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Rich Rodriguez, Phinfever.comI know there is a lot of vitriol towards these moves, but I actually like what the Dolphins have done, though I do have some criticism.

1. Mario Williams and Olivier Vernon - When you see what Vernon signed for, you sort of understand why the Dolphins did what they did. First of all, the Giants have grossly overpaid for a player that hasn't demonstrated he can be a 15+ sack guy. If that was the starting point for Vernon, then he was always going to be gone. I agree with the Dolphins for not overpaying him. I thought they should not have tendered. That seemed like a waste of time. Either let him walk and get a compensatory pick or franchise him and work out a trade.

The second part of this deal is Mario Williams. He can be a dominant player. I would almost dismiss his lack of production in Rex Ryan's system. Williams is a 4-3 end, period. I do have concerns with what he will add to the locker room, but on the field, I think he can be better than what Vernon has been. Williams can be a dominant pass rusher and good run stopper throughout his career. Vernon was good against the run and got pressure on the QB, but his sack numbers have usually been lacking. His propensity for personal foul penalties was also a concern. It would have been nice to keep Vernon, but I think some on the forum overstated the quality of his play. He is NOT a $17 million a year player. He is not a $15 million a year player. Quite frankly, I don't think he was even a $12 million a year player.

The other positive in this deal is the cap space avoided by signing Vernon to a tag or tender.

2. Kiko Alonso - I am going to look at this separately from Byron Maxwell first. I get it, this is a huge risk from the perspective of the player being a one year wonder and having injury issues. But based on what we saw in 2013, he is superior to any other middle linebacker we had on the team, if he can stay healthy. The MLB position has been upgraded and that was a huge hole in this defense. So if the comparison is Kiko versus what we had last year, the Dolphins are in better shape.

3. Byron MaxWell - Probably a downgrade from Brent Grimes. Maxwell looked good his last two seasons in Seattle, but flopped in Philly. Here's hoping the Dolphins are looking at him as a #2 corner because he hasn't proven he can be a #1 corner. His salary is a concern, but the Dolphins aren't tied to the signing bonus. I wonder how much of a factor his system fit was in Philly. He was certainly a system fit in Seattle for a couple of seasons. One area where he would be an upgrade is his size. He should match up better against big receivers than Grimes. Let's not forget Grimes got lit up a few times in 2015 by big receivers.

4. Miami - Philly trade - Looking at the trade chart, there is a 250 point difference between the 8th pick and the 13th pick. Therefore, for Miami to trade down, fair value would have been a 3rd and a 4rd round pick. The way to look at this trade is that Miami traded down 5 spots for Kiko Alonso in the 3rd round and Byron Maxwell in the 4th round. If you got a good starting MLB in the 3rd and a potentially boundary corner in the 4th, that's not a bad haul IF you get a good player in the first round and at least Kiko or Maxwell pans out.

5. CJ Anderson and Lamar Miller - I love Miller and I hate to see him go. But the running back position is what it is. The Dolphins (and quite frankly the Phinfever forums), set a price on Miller and the Texans offered more. I hope the CJ Anderson move pans out as he is another player that is productive when used, but underused. I believe the Dolphins avoid an additional $2 million a year in expense by going with this option. And with Ajayi already in the fold, the Dolphins will have depth at the position. Let's see if Denver matches.

6. Offensive line - One area of huge concern is still offensive line. The Dolphins signed Jermon Bushrod, who has always been a tackle, and is coming off a shoulder injury. If healthy, he has to be an upgrade at guard over what we currently have. But I would still hope the Dolphins look at this position in the draft as well.

The NFL Combine has come and gone, and we now move into what is going to be a big phase for the Miami Dolphins, Free Agency.  In looking at the Combine, here are some kids that could potentially interest Miami as we work our way to the NFL Draft on April 28th.

 

Looking at the offensive side of the ball, a couple of OLT that I have seen associated with Miami is Notre Dame T Ronnie Stanley and Auburn T Shon Coleman.  I've seen Stanley mocked to Miami a few times and Walter Football.com has Shon Coleman listed as one of the players the Dolphins talked with at the Combine.  Stanley is looked at as a 1st round pick, while if the Dolphins had interest in Coleman, he is considered a 2nd round pick at this moment.  While I do believe the Dolphins could look at take a OT to develop down the line, I don't see Miami looking to take an OT in the 1st 2 rounds, but if they do, Stanley and Coleman could be in play.  A possible developmental player to keep an eye on is OT Brandon Shell of South Carolina.  Miami spoke with him at the East/West Shrine Bowl game according to WalterFootball.com.  Shell is being mocked as a 7th round pick.

 

At the problematic offensive guards spot for Miami, according to WalterFootball.com, the Dolphins spoke with OG/OT Vadal Alexander out of LSU, OG Joshua Garnett of Stanford and OG/OT Spencer Drango of Baylor at the Combine.  WalterFootball.com also reported that the Dolphins spoke with OG Ted Karras of Illinois at the East/West game.

 

In watching the Combine, the wide receiver group is as weak as I have seen in a good bit of time, and of this group, Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell and Baylor WR Corey Coleman are considered the best of the group.  Neither Treadwell or Coleman ran at the Combine, and it is believed that Coleman will probably run in the 4.6 range at his Pro Day.  He is a big bodied WR at 6'2, 212 lbs, with very good hands and a solid catch radius.  He compares himself to Dez Bryant, but he is not as explosive as Bryant.  Coleman on the other hand, is very explosive, as his 40.5 vertical would suggest.  I expect Corey to run in the 4.3-4.4 range at Baylor's Pro Day.  Josh Dotson of TCU and Will Fuller of Notre Dame round out the top 4 wide receivers.  Dotson, 6'2, 202 lbs was rock solid at the Combine, as he looked very good in the drills, caught the ball well and ran a solid 4.5 40.  He has very good hands and I think will be a solid pro.  Fuller, 6'0, 186 lbs ran a blazing 4.32 40 and also did a good job in the drills.  His hands are a little more inconsistent, and had issues with drops at Notre Dame.  But he was very productive for the Fighting Irish, as he had double digit touchdowns his last 2 years and he is a legitimate deep threat like Coleman.

 

I don't know if the Dolphins will look wide receiver in this draft as of yet, but a possible mid to late round pick to look at is WR/PR Wendall Williams of NAIA Cumberland.  I ran across the story yesterday on ProFootballTalk.com.  The young man was at the Regional Combine and was clocked at 4.19 40 and a 45.0 vertical.  I tweeted Simon Clancy about the young man to ask if he had heard of him and in our conversation, he relayed to me that it was an official 4.32.  Either way, this kid has JETS.  He also had a very good career at Cumberland.  He averaged 32.4 yards per kickoff with 3 touchdowns, 23.5 yards per punt return with a touchdown and averaged 30.5 yards per catch with 8 touchdowns.  He is not a big kid at 5'10, 170 lbs, but that type of speed and production cannot be ignored.  The NAIA All-American dominated.

 

Like the WR group, the TE group at the Combine is not deep.  Hunter Henry of Arkansas is considered the top TE in this group and a kid I am familar with, Jerell Adams of South Carolina had a very good Combine.  At 6'5, 247 lbs, Adams ran a 4.65 40 and moves very well for a man his size, but the issues for Jerell are inconsistent hands.  My Phinfever friend and fellow draft guy Mark Grimm, aka swerve likes Temarrick Hemingway of South Carolina State and Darion Griswold of Arkansas State as late round developmental tight ends.  Both Hemingway, 6'5, 244 lbs and Griswold, at 6'3, 253 lbs, fit the mode of former Dolphins TE Charles Clay in their ability to attack the seems, like Adams.

 

If Miami takes a TE, it will be later in the draft, if they take one at all.  As mentioned, this is not a deep or an execptional group of tight ends, and the Dolphins may not go tight end in this draft.

 

Just briefly on the Running Backs, I did see on WalterFootball.com most recent mock, Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliot mocked to Miami.  This is assuming that the Dolphins were to lose RB Lamar Miller.  I like Elliot a lot, and he is a very good RB, but I don't know if the Dolphins would look to go RB in the 1st round this year even if they lost Miller.  There was just a buzz about Miami with Todd Gurley last year, and I believe he would have been the pick if he made it to Miami.  Don't get that feel this year, but you never know.  That said, this RB class is pretty solid.  Derrick Henry of Alabama, Devontae Booker of Utah, Alex Collins of Arkansas, Paul Perkins of UCLA and Kelvin Taylor of Florida are all running backs I like a lot.  Miami did talk with Navy FB Chris Swain at the Senior Bowl according to WalterFootball.com.

 

Switching to the other side of the ball on the Defensive end, this is an area I believe Miami will invest heavily in during the draft.  Cornerback, Linebacker, Defensive Tackle, Defensive End and Safety all could be looked at in this draft, depending on the development with Free Agency.

 

At cornerback, the prospect everyone is looking at for Miami is CB Vernon Hargreaves of Florida.  He had a very solid Combine, as he ran a 4.5 40 and looked very smooth in the drills.  He known as a Technican, very sound fundamentally, very smart, quick and recognizes routes very quickly.  He is also a very good tackler and is very good in run support.  I have Vernon mocked to Miami, and most of the mocks you see has this young man mocked to Miami.  Not the biggest CB at 5'10, 204 lbs, but I have no problem with his size.  He is a playmaker.

 

I love this young man, and I think he is going to be a star, but I don't think there is anyway that CB/FS Jalan Ramsey get's to Miami.  If he does, I think he would be the pick.  He has great size, at 6'1, 209 lbs to go along with a 4.42 40 and 41.5 vertical.  Just like Hargreaves, Ramsey was very solid in the drills at the Combine.  There is a lot of talk in regards to if Jalen would be better at CB or Safety.  I have seen this young man a lot, and he excelled at both CB and Safety while at Florida State.  If I had to choose where I would want Jalan for Miami, it would be Free Safety.  I think he can be an ELITE FS in the NFL with his range, speed and ball skills.

 

A few more names to keep an eye on are Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander, Houston CB William Jackson of Houston and Arizona State CB Lloyd Carrington.  Miami spoke with both Carrington and Alexander, Carrington at the East/West Shrine Bowl game and Alexander at the Combine as reported by WalterFootball.com.  More names will emerge as the process continues.  Ohio State CB Eli Apple and LSU CB Jalen Mills also fit what the Dolphins are looking for,and Miami CB Artie Burns has the size and speed you like.

 

At the FS spot, I believe this group is not very deep.  FS Darian Thompson of Boise State is a possible early round consideration, and Clemson FS T.J Green is an intriguing mid to late round consideration.  At 6'2, 209 lbs, Green ran a 4.39 40.  Most were surprised to see him leave Clemson early, but he has size, speed and talent.  A kid I would look at is Karl Joseph, the SS from West Virginia.  He is coming off a knee injury during non contact drills and ended up missing more than half of the season for West Virginia.  Prior to the injury, the 5'10, 197 lbs SS had 5 interceptions, so he has very good ball skills and range, and is a big hitter.  I think he could make the move to FS.

 

Moving to the DT and DE, this group was considered the strongest at the Combine and in the draft overall.  Miami spoke with Oregon DT/DE DeForest Buckner at the Combine and spoke with Louisiana Teck DT Vernon Butler at the Senior Bowl as reported by WalterFootball.com.  I thought both of these kids looked very good at the Combine and moved very well for such big men.  Buckner came in at 6'7, 291 lbs and Butler came in at 6'4, 323 lbs.  Miami also spoke with Clemson DE Kevin Dodd and Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence at the Combine, and Simon Clancy has stated that the Dolphins are doing their homework on Ole Miss DT Robert Nkemdiche.  I've seen Kevin Dodd play, and he just exploded on the scene in 2015.  People question where was this production during his entire time at Clemson, and that is a legitimate question, but also, this kid has not been playing football long, only a few years.  He has size at 6'5, 277 lbs, speed and a vareity of pass rush moves and a non stop motor, traits I love in a player, especially a pass rusher.  I think he is a kid to keep an eye on EARLY in this draft, more so than Spence or Nkemdiche, both talented kids with serious off the field issues.  UCLA DT Kenny Clark, Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins,  South Carolina State DT Javon Hargrave, Baylor DT Andrew Billings and Notre Dame DT Sheldon Day all were impressive at the Combine.  Hargrave in particular has exploded on the scene with his performance ant the East/West Shrine Bowl and Senior Bowl.

 

Defensive Ends that I thought looked good and could be under consideration are once again Clemson DE Kevin Dodd and Clemson teammate Shaq Lawson, Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah.  Matt Judon of Grand Valley State could be a late round consideration.  As you guys know by now, I have a ton of respect and refer to Simon Clancy a lot.  He has a ton of connections and I used to read his colums on the Sun-Sentinel every chance I could.  He has not been impressed with this draft class, and he is not particular impressed with Shaq Lawson, the DE from Clemson, as we tweeted back and forth on the draft.  I do like Lawson as a player, and I have seen both him and Dodd mocked to Miami as well.

 

Moving the the Linebackers, there is some nice players in this group, players with good speed and size. With the need to be able to cover RB's and TE's in today's offenses, you need versatile linebackers with speed.  Miami has to look to address the linebacker position in this draft, and a couple of names stand out for me.  At the OLB position, a real consideration at #8 is UCLA OLB Myles Jack.  At 6'1, 245 lbs, Jack has played RB, S and RB while at UCLA.  He has the speed to cover RB's out of the backfield, TE's and on occasion, slot WR.  He can be special.  He did not perfrom at the Combine, as he is coming off a knee injury before the season started, but is expected to be ready for the UCLA Pro Day.  I consider Jack, Dodd, Hargraeves and Lawson to be legitimate picks at #8 for Miami.  A few other kids to look at early at the OLB position are Ohio State OLB Darron Lee and LSU OLB Deion Jones, as they fit the profile of what Miami would want and performed well at the Combine.  A kid that would have been a major consideration at #8 is Notre Dame OLB Jaylon Smith.  Unfortunately for Jaylon, the medical report from the Combine was not good.  There is fear of near damage in both his knee and ankle, and he is now expected to miss the entire 2016 season, and maybe more.  The medical re-check for Jaylon will be HUGE.

 

Moving to the ILB spot, Alabama ILB Reggie Ragland showed in the Combine that he has the ability to be a 3 down backer, as he sheded almost 20 lbs coming into the Combine.  Another kid that is listed as an OLB, but I believe could make the move to ILB is Ohio State OLB Joshua Perry.  He is 6'4, 254 lbs and rand a 4.68 40.  Explosive athlete and player.  A kid I love that did not perform well at the Combine is Arizona ILB Scooby Wright.  He ended up running a 4.81 40, but he just makes plays.  Sometimes you have to look past Combine numbers, and he is one of those kids for me.  Maim also spoke with Southern Cal ILB Anthony Sarao at the Combine as reported by WalterFootball.com.  Florida ILB Antonio Morrison is a name I would keep an eye on as well.

 

As you guys and gals know by now, more names will come up thru the process, and myself and Mark along with other board members will put those names out, either in our blogs or with the Phinfever members on Dolphin Talk.

 

Now, moving on to Free Agency, I have said and believe the Dolphins will be aggressive.  Miami has made moves to open up cap space, as just recently they released WR Greg Jennings and took advantage of the clause in Ndamankung Suh's contract and reworked his deal.  Also, the Dolphins have restructured LB Koa Misi contract and are now working to restructure TE Jordan Cameron's contract as reported by Max Himmelrich via TwitterBarry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported the news on Jennings and the Suh restructure as well as Misi via Twitter.  Just to add, there were multiple post from Twitter as well stating that Cameron had originally balked at restrucuturing, but had a change of heart.  Part of it was his belief in new Coach Adam Gase, while a part of it was knowing Miami was ready to release him.

 

As you all know by now, Miami Free Agent DE Olivier Vernon was given the Transition Tag, which comes with a 12.7 million dollar price tag.  This is the value the Dolphins believe Vernon is worth per year.  Point blank, I would be very surprised to see Vernon back in Miami.  I mentioned in my blog a few weeks ago that I would love to have Vernon back, as he is a 25 year old DE, and he has still not reached his peak yet.  I also said I did not believe Vernon as a 15 plus million dollar player per year, and I am not the only one that believes this.  That said, it only takes one team and the Jaguars, Raiders and Giants are flush with cap space and in need of pass rushers.

 

As I posted in the boards yesterday after seeing the tweet from Ian Rappaport of the NFL Network, former Buffalo DE Mario Williams is in Miami for a visit and has not left.  It is now being reported by mulitple sources on Twitter that Williams is in the process of taking a physical, as the Dolphins are preparing to talk contract with Williams.  Matthew Cannata of Phinsider.com posted a tweet from Drew Boylhart stating that not to count on Mario Williams going to New York tomorrow, as he is taking a physical in Miami today.  I believe the Dolphins are working to get Williams signed, and I think Mario is very motivated to want to play within the AFC East to get after the Buffalo Bills.  He has a lot to prove, coming off a 5 sack season, and hearing plenty of talk of him taking plays off and moaning and groaning about the defense.  I think he was a round peg trying to be placed in a square opening, as he was being asked to drop into coverage and playing in a 3-4 defense.  He is a natural in the 4-3 defense Miami plays, and he will be a pass rusher, peroid.  Still think he has plenty in the gas tank at 31 years old and will be a nice signing if Miami can get it done.  I just saw on Twitter that from Neal Driscoll that Mario Williams has left Davie without a deal.  ESPN Josina Anderson has also tweeted that Williams is leaving today.

 

As we move towards what is going to be a hectic Monday, some names to keep an eye on that will be associated with the Dolphins as reported by multiple sources.  On the offensive line, Baltimore OLG/OLT Kelechi Osemele, San Francisco OG Alex Boone, OG Geoff Swhwartz, Houston ORG Brandon Brooks are possible targets.  I believe  Boone and Schwartz is a good possiblilty, but I would keep an eye on Osemele.  He is a BEAST, and Miami could be prepared to play him at OLG with the possiblity of moving him to OLT in the very near future.

 

At Linebacker, Cincinnati LB Vincent Rey, Detroit LB Tahir Whitehead are guys to keep an eye on.  Simon Clancy mentioned these kids a few weeks ago, and I believe they are very realistic targets to land.  Denver ILB Danny Trevathan had been mentioned with Miami as well by Clancy, but it is looking like he may join his former Coach John Fox in Chicago.  Seattle LB Bruce Irvin has been mentioned as well, but his former coaches, Dan Quinn of Atlanta and Gus Bradley of Jacksonville are reported to be very interested as well, and Miami does not want to get into a bidding war. 

 

In the secondary, a couple of Cincinnati players are in consideration as reported by multiple sources.  CB Adam Jones and S George Ioka are names to keep an eye on.  Andrew Abramson believes Cleveland S Tashaun Gipson is in play along with Cincinnati CB Leon Hall and teammate Reggie Nelson.  Simon Clancy has also mentioned Dallas CB Mo Claiborne and New York Giant CB Prince Amukumara as possible targets.

 

On the DL, Cincinnati DT Brandon Thompson is someone Miami has interest in along with Los Angeles DE William Hayes as reported by Simon Clancy a few weeks ago.  I believe Paul Soliai, the former Dolphin that will be cut by Atlanta is in play, as he would like to return to Miami.  Not sure where things stand with Derrick Shelby, but as of right now, it does not look like he will be back in Miami.

 

I've read from mulitple sources that Miami is close to getting a deal for RB Lamar Miller done, and hope to have it done before Free Agency kicks off on Monday.  I hope it get's done.  Let the craziness of Free Agency begin.

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Week 3: Browns at Dolphins (1 pm)

 

 

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