellent compliment as a #2 back in almost any offense.
Now that Free Agency is settling out the Draft picture is becoming more clear. There is still plenty of time for thing to change, but some picks a pretty much being determined by key moves in Free Agency.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M - This pick seems more likely by the day. The Chiefs released Winston, and now Albert is supposedly being shopped. Looks like Alex Smith will be the guy in Kansas City and he needs to be protected.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon - Gus Bradley is going to want what he had in Seattle, plenty of speed. As an OLB in a 3-4 front Jordan can rush the passer or drop into coverage, and in the 4 front he can rush with his hand in the dirt.
Oakland Raiders (4-12): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia - If the Raiders cut Palmer they will have to take Smith here or settle for someone in the 3rd at the earliest. Smith and Pryor go into camp and battle it out.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida - Floyd has been rising for weeks. By taking Floyd the Eagles also help their secondary. Floyd, Sopoaga, and Cox could be a really nice front three for the Eagles.
Detroit Lions (4-12): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama - I am personally sick of mockingthe Lions a corner every year. Houston is good but Milliner is better. Finally the Lions can get a physical corner to solidify their secondary. Milliner is also very fast running a 4.3 40 at the Combine.
Cleveland Browns (5-11): Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU - The Browns run a hybrid defense and Ansah can play hand in the dirt or standing up. Ansah looked like a stud in the Senior Bowl and was making plays everywhere. The Browns will expect him to do the same.
Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan - Fisher is the best player available here and he will be the one to protect whoever the quarterback is for the Cardinals' blind side. Fisher could potentially get the nod for the first pick overall if the Chiefs like him more than Joeckel.
Buffalo Bills (6-10): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee - Is Patterson worth the 8th pick overall? No, but he has a ton of upside and ability. Buddy Nix is looking to make Buffalo’s offense more explosive and they can not do that with just Stevie Johnson.
New York Jets (6-10): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia - Calvin Pace, cut. Aaron Maybin, cut. Bryan Thomas, old. So you see the problem here. Rex Ryan’s 3-4 has no rushing linebackers and that needs to be fixed. Jones has had an odd offseason, but is still a beast on the outside.
Tennessee Titans (6-10): Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama - It doesn’t matter that Andy Levitre was signed. Warmack is the best player available and adding him will only improve Jake Locker and CJ2K.
San Diego Chargers (7-9): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma - Is Phillip Rivers regressing because of Phillip Rivers, or because he is being murdered behind an awful offensive line? Regardless of who’s fault it is the Chargers need to upgrade and Johnson had a great Senior Bowl week and Combine.
Miami Dolphins (7-9): Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina - A lot of Dolphins fans will be blowing up about this pick, but I am also a Dolphins fan. Remember when Ireland made the unsexy pick of Mike Pouncey? How did that workout? Pretty good in probably 99% of Dolphins fans eyes. This may not be a sexy pick, or even a major position of need. Corners are needed, but Cooper could be a star next to Pouncey.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Xavier Rhoads, CB, Florida State - Tampa Bay really needs corner help and they will find it from a local Floridian. Rhoads is a very physical corner and excels in man coverage. He will also provide run support on the outside.
Carolina Panthers (7-9): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri - Richardson was in consideration for the top pick at one point, but the hype has dwindled down. This doesn’t mean he isn’t going to be good. It’s time for the Panthers to finally take a defensive tackle in the first.
New Orleans Saints (7-9): Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU - The Saints secondary is awful. You know what would help that? A pass rusher. Mingo could be the best pure pass rusher in this class, but there are questions about his effort. Even if he can't play all three downs his rookie season he can have an Aldon Smith role his rookie season.
St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia - the Rams have lost Amendola and Gibson, so weapons for Bradford are needed. Austin will probably play in the slot, but anytime he gets the ball in his hands he can take it to the house. Also Steven Jackson has left and Austin could see some time there as well.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah - Casey Hampton is over the hill and Ta’amu is gone. Lotulelei shouldn’t fall this far, but after the heart condition scare at the combine teams may look for more “sure things” at tackle.
Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas - The Cowboys need secondary help and Vaccaro can provide that at safety or even as a nickel cornerback. Vaccaro is a better tackling version of Earl Thomas, and Thomas is a pretty good safety.
New York Giants (9-7): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State - I feel as if all the Giants select are defensive ends. Jerrys Reese loves defensive ends and he picks a good one here in Werner. Some compare him to Jared Allen, but I think he is more of a Chris Long.
Chicago Bears (10-6): Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State - Brown has been getting a lot of buzz lately because of his athleticism. He is a complete linebacker and can stay on the field for all three downs. Briggs, Williams, and Brown would help Bears fans over the Urlacher heartbreak.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia - Ogletree recently got a DUI, but is still a great linebacker with sideline to sideline ability. Burfict was a great pickup and will play inside while Ogletree could play strong or weak side linebacker.
St. Louis Rams (from Washington) (10-6): Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU - This maybe a little high for Cyprien, but the Rams really need safety help. Cyprien is a hard hitter and is able to provide good coverage over the top. The Rams will need it agains the Seahawks newly aquired Percy Harvin.
Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Keenan Allen, WR, California - It was a tough call here between Allen and Hopkins, but Allen wins out here due to height. Allen is a very good route runner with strong hands. He will provide a nice compliment to Greg Jennings for Christian Ponder to throw to.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia - Jenkins is a big boy at 6’4” and 345 lbs. He is a monster and clogs the middle. He will demand attention in the middle of the Colts 3-4 defense.
Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle) (11-5):
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington - Sadly Antoine Winfield was released after a solid few years of performance in Minnesota. At the 25th pick the Vikings would love to have Trufant. Trufant is fast and shows the ability to work in man or zone coverage.
Green Bay Packers (11-5): Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame - Packers fans are going to hate me for this because no one wants Te’o on their team. Te’o is a good linebacker, especially in coverage. Te’o will be great inside for the Packers.
Houston Texans (12-4): DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson - The Texans finally get a compliment to Andre Johnson. Hopkins isn’t the fastest receiver, but has very strong hands and runs good routes. He even resembles Johnson’s game play a little and who wouldn’t want two Andre Johnsons?
Denver Broncos (13-3): Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M - Elvis Dumerville is gone and the Broncos need someone else to rush the passer besides Von Miller. Having two great pass rushers would benefit the Broncos secondary as well.
New England Patriots (12-4): Datone Jones, DE, UCLA - Jones will be a big upgrade for the Patriots. He brings a unique skill set of strength and quickness to help rush the passer and stuff the run.
Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State - Carradine was considered a top pass rusher in this class before a torn ACL, and even after that he still is. Their is a reason he has the nickname Tank. He creates destruction all over the field and after John Abraham has left the Falcons will covet that.
San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Matt Elam, S, Florida - Donte Whitner wasn’t very good last year, and Goldson is gone meaning the 49ers need safeties. Elam gets a reputation as just a hard hitting safety (which he is), but he also is pretty good in coverage. He won’t match up against tight ends that well, but will be an upgrade in the 49ers secondary.
Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee - Boldin is out and Justin Hunter is in. At 6’4” Hunter is a jump ball beast and has sneaky speed due to his length. Hunter needs to add some weight, but could be the best receiver in this class.
Washington -> St. Louis: Robert Griffin
Seattle -> Minnesota: Percy HarvinRound 2
Jacksonville Jaguars: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
San Francisco 49ers (from Kansas City): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Philadelphia Eagles: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Detroit Lions: Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland): Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
Arizona Cardinals: Mike Glennon, QB, NC State
New York Jets: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
Tennessee Titans: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Miami Dolphins: David Amerson, CB, NC State
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Carolina Panthers: Eric Reid, S, LSU
New Orleans Saints:
San Diego Chargers: Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
St. Louis Rams: Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State
Dallas Cowboys: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Pittsburgh Steelers: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
New York Giants: Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Chicago Bears: Dallas Thomas, OG, Tennessee
Washington Redskins: Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State
Minnesota Vikings: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Cincinnati Bengals: Steadman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
Miami Dolphins (from Indianapolis): Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Green Bay Packers: Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
Seattle Seahawks: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Houston Texans: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Denver Broncos: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
New England Patriots: Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
Atlanta Falcons: Kevin Reddick, LB, North Carolina
San Francisco 49ers: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
Baltimore Ravens: Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia
Raiders -> Bengals: Carson Palmer
Colts -> Dolphins: Vontae Davis
Chiefs -> 49ers: Alex Smith
Browns forfeit pick for supplemental draft pick (Josh Gordon)
Saints forfeit pick for Bountygate
Kansas City Chiefs: Kiko Alonso, LB, Oregon
Jacksonville Jaguars: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Detroit Lions: Robert Woods, WR, USC
Oakland Raiders: Kyle Long, OT/OG, Oregon
Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
Cleveland Browns: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
Arizona Cardinals: Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina
Tennessee Titans: Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
Buffalo Bills: Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
New York Jets: Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina): Margus Hunt, DE/DT, SMU
New Orleans Saints: Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut
San Diego Chargers: Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
There is plenty of talk about the NFL Combine, Free Agency, the NFL Draft and what they will all bring for the Miami Dolphins. These three events are the building blocks of the NFL Offseason, and all have direct correlation with one another. They all piggyback off one another and influence offseason decisions for all the NFL teams. We’re going to go through this article breaking down possibilities for Miami in all three events and how those decisions made show correlation between all these events.
We will begin by taking a look at the Dolphins own free agents who will need to be resigned or let go. So far none of the Dolphins have become cap causalities, but there is still time. Miami is currently third in the league for the most cap this off season, so they don’t need to cut unless they feel they do not need the player for their ability or how much they are being paid. Here are a few Dolphins that could become cap causalities.
Dan Carpenter, Kicker
2013 Cap Hit: $3,012,500
Dead Money If Cut: $327,500
Cap Savings: $2,675,000
Their isn’t really a reason to cut Carpenter, but he did only make 81.5% of his attempts this year. Usually +80% is a good number in sports, but kickers that are paid millions of dollars to kick a football a few times a game should be better than 81.5%. After success of rookie kickers Blair Walsh and Justin Tucker Miami may look to free up some space while adding a younger kicker to their team.
Dimitri Patterson, Corner
2013 Cap Hit: $4,600,000
Dead Money If Cut: $0
Cap Savings: $4,600,000
This is probably the most likely cap causality for Miami. Patterson played only a few games at the end of the season last year, and he played fairly well. He did not play $4,600,000 well though. Patterson is currently set to make over a million dollars more than Davone Bess, who is a quality starter. That is probably not going to happen. Patterson maybe cut and reconsidered at a cheaper price in free agency.
Richie Incognito, Guard
2013 Cap Hit: $5,380,000
Dead Money If Cut: $1,080,000
Cap Savings: $4,300,000
This isn’t likely, but Miami is moving away from the big mauler type of offensive linemen and that’s what Incognito is. It wouldn’t be beneficial for Miami to lose another veteran on their offensive line, but for over 4 million in cap space Miami may consider it if they choose to pursue a replacement with that money.
Paul Soliai, Defensive Tackle
2013 Cap Hit: $7,875,000
Dead Money If Cut: $1,575,000
Cap Savings: $6,300,000
This is another unlikely cut especially with Randy Starks may leave through free agency, but if Miami resigns Starks, Soliai may be considered unnecessary. If that did happen Soliai would probably shopped to be traded rather than released. Soliai could be valuable to a team that runs a 3-4 and is in need of a nose tackle.
Next step, the Combine. The combine is not only where the top prospects from this years draft class are tested, but where NFL general managers meet with their players agents to talk new contracts. General Managers and coaches even get a chat in with other team’s free agent players and their agents. Miami will be talking heavily with their player’s agents, and the top two priorities for Miami (as told by the media) right now are Brian Hartline and Chris Clemons. Other free agents that Jeff Ireland will be talking with will be Sean Smith, Jake Long, Randy Starks, Reggie Bush, and Anthony Fasano to name a few. Lets take a look at these players and what their return or departure could mean for the Dolphins.
Brian Hartline, Receiver
Hartline had a big season this past year. He caught 74 passes for 1,083 yards, but he only had one receiving touchdown. Hartline is reportedly looking for 5 to 6 million per year, and after the year he had along with Miami’s lack of receivers he may get that. If Hartline resigns look for him to be Miami’s #2 receiver.
If he signs: He will probably be Miami’s #2 receiver and Ireland will hope to land one of the bigger name free agent receivers (Jennings, Wallace, or Bowe if he is not resigned). Even if Miami resigns Hartline and signs one of the big name receivers, look for Ireland to take a receiver early in rounds 2-4. Some names that would fit would be Terrance Williams, Justin Hunter, Quinton Patton, DeAndre Hopkins, Robert Woods, Steadman Bailey, Markus Wheaton, or Aaron Dobson.
If he does not sign: Look for Miami to still try to sign one of the of the big name receivers. Signing one of the big name receivers will become more crucial to Ryan Tannehill’s development. Then in the draft Miami will probably look to pick up 2 receivers in rounds 1-4. The same names apply as above, but also add Keenan Allan and Cordarrelle Patterson.
Chris Clemons, Safety
Clemons is also a player who had a good year for the Dolphins and may have gotten himself a nice payday. In 2012 Clemons racked up 99 total tackles with 2 interceptions. That is a pretty good season for this being Clemons first season starting.
If he signs: The Dolphins will appear to have two good starting safeties who know the system, but they may want to pick up a safety later in the draft like Ray Ray Armstrong from The U.
If he does not sign: The only potential instant fix for Miami if Clemons leaves would be Jairus Byrd from Buffalo, but it looks unlikely the Bills will let their ballhawk go. The draft will have to be where Ireland picks up a new safety in rounds 1-4. Players like Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid, Phillip Thomas, Jonathan Cyprien, and Baccari Rambo would make sense for Miami.
Sean Smith, Corner
Sean Smith needed to have a big year not only for himself, but for the Dolphins as well. After trading away Vontae Davis, Sean Smith was set to be Miami’s #1 corner. He had a strong beginning to his 2012 season where he handled top receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and A.J. Green. The second half of the season Smith fell apart. End of story Smith is a good #2 and thats what his pay should reflect.
If he signs: Look for Miami to bring in some competition for Smith even if they sign him. Some free agent names to keep an eye on are Brent Grimes, Derek Cox, Cary Williams, Dominique Rodgers- Cromartie, and maybe even Nnamdi Asomugha if he is released by the Eagles. In the Draft Miami could go anywhere and pick a corner. They could go as high as Dee Milliner who would be the most logical pick at 12 if he is still available. Other names that may be seen in the Miami aqua this summer are Jonathan Banks, Xavier Rhoads, Desmond Trufant, David Amerson, and Jordan Poyer.
If he does not sign: If Smith isn’t resigned nothing really changes from the above besides the fact that Miami then presses for a corner even harder. Miami will probably try to sign a guy in free agency and take a corner or two in the draft. Some say receiver is Miami’s biggest need, but corner maybe the route Miami looks to go early in this years draft.
Lake Long, Offensive Tackle
This is the big one for Miami. Jake Long was Miami’s #1 overall selection in 2008 and he looked as if he would be a cornerstone of the franchise. After the last two years of ending up on injured reserve Jeff Ireland isn’t looking to pay Long the payday he is looking for. That payday is always subject to change. Even though Long says he feels the strongest he has in years it is still in question of how he will preform in the future.
If he signs: This is looking like a long shot at this point. He is asking for top NFL tackle money and Ireland isn’t looking to dish it out. Lets say Long takes a pay cut and he comes back to Miami. Best case he gets over his being injury prone and gets back on track of being Miami’s cornerstone tackle. Worst case He keeps getting injured and was a waste of money. If Long is signed look for Miami to pick up someone late or a undrafted free agent to add some depth.
If he does not sign: Miami will bump Jonathan Martin to left tackle and look to draft someone to play right tackle in the draft. Some guys that would fit in Miami are Lane Johnson, Kyle Long, Oday Aboushi, Justin Pugh, or Brian Winters. All of these guys fit the bill for more athletic offensive tackles.
Randy Starks, Defensive Tackle
Randy Starks has been great since he arrived in Miami. He has been a Pro Bowler and has created a force in the middle of the Dolphins defense. Starks is the one free agent on this list that should get paid and deserves it. Not only a is he a force on the field, but also a leader in the locker room.
If he signs: Miami's dominant front seven returns and the Dolphins wont have to worry about picking up depth at the defensive tackle position until late in the draft or in the undrafted free agents.
If he is not signed: First of all look for Odrick to bump inside and go back to his college position of 4-3 defensive tackle. This class is deep at defensive tackle so Miami just needs to decide how they feel about what they currently have on the roster. If they choose to pick up a tackle early look for them to go with names like Sheldon Richardson, Kawann Short, Sharrif Floyd, and Bennie Logan in rounds 1-3. If the Dolphins decide to pick up a project to replace Soliai next year if he departs Josh Boyd, Baker Steinkuhler, or Everett Dawkins to add depth.
Reggie Bush, Running Back
Reggie Bush has begun to live up to his Draft hype, and it’s because Miami finally gave him the chance to be a feature back. Bush still has his struggles running between the tackles, but has steadily improved each year. His first year with the Dolphins he had his first 1,000 yard rushing year. Bush also was a leader on the team who players around the locker room respected.
If he signs: The likelihood of Bush bring resigned at this point is even more bleak than Miami resigning Long. Lamar Miller was drafted in the 4th round last April when he was looking to be a potential first round prospect. After Miller had a very good rookie campaign, Miller will probably be the feature back in 2013 and Daniel Thomas will be the teams change of pace. If somehow Bush is resigned the team will be set on running backs just like they were in 2012.
If he does not sign: Lamar Miller will be the feature back in Miami if Bush isn’t resigned, and Thomas will be the bigger back. Miami will look to add some depth unless they feel confident in Marcus Thigpen can pick up the slack as the number three back. If not the Dolphins could look at these players in rounds 4-7, Le’Veon Bell, Jonathan Franklin, Christine Michael, Knile Davis, or Onterio McCalebb.
Anthony Fasano, Tight End
Fasano is the most unappreciated players on the Dolphins roster. He blocks well, he catches well, and he leads well. Fasano will never be a top tier tight end in the NFL, but he is a consistant player who the Miami Dolphins should really try to keep in their ball club.
If he signs: Miami will still be looking for a #1 tight end. In free agency some options could be Jared Cook Jr. (if he is not franchise tagged) and Jermichael Finley (if he is released by Green Bay). If they don’t get one in free agency look for one of these rookies to be wearing a Miami Dolphins hat on Draft day, Zach Ertz, Tyler Eifert, Gavin Escobar, Travis Kelce, Levine Toilolo, or Joseph Fauria.
If he does not sign: The same applies here as it does above. Just the need becomes more urgent. They may even add two like the Colts did last year for Andrew Luck.
Let me begin this by saying I am not going to throw out any signing lengths because I am not a GM and do not know the current situations in and out. I will keep the signings reasonable.
Randy Starks (Tag)
Jared Cook (Assuming he isn’t franchised)
Round 1: Xavier Rhoads, CB, Florida State - Rhoads is no Leon Sandcastle, but he fits the build of the long and lank corner that Richard Sherman has every team in the league wanting. Rhoads ran a faster 40, a higher vertical, and has longer arms than Sherman. Rhoads will look good across from Derek Cox.
Round 2: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee - Some people will dislike this pick because of his lack of focus and coming off an knee injury the year prior. If Hunter gets over the lack of focus with some coaching he could be the next Randy Moss. He is tall and can go up for the ball along with taking the top off of a defense.
Round 2: Kyle Long, OT/OG, Oregon - Long could play tackle or guard due to his athleticism and that is exactly what Miami wants for their zone blocking scheme. He could fill the Dolphins right tackle or left guard (putting Incognito back to right) need.
Round 3: Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M - Swope ran a mind blowing 4.34 40 at the Combine, which is the same as West Virginia’s Tavon Austin. After Sherman gave the nod on Tannehill and brought in Javorski Lane and Jeff Fuller, Philbin will probably take a good listen to Sherman on Swope. Bess’ contract is also up after 2013 and Swope could be a great replacement.
Round 3: Quanterus Smith, DE, Western Kentucky - In 2012 Smith was leading the nation with 12.5 sacks before he tore his ACL. He had 3 sacks against Alabama and made D.J. Fluker look like a human turnstile. at 6’5” 250 lbs, Smith could add another 10-15 lbs and become a great defensive end.
Round 4: David Quessenberry, OG, San Jose State - Athletic offensive lineman who will work well inMiami’s zone blocking scheme. He will need some coaching and to add some more strength, but could give John Jerry a run for the starting spot.
Round 5: Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford - Toilolo should have stayed at Stanford for another year and has his own time as the #1 guy. Toilolo could still be a very good tight end but has been over shadowed by Zach Ertz this offseason. At 6’8” Toilolo is a big body intermediate and red zone target.
Round 7: Ray Ray Armstrong, S, Miami - Armstrong was at one point a potential first round pick, but after problems with a school booster Armstrong was dismissed from Miami. He is a monster in the secondary at 6’3” 227 lbs. Don’t be fooled by Armstrong’s size. He is quicker than advertised and will make plays in the secondary. He will also lay the lumber. If Clemons is resigned, but doesn’t live up to his pay Armstrong may become his replacement.
Round 7: Mike James, RB, Miami - Another Miami man staying in Miami here. The Dolphins did well with their running back pick from Miami last year, and they will take another who is more of a thumper. He also has surprisingly good hands out of the backfield. Daniel Thomas has been injury prone, and if James pans out the Dolphins may find themselves with an all Miami backfield.
Between the Draft and Free Agency Miami fills their needs and add depth.
QB:1. Tannehill2. Devlin3. FA
RB:1. Miller2. Thomas3. James4. Thigpen
WR:1. Jennings2. Hartline3. Bess4. Hunter
5. Swope6. Matthews7. Fuller
TE:1. Cook2. Fasano3. Clay4. Toilolo
LT:1. Martin2. Yeatman
LG:1. Incognito2. Watford
C:1. Pouncey2. Samuda
RG:1. Jerry2. Watford
RT:1. Long2. Garner3. Brown
LE:1. Vernon2. Smith3. Shelby
DT:1. Starks2. Soliai3. Odrick4. Randall
RE:1. Wake2. Smith
LOLB:1. Burnett2. Freeny
MLB:1. Dansby2. Spitler3. Kaddu
ROLB:1. Misi2. Trusnik
CB:1. Cox2. Rhoads3. Carroll4. McCann
FS:1. Clemons2. Armstrong3. Wilson
Dolphins fans should get excited about this offseason and regular season. With the right moves in the off season and more consistency from the players and coaches themselves this could be a playoff year for Miami. This could also be a train wreck for Miami of this season is a whiff. Lets see what Ireland and Philbin have up their sleeves.