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My Way Too Early Off-Season Predictions

With the Super Bowl not even in conclusion yet, and only the Senior Bowl to go off of, I’ve nevertheless decided to do some predicting of the Miami Dolphins off-season. Let’s just say I’ve got the draft itch. I’ve always been a big draft guy, and personally think draft day is a bigger event than free agency. So let’s delve into the possibilities for the Dolphins off-season, take a look at what positions they will be looking to upgrade, and my reasonings behind my picks.

The Positions of Need:

Let’s be honest here, most of the upgrades that our team needs come on the offensive side of the ball. General manager Jeff Ireland admittedly said that no more than one member of the R&R Express will be back next season, if any of them will be. That means running back is right at the top of the list of needs the Dolphins will look to address this off-season.  With the Dolphins looking for two new starters, I cannot imagine that Lex Hilliard will be back next year either, although Miami has carried four RB’s in the past.

To compliment the new backfield the Dolphins will also need to go out and find themselves a speed threat at wide receiver. While the Fins are currently set at receivers, going three deep already with Brandon Marshall, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, they still need that one guy that can make the safety play over the top coverage.

Of course, to allow the quarterback to have enough time to get the ball to that deep threat, the line will have to be solidified, mostly by adding a left guard, and yet another right tackle/right guard to groom for the future. John Jerry did not have the best rookie year last season, and Vernon Carey’s stats suffered when he was forced to cover for Jerry’s mishaps during the game. This can’t happen again this year, because Chad Henne calling for max-protection every snap just won’t cut it in the NFL.

Last, but certainly not least the Dolphins will look for an athletic tight end to stretch the field. They used to run the 2 tight end sets to perfection back in 2008 with Chad Pennington, Anthony Fasano, and David Martin running the show. Now Pennington and Martin are gone and the Dolphins are looking for a tight end who can be a vertical threat.

The Draft Strategy:

With the draft coming first this year, in the case of the likely lockout, we’ll take a look at that first.

Let’s first address the topic of trading down a few spots in the first round. Really is there any reason to stand pat at pick #15? What value are we going to get there? Mark Ingram? No thank you. While he is drawing some comparisons to Emmit Smith, I just do not trust taking a running back at #15 who had a down senior season, and while there are better value picks later on in the draft.

So I think we will do much of the same thing that the front office did last year, trade down 10-12 spots, and garner a second round pick.

But here is where I think things will get interesting. I already saw this idea somewhere on the web, and I have to say I agree with it 100%. With the Dolphins not really getting any bang for buck if you will in the 1st round at a position of need, why not keep trading back and notching themselves more draft picks? Perhaps even another first round pick next year? I think we might see the Dolphins trade out of the first round, so as not to reach for anyone, and take their guys in the 2nd round with multiple picks.

So with that being said I think this is who we’ll target in the draft, and all just so happen to fill positions of need, with one exception:

2nd Round Picks:

Titus Young: This is hands down the best speed receiver in the draft. He showed at the Senior Bowl that he has great hands, and runs his routes with precision. This is a more refined version of DeSean Jackson coming out of the draft. With his ability to stretch the field, it would make the whole offense better, not to mention this has been the missing piece to our offense the past couple of years. New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has said that he is looking to open up the offense more this year, and the selection of Young would be a good first step in the right direction.

Colin Kaepernik: While quarterback is not on my list of needs above, I have a feeling after Kaepernik’s impressive showing during Senior Bowl week that he gets the nod in the 2nd round. This kid seems to have it all. Personally I’m going to compare him to a poor mans Aaron Rodgers. Kaepernik can avoid the oncoming rush with his feet, throws with precision every time, and has a gun. Not to mention he is rumored to have a solid head on his shoulders. The perfect guy to run the new Dolphins offense and challenge Henne right? While Kaepernik ran the spread at Nevada in college, it will most likely take him some time to learn the ropes of the NFL anyway, so why not draft him, and see what Henne does this year, and let Kaepernik do his thing in some of the later games, or just groom him for the future? Miami has been rumored to be looking at this kid, and I would not be shocked at all if he is snatched up at some point throughout the draft.

Mid-Round Picks:

D.J. Williams: Williams is exactly the guy we need to stretch the field. Like we did in 2008, and the Patriots did this year, everyone now knows how effective the 2 tight end sets can be in this league. I attribute the Dolphins red-zone failures much to the fact that we did not have that second tight end to run the 21 (two tight ends, one running back) personnel sets that we loved to run so much. Standing at 6’2, and being able to run in the low 4.5’s, this should be the Dolphins darkhorse in the mid rounds.

Kendall Hunter: While most of the attention will go to the first crop of running backs, it will be the second crop, featuring Hunter, that will draw the Dolphins attention. Hunter hits the hole with aggression, is patient, and posseses the elusiveness and breakaway speed to be a feature back. Plus he led the Big-12 in yards during his junior season. Hunter is a duel-threat as well, as he is able to catch the ball out of the backfield, something the Dolphins look for in their running backs.

Joseph Barksdale: Did anyone see this kid shutdown the best outside linebacker in this draft, Von Miller? Barksdale can play both tackle spots, and has a lot of potential to groom for the future. If the Fins were to pick him up, look for Carey to move to guard spot, and Barksdale to challenge for the starting right tackle spot. His strength is pass-blocking, and while he is weak in the run-blocking field, he is not totally inferior at it.

Late-Round Picks:

Derrick Locke: This kid possesses breakaway speed, the same speed that the Dolphins are looking to add to their roster. He went to Kentucky looking to try out for track, and then switched to football. His size is a little concerning, but look at Danny Woodhead. Locke reminds me of him, and Miami badly needs that X-factor added to their squad. Spending a late-round pick on Locke would not be the worst thing in the world for them, when they are looking for diamonds in the rough anyway. Locke also impressed at the Senior Bowl, putting in a 37 yard on 11 carries day, to become the second leading rusher on the day.

Free Agency:

With the Dolphins filling most of their needs through the draft, there are only a couple people who the Dolphins will go chasing after via free agency, even though it will cost them a lot.

Logan Mankins:

The Dolphins are in dire need of a left guard that can pull to perfection such as Justin Smiley did back in 2008. Mankins fits the bill for that. He has already been to the Pro-Bowl in his career, and would be a current upgrade over Richie Incognito. Plus, with the addition of Mankins, Incognito would move over to center, where he performed much better than Joe Berger did last year. This guy’s gonna command a hefty paycheck, but it will be well worth it having the best left side of the offensive line in the league.

DeAngelo Williams: The Dolphins have been linked to Williams so far this off-season, and seeing as how the Dolphins will be looking to add running backs this off-season, this seems like a match made in heaven. He missed most of last season with a neck injury, so his demand for a hefty pay-day should not be granted by many. Williams should be going into next season with a chip on his shoulder to prove he can still be a feature back, like he was before his neck injury.  Dolphins should be looking to pick him up, as well as the two aforementioned backs in the draft. It should be a completely rejuvenated backfield next year.

While not all of these additions will be made, (in fact the chances of the Fins listening to me at all are very slim) they all fill needs, and add promise to the future. The front office is trying to win now while creating a youth movement with the right mix of veterans. Time will tell if their strategy will work, but the key to next season will be their ability to bring in impact players through the draft, that can help the team next year.


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8 Responses to “My Way Too Early Off-Season Predictions”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Miami Dolphins Buzz, Miami Dolphins. Miami Dolphins said: My Way Too Early Off-Season Predictions: With the Super Bowl not even in conclusion yet, and only the Senior Bow… http://bit.ly/i2LYfy […]

  2. Jack P says:

    No QB realy? wow

  3. TXDOLFAN says:

    I think the Pats will do what it takes to keep Mankins even though Belichick loathes a holdout. Mankins would be great in our line and have that nasty attitude ready for the Pats twice a year. RB is definitely a concern and some additional speed at WR. Let’s hope some of the predictions come true.

  4. brian peckinpaugh says:

    Alot needs to be done… resign ronnie, which won’t cost alot he will take a pay cut to stay, He says he wants to stay in miami if he can. Also sign D.williams, both him and ronnie can block ronnie infact is one of the best pass blockers in the league.
    Qb..go for either Mcnabb, hasselback, Young or even Kolb honestly to compete for the job over Henne.
    1 more TE, WR be nice even though Burress wants to go to miami

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