With free agency starting soon, talk of what the Miami Dolphins need to address before the draft has picked up significantly. Generally, a franchise doesn't want to build their team through free agency, but rather the draft, and use free agency to fill holes they can't fill in the draft. In this article, we’ll review the Dolphins needs that probably won't be filled in the draft, and then look at players who could fill those needs.
In the 2015 NFL draft, there isn't a lot to choose from in terms of defensive tackles, but in free agency, there are plenty of really good options from Ndamukong Suh, who will command a $100+ million contract, to guys like the Dolphins own Jared Odrick, to the Broncos Terrance Knighton or the Cardinals Dan Williams.
Ndamukong Suh: Suh is easily the best choice of all the free agent defensive tackles, and arguably the best available free agent period. Suh will get a huge contract no matter where he goes, and reports are that he wants $50+ million in guaranteed money. While some will argue if he is worth that kind of money or not, what is inarguable is that Suh is a real difference maker for a defense, and he would be a great addition to this Dolphins defense. What also can't be argued is that if the Dolphins do sign him, then they will almost be guaranteed to cut Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, and not resign Jared Odrick, as well as possibly cut Mike Wallace too.
If the Dolphins do have to make those moves, that will open up needs in those positions, but to be real, the Dolphins already have a need at linebacker regardless if they cut or keep Ellerbe and Wheeler.
Terrance Knighton: Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton is a guy that has steadily improved every year he has been in the NFL, and especially since signing with the Denver Broncos. Knighton proved to be a key cog in Denver's defensive line this year and played an important role in their stout run defense. The Dolphins really struggled in that area last year, and if they were to sign him, he would be an immediate help in that area.
Dan Williams: Coming out of the University of Tennessee, the Dolphins considered drafting Dan Williams, but instead traded down and drafted Jared Odrick. Now that he is a free agent, they have a chance to pair these two guys together to form a pretty decent combination. Williams was a key player in helping the Arizona Cardinals' stout running defense last season. He was a 3-4 nose tackle for them, though, and would be making a transition to a 4-3 defense, but Paul Solia did the same thing seamlessly for the Dolphins a few years ago. Pairing William’s run defense skills with Jared Odrick’s pass rushing ability (assuming he re-signs), would be a pretty productive and cheap pairing.
Other Options: Kendall Langford, Henry Melton and Corey Peters
Other than the top two cornerbacks in the draft, Trae Waynes and Marcus Peters, there aren't really any plug-and-play type corners this year, so the Dolphins might be forced to look to free agency.
Brandon Flowers: After a bounce-back season with the San Diego Chargers, Flowers hits free agency in a time where he could help some teams, and one of those teams might be the Dolphins. His three interceptions last year led the Chargers, and that was after signing with the team late in the off-season and having to learn a new system on the fly. His veteran leadership could help take the place of Cortland Finnegan, and he could help develop younger guys like Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.
Kareem Jackson: After starting the season pretty slow, Jackson turned it on at the end of the season, even after missing three weeks due to injury. Despite that, he tied for the interceptions lead on the Houston Texans with three, and also had nine pass breakups. Jackson is still young at only 26 years old, and would help the secondary for at least four to five years to come, assuming he stays healthy
Davon House: House might make sense for the Dolphins. He is young, only 25 years old, has plenty of years left to contribute to a team, and he has a connection with Joe Philbin from his Green Bay days. House only had one interception in 2014, but had 10 pass breakups as the third cornerback on the team being behind Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. House still has room to grow, but could start opposite Brent Grimes this year if signed.
Other Options: Chris Culliver, Patrick Robinson, Darius Butler
Clint Boling: Boling could be a real option for the Dolphins regardless of whether they sign Suh. He would be a really good addition for the Dolphins as he would upgrade the guard spot with excellent run blocking and good pass blocking, He helped the Cincinnati Bengals' offense rush for 134.2 yards per game last year, which was good for sixth in the league. Signing Boling would move Mike Pouncey back to his natural position of Center and leave only the other guard spot to be filled.
Orlando Franklin: This past season in Denver, Franklin moved from right tackle to left guard, and the move really boosted his career. Franklin helped stabilize that offensive line because of his great run blocking and solid pass protection for Peyton Manning. Franklin would be a great upgrade this year to the Dolphins offensive line and would help improve the rushing game for the Dolphins, who already had a 1,000 yard rusher in Lamar Miller last year.
Other Options: James Carpenter, Chris Meyers, Justin Blalock
This column was written by Seth Fisher. Follow him on Twitter @sethAfisher