Now that we've taken out the quarterbacks and the running backs, we're going to go on ahead (finally) and start analyzing a position that Dolphins fans originally thought was a true strength and then revealed itself as a major weakness - the wide receiver position.
Much maligned, or highly praised; those are the two usual viewpoints regarding the man who is arguably the best wide receiver on the team...he's certainly paid like he is at least. But putting salary aside just for a brief moment, let's consider exactly what it is that Wallace brings to the table as a wide receiver.
How easy it is to turn on someone after he puts together two straight 1,000 receiving yard seasons. When Ryan Tannehill started off in 2012, it quickly became apparent who his favorite target was, and that was the "deceptively fast" Brian Hartline. The thing is though, Hartline isn't particularly fast. What he is good at is running his routes.
Gibson is a bit of a mixed bag. When he signed his 3-year / $9,780,000 contract back in 2013, there was a certain amount of skepticism involved. On the one hand, Gibson was a rather obscure name in the league and - while talented to be sure - it was an unknown exactly what people should have been expecting from him.
In 2013, Gibson got off to a bit of a slow start as he transitioned to being a slot receiver, as Wallace and Hartline had already solidified the two boundary positions. Eventually however, he got into the swing of things and he became one of Tannehill's preferred targets and was on his way to being one of the team's core players.
I won't spend too much time talking about Landry since it is incredibly obvious that this young man will be a Dolphin next year, and he will likely be one for many, many years to come. Before being drafted, we were told that Landry was too slow to be a truly effective receiver, and this was concluded by a bad 40-yard dash at the NFL combine where he ran a 4.77.
Tough. That's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Rishard Matthews, and that's a good thing to be in an NFL that has players dropping like flies because of hard tackles to players' knees and heads. Unfortunately for Matthews, tough is also the only thing that comes to mind when I think about him, and that's not enough.
When the Dolphins drafted Matt Hazel in the sixth round, Dolphins fans were stunned by the move as it seemed to make no sense at the time. The team had already drafted Jarvis Landry, and the team had several wide receivers on the team already.
Unfortunately, Hazel isn't that big, and he might be an injury risk because of his lack of bulk. In his preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, Hazel took a big hit that left him rattled and subsequently left all of Sun Life Stadium up in arms that their young rookie had been floored so violently with no consequence...at least none that I can remember.
Michael Preston and Tyler McDonald
Two names that mean nothing to the Dolphins at the moment, but who knows? Maybe the team knows something that we don't. Let's take a quick look at the history of these two players.
Let’s face it fantasy football fans, the two weeks between Championship Weekend and the Super Bowl are not the most exciting (unless you are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and are trying to deflate situations that get out of control). Free agency has not started yet, we are not yet to the draft, and there are no trades going down so things are a little boring unless you enjoy watching Marshawn Lynch at Super Bowl Media Days.
So, in the absence of any off-season news, I decided to make a couple predictions that I am sure will totally doom the following players. To keep it simple, I am predicting who I think the top five fantasy players will be at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end in 2015.
I highly encourage people to tweet me back at whom they think the top five will be at each position. What is fun right now is that it is all a guessing game. You can agree with me, or think I am crazy. There is no science to my predictions, just a fun look ahead at what I think will shake out this upcoming season before free agency and the draft. So send me a tweet @bignoahd05, and tell me who I got right and wrong, and who you think will make the top five.
These predictions are in the order that I feel these players will finish in 2015 fantasy points.
1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Andrew Luck
3. Russell Wilson
4. Ben Roethlisberger
5. Tony Romo
Sleeper to make top 5 – Matt Ryan
1. LeVeon Bell
2. Adrian Peterson
3. Jeremy Hill
4. CJ Anderson
5. Melvin Gordon
Sleeper to make top 5 – Joique Bell
1. Antonio Brown
2. Odell Beckham Jr.
3. Dez Bryant
4. Demaryious Thomas
5. Julio Jones
Sleeper to make top 5 – Alshon Jeffery
1. Rob Gronkowski
2. Travis Kelce
3. Jimmy Graham
4. Greg Olsen
5. Dwayne Allen
Sleeper to make top 5 – Vernon Davis
This column was written by Ryan Thyer. Follow him on Twitter: @BigNoahD05
We're back with another edition of the PhinManiacs Podcast and we're excited to announce the newest member of our team, Kathy Damato. If you're on Twitter, be sure to follow her: @Kathrineee. For those just tuning in for her, she makes her debut around the 35 minute mark!
Besides welcoming Kathy, we talk about the controversy regarding the New England Patriots, player issues and attitudes towards the media and the impact of losing defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers. In addition, we give our Super Bowl predictions and in the process, we consider kicking Luis off the show for his prediction. It's a great show that's jam-packed with news, analysis and rumors so be sure to tune in!
> Click here to listen to this week's edition of the PhinManiacs Podcast!
NFL players participate in media sessions every week during the season – whether it’s during the week leading up to the game in the locker room, after a game in the locker room or on a radio show during the week. Some of these sessions are mandatory and some are voluntary. With the Super Bowl in just a few days, the media attention on the last game of the 2015 NFL season is at an all-time high and thus, every actions and word is being analyzed, scrutinized and reported on.
Players, coaches and front office executives approach the media in a variety of ways. This week, we have seen Marshawn Lynch refuse to answer questions from the media. Of course, he has done this for the vast majority of the 2014 season but of course, with it being Super Bowl week, everyone is fixated on what his next move might be.
Instead of answering questions, he has simply responded with just a short phrase and repeated himself over and over every time a question was asked. This week, we have heard him tell reporters that he’s there so he doesn’t get fired and that they know why he’s there. On Thursday morning, he talked for a few minutes and told the reporters that he’s not going to talk, that there’s no reason to talk and he’s only going to sit there for his remaining time and stare at the reporters like they are staring at him.
One may think of this as a distraction leading up to the biggest game of the year. However, we’ve seen plenty of his teammates, players around the league and yes, even Seahawks coaches who have supported him and stood up for him. There are also countless fans and factions of the media who have supported him.
One of those players is Richard Sherman, who took a swipe at the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell in the process. When asked about Lynch and mandatory media obligations, he said that every one of the NFL’s personnel should be obligated to speak weekly. Another person who showed support was his head coach Pete Carroll. Carroll said that it’s Lynch’s prerogative to handle it the way he’s handling it but also said it’s his way of being himself rather than someone he’s not.
All of that support has come amidst heavy criticism from various factions of the media and from some fans across the country. One reporter has suggested that everyone stops buying Skittles, the brand that Lynch endorses, dating back to when cameras caught him scarfing down Skittles after a long touchdown run that caused the city of Seattle to literally experience a mild earthquake rom the fans’ reaction. Other reporters said that Lynch has violated the professional code of conduct and should be repeatedly punished for what they called his unprofessional and immature behavior.
It all boils down to one thing though – he has the full support of the locker room. Seahawks players and coaches love him. They’ve talked about how he’s a genuine and nice guy off the field and will do anything for those he loves. They’ve talked about how smart he is and how they can sit there and talk about coverages, rotations and other small tendencies that the opponent does on film.
No matter how brash Lynch may have been this week, no matter how many times he refused to answer a question and no matter how many times he sent a message to the NFL, his teammates and coaches never left his side.
This contrasts to Mike Wallace and more specifically, his antics after a Week 17 loss to the New York Jets. After Charles Clay caught a touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill at the end of the first half, cameras caught Wallace and Tannehill screaming on the sideline. In the second half, we didn’t see Wallace touch the field.
Following the game, we saw a bizarre interview in the locker room with Brandon Gibson acting as Wallace’s spokesperson and answering all of the questions for him. The next day, he gave short and blunt answers to the media when they asked about what happened during the game the day before.
This led to the media and fans ripping him a new one. Even today, there are still people who are ripping Wallace for the way he acted and despite his talent, want him off the team. You will be hard pressed to find someone outside the Miami Dolphins locker room that has stuck up for Wallace and his actions towards the media.
We have seen a few players stick up for Wallace though. Most notably, Branden Albert and Brandon Gibson. However, Tannehill, the quarterback of the future, has not come out and stuck his neck out for Wallace. We haven’t heard any coaches stick up for him either nor has any front office executive. There are also other players in the locker room who have told reporters off the record that they will be watching the situation closely to see if Wallace gets away with his antics.
This, of course, is a stark contrast compared to Lynch. The situations are very different though as Wallace quit on his team while Lynch never has.
The point in all of this is that it really doesn’t seem to matter how players, coaches and others handle the media. Some are friendly and boisterous while others are tight-lipped. In the end, it comes down to what you can do on the football field. If you’re someone like Lynch who has proven himself over and over again, he has been given the benefit of the doubt and respect to be able to take a stand like he has this past week. If you’re someone like Wallace who quits on his team and who has done so in the past, it takes that respect away and they are no longer given the benefit of the doubt.
For as long as the NFL continues to be around, we will continue to see some colorful characters along with some very reserved players. When we see the two stark contrasts, it’s important not to judge people based on the way they talk in front of the camera and microphone. Instead, it’s much more important to judge them based on their contributions and production on the football field and in the locker room.
To do otherwise would be a mistake, as we have seen this week. Lynch has received all of the support from his teammates, coaches, former players and even some in the media. Wallace hasn’t received nearly the same type of support, despite their similar antics when talking to the media.
The difference? One quit and didn’t play hard while the other gives it everything he has when the ball is kicked off at the start of the game until the clock hits zero at the end of the game.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
Well, this is it. The last meaningful NFL game of the season, then nothing but drafts and cuts and signings until next fall.
Kind of puts a dent in the mood, doesn’t?
On the bright side, I’ll continue to rank players throughout the offseason, including during free agency and the draft. So no matter when you start thinking about your fantasy draft for next season, you’ll have a place to get a jump on the competition. And don’t forget to check back here often as the draft nears, because PhinManiacs writers will be busy providing plenty of mock drafts and hard news throughout the offseason.
So who’s going to win this weekend? As a diehard Dolphins fan, you can bet I’ll be rooting like crazy for the Seahawks to pull off a win, since every fiber of my being wants the Patriots to lose. But I have a sneaky suspicion that the Pats will play off the ’disrespect’ card, come out strong, and ultimately have the better balance on both sides of the ball. It’ll be a slugfest, but in the end the Pats earn their fourth Lombardi Trophy, 23-17.
And for those still throwing money at Daily Fantasy Sites (I’m one of them – scrored a whopping $16 two weeks ago!), here are my player rankings for the Super Bowl.
1. Russell Wilson, SEA
Elite or not, Wilson is one of the most valuable QBs in the league, and against New England's defense he's going to need to put points on the board. I expect the Seahawks to try to soften things up with the running game, and then throw strkes in the red zone. Brady may get more yards, but I expect Wilson to see more scores.
2. Tom Brady, NE
As much as Brady is valued in this offense, I expect long, balanced drives from the Patriots, which will mean a lot of yards, but not a lot of points.
1. LeGarrette Blount, NE
The running game will be a big part of the Patriot's game plan, and Blount will lead the charge.
2. Marshawn Lynch, SEA
Lynch could see more touches in this game than the other running backs on both teams combined. But he'll also be the focus of the Patriot's defense. May not reach 100 yards, but will be a factor in this game.
3. Shane Vereen, NE
Vereen has decent PPR value, and will be a good flex play on deeper lineups.
4. Robert Turbin, SEA
TD vulture value only.
5. Jonas Gray, NE
1. Julian Edelman, NE
Tom Brady's best buddy not named Gronk, and this game should see a lot of short, quick passes.
2. Doug Baldwin, SEA
Russell Wilson's best buddy not named.. ..oh wait, never mind, he probably is Russ's best buddy.
3. Jermaine Kearse, SEA
If you're looking for a bargain at WR, Kearse is probably your best bet.
4. Brandon LaFell, NE
Never sees a lot of targets, but when Pats find the red zone, LaFell makes every catch count.
5. Danny Amendola, NE
Boom or bust, but more likely the latter.
6. Ricardo Lockette, SEA
1. Rob Gronkowski, NE
Tom Brady's best friend, and the most likely guy to lay money on to get a TD.
2. Luke Wilson, SEA
Not looking at high expectations here, but cheaper option than Gronk.
3. Tim Wright, NE
Only if you're looking to fill a cheap flex spot.
1. Stephen Gostkowski, NE
Highly dependable, and will see plenty of chances.
2. Steven Hauschka, SEA
Should also see plenty of opportunities. Can I use a kicker as my flex option?
1. Seattle Seahawks
I'm expecting a hard-pounding game, which could lend to some turnovers.
2. New England Patriots
Seattle won't have five turnovers like their last game, but a couple are possible.
Fantasy Rankings will appear every week during the NFL season and playoffs
A lifelong, diehard Dolphins fan, Eldon Jenson has over 27 years of experience as Commissioner of several ongoing Fantasy Football leagues. Yes, he was winning FFL championships before some of you were even born. Questions and insults may be sent to @EJFootball on Twitter.
Dan Marino appeared on the Joe Rose show this morning on 560 WQAM and talked about a variety of topics such as the Miami Dolphins, Tom Brady, the Super Bowl, the events surrounding it, the deflation of footballs and much more.
To begin, Marino talked about his role with the Dolphins this past season. He stated that he enjoyed his time around the team and had fun working with players, coaches and meeting new people. When asked if he wanted to move up in the organization and take on a bigger role, Marino said that he's going to continue what he's doing, will have fun doing ti and will see where it leads to in the future.
Marino touched on Mike Tannebaum and the new structure within the Dolphins front office. He said that he has a great relationship with him and truly believes that this will be a positive thing for the Dolphins.
When asked about Ryan Tannehill, he said that regardless of who you are, when learning a new offense, there is an adjustment period and Tannehill has done a good job making changes to his game to adapt. Marino noted that Tannehill is a tough kid and has made a lot of improvements over the past season. In terms of fixing the deep ball, he said that Tannehill and the receivers need to get on a positive communication system where they can trust each other. Ultimately, he said that it comes down to practice, repetitions and making the throws in the game. Marino said the more they do that, the better Tannehill will become.
The attention then turned to the controversy regarding the New England Patriots and the deflation of their footballs. Marino said that any quarterback who has ever played knows how important it is to get the balls the perfect way for a game. However, he stopped short of saying that Brady and the Patriots cheated, saying that he would think that they would try to intentionally gain an advantage that way because they are so good anyways.
In regards to Marshawn Lynch and the media circus the past several weeks, he said that Lynch is a grown man and can do whatever he wants. Marino did admit that if he was around Lynch, he would encourage him to say a little more but ultimately, it was Lynch's decision on what he wanted to do.
His Super Bowl prediction? Seahawks over the Patriots, based on the Seahawks dangerous running game from both Lynch and Russell Wilson.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
The Miami Dolphins will head into free agency in less than two months and they will have a lot of work to do. While it’s not ideal to build a team through free agency, the Dolphins have no choice but to fill a lot of their holes through this method. This is because there simply isn’t a lot of impact players at various positions in this year’s draft class.
In an earlier column, I analyzed and described why there aren’t a ton of options for the Dolphins at the inside linebacker position in free agency. Make no mistake that every position on the team affects one another and the lack of inside linebacker options in both free agency and the draft will help chart the path for the Dolphins this offseason, just as every other position will do the same.
While there might not be many options at inside linebacker, this doesn’t ring true for defensive tackles in the draft. There are going to be great defensive tackles for the Dolphins when they pick with the 14th selection and there are also going to be great defensive tackles when they pick in the second round. However, will they want to spend one of their first two picks on a defensive tackle when they have so many holes? To get a better idea, we need to look at all of the defensive tackles who are set to become unrestricted free agents on March 10. This can be found on our player tracker page.
Next, we then need to figure out what players are worth pursuing. Based on the signature stats from Pro Football Focus, I put together a weighted formula that took run defense and pass rush productivity into account.
To determine how good a player was in run defense, I looked at several categories. Among them was the run stop percentage, which is the percentage of plays where the player was the primary man responsible for making a tackle. From there, I looked at the number of missed tackles compared to the number of snaps that player participated in. I then created a formula that gave me a ratio to show the production of the defensive player when they were the primary man responsible for making a stop when the opponent ran the ball.
When it came to pass defense, the only grade I looked at from Pro Football Focus was the 'Pass Rush Productivity' category. This is the percentage of pressure a defensive tackle gets a sack, hit or hurry relative to how many times they rush the passer. As you can see, it takes everything into account so there wasn't a whole lot of work I had to do.
After evaluating players in both run defense and pass defense and taking their age into account, I narrowed the list to seven players, including Jared Odrick. I used him as the Mendoza line since he will be in play to come back. Anyone who graded out lower than him was thrown out of the picture and anyone who was higher or equal to him are listed as possible targets in free agency.
You may also say that the Dolphins are likely to part ways with Randy Starks. This is true and I would expect that he becomes a cap casualty. However, I believe that his replacement will either come via the draft or via one of the young guys already on the roster such as Anthony Johnson and AJ Francis. Keep in mind that the Dolphins still have Earl Mitchell, who they just signed to a hefty contract last offseason when free agency opened. In addition to all that, it’s unrealistic to think that the Dolphins can afford to pay both Odrick and another high priced free agent. Therefore, since Odrick is the one who won’t be under contract, it’s important to look at those who compare to him on the market.
Let's take a look at run defense first, since it's the most complex.
Thus, if you're talking about run defense only, the best to worst are Peters, Suh, Odrick, Fairley, Mosley, Edwards and Paea. However, I'm sure the Dolphins want to get a player who is well-rounded and who can do play both phases of the game at a high level. To get a better idea of who that can be, let's look at the pass defense grades and statistics.
With those numbers out there, if you’re talking strictly about pass defense, the best to worst is Fairley, Paea, Suh, Edwards, Peters, Odrick and Mosley. However, as I mentioned it’s important that the Dolphins get a well-rounded player. When putting those two categories together, I came up with another weighted formula that allowed me to get an overall grade. That led me to the following list of top defensive tackles the Dolphins should target in free agency.
Overall, in order of best to worst, these players are Suh, Fairley, Odrick, Peters, Paea, Mosley and Edwards Let’s dig a little deeper into each player now and find out what risks there may be and why I ranked them in this order.
With all this in mind, we can now see that there aren’t many options besides Odrick in free agency. While the Dolphins can go all in on Suh or Fairley, it would seem best that they reward Odrick for his hard work over the years and show the guys in the locker room that if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do, you will be rewarded for it with a second contract with the team that drafted you.
I would then look to draft a run-stopping defensive tackle in either the first or second round of the draft. That would give you a rookie starter, Odrick, Mitchell, Johnson and Francis. That would solve the defensive tackle position by taking care of your own guy and by also drafting a young player who can hopefully develop into a star over the next several years.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
With only one game left of the NFL season, we are already looking ahead to free agency and the draft. That means we get to compile endless amounts of mock drafts in an effort to entertain both you and ourselves. For our very first one here on PhinManiacs.com, we’re bringing you a double dose with the picks done by Jeff Hyde and analysis on each selection done by Matthew Cannata. We hope you enjoy and as it always is with mock drafts, this will be an ever-changing document headed into the draft in just a few months.
Selection (JH): Round 1 - Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
With comparisons from Marshawn Lynch to Herschel Walker, I doubt you’ll hear many complaints about taking Todd Gurley with the 14th pick of the Draft. The Dolphins have invested heavily in the offensive line the past few years, it’s time to add the finishing touches to the project. Gurley, 6’1 230, is the big back that the Dolphins could’ve used this past season, but he also provides another option as a feature back alongside Lamar Miller. Despite Gurley’s knee injury, the combination of him and Lamar Miller in the backfield could be too sweet to pass up for the Dolphins at #14.
Analysis (MC): There is nothing wrong with Gurley as I believe he’s going to be a fantastic player in the NFL. I do think though that the Dolphins have many other needs they need to address before looking at a running back. It’s no secret the Dolphins need to balance their offensive attack and a two-headed monster with Miller and Gurley will certainly make that work. If the Dolphins can address ILB, DT and WR in free agency (not an easy task), then trading down a few spots to pick Gurley wouldn’t be something I’d be upset with.
Selection (JH): Round 2 - Paul Dawson, LB, TCU
The Dolphins are missing a linebacker with the skills to do everything well and become an anchor for their defense for a long time. Dawson is their guy in round 2. Though Dawson is listed as outside linebacker, his best fit at the next level in a 4-3 middle linebacker. He has incredible instincts, good speed and the tackling ability to be a huge piece of the Dolphins defense for years to come. He’s a little undersized for the position, but is very fundamentally sound. Drafting Dawson will allow Koa Misi to move back outside to his ideal position, instantly upgrading the linebacking corps.
Analysis (MC): When picking in the first and second round of the draft, you want to try your absolute best to hit on sure things. Dawson is a nice player but he isn’t a sure thing at inside linebacker. Remember that Earl Mitchell was projected to be a great fit in the 4-3 defense but after one season, the Dolphins are already looking to upgrade that are of the line because he simply wore down as the season went on. I don’t think the Dolphins can afford to experiment with a linebacker learning the nuances of being in the middle. I would like to see a true ILB here – perhaps Denzell Perryman from the University of Miami or Eric Kendricks from UCLA.
Selection (JH): Round 3 - Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
The word that always comes to mind when watching Agholor is “fluid”. He runs very good routes and always makes the subtle adjustments needed at the receiver position to comeback and get the ball. His production was tremendous at USC this past season catching 104 passes for +1300 yards and 12 touchdowns. Agholor is very good and fearless in the red zone as well. He isn’t afraid to catch the ball in traffic. Agholor has had issues with drops in the past, but was significantly improved in this area this past year. At 6’0, 185, his skill set draws comparisons to Emmanuel Sanders, or Paul Richardson.
Analysis (MC): If Agholor drops to the third round, the Dolphins should think about pouncing on him as he is projected by many to go in the middle to late second. However, I would also have to think a ton about drafting Tyler Lockett from Kansas State in this spot. Lockett won’t be an outside receiver but he will be an impact player in the slot, replacing Brandon Gibson. He can take the top off the defense and is a threat all over the field. Think of Julian Edelman when thinking of Lockett. That’s the type of player you’re going to get.
Selection (JH): Round 4 - Ellis McCarthy, DT, UCLA
With the likely departure of Randy Starks, and the uncertainty surrounding Jared Odrick’s future with the team, the Dolphins will be looking to fill the DT position with a big bodied rookie tackle. McCarthy, 6’4 330, is a guy who will take up space, and has the athletic ability to require a double team in certain situations, freeing up rush lanes for linebackers and creating one on one matchups for the two talented defensive ends outside for the Dolphins. The Dolphins could look to the earlier rounds to find their stud DT, but with DT AJ Francis also vying for the position next season, a guy like McCarthy could provide the Dolphins with a low risk/high reward option to compete with Francis in the offseason.
Analysis (MC): I’m surprised that Jeff hasn’t picked a cornerback yet as the Dolphins are uncertain at that position. I don’t think they need another defensive tackle as they have two young guys – Francis and Anthony Johnson. Let those guys compete for the rotational spot as long as you sign one in free agency. If that happens, I would go with Ladarius Gunter from the University of Miami in this spot. He is 6-1 and 200 pounds with 32-inch arms. Despite his big frame and size, he moves very well on his feet and can stay with the fastest ones on the field.
Selection (JH): Round 5 - Dezmin Lewis, WR, Central Arkansas
Dez Lewis is a small school prospect with big time potential. Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey’s favorite kind. Lewis has the size (6’4 215) the Dolphins desperately need at the WR position, but also adds a terrific route tree to the mix. He runs great comeback routes and screens, but can also use his long strides to separate from defenders on crossing patterns as well. Lewis is looked at as a fringe top 100 player in this draft, but doesn’t have high end speed which could potentially cause him him to fall a bit. If that’s the case, the Dolphins would love to have him in the 5th.
Analysis (MC): Lewis wouldn’t be a bad pick here, especially if the Dolphins re-vamp their entire wide receiver unit. Lewis would be one of the developmental guys who takes a year or two to really learn the nuances of the position in the NFL. Jeff is right that he’s one of the small school players that Hickey loves to draft. We’ll see if he continues that trend this year.
Selection (JH): Round 6 - Adrian Amos, FS, Penn St.
Described as a fierce competitor, Adrian Amos has the ability to compete for a chance to fill the hole left by Louis Delmas as the Dolphins free safety. I think the Dolphins will ultimately address this position in free agency, or bank on injured FS Michael Thomas to come back, but Amos can learn to position this offseason while contributing heavily on special teams. Amos is a guy that will most definitely bring a fire and intensity to the Dolphins secondary.
Analysis (MC): Like Jeff said, Amos would be a good fit for the secondary and can help on special teams right away. He’s 6-1 and 214 pounds so he can hang with the physical receivers in the NFL, which is something the Dolphins have been lacking the past several years. With Tannebaum looking over Hickey’s shoulder, I expect this trend to disappear.
Selection (JH): Round 7 - Quinn Backus, SS, Coastal Carolina
A linebacker during his time at Coastal, Backus will most likely be converted to safety at the next level due to his small stature. Backus, 5’10 215, will take Jason Trusnik’s role on the Dolphins. I envision Backus being a special teams monster and a leader at the next level. He was a three time Big South Defensive Player of the Year during his college career and was known as a tremendous tackler/playmaker totaling 410 tackles 9 forced fumbles and 8 interceptions over those three years. The Dolphins can use his playmaking skills as a chess piece in special packages on defense, but mostly on special teams.
Analysis (MC): Two safeties in a row? I’m not opposed to it as doubling down is never a bad idea. However, I would lean more towards an offensive lineman in this spot. More specifically, an offensive guard. One name that comes to mind is Jon Feliciano from the University of Miami. However, he might not be around. If he isn’t, then the Dolphins should look at Jarvis Harrison from Texas A&M. Harrison is 6-4 and 344 pounds. Harrison can spend a year getting in NFL shape and learning from one of the best offensive line coaches in the league, John Benton.
This column was written by Jeff Hyde and Matthew Cannata. Follow Hyde on Twitter: @Jeff__Hyde and also be sure to follow Cannata: @PhinManiacs.
For all of you who follow Miko Grimes on Twitter, you know that she's not one to hold back her feelings. She doesn't care who's listening or reading - whatever she is thinking at that current time will surely find it's way to the keyboard and on Twitter. In addition to that, she hosts a radio show on Saturdays with Omar Kelly on 560 WQAM and hasn't held back any punches on the radio either. On Tuesday evening while she was on the airplane back to Miami from the Pro Bowl in Arizona, she decided to spit fire at the NFL for all the wrong that they've done.
The tirade appeared to be set off due to the fact that she had emergency surgery on Thursday and after Grimes was excused from practice and personal appearances, they decided to fine him and withhold money for missing the events. Here is the entire transcript of the chain of events. Please note that there is very strong and profane language.
"For those of u that dont know, i had emergency oral surgery on Thursday. My husband was concerned for me, so he asked coach Garrett if he could miss practice to be there for me bcuz i was stressed and in a lot of pain. Coach Garrett and and NFL exec excused him from practice to be there for me. Well... Apparently, the right hand of the @nfl didnt tell the left hand he wouldnt be there that day, so they yanked his paid appearances & are not happy with him. What kind of message does that send to the players? Do they think they are above family? WTF was he supposed to do? Stay at a PRO BOWL practice while his wife is in pain that equates child birth? Was him missing a fan autograph session worthy of shitting on him @nfl? Havent u guys shit on him enough? Him missing practice made u guys take the MVP from him?"
If things weren't crazy enough, she then decided to go on an all-out assault against the NFL and its policies.
"The nfl is the SHITTIEST, SHADIEST, DISRESPECTFUL professional sport in the WORLD!!! & as long as i breathe air, i will talk shit about em! Why the hell cant u guys cut him a fucking BREAK? @nfl do u see how hard he plays? Do u see the dedication? The toughness? U bitches blind? There is NO REASON ALL ALL why Brent Grimes shouldnt have been MVP of the defense!!! NONE!!!! Do u hear me?????? U have these BULLSHIT ass NOMORE campaigns going on about domestic violence and sexual assault when we all know u dont GAF about women! I have friends that were beaten, thrown down stairs WHILE PREGNANT, guys arrested, & @nfl suspended them 1 FUCKING GAME! Now yall care? FOH. They asked helped it stay quiet bcuz its none of their business until Ray Rice clocked his now wife on camera. Then all of a sudden NOMORE?"
Then, she threatened to expose the NFL for who they really are - a bunch of lying frauds.
"The @nfl only gives a fuck about themselves! They dont care about these players and their families. Dont let these assholes fool u! Im contemplating naming SEVERAL players that the @nfl violated the concussion rules with players but that would take down ppl i care about. But dont believe for a SECOND they care about these players injuries. Its all bullshit!! They care about MONEY!!! Thats why i tell every player i talk to GET YO BREAD DOG!!! Fuck all that other shit!!! Get paid!!! There is NO LOYALTY in this business outside of fans. If the @nfl cares about players, why are there TNF games? Have u guys ever thought about that shit? They ask these guys to play a game on Sunday, then turn around and play again on Thursday! Know why? $$$."
Right in the middle of her tirade, her food arrived, but she was having none of it.
After deciding that she was going to postpone her dinner, she went off in regards to Thursday Night Football.
"Hey @nfl when u ask them to play on thursday night, ur asking them to have 2 car crashes in one week. Why do u do that if u care about them? Do u know how difficult it is to line up the best athletes in the world twice a week for a head on collision? Once a week isnt enough? @nfl. Do u know how incredibly STUPID it is to have a month long training camp full of 2 & 3 a days, including 4 pre-season games each week? @nfl. Do u know most injuries early in the season are bcuz training camp is TOO FUCKING MUCH ON THE BODY, U IDIOTS? @nfl But yall care huh? GTFOH!. All yall care about is MONEY!!! @nfl."
That wasn't the end of it though. All of this conversation about money got her thinking about her own situation with Brent.
"People think players get a percentage of their jersey sales HA!! Not a fucking penny!!!! @nfl gets all of the $$$!Greedy sons a bitches!! @nfl I feel sorry for all the guys that play this sport. Fans get upset at players for holding out. Why????? Why do yall care? They make BILLIONS. Brent signed a 4yr 32M contract with 16M guaranteed. U better beleve he wont see that other 16M! They can opt out after the guaranteed. See how @nfl set that shit up? But if u wanna leave after ur deal is up, they can tag u, TWICE!!! To make u stay! That shit is comedy! Then if u hold out, they fine u $30k a day n shit!!!' Fucking ridiculous! Yall better PRAY i dont get a real voice in these streets or im airing this whole league out! @nfl i know where the bodies are buried! TRUST. Keep fuking my husband over and im gonna put a map out to the world and expose this league for what it truly is! @nfl #TryItBitch"
Finally, she was finished...at least for the time being.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs. You can also follow Miko Grimes on Twitter for endless entertainment: @iHeartMiko
There's a moment in one's life when they finally realize that they've made it. For Dan Marino, that moment certainly came years ago and it wasn't just limited to one. Whether it was him breaking into the NFL, making the Super Bowl, breaking records, winning division titles or being inducted into the Hall of Fame, there's a long list of great accomplishments.
This past weekend, he added one more to that list as Madame Tussauds' Wax Museum unveiled a life size figure of him, which will be on display on International Drive in Orlando.
“Pretty neat. It’s surprising how real it looks. It was a pretty neat process," Marino said.
The wax figure took 800 hours to make and required 150 measurements of Marino’s head and face, in addition to scores of photographs for artists in London. The inspiration for the shape and format of the figure came from a game during the 1994 season. Everything that goes into the wax museum needs to be precise so it was no surprise when it was revealed that the wax figure's head weighed ten pounds - the same as Marino's head.
Footy said the figure, patterned after a famous photo taken during the 1994 season, is so precise that the wax figure’s head weighs 10 pounds — the same as Marino’s actual head.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
Throughout July and August, all we heard was how Ryan Tannehill was taking command of the huddle and showing leadership on this team. He showed leadership the week leading up to the Oakland game when he indirectly told his coach he should publicly name him the starter. And there’s no doubt Tannehill is the quarterback of the immediate future for the Miami Dolphins – at least through 2016.
With that said, shouldn’t Tannehill be doing more to keep Mike Wallace in Miami? Obviously I’m not in Davie everyday so I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. What I do know is that if I was Tannehill, I wouldn’t let half of my touchdowns from 2014 go away easily. The draft will be deep with WRs so the Dolphins could draft one. WR Kevin White out of West Virginia is a guy the Dolphins could potentially pick up. At 6’3” 210 he’s got good size and had 109 catches for 1447 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those are great numbers but I think this team has bigger holes like defensive tackle or corner.
Well what about free agency? You can forget about Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas. They’re not going anywhere. Randall Cobb is 5’10” and not exactly a huge red zone target. The only top tier receiver left is Jeremy Maclin. Maclin is essentially the same player Wallace is, except slower. He had a great year coming off of an ACL injury but he wasn’t jumping over corners in the end zone.
Tannehill needs to step up. Last season, Tannehill drove the ball 75 yards and then hit Dion Sims for the game winning touchdown. After that game, Tannehill let everyone know that was his play call. He said, “I suggested that one. It was something I liked. Coach Sherman agreed. He thought it was a good idea.” That was another example of leadership. He felt confident in what he saw and he executed it.
The situation with Wallace presents Tannehill with another opportunity to be THE leader on this team. He could approach Philbin and Hickey and request for a chance to make it work with Wallace. He could approach Wallace and say, “Look Mike, I know we ended the season on a bad note. I think you’re a dynamic player and I want you on this football team. Let’s get together and figure out how we can make this work.”
Tannehill should take the example from Dan Marino. Marino is arguably the best Miami Dolphin of all time and he works in the building. He frequently sits in on position meetings with the quarterbacks. He can tell Tannehill how he used to get in teammates faces and as Mark Malone from ESPN stated at the time of Marino’s retirement, “challenge” the great Don Shula.
In order for the Dolphins to be successful, Tannehill needs to be surrounded with talent. In my opinion, getting rid of Wallace is counterproductive and it’s definitely not addition by subtraction. This situation is something the quarterback can and should handle. It is only in Tannehill’s best interest to do what he can to fix this and keep Wallace on the team. If other leaders like Branden Albert see it, then Tannehill should too.
This column was written by Carlos Hernandez. Follow him on Twitter: @LosDez
The Senior Bowl kicks off at 4 PM EST today and there are quite a few prospects on both teams worth keeping an eye on. For this column, I’ve listed guys who I feel would be able to make an immediate impact and jump into a starting role on the team. While there are plenty of other late-round prospects that will be participating, I’ve kept this list to a minimum so you can focus in on just a few players instead of being overwhelmed by so many. This is especially true for the players who probably wouldn’t see the field this season in anything other than special teams. There are also other great players that are participating today but they've been left off the list because I feel the Dolphins don't have a need at that particular position.
#95 - Danny Shelton | DT | Washington
If you’ve been following the Senior Bowl coverage this week, you’ll know that the Dolphins are enamored with Shelton. It’s not a surprise when you find out he’s 6-1 and 327 pounds. Shelton is the most powerful defensive tackle at the Senior Bowl and has been the best run defender in practices all week. In addition to being one of the best in run defense, he can also rush the passer and take on double teams with relative ease on a consistent basis. His athleticism allows him to get all over the field and will likely see his stock rise over the next several months. He will likely be a top ten pick in the draft but if he’s there for the Dolphins at 14, he’ll be coming to Miami.
#71 - Carl Davis | DT | Iowa
Davis is 6-5 and 315 pounds. While he primarily played defensive end in college, he can easily transition into the defensive tackle position. Davis is projected to be drafted in the middle to late second round. A lot of focus has been put on Shelton but Davis shouldn’t be overlooked. While he doesn’t have the power that Aaron Donald had last year (Shelton doesn’t either), he routinely drove blockers into the backfield during drills throughout the entire week. One of the knocks on him is his inconsistency but he’s someone to keep an eye on not only today, but in the coming months as well.
#84 - Tony Lippett | WR/CB | Michigan State
The Dolphins desperately need size at both the wide receiver and cornerback position and Lippett can provide that as he is 6-3 and 190 pounds. While a little on the smaller side in terms of weight, he makes up for it in his height and athleticism. I put him as a WR/CB because some project him to switch to cornerback once he gets to the NFL. He played both cornerback and wide receiver this season at Michigan State and head coach Mark Dantonio believes he could be one of the best at that position. He’ll be a wide receiver today and has flashed tons of potential there. Just be sure to keep in mind that he could be switching to the other side of the ball. Lippett is projected to be drafted in the middle to late second round.
#82 - Justin Hardy | WR | East Carolina
Hardy doesn’t have the greatest size for a wide receiver as he’s 5-11 and 190 pounds and is projected to be drafted in the second round. Hardy is the FBS all-time leader in receptions but hasn’t had the best week in bowl practices. He’ll be a slot option for the Dolphins and someone who can replace Brandon Gibson. One week shouldn’t change his reputation but it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward.
#22 - Quinten Rollins | CB | Miami (Ohio)
Rollins, 5-11 and 193 pounds, is projected to go in the late first/early second round. He doesn’t have the typical cornerback size that one looks for but then again, neither does Brent Grimes. However, Rollins needs a lot of work on his fundamentals and technique. After all, he only has one year of college experience under his belt. Rollins will be drafted early based on his potential alone but will likely need a year of refining before becoming a full-time starter, which means I already broke my rule of immediate impact players but Rollins could be one of those special talents that you just can’t let go by you.
#27 - Kurtis Drummond | FS | Michigan State
Drummond is 6-1, 205 pounds and is projected to go in the third round. He’s arguably the top senior prospect at safety in this draft and will work to raise his stock over the next few months. He’s consistent at stopping the run game and has excellent athleticism. The angles he takes are well-coordinated and he isn’t afraid to stick himself out there. One of the knocks on him is that he’s inconsistent when tackling, which has been an issue for the Dolphins in the past. Despite that, I expect the team to take a good look at him and you should as well.
#37 – David Cobb | RB | Minnesota
Cobb is 5-11 and 229 pounds and is a change of pace back the Dolphins could be looking at. He is very physical upon initial contact and is very consistent at pass-blocking. Despite his big size, he has the ability to cut in either direction without slowing down and has a knack for getting low and bursting through the open hole. Defenders have routinely had a tough time bringing him down. While he won’t break one long, he’s good enough to get the tough yards when they matter most.
Note: I know there is a lot of love out there for RB Ameer Abdullah. However, I view him as more of a Lamar Miller type and is someone that the Dolphins probably don’t need.
#90 - Gabe Wright | DT | Auburn
Wright is projected to be drafted in the third round. He is 6-2 and 285 pounds. During this past week, he was one of the most disruptive tackles on the South team. He is an ideal fit for a 4-3 defense as he can penetrate through the hole with burst and explosiveness. He reminds me of someone like Billy Turner – raw power and strength that could work his way into the starting lineup if he’s able to learn the playbook and stay clear of injuries during training camp.
#52 - Denzel Perryman | ILB | Miami (FL)
If you live in South Florida, you should know who Perryman is. He is 6-0 and 240 pounds and is projected to be drafted in the middle of the second round. One of the best things about him is that he projects to fit in any defensive scheme – whether 4-3 or 3-4. He is one of the best at run defense as he can quickly get off blocks and make the right tackles. He doesn’t have the best speed in the world but his instincts more than make up for it. In addition to being good at run defense, he is also good at covering receivers and has shown the consistent ability to do well in that phase of the game. He’ll be an every down player and could be a target for the Dolphins in the second round.
#77 - Arie Kouandjio | OG | Alabama
Kouandjio is 6-5 and 318 pounds and is an absolute monster in size. He is projected to be drafted in the middle of the second round and could be an immediate starter for the Dolphins on day one. His strength is in the running game and was one of the best guards in college football in that phase of the game. While his pass blocking still needs to improve, he has made great strides over the past several years.
#18 - Sammie Coates | WR | Auburn
Coates is 6-2, 201 pounds and is projected to go in the late first/early second round of the upcoming NFL Draft. One of the knocks on him is that he’s raw and needs some refining on his fundamentals, route-running and technique. Due to the fact that Auburn focused a lot on the run game, Coates’ stats were down this past season but that shouldn’t be a sole focus when evaluating him. He’s someone to keep an eye on in the game and in the coming months.
#22 - Tyler Lockett | WR | Kansas State
Lockett would be a slot receiver for the Dolphins as he is only 5-11 and 175 pounds. He would replace Brandon Gibson in that phase of the game and is projected to go in the late second/early third round. In addition, he would be a valuable asset on special teams in the return game – both on kickoffs and punt returns. Lockett is fast and can stretch the defense, which would be needed if the Dolphins decide to move on from Wallace and get a possession receiver on the outside.
#21 - Senquez Golson | CB | Ole Miss
Golson is 5-9, 178 pounds and is projected to be drafted in the late second/early third round. He has excellent instincts and always seems to be around the ball. One of his best traits is that he tends to bait the quarterback into throwing the ball his way, only to jump in front and come away with the interception. This is evidenced by the fact that he had nine interceptions this past season, second highest in the nation.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
Amid growing controversy regarding the way SeaWorld treats their animals and trainers, the Miami Dolphins have ended their partnership with SeaWorld. Under the agreement, which expires in March, season ticket holders for the Dolphins were given special perks inside the park, ticket discounts and special events. It also included a sweepstakes for people who registered on the Dolphins website.
"Due to shifting business priorities of both companies, a new one will not be created," SeaWorld spokeswoman Becca Bides said in an email. "The Dolphins were great partners and we wish them well this off season."
In the wake of the documentary Blackfish, more and more of SeaWorld’s corporate partners—including Hyundai Motor America, Panama Jack, Southwest Airlines, and Virgin America—are breaking ties with the park. The company’s profits have plummeted, it has laid off hundreds of employees, and shareholders have filed lawsuits. The Dolphins are just another company to cut ties with the park.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
Billy Turner was drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft and after general manager Dennis Hickey traded up to select him, many expected him to contribute right away. However, Turner suffered a turf toe injury in training camp and was never able to fully recover and catch up after the initial injury. Now, with a full season under his belt and a full offseason to go along with it, the Miami Dolphins have penciled him in as one of the starting guards for 2015.
We've heard from various sources and media reports that the Dolphins are very pleased with Turner's progress and believes he has a bright future. When Hickey spoke to the media earlier this week at the Senior Bowl, he all but confirmed these rumblings that were going around.
“We feel like Billy Turner really made a lot of strides at the end of the year,” Hickey said. “He had a setback with an injury late in training camp, late in preseason, that kind of set him back. But all of the things we liked about him, he’s definitely shown and you really saw a progression every day in practice. Just bringing a physical mentality, a toughness, punch, athleticism and we’re excited about what he’s going to bring to the table in 2015. We’re really pleased with his development and what it’s going to bring to the table.”
Turner will see time with the starting unit when mini-camps and training camp opens in a few months. It will be his job to lose but all indications are that he will be one of the starting five when the season opens in September.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
On Friday afternoon, the NFL released a statement in regards to the controversy regarding the New England Patriots and the deflated footballs. In the statement, they talk about how they will continue to investigate and that investigation will be led by Ted Wells, who many Dolphins fans are familiar with. Wells was the one who led the charge against the bullying scandal and Richie Incognito. The statement reads as follows.
"Our office has been conducting an investigation as to whether the footballs used in last Sunday’s AFC Championship Game complied with the specifications that are set forth in the playing rules. The investigation began based on information that suggested that the game balls used by the New England Patriots were not properly inflated to levels required by the playing rules, specifically Playing Rule 2, Section 1, which requires that the ball be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Prior to the game, the game officials inspect the footballs to be used by each team and confirm that this standard is satisfied, which was done before last Sunday’s game.
The investigation is being led jointly by NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss. Mr. Wells and his firm bring additional expertise and a valuable independent perspective. The investigation began promptly on Sunday night. Over the past several days, nearly 40 interviews have been conducted, including of Patriots personnel, game officials, and third parties with relevant information and expertise. We have obtained and are continuing to obtain additional information, including video and other electronic information and physical evidence. We have retained Renaissance Associates, an investigatory firm with sophisticated forensic expertise to assist in reviewing electronic and video information.
The playing rules are intended to protect the fairness and integrity of our games. We take seriously claims that those rules have been violated and will fully investigate this matter without compromise or delay. The investigation is ongoing, will be thorough and objective, and is being pursued expeditiously. In the coming days, we expect to conduct numerous additional interviews, examine video and other forensic evidence, as well as relevant physical evidence. While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated. The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action. We have not made any judgments on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence.
Upon being advised of the investigation, the Patriots promptly pledged their full cooperation and have made their personnel and other information available to us upon request. Our investigation will seek information from any and all relevant sources and we expect full cooperation from other clubs as well. As we develop more information and are in a position to reach conclusions, we will share them publicly.”
At this time, one of the biggest names on the free agent market year this year is going to be DeMarco Murray. Dallas is going to have a hard time signing their number one priority in Dez Bryant, getting more help on defense, AND signing Murray. Murray, who is 26, is coming off his best season in the NFL where he totaled over 2200 yards and 13 touchdowns following up a strong 2014 where he had over 1400 yards and 10 touchdowns. He avoided the injury bug this year which he has not been able to do in the past, and that could lead some teams to think long and hard before signing to him a lucrative long term contract. With over 400 carries, including the playoffs in 2014, he does carry risk for 2015. Make no mistake, he will get paid this offseason, but the team that is paying him will affect his fantasy value.
Fantasy owners everywhere, especially in keeper leagues, are going to have high interest in where he ends up this offseason. Murray was able to sneak up on owners in 2014, as he was not necessarily a first or second round pick in all drafts. Owners had high hopes for him in 2014, but no one expected what they got out of him. The question for owners now is what will 2015 bring? Will they get the injured but good version of previous years or the healthy and dynamic version of 2014? If you are in a keeper league, you probably need to keep him no matter where he ends up, but you might want to temper expectations for 2015 depending on the team.
Here are six teams that I can see making a play for Murray this offseason. I have listed these teams in the order of which I feel would be best for his fantasy value.
The Colts have approximately $30 million in cap space (before the Luck extension is signed). How good could Murray be in this offense? This would be the ideal spot for him to sign, as with this offense, he would score a ton of points. He would have one of the NFL’s best passing games to help keep defenses honest, and his ability to catch the ball would make him even more valuable with Luck, who likes throwing to running backs. Indy has an owner that is not afraid to make a splash, and has no other long term running back options on the roster. Richardson is a bust, and Herron would be better suited as a backup. A move to Indy, would make Murray go off the board with one of the top couple picks in fantasy drafts in 2015.
The Falcons have approximately $24 million in cap space. Steven Jackson has not worked out like Atlanta had hoped for in their backfield. Murray would immediately solve their run game problems as there is no other option on the roster with the upside that he has. The Falcons have work to do on their offensive line, but teamed up with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White, Murray would make teams respect the Falcons run game. Murray would be a good fit in Atlanta, and would help elevate Matt Ryan’s numbers as well. With the Falcons pass game Murray would put up very good numbers.
The Bills have approximately $28 million in cap space. What is Rex Ryan’s blueprint for winning? Play good defense, run the ball to control the clock, and take pressure off your quarterback. With a good defense in place, Murray would allow the Bills to establish that run game that Ryan is looking for. Both Spiller and Jackson are free agents, and Murray would more than replace both of them. Quarterback is a problem right now in Buffalo, but Murray’s presence would take pressure off whomever they decide to go with. Signing Murray would be great for Ryan, who likes to make headlines, and would immediately legitimize the offense for Buffalo.
The Raiders have approximately $50 million in cap space. The Raiders have a ton of needs, and a proven running back is one of them. Darren McFadden is on his way out, and Latavius Murray showed promise at times, but Demarco Murray would be a huge upgrade to that offense. Oakland has a promising young quarterback, and the line was not as bad as the record indicates, but they seriously lack offensive weapons. Murray would go a long ways to helping that offense turn the corner. With a new coach, and a ton of money to spend, Oakland can overpay Murray to convince him to play there. If they were to add Murray, and a real option on the outside at wide receiver, Oakland could have a much better offense in 2015.
The Jaguars have approximately $36 million in cap space. Another team, as most on this list are, that has a ton of money to spend and a complete lack of options at running back. Toby Gerhart was a bust, and in a small sample Denard Robinson was good, but Murray would be a huge upgrade. Murray would give this team, with a young quarterback and wide receivers, instant credibility on offense, and would help take pressure off of Bortles to be the entire offense. With a real lack of name recognition on the team, and a fan base starving for wins, Murray would be a great signing for Jacksonville both on and off the field. In this offense Murray would touch the ball a ton.
New York Jets
The Jets have approximately $38 million in cap space. Quick – name two offensive weapons on the current Jets roster that are worth starting in fantasy football? Cannot do it? The reason why is that there is not two other options worth starting every week. Murray would change that immediately for the Jets. Chris Ivory was not bad for the Jets in 2014, but is better suited as a backup. Having a reliable running game would help Todd Bowles in his first year, and Murray and Ivory would give him that. Unfortunately, at this time, the Jets are in desperate need of a quarterback. Murray would make the Jets better, but until a reliable quarterback is on the roster, defenses would stack the box on the Jets as they did last year, and beg the Jets to throw on them. He would probably still be able to put up good numbers in this offense, but to expect great numbers every week would probably be wishful thinking.
This column was written by Ryan Thyer. Follow him on Twitter: @BigNoahD05
The Miami Dolphins have to make tough decisions on two important players this offseason. Mike Wallace is set to cash in on $3 million dollars prior to free agency in March, along with his $9.9 million dollar salary for 2015. Jared Odrick is a versatile DT who can stop the run and rush the passer. He has been a reliable player and will no doubt be looking for a nice pay day now that he’s an unrestricted free agent. So what do these players have in common besides the fact that they play for the Dolphins and they are about to get paid? Both players have had public run-ins with the coaching staff; specifically head coach Joe Philbin. But there is more.
Wallace came to the Dolphins in 2013 with elite speed and a $60 million dollar contract. Along with that contract came enormous expectations. However, I would argue that he has not been able to meet those expectations by no fault of his own. Numerous times throughout the 2013 season Wallace, had his defender beat by a few steps only to have Ryan Tannehill continuously over throw him. They were able to connect on a few long passes this past season but Tannehill still struggled to hit him in stride and they left a few touchdowns on the field. Wallace has tried his best to shed the “one trick pony” label that followed him from Pittsburgh by being more aggressive. I’ve seen him fight for extra yards, not run out of bounds to avoid a hit, and make tough catches in tight coverage. The guy works hard, is a team leader, doesn’t get in trouble with the law, and is almost always open. Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel even quoted Philbin back in October as saying, ‘The biggest thing I’ve noticed is just his work ethic around here.’ So the guy wants the ball more. Who cares? Don’t all playmakers want the ball in their hands? He scored 10 touchdowns this season when he did get the ball in his hands. Not every receiver is quiet and reserved Larry Fitzgerald. Most are brash Dez Bryant.
Odrick has been a nice player for the Dolphins. His play has been one of the only consistent things on an inconsistent Dolphins team. He only produced 1 sack in 2014 but was 2nd in the league for passes defended among DTs at 5. He is considered a vocal leader on a defense that needs a vocal leader. He is a monster at 6’5” 304 lbs, well spoken, works hard, doesn’t get in trouble with the law, and was awarded the ‘Good Guy’ Award by the South Florida media for 2014. His departure will leave a huge hole on the defensive line. Unfortunately for Odrick he let his emotions run high in the Baltimore game this season and crossed Philbin in front of the cameras for all to see. Andrew Abramson from the Palm Beach Post quoted Odrick regarding the incident,
‘Sometimes it’s a player and a coach or anyone that’s involved in an organization that plays football, ’he said. ‘It’s tough to find that gauge of what’s too much emotion and what’s not enough. You never want to border that line of not enough. I think one thing that I bring to the game of football is emotion and I try to do it in the most positive way possible.’
It’s probably “tough to gauge” what too much emotion is because you don’t know if your hyper-sensitive coach is going to cut you because you have your own opinion.
The point here is that Joe has built a reputation of not being able to handle players who voice their own opinion. He likes players like Koa Misi and Cam Wake; quiet leaders who do what they’re told and let their play do the talking. But you can’t keep letting talented players go for nothing. Wallace and Odrick will probably suffer the same fate as Karlos Dansby, Reggie Bush, and Vontae Davis. Released and replaced with sub-par talent. You’re the head coach. You’re the leader. Figure it out! Lead these men! Joe Philbin would rather create more holes for a team that already looks like Swiss cheese than be the leader he was hired to be.
This column was written by Carlos Hernandez. Follow him on Twitter: @LosDez
Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey spoke to reporters on Wednesday at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and not surprisingly, a lot of the questions directed towards him had to do with the future of Mike Wallace. As you will recall, Wallace allegedly quit on his teammates in the season finale against the New York Jets because he wasn't getting any targets in the first half of the game. Following the game, he had fellow wide receiver Brandon Gibson speak for him in a locker room interview that was bizarre and one that hasn't been seen in recent memory.
Now, the Dolphins will be faced with a tough decision. Will they keep Wallace and try to work through his problems or will they cut the cord, take their losses and move on to try to replace him?
“We’re looking at all things with our players and evaluating, that’s part of our process," Hickey said. "I always talk about the process and we try to look at it as systematic approach with different sections of the season and just taking and looking and that’s what we’re doing now. I know the coaches have gone back and looked through cutups and different analysis, whether it be in the passing game, the running game, individual players, groups of players, you know all those things and that’s what we’re looking at and that will guide the decisions upcoming.”
Hickey noted that everyone was frustrated with the way the season went and ended, from owner Stephen Ross to the last player on the roster. He noted that the team finished 8-8 and that's how they are going to grade their season - mediocre.
When asked if Wallace fit the team's culture, Hickey wouldn't respond directly.
“We look at all those things with our players and again it was a disappointing finish. There’s no sugar coating that, but you have to look at the season in totality, players in totality. We see, we evaluate players on a daily basis, every practice, every meeting, all those things. We are constantly looking at players and that’s what goes into looking at players in totality as we make decisions.”
Wallace is due a roster bonus on March 1 so it's possible the team makes a decision before then. They can absorb the bonus and keep him on the roster longer to try to work out a trade once the league year begins on March 10. If the Dolphins release Wallace as a pre-June 1 cut, they will have $9.6 million in dead money and will save $2.5 million. If they designate him as a post-June 1 cut, they will have $5.2 million in dead money but will save $6.9 million. If they trade him, they will have $6.6 million in dead money and will save $5.5 million. Each team is allowed to designate two players as post-June 1 cuts so Wallace is certainly in play here if they can't find a trade partner.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
According to Andrew Abramson of The Palm Beach Post, the Miami Dolphins are working on a contract extension for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill, who is entering his fourth year in the NFL, has thrown for 11,252 yards, 63 touchdowns and 42 interceptions over the past three seasons. He has accumulated a quarterback rating of 84.0 and hasn't missed a start.
General Manager Dennis Hickey, who spoke to reporters at the Senior Bowl on Wednesday, said that the team is looking into the future with Tannehill because of all the cap ramifications that come with giving a franchise quarterback a long-term deal. Nonetheless, he said that Tannehill is definitely in the Dolphins' plan for the future.
“We’re excited about what Ryan has brought to the table for us as an organization, not only on the field but off the field, and the way the handles his business,” Hickey said.
Hickey did admit that there are all kinds of variables when talking about the extension and said a myriad of issues will come into play when the two sides sit down. However, the Dolphins can't wait too long. They will have until May 3 to give him a one-year extension, which would push his salary from $2.1 million in 2015 to approximately $15 million in 2016.
On the flipside, the Dolphins could work out a long-term deal. However, that is not likely. This is because that Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson are expected to get monster deals at some point within the next few months and Tannehill's agent will want to make sure they are in the right market range. While it's not expected that Tannehill will get something close to what those two quarterbacks get, several league sources believe he could pull in around $16 million per year, which is what Andy Dalton received in Cincinnati.
This will be a situation worth monitoring over the next several months and throughout the 2015 season. It is clear that Tannehill is the future of the franchise and the Dolphins will need to be creative with his salary so they don't bog down their finances. In addition, the team will really need to start hitting on their draft picks so they can churn the roster every few years without paying monster salaries to a few players, thus limiting their ability to field a competitive team year after year.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
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
I will admit that I love the off-season in football. I love free agency, the draft, trades – all of it! I find it highly intriguing what teams are doing to attempt to improve themselves. It is even more fun to think of how all the moves affect fantasy season, even though it is months away. There are, of course, a large number of off-season decisions that will change fortunes for their respective NFL teams, as well as fortunes of fantasy football teams and their keepers. The following are five questions and or storylines that I will monitor this off-season, as these will have lasting effects on the 2015 fantasy season.
What is Peyton Manning going to do?
So what will Peyton do this off-season? Peyton is a proud man, and he did not end the season well and his playoff display was in line with the poor end of season play. If Peyton is coming back, he will most likely get the head coach that he wants in Kubiak. Manning’s decision however will have a landslide effect on the Broncos team. If he does choose to walk away then it changes the value of some of the current players on the team as it relates to fantasy football. Elway will not go into the season with Osweiler as his QB, and then you will see a trade for a QB, in my opinion. I would have to imagine that this is not the way that he would want to go out, and that he will be back for one more year.
Where will Josh Gordon play, and which version of Gordon will we see?
Would the better question be: Will Gordon be eligible to play next year, or will he get suspended again? I would guess that he will be playing next year, and that he will keep himself out of trouble this off-season. Hopefully, he knows that he is on his last chance, and that he can be a difference maker for an NFL team and fantasy owners. I don’t expect to see him back in Cleveland next year, as Cleveland will most likely rid themselves of the headache that has come with Gordon the last three years. Whoever ends up with him though has a chance to acquire a true game changer at the WR position. If he is healthy and motivated, which he will be if he is traded, he will escalate the value of his new QB immediately. If he ends up with an elite QB somehow, look out because he could me a monster in fantasy this year!
Where will Adrian Peterson play, and for fantasy relevance, does it matter?
The simple answers to these two questions are - who cares and NO! Assuming he is not preparing for the Olympics (LOL), Peterson will play this year, and he will instantly improve the offense of the team that he plays for, whether it be the Vikings or someone else. You cannot question Peterson’s ability on a football field – he has been amazing when he has played. He now has a year of rest and will most likely come back with a vengeance in 2015. He has shown the ability to put up great numbers on bad offenses, so wherever he ends up, the offense will get better. Peterson will be out to prove a point in 2015, and I would fully expect him to finish in the top five of running backs, regardless of where he plays.
What is Chip Kelly going to do to this roster in 2015?
This is one of the most intriguing questions for me this off-season. With more control this off-season than last year, Chip could really start to make some sweeping changes here. Rumors have been flying for a while now that Chip may move on from LeSean McCoy, as running backs no longer hold the same value that they once did. There is a question on if he will bring back Jeremy Maclin, who will draw a ton of interest on the free agent market. The biggest question though, will be at QB for the Eagles in 2015. Now that Mariota has declared for the draft, there is a rumor a day about Chip moving up in the draft to acquire him. Would someone like McCoy or Foles be a part of a deal for the chance to acquire him? If the Eagles acquire Mariota, and instantly put him in an offense that he is familiar with, he should hold value in fantasy circles in deeper leagues. After all, if Kelly could make Mark Sanchez fantasy relevant, you would have to think that he could do the same with Mariota!
Where will DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, DeMaryius Thomas and others end up?
This question might not be as intriguing as Chip Kelly and the Eagles but is definitely more fun. Free agency lets a fan base and fantasy owners dream up where they want the star players to be! A lot of years the big names do not change teams, but this year we might see a player or two change teams. I do not expect to see Dez Bryant or Demaryius Thomas change teams as both will most likely be signed as soon as their respective teams can get to them. Recent rumblings out of Dallas though sound as if Dallas would be all right with going a different direction at RB and letting Murray go. If Murray is not back in Dallas, I can see Buffalo and Oakland making a play at a RB with name power, which might allow Jerry Jones to make a run at Adrian Peterson. Jeremy Maclin and Randall Cobb would both be great fits for a Kansas City team that NEEDS a presence at WR should they hit the market. Mark Ingram and Justin Forsett both showed teams something this year, so they could both get a shot at starting at somewhere else as well. No matter what happens though, it should be fun to watch!
This column was written by Ryan Thyer. Follow him on Twitter: @BigNoahd05
The Miami Dolphins will head into free agency in less than two months and they will have a lot of work to do. While it’s not ideal to build a team through free agency, the Dolphins have no choice but to fill a lot of their holes through this method. This is because there simply isn’t a lot of impact players at various positions in this year’s draft class. One position where this is evident is inside linebacker. None are sure fire first-round picks and if a team thinks they are, one can argue that drafting one at 14 overall is too high. This argument would simply support the notion that there are much better players that will be available such as a defensive tackle or wide receiver so there is no point in reaching for a need.
There are several options for the Dolphins at the inside linebacker position in free agency if they think they need to upgrade that area and move Koa Misi back to the outside. This past year, the Dolphins were banking on drafting an inside linebacker but when Ryan Shazier and CJ Mosley both went off the board before the Dolphins picked, they went to their next plan, which was drafting Ja’Wuan James, who showed tons of promise and looks to be the right tackle for the next decade barring any serious injuries.
To narrow this list down, we first need to be aware of who is set to become a free agent at the inside linebacker position. This can be found on our player tracker page. Next, we then need to figure out what players are worth pursuing. Based on the signature stats from Pro Football Focus, I put together a weighted formula that took run stop percentage, pass rush productivity, tackling efficiency and coverage into account. From there, I turned it into an overall grade and came up with a list of seven players the Dolphins should have on their short list if they feel they need an upgrade.
These players, ranked in order based off my weighted formula, are as follows: Rolando McClain, Nate Irving, Jasper Brinkley, Mason Foster, Brandon Spikes, Josh Mauga and David Harris.
We are now going to look at each category more in-depth and re-weight our formula afterwards to narrow down our list even more and figure out who the Dolphins should target if they do in fact want to replace Misi in the middle. We will rank the players in order in each category with one being the best and the highest number being the worst. Once all the categories are analyzed, we’ll do a new cumulative total and get our final list from there.
Run Stop Percentage
Since the Dolphins will be weighing whether or not to move Misi back to the outside and replace him in the middle with someone else, it’s important to see where he stands in each category. For this category, his run stop percentage was 6.9%. McClain graded out at 15.9%, Irving at 12.9%, Brinkley at 9.4%, Spikes at 8.9%, Mauga at 8%, Foster at 6.2% and Harris at 6.2%.
The run stop percentage is the percentage of a player’s run defense snaps where he was responsible for a stop. Therefore, it’s important to also look at the number of missed tackles they had to get an idea of how successful they were.
Misi missed three tackles. Spikes missed two, Harris missed two, Brinkley missed three, Foster missed four, McClain missed five, Irving missed six and Mauga missed a whopping 13. Of course, there are some other variables in play here but this gives us a good idea of what we are looking at and builds us a solid foundation to move forward.
Pass Rush Productivity
Pass rush productivity (PRP) is a formula that combines sacks, hits and hurries relative to how many times they rush the passer. Therefore, it’s not important to look at all the individual statistics within the percentage because that number will give us a good idea of what we are looking at. Misi was the seventh best inside linebacker in the NFL when it came to pass rush productivity. Compared to the free agent list, he is the second best with a PRP of 19.3%. McClain graded out at 20.3%, Irving at 12.5%, Foster at 11.8%, Brinkley at 11.7%, Mauga at 10.9%, Harris at 9.1% and Spikes at 6.7%.
Running Game Tackling Efficiency
The tackling efficiency in the running game is the total number of attempted tackles an inside linebacker made per each missed tackle in run defense. Again, we only need to look at the percentage here to get a good idea of what we are analyzing. Misi graded in at 16%. To compare to the free agent list, Harris graded in at 28%, Brinkley at 20.7%, Spikes at 20.5%, McClain at 10.8%, Foster at 9.5%, Mauga at 6.5% and Irving at 6.2%.
Passing Game Tackling Efficiency
The tackling efficiency in the passing game is the total number of attempted tackles an inside linebacker made per each missed tackle in pass defense. Again, we only need to look at the percentage here to get a good idea of what we are analyzing. Misi graded in at 8.3%. Brinkley was at 18%, Foster at 10%, Harris at 10%, McClain at 8.2%, Irving at 7.5%, Mauga at 5.1% and Spikes at 2.8%.
For this category, we are going to look at the yards per coverage snap allowed along with the amount of receptions allowed per coverage snap. These stats take into account whether or not the linebacker is the primary man in coverage. Let’s take a look at the yards per coverage snap first. Misi allowed 0.60 yards, Mauga allowed 0.59 yards, Spikes allowed 0.60 yards, Foster allowed 0.64 yards, Harris allowed 0.68 yards, McClain allowed 0.84 yards, Brinkley allowed 0.96 yards and Irving allowed 1.15 yards.
For the receptions allowed per coverage snap, Misi allowed 13.6. Brinkley allowed 8.9 yards, McClain allowed 10.5 yards, Irving allowed 12.4 yards, Harris allowed 12.7 yards, Mauga allowed 15.1 yards, Foster allowed 15.2 yards and Spikes allowed 15.9 yards.
With all this in mind, it’s time to calculate our final rankings. They are as follows with their final score in parenthesis: Jasper Brinkley (20), Rolando McClain (21), Koa Misi (22), David Harris (27), Nate Irving (29), Mason Foster (29), Brandon Spikes (31) and Josh Mauga (33)
Narrowing the field even more
Now that we've re-calculated everything after going more in-depth into the stats and grades, we can now narrow the field down even more. Since Misi is ranked third compared to the impending free agents, we will look at Brinkley, McClain, Harris and Spikes. It is my opinion that those players will be the only ones that would be an upgrade.
Brinkley will be 30 years old when the 2015 season begins and was a member of the Minnesota Vikings. He had an extremely good year under the direction of first year head coach Mike Zimmer. Zimmer is a defensive mind so one would think that he would want to do everything he can to keep Brinkley. However, that could also work against the Vikings. If Zimmer believes he is really great and scheming and developing players, he may think he has someone on the roster who is cheaper that he can develop into a quality inside linebacker.
McClain, who will turn 26 in July, is interesting because he was in and out of the NFL ever since he was drafted in 2010 as the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft. He came to the Dallas Cowboys on a one-year-deal and proved to be one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL. However, it’s only one season. Was he motivated for a big contract or has he really turned the corner into an elite linebacker – the one the Oakland Raiders though t they were getting when they drafted him? As a columnist, we don’t have that kind of information but rest be assured the people in the Dolphins front office are making the right phone calls, talking to the right people and doing their due diligence on his background. This will be something that they will have to decide based on all the information they’ve gathered from various sources.
Harris will be 31 in just a few days so he only has a few good years left and already could be on the decline. However, he could be a good stop-gap for two years or so until the Dolphins find a stud in the draft. Here’s another interesting player because the New York Jets now have a defensive head coach in Todd Bowles. Will Bowles think he can develop players well enough that he doesn’t have to spend money on Harris or will he realize that Harris can be an integral part of his defense? That will remain to be seen.
Spikes will be 28 when the season begins but he is coming from the Buffalo Bills, where Rex Ryan just took over as head coach. We all know how Ryan loves his defense and how he thrives on having a stud linebacker. I do not expect Spikes to leave Buffalo but you never know. If Spikes doesn’t want to play in that city anymore, the Dolphins should look to lock him up if the other three players aren’t available.
Why not Irving, Foster and Mauga?
While Irving had a good grade, he only played nine weeks of the season before being placed on injured reserve with a sprained MCL. While he hasn’t had any injury history prior to this (he started all but three games in four years), I think general manager Dennis Hickey will feel snake-bitten by his free agent signings this year and will shy away from those with injury history.
Foster was another one who found himself on and off the injury report throughout the season, missing five weeks of the season. The Dolphins cannot afford to risk their money on those with an injury history, especially since this is a do-or-die year for Joe Philbin, Hickey and the rest of the coaches.
As far as Mauga goes, he had the worst grade of anyone and was inconsistent throughout the season, having more bad games than good games. He would not be an upgrade over Misi at the middle linebacker position.
Based on the final rankings and then taking age into account as well, I would target McClain, Spikes, Brinkley and Harris in that order. It's important to note though the concerns about McClain. If everything checks out on him after the Dolphins do their research, they should pursue him hard. If his off-field behavior and work ethic is too much concern for the front office and coaching staff, he should absolutely move off this list. With all that said, If the Dolphins can’t sign any of them, they should stick with Misi and look to draft an inside linebacker in the second or third round of the draft and work on developing him to take over in 2016, if not 2015.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
If it all went the way it was supposed to this year, Dolphins fans would still be talking about the 2014 Dolphins team in the middle of January. Instead, we’ve spent the last month looking ahead to the 2015 roster. And in perfect Dolphins fashion, we all have our own opinions on how that roster should look. Ask ten different Dolphins fans about the teams needs for next year and you’ll get ten different answers. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is for our fan base in recent history.
This weekend, we all get to sit back and watch some prospects that could help turn the Dolphins luck around. GM Dennis Hickey, who was present at the Shrine Game practices along with multiple Dolphins scouts, are looking to find a late round gem or two from this game that will help turn his January’s into something a little more meaningful next time around. I was at the practices this week as well and gathered a list of prospects that could fill some holes on the Dolphins roster for the 2015 season.
QB Taylor Heinicke - Old Dominion
In my opinion, Heinicke has separated himself from the other quarterbacks at the Shrine Game this week. His decision making alone makes him a viable option to be Ryan Tannehill's backup next season. Heinicke, FCS 2012 player of the year at Old Dominion, finished his career with a 67.7 completion percentage, 132 passing touchdowns and just under 15,000 passing yards. He is also capable of using his legs, gaining 1,320 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground for the Monarchs. Keep a close eye on Henicke during the game.
RB John Crockett - North Dakota St.
Crockett is a guy that has stuck out from day one at the Shrine game practices this week. At 6’0 217, Crockett has the ideal size, speed and power to be a diamond in the rough in this year’s draft. He’s as good off the field as he is on the field, which made the Dolphins scouts gravitate towards him before and after each practice. He was constantly encouraging other players, whether he was in the huddle or off to the side. Crockett excelled in all areas this week and should be fun to watch in the game. I was particularly impressed with his pass protection, his ability to hit small holes with authority and his catching ability out of the backfield.
WR Darren Waller - Georgia Tech
Before this week, Waller was described as a guy that couldn’t use his big size (6’6 240) to his advantage. I didn’t see that at all. Despite being matched up with quality cornerbacks in practice, Waller was winning almost every individual matchup. He was terrific at catch the ball at its highest point, which for him was usually above the goal posts. Scouts weren’t pleased with his route running though. He struggled with many short yardage routes. His game at his best primarily with one on one jump ball situations which could make him undraftable, but with some offseason technique work, Waller’s size could be enough for the Dolphins to sign him as a free agent wide-out.
TE Blake Bell - Oklahoma
You want size? Here he is. Oklahoma’s big tight end Blake Bell is 6’6 263 and moves like a landslide. Bell, nicknamed ‘The BellDozer,’ has been living up to his name all week here at the Shrine Game. Despite seeing very limited time as a TE in college, Bell looked every bit like a prototypical NFL player. He blocked well in both the passing and the running game, ran smooth routes and caught everything thrown his way. Bell is a guy that the Dolphins could get to add to their line and utilize in the end zone and could be got in day three of the draft.
G John Miller - Louisville
Miller is a big boy. Strong, wide and takes up plenty of space. He has tremendous lower body strength and the upper body power to move defenders with ease. The only thing that was troublesome was that the Shrine Game coaches were on him all week. Whether it were penalties or wrong blocking schemes, Miller was constantly hearing it from coaches. Whether or not he responded well to the coaching could determine how high Miller’s stock can rise in the coming weeks. His physicality cannot be overlooked and will translate well to the next level.
DT Chucky Hunter - TCU
I watched Hunter closely this week and one word constantly came to my mind to describe him - powerful. Hunter, listed as 6’0 and 307, plays much bigger and much stronger. During individual drills, Hunter was always the better man. He ripped through double teams, wrapped up ball carriers, and always finished plays through the echo of the whistle. As of now, Hunter is being mocked in the later rounds, but a good showing vs. a big East offensive line could help him raise his stock this weekend.
DT Tyeler Davison - Fresno State
Davison was a three year starter at Fresno St. He has the size to be a solid run stuffer at the next level and also the pass rushing ability to get to the quarterback. Davison recorded 8 sacks last season for the Bulldogs. Davison could be a cheap option to replace a guy like Randy Starks if the Dolphins choose not to bring the veteran back. With guys like AJ Francis and Kamal Johnson waiting in the wings, Davison will be a good, low risk player to bring into Dolphins camp.
ILB Ben Heeney - University of Kansas
Heeney’s size as an inside linebacker isn’t going to blow you away, but his effort, pursuit, tackling ability and knowledge of the game will quickly change your mind. Described by many scouts as ‘cerebral,’ Heeney has the ideal smarts that NFL teams love in the middle of their defense. If Heeney can turn some heads this week, and bulk up a bit this offseason, he’ll have a chance to move into the middle rounds of the draft.
CB Damian Swann - Georgia
Swann is a very physical, vocal player that matches up well with WR’s in the slot. He’d be used ideally as the Dolphins nickel CB and could be an upgrade over Jimmy Wilson and take over the role filled by Jamar Taylor if Cortland Finnegan isn’t brought back. You could hear Swann from a mile away at practice. He plays aggressively, but smart. A defensive back coach’s dream. Swann is on the smaller side, but has the speed to keep up with the Julian Edelman's and Percy Harvin's in the AFC East.
CB Justin Coleman - Tennessee
Another guy with a vocal presence and the game to back it up was CB Justin Coleman from Tennessee. The Volunteer was dominant in man coverage despite giving up a lot of size vs. much bigger wide receivers and made sure everybody knew it. He’s not an ideal fit for the Dolphins off man coverage preference, but could serve as a great Nickel cornerback in their system. Coleman will be tested a lot vs. a large WR corps on the other side of the ball, but my guess is he’ll be the one standing tall at the end of the game.
This column was written by Jeff Hyde. Follow him on Twitter: @Jeff__Hyde
In this week's edition of the PhinManiacs Podcast, we reflect back on the 2014 season and each of us give out our team awards. The award categories consist of the following:
You have your idea as to who should get each award but tune in to find out what our crew thinks as well! Some of the answers will definitely surprise you. Click the link below to find out and to hear the insight behind each crew member's selection!
> Click here to download this week's edition of the PhinManiacs Podcast!
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Kevin Coyle will remain the defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins. Coyle's job status has been in question since the end of the 2014 season after the defensive unit collapsed in the final weeks of the season. More information will be posted once it becomes available.