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Well, here we are on Super Bowl Sunday as our dreaded AFC East Rival New England takes on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Right now, this game is a pick em and I think it will be a great game. I'm picking New England to win the game today in a tight one, although no one would be surprised in the least bit if the Seahawks win the game.
With that said, we as Dolphin fans are now at the time of the year were we start looking forward to the NFL Draft and adding more talent to a team that continues to take steps forward, despite what most Dolphin fans believe is a sub standard coaching staff and management, mainly one Stephen Ross.
Give credit to Dennis Hickey, as he did come in in his first year with Miami and did a solid job of adding to this talent base. From acquiring OLT Branden Albert & DT Earl Mitchell via free agency to drafting ORT Ju'Wuan James, WR Jarvis Landry along with signing undrafted free agents Damian Williams and Chris McClain, Hickey added viable, solid pieces to the Dolphins.
Miami needs to have that type of success again in 2015, and now Mike Tannebaum has been added to the mix, although personnel still resides in the hands of Hickey. Miami is very tight against the salary cap and need salary cap space. Expect several veterans to be gone from the Dolphins in 2015. DT Randy Starks, WR's Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, LB's Darnell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler and Courtland Finnegan all are likely to be released. Hartline has a chance of remaining if he re-works his contract. Wallace has already said he would not. OC/OG Samson Satele, DT Jared Odrick and TE Charles Clay are free agents, although I believe there is a good chance Clay will be resigned. Miami will attempt to resign Odrick as well, as both are kids drafted by the Dolphins.
Mike Tannenbaum has stated that it is key for the Dolphins to develop their own players, which makes me think that they will try to hold on to players they drafted.
A LOT will change over the next few months with free agency, as I expect the Dolphins to gain cap space and look to address some areas of concern. My mock will change MANY times leading up to the draft. With that said, let take a look at what Miami could look to do.
1) DeVante Parker, 6'3, 209 lbs, WR, Louisville - There is a very good chance the Dolphins will release Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson. If they do, the wide receiver corps will need to be rebuilt around Jarvis Landry. Parker would give Miami that big body that also has the speed to get deep and is dangerous after the catch. Excellent leaping ability make him a major threat in the Red Zone.
2) Tre Jackson, 6'4, 323 lbs, OG, Florida State - The Dolphins added some pieces which helped the offensive line in OT's Branden Albert and Ju'Wuan James, but once again, the OG spot was a major issue. Miami was solid in the run game, ranking in the top 10, but once again gave up too many sacks, 46 to be exact. Jackson is a powerful road grader who has played in the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins employ and was a 3 year starter for the Seminoles.
3) Quienten Rollins, 5'11, 193 lbs, CB, Miami, OH - The Dolphins need a CB opposite Brent Grimes. Jamar Taylor started to show some flashes, but he was also injured in 2014. Rollins has the size and ball skills you love in a cornerback, as he had 6 interceptions in his one year of playing football, as he was a PG on the basketball team.
4) Stephone Anthony, 6'2, 245 lbs, ILB, Clemson - Darnell Ellberbe will not be back in Miami and Koa Misi has had problems with staying healthy since he made the move ILB. Anthony is an aggressive, fast downhill LB, a hitter.
5) Chris Hackett, 6'2, 195 lbs, FS, TCU - Jimmy Wilson is a free agent along with Louis Delmas, and Delmas is coming off an ACL tear as well. Miami needs an upgrade over Wilson, and Hackett has the size and playmaking ability to form a very good duo with SS Reshad Jones. Hackett had 75 tackles, 7 interceptions, 6 pass breakups and 1 forced fumble in 2014 for the Horned Frogs.
6) Dezmin Lewis, 6'4, 215 lbs, WR, Central Arkansas - The Dolphins will need multiple wide receivers, and I think they look to give Ryan another big bodied WR. Lewis is coming off a solid Senior Bowl and a 64 catch, 945 yards and 9 touchdown year.
7) Jamon Brown, 6'4, 330 lbs, OT/OG, Louisville - The Dolphins could certainly use some quality depth on the OL along with some versatility. Brown is a road grader that has played both ORT and ORG for the Cardinals.
As I said earlier, this is going to change a LOT. The Dolphins have showed a lot of interest in DT Danny Shelton of Washington. The Dolphins certainly could use a dominant type of DT, as Randy Starks play REALLY fell off. Also, I would not be surprised at all if the Dolphins were to look at a kid like La'el Collins, the OT from LSU in the 1st round. He has also played OG, and like Dallas did with ORT Zack Martin out of Notre Dame, moved him to ORG and he was an Pro Bowl player for the Cowboys.
Free Agency will shape the draft dramatically as well. It's that time again.
This installment will be on the running backs, and for now, since this is a slow time, I'll be doing one of these every other week, it's a long offseason, but on to the running backs.
As I looked through each unit, one thing stood out to me, there are fairly big questions going forward in every unit, and running back is no exception. I will say this though, I am much less worried about the unit this year than I was last year, Lamar Miller has proved that he is a capable NFL RB. Last year that was still a bit of a question, and how well Knowshon Moreno was going to fit, this year we know what Miller can bring to the table.
The Dolphins have 4 tailbacks as of the end of the season, Lamar Miller, Damien Williams, LaMichael James and Daniel Thomas, Williams and James are relitive unknowns, while Miller and Thomas are known commodities.
LAMAR MILLER In 2014 Miller showed the Dolphins that he's a competitor, we all know he isn't Le'Veon Bell, but he's a hard working fast tailback that could potentially hit some big plays. Either way you could do a lot worse than Lamar Miller as your starting tailback.
DANIEL THOMAS I think most agree that Thomas is basically a failed pick, he is OK as a back up but his ceiling has been reached. Most were happy when he was cut last year, and I think the Dolphins move on for good this year.
DAMIEN WILLIAMS An un-drafted free agent, he was a stand out player at Oklahoma but was released by the team for undisclosed reasons, which killed his draft stock. A 220+ pound tailback with sub 4.5 speed, he was used sparingly this year but did show very good potential. When he was used it was mainly as a 3rd down back, because he can block and catch. This is unusual for a rookie, because you normally can't trust them in the passing game, blocking or route running, so the kid has a good head on his shoulders. I'm excited to see how much he progresses in the offseason.
LaMICHAEL JAMES There is a lot of unknown about the former Oregon superstar, he seemed to fall into a black hole once he was drafted. A very highly touted 2nd round pick for the 49ers, he doesn't see much playing time, as a tailback or as a returner, then to start out his 3rd year he asks for a release from the team, and so they cut him. The fact that they cut him is a little troubling, because he had been a 2nd round pick and yet they were willing to just let him walk. What's more troubling in my opinion is the fact that he asked for his release. Many Dolphin fans are clambering to release Mike Wallace because he may have taken himself out of a meaningless game, and here's a guy who asks off a team because he's not good enough to start. It's funny how perception changes.
(insert cricket sounds) Yes, I'm aware that we have no fullbacks, but I for one would like to see that change, a true fullback would be a huge help on short yardage plays, as a blocker or a runner. I do understand that our basic offense is not a fullback friendly offense, but any short yardage formation benefits from a fullback.
Depth here is the issue, as it is with many of the Dolphin units, but the answer may already be on the team. Damien Williams could emerge as a share timer with Lamar, which would certainly help a lot with depth. James is a complete unknown quantity at this time, Thomas could be brought back as depth, because he can be plugged in, but his celing is so low that there isn't much point keeping him around unless need drives it.
I don't see any pressing need to draft a tailback, besides the kind of standard draft a tailback late and try to develop him theory. As I said above, I wouldn't mind them picking up a fullback, but that is more of a late round or undrafted free agent type of thing.
Personally I think the Dolphins are set enough with Miller to go into 2015 with the hopes that Williams takes the step it looks like he will take. I wouldn't go out and spend on a tailback in free agency, a fullback maybe, but not a tailback. I think we should see what we have in Williams and James before commiting to anything else, because like I said earlier, Miller has proven he can get the job done, and I personally have some high hopes for Williams, I think he can actually becoma a better tailback than Miller, and then we would have a scary backfield.