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2015 Free Agency
The offseason for the NFL is now in full swing with the Super Bowl now over and won by our bitter in division rival, the New England Patriots. I do feel good in knowing that our Dolphins are one of the 4 losses that the Patriots had this year. While Miami has work to do still, there is talent on this roster, enough talent to beat the 2014 Super Bowl Champions.
The Senior Bowl has been completed, and the next step in the process leading to the 2015 NFL Draft is the NFL Combine, which will take place Feb 17-23 in Indianapolis.
Let's take a look at some possible candidates to be the 1st round pick for the Dolphins in late April.
DeVante Parker, WR, 6'3, 209 lbs, Louisville - It's no secret that there a good chance the Dolphins will release wide receivers Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline. Mike Wallace could also be a possiblity, but I just read that GM Brian Hickey just had dinner with Wallace, and I do think the Dolphins will look to bring him back, and Hartline is a possiblity if he re-works his contract. That said, the Dolphins still will want to look at a big receiver with speed and a Red Zone threat. Parker fits the mode. West Virginia's WR Kevin White and Alabama Armani Cooper would also fit the bill, but I don't think those kids will be there at #14, and Parker may not either.
Shaq Thompson, OLB, 6'2, 231 lbs, Washington - OLB Phillip Wheeler has been a HUGE disappointment and has not played close to the level of money he is being paid. He will not be on the roster and the Dolphins will need to add a playmaker at the opposite OLB position from Jelani Jenkins. Thompson is a playmaker, returning 3 fumbles and an interception for touchdowns to go with 80 tackles, 2.5 tackles for lost and a sack. Those number would have been better if he did not start at RB for the Huskies in two games, going for over 100 yards in both games.
Danny Shelton, DT, 6'2, 343 lbs, Washington - DT Randy Starks play dropped drastically in the 2nd half of the season, and as it did, the run game numbers spiked for the Dolphins as well. Miami ended the season ranked 24th against the run, giving up 121.1 yards per game. Starks is another veteran that will likely be gone. Coach Joe Philbin paid close attention to this massive DT in the Senior Bowl, and he has been compared to one Haloti Ngata, which is very lofty comparison. Big, strong and powerful, Shelton can anchor against the run and can be a disruptive force, as his 16.5 takcles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 2014 will attest. Will need to work on his pass rush repertoire, as he is strictly a Bull Rush power pass rusher, but if he is there at #14, he will be a major consideration.
Trae Waynes, CB, 6'1, 183 lbs, Michigan State - CB Courtland Finnegan will be asked to take a pay cut, and if he does not, he will be released after an up and down, injury prone season with the Dolphins. Miami has 3rd year cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis coming off of injuries, and while both have played, and in the case of Taylor, shown ability to be major contributors, inconsistency and the ability to stay healthy, especially Taylor, has to be considered. Waynes has the size and is a willing, physical tackler in the run game. Had 46 tackles, a sack and 3 interceptions in the 2014 season for the Spartans.
La'el Collins, OT/OG, 6'3, 308 lbs, LSU - Miami had major interest in Notre Dame ORT Zach Martin, who ended up being drafted by Dallas and moved inside to OG. Many speculate that Collins best position could be at OG also. This is a physical kid that has surprising quickness, long arms and great power, which would make him ideal in the run game. He may not be an ideal fit for the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins employ, but when you have to deal with DT Kyle Williams and Marcel Darius, Buffalo's disruptive DT, you need a power pig like Collins.
As time goes on, this list can and will probably change. The process has begun.
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.