Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dolphins Part Ways with WR Hagan, Sign OT Frye

Buried on the Dolphins' depth chart by a group including three undrafted players, the Dolphins parted ways with their 2006 third-round pick by waiving wide receiver Derek Hagan on November 4.

To take Hagan's spot on the roster, the Dolphins' signed second-year offensive tackle Brandon Frye off the Houston Texans' practice squad. Frye was drafted by the Texans out of Virginia Tech in the fifth round in 2007.

Derek Hagan

A California native, Hagan played college football at Arizona State (2002-05) where he was one of the most prolific receivers in Pac-10 history. As a senior in 2005, Hagan caught 77 passes for 1,210 yards and eight touchdowns on his way to a first-team All-Pac-10 selection. He finished his career first in Pac-10 history in receptions (258) and second in receiving yards (3,939) while amassing 27 touchdowns.

Despite his college performance, a poor showing at Senior Bowl week earned Hagan the label of bad hands. Projected by some to go as high as the second round, Hagan was drafted by Nick Saban and the Dolphins in the third round (82nd overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Hagan's pre-draft drop problems followed him to the NFL and he finished his rookie season with just 21 receptions for 221 yards and a touchdown in 16 games.

Hagan saw somewhat better production in his 2007 sophomore campaign under Cam Cameron, setting career highs in receptions (29), receiving yards (373) and touchdowns (2).

Under his third head coach in three seasons in 2008, Hagan initially earned the starting wide receiver job opposite Ted Ginn, Jr. despite finishing sixth on the team in receiving during the preseason.

Hagan quickly lost his hold on the job, failing to start the regular season opener and falling behind the likes of Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess and Brandon London on the depth chart. Appearing in just four games as a reserve this season and only one game altogether since Week 3, Hagan recorded three receptions for 51 yards and no scores.

Hagan ends his tenure with the Dolphins with 53 catches for 645 yards and three touchdowns. He was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2009 season. With his release, only two of the Dolphins' six '06 draft picks - first-rounder Jason Allen and seventh-rounder Rodrique Wright - remain with the organization.

Brandon Frye

Originally a defensive end at Virginia Tech, Frye moved to the offensive line while redshirting in 2002. He worked as a backup tackle until late in the 2005 season, when he was forced into the starting lineup due to injury in the Gator Bowl. He maintained the starting left tackle job as a senior in 2006.

While at Virginia Tech, Frye was consistently a standout in the weight room. He posted the top 40 time at his position as both a freshman and sophomore and was consistently one of the most impressive lifters on the team, setting a position record with a 705-pound squat. He posted a 5.08-second 40 times at the NFL Scouting Combine in Feb. 2007.

Frye was selected by the Houston Texans in the fifth round (163rd overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft with a pick acquired in a draft-dray trade with the New Orleans Saints. He signed a contract with the Texans on July 26.

After being released by the Texans during final cuts, Frye began the season on the practice squad until he was promoted to the active roster on October 31 when linebacker Shawn Barber went on injured reserve. Frye spent the remainder of the season on the active roster but did not see any game action.

In the 2008 offseason, Frye was re-signed by the Texans as an exclusive-rights free agent on March 31. He was once again waived during final cuts and was re-signed to the Texans' practice squad, where he remained until being signed by the Dolphins on November 5. Because he was signed off another team's practice squad, Frye must remain on the Dolphins' active roster for at least three weeks.

Frye gives the Dolphins 10 offensive lineman on the active roster in addition to an 11th on the practice squad. He will wear No. 76, which was most recently worn by offensive tackle Kirk Barton earlier in the season.

Analysis

Despite Hagan's draft status and Miami's inexperienced receiving corps, it's not a surprise to see Hagan released here. Though he really hasn't had many (or any) good quarterbacks to work with until the arrival of Chad Pennington, he still often struggled with drops and failed to seize good opportunities - namely following the Chris Chambers trade in 2007 and in training camp this year.

The impact of the Hagan release is practically nonexistent as he had been unable to get on the field in recent weeks and was not a contributor. All of Miami's young receivers - Ginn, Camarillo, Bess, London - have shown promise at times this season, making Hagan expendable.

(To be fair, a big reason why Hagan might have gotten the axe now instead of the equally-disappointing Ernest Wilford might only be because of Wilford's big contract and the fact he was brought in by the current regime, while Hagan was a Saban/Cameron holdover.)

As for Frye, something tells me he might have been brought in to be given a chance at the right guard spot despite his history at tackle.

The Dolphins were dealt a tough blow in the season opener when promising sixth-rounder Donald Thomas was lost for the season with a foot injury. Since Thomas went down, the Dolphins have tried Cameron holdover Ike Ndukwe and free agent pickup Evan Mathis at right guard - both times with little success. The Dolphins' rushing game has clearly suffered as a result, and one needs to look no further than Ronnie Brown's recent rushing averages (3.8, 2.1, 3.1, 3.0 since Week 5) to see the problem.

With the rest of the line practically settled, the right guard spot is the only real weak (but still very important) link. That brings us to Frye.

A blind-side tackle in college, I believe Frye has the necessarily tools to transition inside at the pro level. (Note: I am unsure if Frye has seen time inside in his 1+ years in Houston, but it wouldn't surprise me.) He might have size (6-4, 305) better suited inside, and he possesses impressive athletic ability, good strength and a nonstop motor.

With no regular season appearances, Frye is no guarantee to be a savior at the right guard position. It's not even a given he'll be tried there, though I'd be willing to bet on it given the team's recent struggles at the position and the timing of Frye's signing.

However, he is a young player with some good qualities and potentially, which has been the Dolphins' MO lately. The Dolphins are simply adding a handful of young offensive linemen in hopes of finding some potential gems, and time will only tell of Frye is one of those.