Being a fan of the Miami Dolphins isn’t an easy thing to do if you are about 30 years old or younger, simply because you don’t really remember the Dolphins ever being consistently good. You might have seen Dan Marino at the very end of his career with no real help around him, but that’s about it.
Ever since about 2000, the Dolphins franchise has been in a downward spiral that has yet to stop. Yes there have a been a couple of years of respite from the doldrums that they have been in, like 2001 when they beat the Indianapolis Colts in overtime, or 2008 when they went from 1-15 the previous year to 11-5 thanks to Chad Pennington and the “Wildcat,” or even as recent as 2016 when Adam Gase, Ryan Tannehill, and current Philadelphia Eagle Jay Ajayi led the Dolphins to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth after starting 1-4.
Aside from those anomalies, the Dolphins have been consistently a mediocre team in the NFL, usually going for quick fix signings in hopes of tweaking the roster to get back to the playoffs. Signings and trades like A.J. Feeley, Daunte Culpepper (over Drew Brees), Gibril Wilson, Jake Grove, and Ndamukong Suh have doomed this franchise.
Terrible drafting has also set this team back, drafting Jamar Fletcher over Drew Brees in 2001, or Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rodgers in 2005, or Ted Ginn Jr. over Patrick Willis or Darrelle Revis in 2007, or Jake Long over Matt Ryan in 2008, or trading down from #12 in 2010 and missing the opportunity to draft Earl Thomas, or finally, trading up in 2013 to pick DE Dion Jordan over the current best RT in the NFL, Lane Johnson, when they already had Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon and an awful offensive line.
And those are just their first round misses.
I said all of that to say this: the only way the Dolphins are going to be able to get out of the mess they are in is if they are aggressive. There is a difference between being foolishly aggressive, like they have been in free agency in recent years, and taking calculated risks aggressive. So let me explain what I mean.
Recently, Doug Pederson, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, said after his team’s Super Bowl win.
“You learn if you play passive, if you play conservative, if you call plays conservatively, you are going to be 8-8, 9-7 every year,” he said. “Every year Frank and I just having that collaborative spirit to talk about things and talk with our quarterbacks and just come up with ways of keeping this game fresh and fun and exciting for our players. And that’s really where it all stems from.”
The Eagles are in the spot they are right now because they took calculated, aggressive risks in a number of areas in their franchise. They took risks in play calling, in player acquisition, and in coaching hires. And the Dolphins could learn a little bit from the Eagles.
The Eagles traded up all the way from pick #13 to the second overall pick to draft Carson Wentz because they believed he would be a franchise quarterback and it looks like they were right. They already had Sam Bradford, an established veteran who had a solid year previously. That didn’t matter though, because solid quarterback play doesn’t win Super Bowls, spectacular quarterback play does, so they went out and got Wentz because they believed he could be that guy.
For the Dolphins this year, that means that even though they already have a solid veteran in Tannehill, whose contract looks like a bargain now compared to what other quarterbacks are getting now, they need to be aggressive in acquiring another quarterback that they believe can be special. It’s pretty clear by now that Tannehill isn’t special. That doesn’t mean he’s not good, he’s just not special. So in my eyes, the Dolphins need to be aggressive in getting another young quarterback on this roster that can step in and win games, but also can sit and develop for the next year or two.
So if the Dolphins are going to be aggressive in drafting another quarterback, who should it be? Well let’s go over some of the options.
First, Sam Darnold, who is, by most, considered the best quarterback in this draft. He is tall and broad, can make every throw that you want, is mobile enough to extend plays and get out of the pocket, and reads defenses well. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, he’s unlikely to get to them considering he’s most likely going first overall, or at worst second.
Next is Josh Rosen. He is the most NFL ready quarterback in this draft in terms of reading defenses, getting through his reads, making good decisions, and being accurate with the ball. He has a slighter frame than Darnold though, which has already led to injuries for him. He is also tough to coach according to coaches within the UCLA program, but he is definitely NFL material. Again though, he’s unlikely to fall in range of the Dolphins.
The two most likely options for the Dolphins though are Josh Allen out of Wyoming and Baker Mayfield out of Oklahoma. Both have their positives and negatives. So let’s start with Josh Allen.
Josh Allen easily has the best arm talent in the NFL Draft this year. He can make any throw you want, the deep out, back shoulder fade, etc. He’s a huge man, standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 237 pounds with amazing athleticism for his size. He can get out of the pocket to extend plays, throws great on the run, and ran a pro-style system at Wyoming, which means he’s familiar with play action calls, starting from under center, and going through reads.
What he struggles with is being consistently accurate, staring his receivers down, and reading a more complicated pro-style defense, especially zone coverage. To be successful in the NFL, you have to be able to read defenses, and be consistently accurate and Allen will have to improve on that if he is going to be a starter in the NFL.
Baker Mayfield is a quarterback with a huge chip on his shoulder, is very accurate, can extend plays with his feet and quickness, throws accurately on the run and on deep passes, has a good arm but not great, and was a great leader for Oklahoma.
His negatives are his size (6-foot-0, 210 pounds), him not being in a pro-style offense and having to learn play action and to be under center, throwing with anticipation, and holding the ball too long sometimes, trying to make a play happen.
There are strong cases to be made for both, but in light of the Dolphins being aggressive here, to me, the pick has to be Josh Allen. You can’t teach the arm strength, athleticism, and the ability to make every throw you want. What you can teach and develop in a player is how to read defenses better, how to get through reads quicker and better footwork in order to help his accuracy be more consistent.
While I don’t think Mayfield would be a bad pick, I think Allen has a significantly higher ceiling, and in the interest of being aggressive, why not go with the guy that has great talent and is a small school guy that a lot of people who have compared to none other than, you guessed it, Carson Wentz.
So, in following the aggressive model that the Eagles have made, the Dolphins should start being more aggressive in everything that they do, and that includes acquiring a long term quarterback, even if that means upsetting people who might not agree.
This story was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter: @sethAfisher
With Adam Gase being the first head coach being hired in the 2016 NFL head coaching search, it gives him a head start on everything from hiring a good staff, to evaluating his own roster, to adjusting to life as the head man, and even to just moving and living in a new area.
When Gase starts to evaluate this Miami Dolphins roster, he will soon come to find out that there are some major holes on this roster, assuming he doesn't already know them. After his evaluation, he will certainly come to find out that he and Tannebaum and Co. will need to address the offensive line among many other issues this offseason in order to be successful this year
The first issue that needs to be fixed though, is the offensive line. While they have three solid guys to work with, with Branden Albert at left tackle, Mike Pouncy at center, and Ja'Wuan James at right tackle, what they don't have are capable starting guards and a couple of solid backups to come in and take over if/when injuries do happen.
That was evident this year when all three of those aforementioned players were hit with injury at some point during the year and guys like Jason Fox and rookie Jamil Douglas had to take over and play.
While it was good to get rookie Douglas' feet wet with some playing time, it was quite clear that he still needs a year of development to be even considered an option for a starting guard. It is even more clear that Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner need to be replaced as starters.
Granted they would be serviceable backups, they proved this year that they aren't capable of being every down starters in the NFL. ProFootballFocus proves this notion as both Thomas and Turner were ranked in the bottom 10 ranked offensive guards for the 2015 season.
So here are some options through the draft and free agency that the Dolphins might look at to fill these holes in their roster. First we'll look at some impending free agents, and then we'll look to the draft.
Alex Boone - San Francisco 49ers
Alex Boone is projected to be the top available offensive guard in this year's free agent class. He will be looking to get a fresh start somewhere else after enduring two pretty terrible years with the 49ers the past couple of years. At 28-years-old, Boone still has plenty of good football to be played still.
This year he was ranked the 35th best offensive guard with a +2.1 rating, which is right in the middle of the pack. Where his strength lies is in his pass blocking, which is the area that they need to improve the most. So Boone would make a solid option.
Evan Mathis - Denver Broncos
The Dolphins really considered signing Mathis this past offseason but decided not. According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins decided not to sign him because, "The Dolphins, you see, projected both those two players [Thomas and Turner] to step up this season and blossom. And both had their good moments, that is true. But neither was good with any sort of consistency."
Mathis would project to come on and sign at a potentially lower contract considering his age (34), but his production would most likely be worth the money paid to him, even it was for the one-year $4 million deal that he was given last year. He was ranked the seventh best guard in the league in 2015 at a +26.2 rating, with run blocking being his best attribute and his pass blocking being serviceable. Signing Mathis would help stabilize the left side of the line and leave the them only one spot left to fill.
Cody Whitehair - Kansas State Wildcats
Cody Whitehair is being projected to go in the second round as of right now, and would be a good option for the Dolphins considering his versatility. In college, he played left and right tackle and left guard. He also is experienced with 38 starts in his last three seasons.
He is projected to fit the zone-blocking scheme that the Dolphins ran last year, assuming that is what Gase sticks with. Either way, Whitehair would be a solid option in the second round, especially considering drafting guards in the top-10 is generally frowned upon.
Ronnie Stanley - Notre Dame Fighting Irish
While the Dolphins don't need a tackle, what they do need is talent on the offensive line in general and Stanley would certainly provide that. Stanley could be played at guard for the next two to three years while the Dolphins still have Branden Albert, and then Stanley could take over once he leaves or if/when he gets injured.
There is no doubting Stanley has talent, as had he come out last year, he most likely would've been the first tackle taken. This year Laremy Tunsil will probably get that honor but the Dolphins would be absolutely ecstatic if Stanley fell to them at eight overall and should run to the podium with their pick should he be there.
The offseason is still very young and Gase hasn't even put together his coaching staff yet, but what is clear is that the Dolphins have to improve their offensive line in order to be more successful.
This column was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter: @sethAfisher
Yesterday it became official, as the Miami Dolphins hired the former Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears offensive coordinator. At only 37-years-old, Adam Gase is now the NFL's youngest head coach. Ross said in the introductory press conference that he liked Gase's energy and work ethic, and that is what is characteristic of a young coach in the NFL.
With the inexperience comes questions of whether Gase can put together a good staff around him and if he can get the most out of quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
There aren't a lot of things that are known with what Gase is planning on doing right now but from the introductory press conference yesterday, Gase did reveal some things. One of those things is that he will be calling the plays at least for his first year.
"As far as right now, I will be the play caller."
Another thing that he told the press is that his first priority is putting together his staff and he hinted at the fact that he would be waiting for some playoff teams to be eliminated before he made some hires. After he gets his staff hired, the draft process and free agency is his next priority.
It was also learned that Gase has final say on his coaching staff and the final 53-man roster.
Following the press conference, Pro Football Talk tweeted that the Cincinnati Bengals defensive back's coach Vance Joseph is Gase's top choice for the defensive coordinator spot.
If that is that case, then Gase has started off with hiring a young, inexperienced coach rather than what was expected of fans and hiring a more experienced guy. Nothing is official yet, of course, and Gase has a long way to go before he makes any final decisions on his coaching staff, but he is already trending in the direction of hiring guys who he knows and is comfortable with, regardless if they are experienced or not.
After the hiring, many Dolphins fans have reacted negatively on Facebook and Twitter, questioning why the Dolphins would hire someone with no previous experience NFL head coaching experience for the sixth time in a row now. All previous six coaches never worked out. But here is some food for thought.
Mike McCarthy was hired in 2006 by the Green Bay Packers with no previous head coaching experience before he got the job and his career record is 103-53-1.
Mike Zimmer was hired by the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 with no previous head coaching experience before he got the job and he is 18-14 so far through two years.. He's led them to the playoffs after they were 24-39 in the previous four years before he got there.
Mike Smith was hired by the Atlanta Falcons in 2008 with no previous head coaching experience before he got the job and he was 66-46 in his seven years there. He led the Falcons to the playoffs in four of his first five years he was there after they were 15-29 the previous 3 years before he got there.
John Harbaugh was hired in 2008 with no previous head coaching experience before he got the job and his record is 87-54 in his eight years hes been there. He also led the Ravens to five straight playoff appearances and to a Super Bowl in 2012 after the Ravens were 33-31 in the previous four years before he got there.
Marvin Lewis was hired in 2003 with no previous head coaching experience before he got the job and he had a career record of 112-98-2. He was able to turn around a team that was 52-124 in the 11 previous season before he got there.
Sean Payton was hired in 2006 with no previous head coaching experience before he got the job is now 87-57 in his career. He turned around a terrible Saints team that were 35-45 in five previous seasons before he got hired.
Gase even has the approval of Hall-of-Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, “I’m very happy for Adam. Adam had a great impact on me during our three years together here in Denver as my quarterbacks coach and then as offensive coordinator. He’s an extremely hard worker, a grinder.
"He’s extremely bright on all things football, an excellent communicator and always eager to learn more. He asks a lot of questions and writes everything down. I’ve always been impressed with his work ethic and his eagerness to learn more. He’ll be an excellent head coach, without a doubt. He is ready for this for sure.”
The point is that just because Gase has no head coaching experience doesn't mean he can't be successful. There is hope for Gase to be a good coach but there's no reason to go overboard thinking he will absolutely fail or be the savior of the Dolphins.
The Dolphins recent history has given fans a reason to doubt, but what they shouldn't do is count him out before he even gets a chance. As of right now, there aren't any reasons to believe that Gase is going to fail just because he might hire an inexperienced staff.
This column was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter: @sethAFisher
For the first time since 2012, before the Miami Dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill, before they signed Mike Wallace, before they had their playoff hopes crushed by the New York Jets two years in a row, before all of that, the Dolphins are searching for a new head coach.
Back in 2012, the questions surround this franchise were questions of who was going to play quarterback, what were they going to with their eighth overall pick, how was the transition from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3 defense going to work?
Just four short years later, the Dolphins are still asking some of those same questions, and coincidentally, just like in 2012, they have the eighth overall pick again. While quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been the entrenched starter since 2012, his performance in the 2015 season brought some long-term questions into the minds of fans and the front office.
Combine that with that fact that the linebacker corps was awful this year and their secondary is in shambles, the Dolphins have some serious questions to answer.
The first of those many questions is who is going to coach this 2016 Miami Dolphins' team? In no particular order, here is the list of what should be the Dolphins top three candidates.
1. Adam Gase
Adam Gase is the hottest name in the carousal of the head coaching search of 2016. At only 37-years-old, Gase has already led offenses that have had a lot of success, like the 2013 Denver Broncos who set an NFL record for points scored in a season with 606, or this past years' Chicago Bears who were decimated with injuries but still managed to have success with much-troubled quarterback Jay Cutler, who posted a career high quarterback rating.
Gase is known as a quarterback whisperer and helped rejuvenate Peyton Manning's career two seasons ago when he passed for a record setting 55 touchdowns, helped develop Brock Osweiler during the 2013 and 2014 seasons to the point where he was ready to step in to replace Manning when he was injured this year.
He also helped Jay Cutler become less turnover prone, helping him cut his interceptions down by seven, while also coordinating an offense that through most of the season was without Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, rookie Kevin White, Martellus Bennett, Eddie Royal, and Marquess Wilson, yet the Bears still were much improved on offense.
If Gase is hired as coach, which is looking more and more likely as it was reported on Friday that Gase has been invited back for a second interview, he is going to have to have a plan to help Tannehill improve in a lot of areas of his game, particularly his pocket presence, making good decisions, and his overall accuracy.
Most believe he is capable of doing that, but what remains to be seen is his ability to hire a coaching staff that will help fix many of the issues that are evident on defense.
Gase has proved he can work with quarterbacks and make the offense around him better and that he can get along with multiple personalities and still succeed, but in order for Gase to have success in Miami, he'll have to figure out how to fix the myriad of defensive issues, starting with what to do with veterans like Cam Wake and Brent Grimes.
2. Hue Jackson
Hue Jackson has worked wonders with the Bengals offense since he arrived there prior to the 2013 season. He has helped Andy "Red Rifle" Dalton turn into a very respectable quarterback. He helped Tyler Eifert turn into a top five tight end in the league, finishing second in the NFL with 13 touchdown catches.
He also has helped create a consistent running attack through a two-headed backfield of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard that was able to take the pressure off of Dalton and force the defense to put eight men in the box.
Jackson's creativity and unconventional ways is what made the Bengals offense a top five offense this season. Jackson's willingness to stay committed to the run is what helped make his offense so successful.
Another thing going in his favor is his previous head coaching experience. Granted it is only for one year, but he was able to lead a poor Oakland Raiders with minimal talent to an 8-8 record and one win away from winning the AFC West and getting into the playoffs.
With Jackson's experience and creativity, he would make a great candidate to take over as coach, but he was some of the questions that come along with Gase. There isn't much question of whether Jackson can help Tannehill and the running game improve, but what is questioned is what he can do to help improve a defense that was 25th in total defense this past season.
Unfortunately, the Dolphins have since canceled their interview with Jackson, so it appears the Dolphins have given up on this avenue.
3. Mike Shanahan
Mike Shanahan is a very interesting candidate as he has a combined 20 years of experience has a head coach between three teams (Broncos, Redskins, and Raiders). Shanahan's last head coaching experience didn't end well in Washington as he was fired after Robert Griffin III was unable to become the quarterback everyone expected him to be.
For Shanahan, experience is definitely on his side as he seen almost everything in this league. His offensive approach meshes well with young quarterbacks as he tends to implement an effective zone-blocked running game with plenty of play action and bootlegs, which would really utilize the skill set of Tannehill well. Helping create an effective running game would really help take some of the load off of Tannehill as well, which would really help him as well.
Shanahan also would likely bring in his son Kyle, who has did a great job as the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons this past year, and did also did really well with coaching tight end Jordan Cameron back in 2013 when he had his breakout year.
But again Shanahan also has some of the same questions as the other two candidates when it comes to the defensive issues.
The real question becomes whether or not if each one of these men can put together a good enough staff to help the defense improve on their inefficiencies while also helping Tannehill become a top-10 quarterback he is being paid to be.
It all comes down to who they want. Do the Dolphins want a rising star who has chance to become a special head coach, or maybe a creative guy who gets the most out of his players, or maybe a guy with all the experience in the world and who proven to be able to work with young quarterbacks.
Ultimately the final decision comes down to Mike Tannenbaum but from people around the league have observed, Gase looks to be in the lead as of right now, to the point where it almost seems to be a done deal. But, stranger things have happened.
This column was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter: @sethAFisher
With the NFL Draft just over a week away, speculation and smoke screens are running rampant and it seems like everyone is hearing and saying different things to those around the NFL. Projections, mock drafts, trade rumors and more are always things that define this time period. The ultimate question as a Miami Dolphins fan is who are the Dolphins really targeting? Only the decision makers and scouts involved in the organization are really in the loop, but here are some likely targets the Dolphins may have this year.
Kevin White, West Virginia | 6'3" 215 lbs.: White is arguably the best receiver in the draft, and the Miami Dolphins would have to trade up in the draft to acquire him. While the price may be heavy, doing so would give Ryan Tannehill a great weapon to work with. Think of White as a much more polished Cordarrelle Patterson in terms of athletic ability, but with an ability to consistently win jump balls and out-muscle cornerbacks for tough catches. His run-after-catch ability is great as well and would give the Dolphins offense a lot more options.
Amari Cooper, Alabama | 6'1" 211 lbs.: Cooper is easily the most NFL ready receiver in the draft and maybe the most ready player overall. What sets Cooper apart is his superb route-running and his ability to create separation and make tough catches. Cooper isn't a super athlete and won't out jump anyone to make a spectacular grab, but he a good athlete and should make an instant impact. He is very similar to Sammy Watkins from last year, and the Dolphins, once again, would probably have to trade up to the top ten to draft him.
DeVante Parker, Louisville | 6'3" 209 lbs.: Tracking Parker's draft stock has been interesting, as many people have different opinions of him. He's been projected to go anywhere from right outside the top five picks to the high teens, low 20s. What can't be argued is his great ability to make a contested catch and go over a corner and get the ball. Parker doesn't have blazing speed, but has enough to chew up any cushion a corner gives him. He can be lackadaisical in his route-running though, which leads to more contested catches than is necessary. He reminds scouts of Hakeem Nicks when he came out. If he is there at 14, when the Dolphins pick, he might be a real possibility.
Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri/Oklahoma | 6'5" 237 lbs.: Arguably the most talented receiver in the draft, Green-Beckham draws comparison to Calvin "Megatron" Johnson and Randy Moss when they came out in the draft. Green-Beckham has almost identical measurables to Megatron and he reminds scouts of Moss because of his immense talent, but off the field problems. Even with his great size, he still ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, and can out-jump any corner or safety that might line up against him. His route running is nowhere near what it should, but with good coaching combined his athletic ability, he should be able to catch on quickly. It is questionable if the Dolphins would draft him with the 14th overall pick, but they could trade down and pick him, or wait until the second round. Either way, Green-Beckham is very talented, and might be worth the risk.
Marcus Peters, Washington | 6'0" 197 lbs.: Peters is arguable the best pure cover corner in the draft this year, but like Green-Beckham, has some serious character concerns that push him down the draft board. With the Dolphins in need of a good corner, Peters might be a consideration here, but he would have to prove that he can stay clean off the field. Peters is a physical corner who can play press or off-man coverage and still win. In almost any other draft, Peters might not be there for the Dolphins at 14, but because of his character concerns, he might be on the board when it’s time for the Dolphins to turn in their card.
Trae Waynes, Michigan State | 6'0" 186 lbs.: Waynes is the best corner in the draft. With his great ability to be a press cover corner and redirect receivers off their routes or play in a zone, Waynes would be a great addition to the defense. He is an intense, tough corner, who won't get beat very often, but who is also very versatile. He was asked to cover on an island most of last year for the Spartans, so he clearly has the ability to stick with guys. The problem is, he most likely won't get to the Dolphins at 14. If he does though, the Dolphins would have to strongly consider picking him in that spot.
Byron Jones, Connecticut | 6'1" 200 lbs.: Jones took the league by storm after his ridiculous combine performance, setting a world record long jump, and then turning around and running a sub 4.4 40-yard dash at his pro day. Jones is an athletic freak, who has great recovery speed and good anticipation of routes. He is average in man-to-man, but due to his great athleticism, is a great zone cover corner. Because the Dolphins like running zone, he would be a great fit. He has been shooting up the draft boards but there is a slight possibility that he is there for the Dolphins in the second round. If he is there, the Dolphins would be hard pressed not to take him as he would fit well with what they do.
Landon Collins, Alabama | 6'0" 228 lbs.: With the Dolphins in need of a safety because of Louis Delmas' injury concerns, Collins could be a very good fill-in and eventual replacement at the starting safety position. Pairing Collins with Reshad Jones would make for a very good tackling and versatile safety duo on the back end. Collins is a very good in the zone coverage and reads the eyes of the quarterback well. He is a force in the run game, and he wraps up the ball carrier very well to limit yards after the catch. While is isn't the fastest safety ever, he does have decent speed to not get beat in deep zone coverage. He has good enough feet to stick with tight ends and some slot receivers. Collins could very well be had at the 14th overall pick. While safety isn't a dying need for the Dolphins, if guys like Cooper, White, Parker, Peters, Waynes, or Green-Beckham are gone, it might be very hard for the Dolphins to pass up on him.
Eric Kendricks, UCLA | 6'0" 232 lbs.: Despite his size, Kendricks has proven to be a very good, productive linebacker. He is very intelligent, diagnoses plays very well, and it is very hard to fool him. He slides very well and does a good job of getting off blocks to tackle the running back. Because of his athleticism, you'd expect him to have more tackles in the backfield. While he is not the athlete that his brother Mychal (Philadelphia Eagles) is, he has more than enough to compete on the NFL level. Scouts compare him to Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner. He is versatile enough to play either middle linebacker or will linebacker. He has enough speed to be an effective coverage linebacker as well. While the Dolphins probably won't pick him in the first round, he should be a serious consideration in the second round, and he would help bolster a linebacker core that is still thin from this off-seasons' moves.
Denzel Perryman, Miami | 5'11" 236lbs.: One of the knocks on Perryman is his size, but despite that, he is one of the strongest linebackers in the draft, leading the linebacker group at the combine with 27 bench press reps. While he isn't a great athlete, Perryman is a disruptive force in the running game. He sheds blocker very well, and once he diagnoses a play, he can wreck a run play. He is not very good in coverage because of his lack of athleticism, but he will be a great two down middle linebacker in the NFL. Perryman should be drafted in rounds two or three and it might be smart for the Dolphins to trade down in the second to be able to pick up a third that they lost and maybe pick Perryman with either one of those two picks.
Tevin Coleman, Indiana | 5'11 207 lbs.: Coleman was one of the most productive running backs in college football last year, running for over 2,000 yards on less than 300 carries. Coleman has great, breakaway speed, running a 4.39 40-yard dash at his pro day. Coleman has exceptional burst through the hole and can outrun guys to the end zone, but he is also a very violent runner who has no problem running in-between the tackles. Scouts say he is a carbon copy of now Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden. Coleman would be a very good addition to this Dolphins offense, and he could pair very well with Lamar Miller. Coleman is projected to go in the second round, and if he is there when the Dolphins are on the clock in the second round, it might be smart to give him some consideration.
Jay Ajayi, Boise State | 6'0" 221 lbs.: Ajayi is probably the most versatile back in the draft this year. His ability to run in-between the tackles, bounce it to the outside, pass block, and catch the ball is very interesting. With soccer in his background, Ajayi has very good feet and is very good at making guys miss once the ball is in his hands. Ajayi is the cliche "jack of all trades, master of none." He does a lot of things well, but nothing exceptionally. Ajayi would still be a very good addition to the Dolphins offense, as he could bring a lot of versatility and options. He has enough power to be a goal-line option, but also enough speed and agility to be a very good zone-blocking scheme runner and pair well with Miller. Ajayi is also an option in the second round, and the Dolphins could very well have him on their radar as head coach Joe Philbin loves players who can do multiple things.
David Cobb, Minnesota | 5'11" 229 lbs.: Cobb is the quintessential power running backer. He will definitely not wow you with his great speed or burst, but his power, balance, and ability to break tackles is impressive. Cobb gained 54 percent of his yards last year after contact, which goes to show what kind of power he has. Cobb is also a very good goal-line back, and does a good job of finding the right hole to run through. While he might not be an every-down back, he could be a very good complimentary back and pair well with Lamar Miller. Cobb is rated anywhere from rounds three to five. If he is there for the Dolphins fourth round pick, they shouldn't think twice about considering him.
Tre Jackson, Florida State | 6'4" 330 lbs: Jackson is a big guard with a lot of power. While he might not be the most athletic guard, he certainly has enough athleticism to be an effective pulling guard if asked to. Jackson has powerful hands and has the ability to move guys in the running game and does a good job of getting to the second level. In terms of pass blocking, he is pretty good at moving his feet, but he can be beat by faster defensive tackles. Overall Jackson, paired with Billy Turner and Mike Pouncey, could really be a very good run blocking interior offensive line and open up holes for the running. If Jackson is there in the second round, the Dolphins might consider him depending on what they did with their first pick.
Ali Marpet, Hobart & William Smith (DIII) | 6'4" 307 lbs.: Marpet might be the biggest project of the draft, as he has to transition to the power and speed of the NFL from DIII college football, but he also might have one of the biggest returns of any draftee as well. Marpet might be one of the most athletic offensive lineman in the entire draft. He is a perfect for the zone-blocking scheme, which is what the Dolphins run. Marpet does a good job of hand placement and has good leg drive in the run game. In the passing game, he does a good job of moving his feet and staying with guys. He showed he was stronger than a lot of people thought he was by benching 225 pounds at the combine 30 times, but he could still use more strength in his lower body. Marpet might be a project and not be ready his first year in the league, but going forward, he might be worth wait. He has had draft grades from rounds two to four, but if the Dolphins really want him, they might have to take a chance on him in the second round. If they did trade down sometime in the draft and pick up a third, then that might be the best place to pick.
This column was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter: @SethAFisher
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With free agency starting soon, talk of what the Miami Dolphins need to address before the draft has picked up significantly. Generally, a franchise doesn't want to build their team through free agency, but rather the draft, and use free agency to fill holes they can't fill in the draft. In this article, we’ll review the Dolphins needs that probably won't be filled in the draft, and then look at players who could fill those needs.
In the 2015 NFL draft, there isn't a lot to choose from in terms of defensive tackles, but in free agency, there are plenty of really good options from Ndamukong Suh, who will command a $100+ million contract, to guys like the Dolphins own Jared Odrick, to the Broncos Terrance Knighton or the Cardinals Dan Williams.
Ndamukong Suh: Suh is easily the best choice of all the free agent defensive tackles, and arguably the best available free agent period. Suh will get a huge contract no matter where he goes, and reports are that he wants $50+ million in guaranteed money. While some will argue if he is worth that kind of money or not, what is inarguable is that Suh is a real difference maker for a defense, and he would be a great addition to this Dolphins defense. What also can't be argued is that if the Dolphins do sign him, then they will almost be guaranteed to cut Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, and not resign Jared Odrick, as well as possibly cut Mike Wallace too.
If the Dolphins do have to make those moves, that will open up needs in those positions, but to be real, the Dolphins already have a need at linebacker regardless if they cut or keep Ellerbe and Wheeler.
Terrance Knighton: Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton is a guy that has steadily improved every year he has been in the NFL, and especially since signing with the Denver Broncos. Knighton proved to be a key cog in Denver's defensive line this year and played an important role in their stout run defense. The Dolphins really struggled in that area last year, and if they were to sign him, he would be an immediate help in that area.
Dan Williams: Coming out of the University of Tennessee, the Dolphins considered drafting Dan Williams, but instead traded down and drafted Jared Odrick. Now that he is a free agent, they have a chance to pair these two guys together to form a pretty decent combination. Williams was a key player in helping the Arizona Cardinals' stout running defense last season. He was a 3-4 nose tackle for them, though, and would be making a transition to a 4-3 defense, but Paul Solia did the same thing seamlessly for the Dolphins a few years ago. Pairing William’s run defense skills with Jared Odrick’s pass rushing ability (assuming he re-signs), would be a pretty productive and cheap pairing.
Other Options: Kendall Langford, Henry Melton and Corey Peters
Other than the top two cornerbacks in the draft, Trae Waynes and Marcus Peters, there aren't really any plug-and-play type corners this year, so the Dolphins might be forced to look to free agency.
Brandon Flowers: After a bounce-back season with the San Diego Chargers, Flowers hits free agency in a time where he could help some teams, and one of those teams might be the Dolphins. His three interceptions last year led the Chargers, and that was after signing with the team late in the off-season and having to learn a new system on the fly. His veteran leadership could help take the place of Cortland Finnegan, and he could help develop younger guys like Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.
Kareem Jackson: After starting the season pretty slow, Jackson turned it on at the end of the season, even after missing three weeks due to injury. Despite that, he tied for the interceptions lead on the Houston Texans with three, and also had nine pass breakups. Jackson is still young at only 26 years old, and would help the secondary for at least four to five years to come, assuming he stays healthy
Davon House: House might make sense for the Dolphins. He is young, only 25 years old, has plenty of years left to contribute to a team, and he has a connection with Joe Philbin from his Green Bay days. House only had one interception in 2014, but had 10 pass breakups as the third cornerback on the team being behind Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. House still has room to grow, but could start opposite Brent Grimes this year if signed.
Other Options: Chris Culliver, Patrick Robinson, Darius Butler
Clint Boling: Boling could be a real option for the Dolphins regardless of whether they sign Suh. He would be a really good addition for the Dolphins as he would upgrade the guard spot with excellent run blocking and good pass blocking, He helped the Cincinnati Bengals' offense rush for 134.2 yards per game last year, which was good for sixth in the league. Signing Boling would move Mike Pouncey back to his natural position of Center and leave only the other guard spot to be filled.
Orlando Franklin: This past season in Denver, Franklin moved from right tackle to left guard, and the move really boosted his career. Franklin helped stabilize that offensive line because of his great run blocking and solid pass protection for Peyton Manning. Franklin would be a great upgrade this year to the Dolphins offensive line and would help improve the rushing game for the Dolphins, who already had a 1,000 yard rusher in Lamar Miller last year.
Other Options: James Carpenter, Chris Meyers, Justin Blalock
This column was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter @sethAfisher
Coming into the 2014 season with a myriad of questions about the running game from the year before, one of the common questions about the Miami Dolphin's offensive line was who was going to start, and would they be able to create enough holes for the running game. General manager Dennis Hickey did a pretty good job of rebuilding the offensive line, with, at one point, five new starters, but there were still limitations with the overall running game this year. Some of those limitations were due to the fact that Knowshon Moreno got hurt, but also due to the fact that Lamar Miller has some limitations in his game. Because of that, the Dolphins might consider drafting a running back in this year's NFL draft. In order of how they are ranked in terms of the Dolphins running back needs, here are some top prospects that they might focus in on.
Todd Gurley: 6'1" 226lbs. University of Georgia
NFL.com's rating: 6.3 | NFL Comparison: Marshawn Lynch
Gurley is coming off an ACL injury though, and that will definitely hurt his draft stock, but this might be the best thing for the Dolphins as it most likely means he drops to them at the 14 overall pick in the first round. While drafting a running back with this first pick might not fill a need that the Dolphins have, like offensive line, linebacker, cornerback, or wide receiver, Dennis Hickey is on the record for drafting the best player available and Gurley will most likely be the best player available when they pick at fourteen. Also, in the NFL, acquiring elite talent is a must in order to win playoff games and Gurley appears to have the ability to be elite, if he can get over the knee injury.
Tevin Coleman: 6'1" 210lbs. Indiana University
NFL.com's Rating: 6.1 | NFL Comparison: Darren McFadden
Tevin Coleman is an all-purpose back that one has one elite trait and then is good with a lot of other traits. The best trait that Coleman possess is something that can't be taught and that is his top end speed. Coleman has break away speed and can turn a 10 yard run into a 90 yard run. Coleman is also great at jump cutting in and out holes to make defenders miss and get to the next level. While most running backs that have his kind of speed prefer to stay on the perimeter and get to the edge as much as possible, Coleman likes to run in-between the tackles and create contact to get extra yards.
Overall, Coleman is different running back than Gurley, but that does not mean that he couldn't be a much needed addition to the offense. Coleman's speed, ability to make a defender miss, fearlessness in-between the tackles, and catching ability all combine to make him a very good all-around running back. All that could lead to him winning the starting role somewhere this year, and maybe even in Miami if they drafted him.
Jay Ajayi: 6'0" 216lbs. Boise State University
NFL.com's Rating: 5.9
NFL Comparison: Marshawn Lynch
Jay Ajayi is a different back than Coleman and Gurley in that he doesn't have great bruising power like Gurley and doesn't have break-away speed like Coleman. What he does have is very good feet, from his soccer background, which allows him to make very fast jump-cuts, make defenders miss pretty easily and most importantly, gives him great balance.
Power: While his power isn't that of Lynch's, it is good enough get through the line of scrimmage and move a few defenders to be able to gain a couple extra yards. In this picture, you can see that he lowers his pad level very nicely and protects the ball and gains a few extra yards to gain the first down here.
Again, while Ajayi's overall talent might not be of a Gurley or Lynch, he could very well have the ability to develop into that kind of running back. Combine his jump-cut ability, stiff arm, above-average power, and his hands, Ajayi's second round grade will give any team that drafts him a great value, and if the Dolphins can get their hands on him, then they will have a very complete backfield.
This column was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter: @SethAFisher
During the off-season, I went over a few criteria that the Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had to meet in order to consider his 2014 season a success. I set the criteria for Tannehill to pass for around 4,200-4,400 yards, 24-28 touchdowns, keep his interceptions down to around 8-12, have his quarterback rating about the 85-87 rating level, and raise his completion percentage up to about 63 percent.
Tannehill's final stats for the 2014 season were as follows: 4,045 yards, 27 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 92.3 quarterback rating, and a 66.4 completion percentage, which met four of the five criteria I set for him in the season and he even outperformed in the quarterback rating. Tannehill clearly showed improvement this past year and the arrow is trending up for him and the offense. So all-in-all, Tannehill had a very good year, especially considering the offensive line and the lack of a big-play wide receiver.
But there is one more criteria I should have added to the list for Tannehill and that is yards per attempt. In his three years in the NFL, Tannehill's yard per attempt have been 6.8, 6.7, and 6.9 this year. Compare that to a guys like Andrew Luck, who had a 7.5 this year, Aaron Rodgers, who had a 8.3, and Tony Romo, who had 8.6, and 6.9 is pretty poor.
When you combine the fact that Tannehill had a 66.4 completion percentage but only 6.9 yards per attempt, it is pretty obvious to conclude that the majority of his passes were shorter passes. When you look as "Passes by Direction" from Pro Football Focus, you can see that 362 of his passes came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage or less, meaning either he was not very aggressive with his passes or the play calling was not aggressive. I would tend to lean towards that Tannehill was just trying for the easy completion.
Tannehill's completion percentage, quarterback rating, and touchdowns were all at a great level this year, meaning all of those numbers indicate that he has improved on his efficiency, but in order for him to be in consideration to be on the same level as guys like Luck or Romo or Matt Ryan, or any of the upper echelon players, he will need to start taking more risks.
The elite quarterbacks in the league, like Aaron Rodgers, take chances and produce big plays for their teams. For example, Aaron Rodgers had a quarterback rating of 104.8 on passes of 20 yards plus down field with 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions. While Tannehill is not an elite quarterback like Rodgers is, his quarterback rating of 66.9 on passes of the same distance is not any where near where it needs to be. The Dolphins were 28th in the league in passing plays of 20 plus yards with only 41, while the Indianapolis Colts led the league with 78.
The saying "high risk, high reward" is cliche but it is very true, especially when it comes to the NFL. While Tannehill's 12 interceptions looks good on paper, it starts to not look as impressive when you see that 362 passes, which is 61.4 percent, came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. That means that Tannehill threw 10 of his interceptions within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage, which means he wasn't as efficient as the numbers say he was.
In order for Tannehill to improve, he will need to cut down his interceptions that he throws in the short to intermediate range, keep his completion percentage up in those areas, and start taking more risks with throwing the ball down the field more often. While he doesn't have that big play receiver that can go up and catch the ball in jump ball scenario, he does have arguably the fastest receiver in the NFL in Mike Wallace. He needs to uses that to his advantage and test the defense more often with those longer passes.
By throwing and completing these longer passes, it does a few things. First, it raises his yards per attempt number, which is a good indication of the kinds of passes a quarterback is throwing. Second, it creates more explosive plays for the offense and forces the defense to keep two deep safeties back and not crowd the box. Finally, it allows the running game to open up and create more lanes for Lamar Miller, Damien Williams, etc.
When all three of those things are working together, it makes an offense almost impossible to stop because the defense doesn't know which one to stop. This also masks some of the offensive line deficiencies that hinder an offense.
If Ryan Tannehill can keep his yards around the 4,000 yard mark, his touchdowns around 25 range, his completion percentage at 66 percent, his quarterback rating steady in the 90 area, and finally, raise his yards per attempt up to the 7.5 range like Andrew Luck had this year, then this offense will much more explosive than it has been. It will also demonstrate that Tannehill has continued to improve and that he does deserve that long-term contract that the Dolphins will have to pay him after this next season.
This column was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter: @SethAFisher13
With the the East-West Shrine game being played this weekend and Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey being there, Dolphins fans should be watching for these players in the game on Saturday as they could potentially be on the Dolphins watch list. These players are just a few guys that Dolphins fans should keep their eyes on, and with the Senior Bowl coming up soon as well, there will be more players to watch for then as well.
WR Tre McBride | 6'1" 205 pounds | William & Mary
While his size isn't great, Tre McBride's speed (4.50 40 yard dash) combined with his quick feet and great knowledge of route running should make him a solid pick in the NFL draft in April. McBride is the best prospect at the game this weekend according to multiple scouts and should have a impact on the game. He caught 64 passes for 809 yards and four touchdowns this season with an average of 27.5 yards per kickoff return, which suggests he has a pretty good ability to make people miss and be decisive. He remind some people of Cody Latimer from last year's draft, who was taken in the second round by the Denver Broncos
While he is not the number on receiver that the Dolphins need, he could replace Brandon Gibson and/or Brian Hartline and save the Dolphins a lot of cap space in doing so.
WR Addison Richards | 6'5" 205 pounds | Regina
Addison Richard is a very raw prospect, but he has all the physical tools necessary to become a good NFL receiver. He is a rangy athlete with good hands and speed, but lacks quickness, which hinders his route running. If he can improve that portion of his game, then he could maybe turn himself into something. Coming out of Canada, the level of competition he has faced in worrisome, but with the way he has practiced in the East West Shrine shows that he could improve with good coaching.
Richards is another receiver that could help the Dolphins, especially with how big he is, but he is a very raw prospect and would probably take two to four years to develop into someone who could be a contributor for the offense.
WR/TE Darren Waller | 6'5" 240 pounds | Georgia Tech
While Darren Waller was a receiver in college, he could be viewed as a tight end in the NFL. With his huge body and great speed for someone his size, Waller, no matter which position he plays, looks as if he could be a touchdown machine in the NFL. He has great hands and uses his body well to shield off defenders on fade routes in the endzone. His huge size though makes it tough for him to run good routes, and combine that with that fact the Georgia Tech's triple option offense doesn't require an extensive knowledge of routes, he will have to improve on that if he is to be able to create separation in the NFL and get open.
Once again, Waller is a receiver who needs work but has the physical tools along with good hands to be able to make an impact in the NFL. Whether he is used as a tight end or a big receiver, his role will be to be a bug target in the endzone for Ryan Tannehill, which is something the Dolphins desperately need.
OG Bobby Hart | 6'4" 320 pounds | Florida State
While Bobby Hart played offensive tackle at Florida State, he is projected to play guard in the NFL. He is a very powerful guard who moves people in the running game. He has great strength in the lower half of his body and will win more often than not in running blocking. Where his struggles though is protection. He does not shuffle his feet very well and gets beat by speed rushers too often. The fact that he will be a guard in the NFL will help limit him getting beat by speed rushers, but his technique needs to improve in order for him to be a starter.
Hart probably wouldn't be a starter for the Dolphins, at least not in the first year or two, but he would be a solid backup and could be a good fill in for either guard position, and the Dolphins need solid depth on their offensive. Guys like Dallas Thomas and Shelley Smith were disappointing last season.
C B.J. Finney | 6'4" 303 pounds | Kansas State
Center B.J. Finney was a walk-on on Kansas State who started all four years though. He is a former wrestler though, who understand leverage and uses it to his advantage. He has functional NFL strength and does very well with defensive tackles who are supposedly more athletic than he is. Where he struggles is with long athletes who can get into him and push him pack into the pocket. Scouts compare him to Corey Linsley, who was a plug-and-play center for the Green Bay Packers this year.
Finney would allow the Dolphins to keep Mike Pouncey at guard and allow him to be a good pulling left guard and switch Billy Turner over to right guard, where he would excel in run blocking. If not, he still would be a good backup for the them, which is something that they still need.
This column was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter: @SethAFisher13
For several years now, it has been a pretty well-known fact that the Miami Dolphins have not drafted well. Granted, they have drafted better in recent years, but they still haven't been very good. In this article, I will be reviewing who the Dolphins could have drafted in the spot they were in the draft starting back from the 2009 Draft.
When you look at the changes made in these drafts, you begin to realize the kind of talent that the Dolphins missed out on. When taking into account all the draft changes and assuming the Dolphins still signed some of free agents they already have, here's a rough look at how the Dolphins roster could look right now.
QB: Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore
RB: DeMarco Murray, Alfred Morris, Bryce Brown, Damien Williams
WR: Alshon Jeffery, Antoino Brown, T.Y. Hilton, Brian Hartline, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews
TE: Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Charles Clay (FB/H-Back)
OT: Nate Solder, Ja'Wuan James, Terron Armstead, Seantrell Henderson
OG: Andy Levitre, Billy Turner, Earl Watford, David Quessenberry, Andrew Gardner,
C: Ben Jones, Corey Linsley
DE: Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Demontre Moore, Chris McCain, Terrence Fede
DT: Geno Atkins, Randy Startks, Earl Mitchell, Anthony Johnson
LB: Koa Misi, Malcolm Smith, Danny Trevathan, Jamie Collins, Jelani Jenkins, Jordan Tripp
CB: Brent Grimes, Xavier Rhodes, Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, Will Davis,
S: Reshad Jones, Rashad Johnson, Earl Thomas, Jimmy Wilson, Don Jones
K: Caleb Sturgis
P: Brandon Fields
KR: Jarvis Landry
PR: Antonio Brown
While this is just an exercise and would be impossible because of the salary cap, it goes to show that the Dolphins have clearly not drafted as well as they should or could have. In order for the Dolphins to get better, their front office and coaching staff need to get better.
The front office needs to get better by drafting better and signing free agents only to fill minor holes. The coaching staff has to get better by developing better players. Players like Dion Jordan, Jamar Taylor, and Will Davis are all players that come to mind when you think of player development.
Stability is certainly something that can help an organization - think the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. But change is also necessary sometimes in order to improve, and this exercise has shown that there is change that needs to be made in the front office and coaching staff across the board.
This column was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter: @SethAFisher13
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