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 My last blog article discussed some players who could be on the outs with the Dolphins come August. Now I want to look at some candidates who could breakout or bounce back in 2014. Similar to what Charles Clay and Olivier Vernon did in 2013.

 

Comeback Year?

 

Mike Wallace

All indicators are pointing toward a big bounce back season for Oceans 11.

It appears Bill Lazor is going out of his way to tailor the offense to Wallace’ skill set and to make sure Steven Ross gets the return that he paid for on Wallace. I’ve already made the bold prediction for Wallace on the Phinfever boards.

I’m projecting something like 80 catches for 1300 yards and 9 TDs.

 

Michael Egnew and/or Dion Sims

I keep reading about how involved Lazor likes to keep tight ends in his wide open offense so one or both of these guys has an opportunity to carve out a niche opposite Charles Clay.

These are 2 huge targets that we need to excel in the red zone especially.

Egnew also showed up on my roster bubble blog so he is a polarizing player for sure. There is talk of us now keeping 5 tight ends.

 

Lamar Miller

Miller has really taken a liking to Lazors’ new system and has taken the starting tailback job and run with it so far. He has the open field speed required to play RB in Lazors’ offense. "He's had a very good camp," said coach Joe Philbin. "This is the time as a third-year player that you're ready to make a big contribution." Miller could find success in this offense that LeSean McCoy galloped for 1600 yards in.

 

 

Dannell Ellerbe

After signing a huge contract with Miami last year and then disappointing at MLB, this guy desperately needs a bounce back year at OLB.

The Dolphins are admitting to Jeff Ireland's $34.75 million mistake on Ellerbe by moving him to his new position. They can't save salary cap room by cutting Ellerbe until next offseason.

 

Louis Delmas

Miami’s new free agent safety, Delmas actually had a pretty good year in Detroit but they decided to let him walk due to being injury prone so far

as a pro. But Delmas says this is the best he’s ever felt in his 4 years in the NFL. Last season was his only full season as a pro. Delmas was a big time safety prospect when he entered the 2009 draft. Here’s hoping that we get to see that full potential and a career year for him in a Dolphin uniform.

 

Breakout Candidates

 

Ryan Tannehill

So far Tannehill has been a solid yet unspectacular quarterback in his first 2 years in the NFL. But that was while playing in the limited, predictable offense of overmatched Mike Sherman. Tannehill also played behind the worst offensive line in franchise history last season that set a team record for sacks allowed so it’s actually commendable that Tannehill has played pretty well so far when he has basically been setup for failure.

 

New general manager Dennis Hickey made a point this offseason to make huge upgrades to the offensive line in hopes of better protecting his young signal caller. But the biggest hope for Tannehill having a breakout career year rests with with new coordinater Bill Lazor who will run an innovative spread offense. More rollouts, pistol plays and overall creativity should setup Tannehill for success in his 3rd year. Tannehill has the athletic gifts to make Lazors’ spread offense work, and this same system did wonders for Nick Foles last year.

 

Dallas Thomas

After being largely ineffective for his rookie year, Thomas has so far impressed new line coach John Benton this offseason and he has let Thomas man the left guard spot. Philbin and Benton want to give last years 3rd round pick every chance to start at guard before turning to this years 3rd round pick Billy Turner.

 "This is my opportunity," said Thomas, a 2013 third-round pick who played two snaps on offense last season. "It happened to me in camp last offseason. They gave me opportunity and I failed. I failed at it and I'm learning from it. I know I have to make it count."

 

Billy Turner

Speaking of Turner, who is a small school prospect just learning the NFL ropes. I get the feeling the team would rather move him along slowly this year while he gets acclimated to pro level football. But if Thomas or Smith were to struggle like last years guards did, Turner could be tossed into action and could become that breakout guard in his rookie season

 

Ja’Wuan James

Our top pick will have the most pressure on him to perform as a rookie and I think he can live up to the lofty expectations that come with being the 19th overall pick. He was drafted to be an instant starter and upgrade at right tackle for a line that was historically bad. He was a rock on the right side for the Volunteers. I like his potential alot.

 

Jarvis Landry

Landry is one of the more pro-ready receivers you’ll ever see enter the NFL, so it will not surprise me if he wins the starting slot receiver job in camp and runs with it. He must have impressed our staff and GM for them to pick him 15 to 20 spots ahead of his draft projection. He brings that tough “play-in-traffic” attitude and run after catch ability that is missing from this offense so I’m rooting for him to start.

 

Brian Hartline

I think there’s going to be plenty of receptions to go around this year in Miami so Hartline should also benefit from the new high-volume offense.

He will remain Tannehill’s 2nd option and go-to 3rd down machine. He has steadily improved over his career and I expect he will do so again.

82 grabs for 1100 yards and 7 scores is very achievable for him.

 

Dion Jordan

JT and Dion

Talk around OTAs is that the game has slowed down for him in his 2nd year and he is fully healthy this time around.Jordan has packed on 15 pounds of muscle to help take on opposing linemen. Jason Taylor has taken him under his wing in sort of a master-apprentice relationship.

 

JT on Dion Jordan: ""Dion's bigger than me, more athletic than I am, and he's going to be stronger...He's so willing to learn."

Jordan has the talent to make a big sophomore leap.

 

Jamar Taylor

The other injured rookie from last season, Taylor struggled all year with hernia and groin injuries as a rookie and played just 45 snaps. Much like the way JT has taken Jordan under his command, so has Cortland Finnegan with Jamar.

At Boise State Taylor was a big, physical, playmaker at corner with tremendous ball skills. The sky is the limit for this young man.

 

Koa Misi

A big story this offseason has been Misi’s move to middle linebacker to replace the ineffective Ellerbe. Early reports are positive and

Misi seems to be a fit in the middle as he is a quality run defender. Misi is staying on the field in sub-packages during OTAs, and has a

chance to become the every-down Mike 'backer.

7 well known players on the hot seat come August

 

Daniel Thomas

This could be Thomas’ last stand with Miami. Another Ireland failed project that may be on the way out. He hasn’t done much since Ireland traded up to get him in the 2011 draft. He has shown flashes of potential since then but is way too inconsistent as a runner and a pass blocker. Between the salary-cap savings and his underachieving play on field, there is a very good chance Thomas does not make the team this time around. He will be competing with Mike Gillisee for one roster spot at tailback and Gillisee is more affordable.

 

Danny Watkins

The Danny Watkins experiment is probably over after signing Shelley Smith and drafting Billy Turner. Dallas Thomas appears to be ready to make a run at a starting spot at guard opposite Smith, and Turner and Brenner fill out the rest of the guard depth. The writing is on the wall.

 

Pat Devlin

Devlin's roster spot may be in jeopardy after not showing much during his time in Miami. Undrafted free agent Brock Jensen looks to have more upside than Devlin. He’s a big kid with a live arm and is the FCS all-time winning quarterback. The Dolphins may also decide to roll with only 2 quarterbacks. They almost did last year.

 

Marcus Thigpen

The writing is on the wall now that Thigpen has been moved into the crowded receiver core. He’s going to have a hard time cracking the top 6 at WR. The one thing that can save Thigpen is his multifaceted skill set as a returner/runner/receiver...but he does leave alot to be desired as a return man. His return averages and his decision making regressed this past season.

 

Rishard Matthews

Another Jeff Ireland pick that is owed nothing by the new GM. The Dolphins haven’t been happy with Rishard Matthews for tardiness, lack of attention to detail and “other” issues, and it’s why they used a second-round pick on Jarvis Landry instead of being content with Matthews as their fourth receiver. Matthews was quoted as saying. "They want me to be more professional off the field, as well as on the field. ... Coach Philbin sat down with me and gave me the ropes. We’re definitely on the same page." He'll have to have a big time preseason to earn the Dolphins' final receiver spot.

 

Michael Egnew

Looks like at least our new coordinater knows how to play to Egnew’s strengths using him out wide and off the line away from linemen, but Egnew is still a long shot to make the cut and he’ll have to have an outstanding camp to make it. He’s competing with 2 recent draft picks Dion Sims and Arthur Lynch. Sims is a massive tight end with upside ability and Lynch is a solid Fasano-like tight end that fills a role we need.

 

Phillip Wheeler

Wheeler was horrific in his first season with the Dolphins. Pro Football Focus credited him with a whopping 18 missed tackles and graded Wheeler out as its worst 4-3 outside linebacker. Releasing Wheeler would cause a $4.2 million cap penalty for the Dolphins, so Hickey may be reluctant to cut him.

 

 

 

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