MIAMI DOLPHINS / 2013 TEAM NEEDS
Mike Sherman’s West Coast offense has its quarterback of the future in Ryan Tannehill, but he needs more weapons at receiver and a seam threat at tight end. Joe Philbin wanted the Dolphins to run the football often in 2012, and that should be key again. Expired contracts for OLT Jake Long, WR Brian Hartline and RB Reggie Bush loom large for the offense and any draft strategies.
TOP 3 OFFENSIVE NEEDS
WR — Even though the team has re-upped with UFA Brian Hartline, the receiver position still needs an upgrade, with plenty of wideouts failing to fill the void of Brandon Marshall. Miami would prefer not to have to trot out Rishard Matthews and Marlon Moore next season, and while it likely will target one in free agency (Greg Jennings?), double-dipping in the draft is definitely an option.
OG — This position struggled a bit in 2013. OLG Richie Incognito is due $4 million next year and will be a free agent in 2014. John Jerry manned the right side, but the position is thin and could certainly use some competition, and even an upgrade.
OT— This need hinges on the future of OLT Jake Long, who is a free agent this year and coming off another season-ending injury. With his durability suddenly a question mark, even if Long re-signs, Miami will want a better option behind him. ORT Jonathan Martin had a solid season and could move to the left side, with the Dolphins using a draft pick on a right tackle.
Kevin Coyle did a fine job in his first year with the Dolphins’ defense, converting to a 4-3 while still getting the most of the stars in the front seven. The secondary is this unit’s weakness, and two starters — CB Sean Smith, S Chris Clemons — are free agents (DT Randy Starks was “franchised”). The Dolphins defend the run well, but they are focused on creating more turnovers in 2013.
TOP 3 DEFENSIVE NEEDS
CB — Trading Vontae Davis put the Dolphins one corner down, and their No. 1 cover man, Sean Smith, is a free agent. Richard Marshall missed most of the season with an injury, Nolan Carroll struggled, and Miami also has late-season acquisition Dimitri Patterson. Depth hurt them at corner in 2012, and with two meetings vs. the Patriots a year, this is an important position to have shored up.
LB — This is a depth and future situation, as the Dolphins certainly don’t need a starter at linebacker with the trio of Koa Misi, Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett. Their backups are mainly special-teams contributors, and there’s quite a drop-off in talent. Dansby and Burnett are 31 and 30, respectively, and owed a lot of money.
DE — This became less of a need when the Dolphins gave Starks the franchise tag, which eliminated the possibility of starting DE Jared Odrick having to move inside to replace Starks. 2012 rookies Derrick Shelby and Olivier Vernon showed some flashes, but a bit more depth wouldn’t hurt.
2012 DRAFT REWIND
1st round (8): QB Ryan Tannehill / Texas A&M (GP/GS: 16/16)
Skinny: Showed poise, but jury is still out on if he’s a franchise QB.
2nd round (42): ORT Jonathan Martin / Stanford (GP/GS: 16/16)
Skinny: Struggled with speed rushers, but solid season at both OT spots.
3rd round (72): OLB Olivier Vernon / Miami (Fla.) (GP/GS: 16/0)
Skinny: Made some big plays, but disappeared down stretch.
3rd round (78): TE Michael Egnew / Missouri (GP/GS: 2/0)
Skinny: Clearly still a project; needs to prove self as blocker.
4th round (97): RB Lamar Miller / Miami (Fla.) (GP/GS: 13/1)
Skinny: Saw flashes early on, then rode bench, finished strong.
5th round (155): OLB Josh Kaddu / Oregon (GP/GS: 4/0)
Skinny: Made minimal impact, was often inactive.
6th round (183): WR B.J. Cunningham /Michigan State (GP/GS: 0/0)
Skinny: Joined Eagles roster after being cut.
7th round (215): DT Kheeston Randall / Texas (GP/GS: 12/0)
Skinny: Had eight tackles as interior D-line reserve.
7th round (227): WR Rishard Matthews / Nevada (GP/GS: 8/1)
Skinny: Moved up depth chart due to injuries, solid December.
SUMMARY: Overall, this is an impressive, deep class for GM Jeff Ireland. But questions remain about the long-term success of this group