Friday, February 27, 2009

New jersey numbers; Hill joins Broncos

The Dolphins' official roster has been updated through today, and new players have new numbers. These are the changes:
  • Fullback Chris Brown will change from #28 to #20
  • Safety Gibril Wilson will wear #28
  • Safety Ethan Kilmer will wear #43
  • Linebacker Tearrius George will wear #49
  • Linebacker Cameron Wake will wear #59
  • Guard Joe Berger will wear #67
  • Defensive end Kendall Langford will change from #70 to #93
Some notes:
  • George's number is fine for camp/preseason, but if he makes the team he will have to switch to a number in the 50s or 90s
  • Berger originally wore #65 with the Dolphins in 2005-2006, but that number is currently taken by Justin Smiley
  • Langford's new #93 was taken by linebacker Rob Ninkovich (now with the Saints) when Langford first joined the Dolphins.
  • I was hoping Wake would get a 90s number because I think it'd be more badass, but all of them are taken except for 99, which of course will probably be retired at some point
Renaldo Hill update

In other news, former Dolphins safety Renaldo Hill has reportedly inked a four-year, $10 million contract with the Denver Broncos.

The 30-year-old Hill had spent the past three seasons with the Dolphins, recording 195 tackles, six interceptions and 13 passes defensed. He tied cornerback Will Allen for second on the team with three interceptions in 2008.

Breaking News: Dolphins Sign G Joe Berger

According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins have signed free agent guard Joe Berger to a three-year contract.

A sixth-round pick by the Carolina Panthers out of Michigan Tech in 2005, Berger spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the Dolphins before being claimed off waivers by the Dallas Cowboys.

The move reunites Berger with Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, who was his offensive line coach in Dallas. Per Salguero, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Berger could push both Samson Satele at center and Donald Thomas at right guard.

I'll have more on this move and any other moves the Dolphins make in the coming weeks.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My 2009 Offseason Plan

Free agency officially begins at midnight (EST) tonight, but the Dolphins have already had themselves quite an offseason.

They added two-time CFL defensive MVP Cameron Wake. They signed safety Gibril Wilson to man the free safety spot. They re-signed three key pieces of their starting lineup in Yeremiah Bell, Vernon Carey and Channing Crowder. All this before free agency and the draft have taken place.

So what’s next for the Dolphins in the coming months? Only Bill Parcells & Co. know for certain, but there’s no harm in speculating, is there?

But I’m going to go a little farther than speculation. In the following article, I will outline my plan for the Dolphins this offseason. I cover everything from re-signings, to free agent signings, to the draft, to cuts and trades to get back below the offseason roster limit.

My goal here is not simply to list a bunch of superstars I want the Dolphins to sign. Rather, this is what I would consider a realistic yet very productive offseason that would put the Dolphins in position to continue to build on the success they achieved in 2008. Enjoy.

Unrestricted Free Agents
Re-Sign: CB Andre’ Goodman – A career-high five interceptions doesn’t even begin to tell the story of Goodman’s 2008 season. He was absolutely a shutdown corner in the second half and proved to be quality starter. While his performance last season could earn him more dollars than the Dolphins are willing to match, the team would be wise to at least inquire about bringing him back as a starter in 2009, before moving him to the nickel position a few years down the line.

Don’t Re-Sign: FS Renaldo Hill, C Al Johnson, WR Tab Perry, LB Derek Smith – I would have been in favor of re-signing Hill as a short-term starter/veteran backup before the Gibril Wilson signing, but now there is simply no need for him. Johnson and Perry both have a long injury history, while the 34-year-old Smith is clearly at the end of his road.

Exclusive-Rights Free Agents
Re-Sign: OG Ike Ndukwe – While not really starting NFL material, Ndukwe has starting experience, great size and the versatility to play all five positions across the line. He’d cost next-to-nothing to bring back to compete for a backup job.

Don’t Re-Sign: TE Aaron Halterman, OLB Quentin Moses – The team has no need for Halterman at tight end, while there are simply too many young outside linebackers on the team (Wake, Walden, George) to justify bringing back the continually-disappointing Moses.

Free Agency
Sign: Ravens C/G Jason Brown – The Dolphins weren’t happy with Samson Satele’s work in 2008 and Brown would be a perfect fit. There appears to be mutual interest, and the 25-year-old mauler could start at either center or guard.

Sign: Steelers CB Bryant McFadden – As good as Andre’ Goodman was in 2008, he’s getting up there in years and probably doesn’t have more than a few years of starting left in him. The talented 27-year-old McFadden could step right into the starting lineup and would push Goodman to the nickel spot, where he would excel.

Sign: Jets WR Laveranues Coles – The Dolphins need a veteran receiver among the youth, and who better than a former Pro Bowler and one of Chad Pennington’s closest friends? Signing Coles to a short-team contract worth $3-4 million per year would be absolutely ideal for all parties involved.

Sign: Titans OT Daniel Loper – A fifth-round pick out of Texas Tech in 2005, Loper has been backing up two very talented tackles in Michael Roos and David Stewart. Loper should come fairly cheap and could provide great depth at both tackle and guard positions.

Sign: Titans CB/KR/PR Chris Carr – The Dolphins clearly want Ted Ginn, Jr. to focus on offense and Davone Bess isn’t anything special on punt returns. Carr is a quality return specialist who can also contribute as a dime back.

2009 NFL Draft
1: ILB Brian Cushing, Southern California – The Dolphins may have re-signed Crowder, but Akin Ayodele will be 30 in 2009 and has a high cap hit each of the next two seasons. A strong, athletic tackler, Cushing could be groomed behind Crowde and Ayodele and be ready to start alongside Crowder in 2010. He also has the talent to play outside and the Dolphins are still looking to upgrade their pass rush.

2a: CB Sean Smith, Utah – A quick corner with great size (6-3, 205), Smith would be a good addition to the secondary and could be groomed as a starter behind Will Allen, Bryant McFadden and Andre’ Goodman.

2b: OLB Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech –A Top-10 talent who is very inconsistent, Johnson is worth taking a flyer on in the second round and developing as an outside pass rusher. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Johnson has the speed and athleticism to be a pass-rushing specialist.

3: WR Ramses Barden, Cal Poly – The Dolphins signed Ernest Wilford last offseason to be the big, possession guy complementing Ted Ginn, Jr. in the starting lineup. That turned out to be a bust, but drafting Barden would more than make up for it. Barden has rare size (6-6, 230), great hands and surprisingly good speed (4.5 in the forty).

4: RB Arian Foster, Tennessee – Ricky Williams probably doesn’t have many years left, so drafting a solid backup behind Ronnie Brown would be a wise move. Foster is a powerful runner with good speed who absolutely has the talent to one day start in the NFL.

5: NT Sammie Lee Hill, Stillman – Prototypical nose tackles are hard to find and this small school product fits the bill. The 6-foot-4, 330-pound Hill would be a great project to groom behind aging veteran Jason Ferguson.

7a: SS Trimane Goddard, South Carolina – An underrated ballhawk, Goddard would play special teams initially but could also be groomed as the eventual replacement to Yeremiah Bell.

7b: OT Alex Boone, Ohio State – Slipping because of behavior questions, Boone has good size (6-8, 312) and has started at left tackle for the Buckeyes powerhouse for three seasons. He’d be a quality prospect providing depth at the tackle position.

7c: QB Curtis Painter, Purdue – Though he’s coming off a sub-par senior campaign, Painter would be worth burning a seventh-round pick on to develop as a backup quarterback. This would be a precursor to a John Beck trade.

Undrafted Rookie Free Agents
QB Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State – A smart and accurate passer to push Painter for the No. 3 job.

RB Javarris Williams, Tennessee State – A solid running back prospect to replace Jalen Parmele, who was lost to the Ravens from the practice squad late in 2008.

WR Patrick Turner, Southern California – A big-bodied (6-5, 220) receiver who never fully realized his potential at USC.

TE John Phillips, Virginia – A solid all-around tight end who could push Joey Haynos for a backup job and maybe eventually be the No. 2 job behind Fasano.

OT Eric Vandenheuvel, Wisconsin – Another big-bodied Big Ten tackle to compete with Alex Boone and Nate Garner for a backup job.

C Cecil Newton, Clemson – With Satele on the outs, Newton has the chance to compete for a backup job behind Jason Brown.

NT Antonio Dixon, Miami (Fla.) – A borderline NFL prospect but a big (6-3, 330) nose tackle to push Joe Cohen for a backup job.

ILB Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina – A prototypical 3-4 inside linebacker who could play special teams and push William Kershaw for a backup job.

OLB Ian Campbell, Kansas State – Not a pure pass-rusher, but plays the run well and could compete for a backup job at outside linebacker with the likes of Erik Walden and Tearrius George.

CB Jahi Word-Daniels, Georgia Tech – Good size (6-0, 200) for a corner and could compete for a practice squad spot.

CB Glover Quin, New Mexico – A good hitter who could potentially compete at either corner or safety.

FS Lendy Holmes, Oklahoma – An overshadowed player with the Sooners, Holms is a solid all-around safety who could compete for a backup job behind Wilson.

P Chris Miller, Ball State – Brandon Fields has the leg, but he hasn’t been able to consistently put it all together on the field and has been pretty disappointing at times. This MAC product gives Fields some talented and legitimate competition.

LS Mark Estermyer, Pittsburgh – After two bad snaps in the season finale against the Jets, John Denney need someone to push him in camp.
Departures

Departures
At the time this article was written, the Dolphins had 61 players under contract. That’s 19 under the 80-man offseason roster limit.

However, after all the re-signings, signings, draft picks and undrafted rookies I’ve outlined above, the Dolphins have a whopping 91 players on the roster. That means 11 spaces need to be cleared, and these are the ones I’m proposing:

Trade: QB John Beck and C Samson Satele – Take whatever late-round pick you can get for Beck, who has no future in Miami behind Pennington and Henne. Try and get a mid-round pick (4th or 5th) for Satele from a team that can better utilize the small but talented and athletic center.

Release: DE Vonnie Holliday – The lone veteran and really talented player on this list of departures, it just makes more sense to get rid of Holliday than it does to keep him. He has a cap hit close to $6 million this season and the team is already stocked with young talent (Langford, Starks, Merling) at the position.

Trade/Release: RB Ricky Williams – Williams can still play and is a good backup, but Ronnie Brown showed he can handle the load in 2008. There’s no need to keep Williams, who counts $3.5 million against the cap in 2009, when you can draft a rookie like Foster in the middle rounds and pay him $300,000.

Release: RB Lex Hilliard – Not a lot of upside and doesn’t have much of a chance to earn a spot on the roster.

Release: G Shawn Murphy – Disappointing 2008 fourth-rounder who couldn’t even get on the field as a rookie.

Release: NT Joe Cohen – A camp body, let go to make room for younger prospects.

Release: CB Will Billingsley, CB Scorpio Babers and CB Joey Thomas – none likely have much of a future in the league, and the cornerback position is too crowded after all the additions.

Release: SS Courtney Bryan – pure special teamer being let go to make room for younger prospects.

Conclusion
There you have it - my step-by-step plan for the Miami Dolphins in the 2009 offseason. For an idea of what the Dolphins would look like with all these moves, here's a hypothetical depth chart:
While it’s essentially impossible for all of this to happen exactly like I’ve outlined above, I do think there are some good ideas here and I’m confident that at least some of them will come to fruition.

So what do you think? Am I on the money or totally out of my mind? Let me know the moves you agree with and the moves you don’t, as well as the moves you’d make!

Breaking News: Dolphins Re-Sign SS Yeremiah Bell

According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins have re-signed safety Yeremiah Bell to a four-year, $20 million contract with $10 million guaranteed.

The move comes the same day the team gave former Raiders safety Gibril Wilson a five-year, $27.5 million contract with $8 million guaranteed.

With the signings, Bell will continue to man his usual strong safety spot while Wilson will play free safety, which he played for the New York Giants prior to joining the Raiders.

Update on upcoming content

Lots of stuff is going on right now for the Dolphins and free agency hasn't even opened yet! This is my tentative schedule over the next few days:

Feb. 26:
  • Quarterbacks and running backs offseason preview videos
  • Offseason wishlist article
Feb. 27-28:
  • Channing Crowder article
  • Yeremiah Bell article
  • Gibril Wilson article

Chances are with free agency starting tonight I could have even more to cover this weekend, so stay tuned!

Breaking News: Dolphins Sign SS Gibril Wilson

In a surprising move, the Dolphins signed free agent safety Gibril Wilson to a five-year contract on the eve of free agency. Released by the Oakland Raiders on Feb. 20, the 27-year-old Wilson was free to sign with any team.

Wilson was let go by Oakland just one year into a six-year, $39 million contract. He had previously played four years with the New York Giants after being drafted in the fifth round out of Tennessee in 2004. He earned a Super Bowl ring with the Giants in their victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

This is certainly a surprising move, as I think most of us just assumed the team would re-sign Yeremiah Bell. Although Wilson can play free safety and has experience at the position, he's better suited for Bell's strong safety position and I have to believe this signing means Bell won't be back.

Givn that it's a five-year contract, I also have to believe Wilson got decent money here. He'd have no incentive to sign for that long unless he was getting paid good money.

I'll have more info and analysis on this move tomorrow, but I'm pretty stacked today having to finish my two offseason preview videos and put out a special "offseason wishlist" article I have in the works.

UPDATE: NFL.com's Adam Schefter reports the deal is a five-year, $27.5 million contract with $8 million guaranteed and $16.5 million on the first three years. Pretty good money, that's for sure.

Surprisingly, Schefter also says re-signing Bell is next on the list for the Dolphins and they hope to get that done today. I can't imagine Bell will be terribly cheap, so it seems like we're going to have quite a bit of money tied up at the safety position. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Breaking News: Dolphins Agree to Deal with Channing Crowder

In a stunning move, the Miami Dolphins have agreed to a three-year contract with upcoming free agent linebacker Channing Crowder just over a day before the free agency period begins.

A third-round pick out of Florida in 2005, Crowder has played in 58 games for the Dolphins including 50 starts over four seasons. He recorded a career-high 113 tackles in 2008, ranking second on the team behind safety Yeremiah Bell (120).

I have to say I'm very shocked at this move, given the Dolphins' apparent lack of interest in retaining him to this point and Crowder's continued public displeasure with what negotiations there have been.

As for my opinion of the move, I'll have to reserve judgment until the contract details are known. I've said all year that I expected Crowder to be overpaid on the open market, and if that was the case then I didn't want us to be the ones doing it. At the right price, he's certainly worth keeping because he's a good run-stopping linebacker.

Laveranues Coles Would Be Good Fit For Dolphins

I typically don't make too big a deal about players released by other teams. It seems you can't go a day without fans talking about recently released players, wondering if they could be headed for Miami. (I'm talking to you, advocates of Marvin Harrison and Derrick Brooks.) This, of course, is always without any consideration given to the player's age, current ability, money or the team's depth at the position.

That being said, there is one recently released player I do believe would be a great fit for the Dolphins and has a legitimate shot at landing in Miami. That is wide receiver Laveranues Coles, a nine-year veteran and 2003 Pro Bowl selection who was released by the New York Jets on Wednesday.

In my eyes, Coles seems like a natural fit for Miami. First, he is good friends with Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington from their time together in New York. Coles was even openly critical of the team last season when they released Pennington in favor of Brett Favre. (Proof he's a smart guy as well!)

Though he's on the wrong side of 30, Coles certainly still has the talent to start in the NFL and should have another three or four good years left in him. He has nearly as much NFL experience as the team's current seven receivers combined and would instantly upgrade the Dolphins' passing game.

Although Coles is potentially the second best receiver on the market now after the Bengals' T. J. Houshmandzadeh, I expect Coles will cost less to sign and thus could be a more likely pull for the Dolphins. Bringing in Coles for $3-4 million per season over the next three years or so would be well worth every penny while the Dolphin continue to look for younger, more long-term options. (*cough* Ramses Barden *cough*)

While signing Coles wouldn't preclude the team from using a high draft pick on a receiver in 2009, it would give the team a reliable veteran in a unit of inexperience youngsters. Although the general plan for Miami is to get younger rather than older, the Dolphins could use at least one talented veteran in receiving corps. (Sorry Ernest, I said "talented.")

Since he was outright released by the Jets and is not a player with an expiring contract this offseason, Coles immediately becomes a free agent and is free to negotiate and sign with any team at any time. Here's hoping some of those negotiations take place with the Dolphins.

2009 Offseason Preview: Fullback

The Dolphins spent most of 2008 looking of a starting fullback. After swinging and missing on free agent Boomer Grigsby, the team signed Casey Cramer. When Cramer got hurt, Bill Parcells brought in a familiar face from Dallas in Lousaka Polite.

While Polite held the starting job through the end of the season and performed well, is he the long-term answer for the Dolphins at the fullback position? I explore what's available in free agency and the draft in the following video. Enjoy!

2009 Offseason Preview: Wide Receiver

While Ted Ginn, Jr. made strides in his second season and undrafted rookie Davone Bess showed promise as a slot receiver, the Miami Dolphins still need help at the wideout position. The team spent big money bringing in Ernest Wilford in free agency and we all know how that worked out.

Will the Dolphins address wide receiver in the free agency, signing a big-name player like T. J. Houshmandzadeh, or will they look to the draft for help? I examine the team's options in the following video. Enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Vernon Carey Contract Details: Only Five Years?

The NFLPA database has now been updated and offensive tackle Vernon Carey's new contract with the Dolphins is on the books. Though the basics (six years, $42 million total, $15 million guaranteed) have been known since the day the signing was announced, here are some more details. Carey's contract includes base salaries of:

2009: $800,000
2010: $950,000
2011: $4.15 million
2012: $5.05 million
2013: $5.65 million

(Note: these are not his cap hits for each season, but rather base salaries only. Cap hits also include guaranteed money and will be much higher than these figures.)

Looks normal enough. Except there is one thing odd about the contract's entry in the database: It is only for five years, as opposed to the widely reported six. So what gives?

I'm still trying to track down the details on this and I've emailed some of the Miami beat writers to see if they know anything about it. Hopefully, they'll be able to use some of their Dolphins connections to find out the situation.

In the mean time, one guess I have is that the sixth year of the deal is voidable on Carey's behalf if certain incentives are met throughout the contract. Miami's first overall pick from 2008, offensive tackle Jake Long, reportedly signed a five-year deal, but it was actually a six-year deal with a voidable final year based on playing time.

However, Long's contract in the NFLPA database is indeed for six years rather than five, so one would imagine if Carey had a similar contact with a voidable sixth year they'd still have his potential 2014 base salary just like they have Long's base salary for his final year.

Stay tuned, as I'll be sure to post again when I learn more.

Brandon London update

In looking up Carey's contract details in the NFLPA database, I also noticed that wide receiver Brandon London was indeed present. This means that London, an exclusive-rights free agent this offseason, has already been re-signed with the Dolphins.

An undrafted free agent with the New York Giants out of UMass in 2007, the Dolphins claimed London off waivers just before the start of the 2008 season. Primarily a special teams player for the Dolphins, London also caught three passes for 30 yards during the regular season as well as four catches for 38 yards in the Dolphins' Wild Card Round loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The team's three other ERFAs - tight end Aaron Halterman, linebacker Quentin Moses and guard Ike Ndukwe - are not in the NFLPA database and thus have not been re-signed yet.

However, this does not mean the Dolphins have not or will not tender then one-year offers before free agency opens on Feb. 27. It just means London is the only one that has already re-signed.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Darren Rizzi named Assistant Special Teams Coach

The Miami Dolphins have made the second addition to their 2009 coach staff, naming Darren Rizzi as Assistant Special Teams Coach. Rizzi joins offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo as one of two new faces on the staff.

A New Jersey native, Rizzi walked on to the football team at the University of Rhode Island in 1988 and went on to catching 160 passes for 2,426 yards and 15 touchdowns in his collegiate career.

Rizzi most recently spent a season as the head coach at Rhode Island after working as the special teams coach at Rutgers from 2002 to 2007.

Rizzi worked as an assistant at the University of New Haven from 1994 to 1997 under then-head coach Tony Sparano. He succeeded Sparano as head coach at New Haven and held the title for three seasons.

In Miami, Rizzi will work under special teams coordinator John Bonamego. He replaces special teams assistant Steve Hoffman, who was added to Todd Haley's staff in Kansas City earlier this month.

2009 First Round Mock Draft v1.0

The 2009 NFL Draft is still two months away, but I've been quietly working on my first round mock draft for a while now and I thought now would be a good time to release my current version publicly.

Obviously it will undergo changes (probably daily) between now and late April, especially once free agency begins and teams start eliminating needs. Nevertheless, this is the way I see things shaking out at this point in time. Let me know what you think!

1. Detroit Lions - Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia

The Lions obviously need a franchise quarterback, but I predict they go the safe round with the best all-around left tackle in the draft in Monroe.

2. St. Louis Rams - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor

Smith's stock is on the rise and the Rams take Orlando Pace's eventual replacement here.

3. Kansas City Chiefs - Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest

The Chiefs are thin at linebacker and Curry - possibly the best overall prospect in the draft - would be a great addition, in their expected conversion to the 3-4.

4. Seattle Seahawks - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia

Michael Crabtree is a strong possibility here and I had him here myself up until five minutes ago, but Matt Hasselbeck appears to be past his prime and can't stay healthy. If Stafford falls into their laps, it wouldn't surprise me to see them pull the trigger.

5. Cleveland Browns - Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State

Desperately in need of some talent at cornerback, the Browns take the local product and top corner available in Jenkins.

6. Cincinnati Bengals - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

Smith's stock is plummeting right now after a disastrous NFL Scouting Combine experience, but a good Pro Day will keep him in the Top 10 and the Bengals, in need of a young left tackle, have never been an organization to shy away from players due to character concerns.

7. Oakland Raiders - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

Desperately in need of a wide receiver for JaMarcus Russell, Al Davis gets very fortunate here when a Top-5 talent drops into his lap.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars - Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss

Khalif Barnes is unlikely to return as a free agent and the Jaguars liked what they saw of Oher when they coached at the Senior Bowl.

9. Green Bay Packers - Brian Orakpo, LB, Texas

The Packers aren't entirely equipped with the personnel to run Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme, but Orakpo would give them a great pass-rushing linebacker.

10. San Francisco 49ers - Everette Brown, LB, Florida State

Desperately in need of a pass rusher to team with Manny Lawson, the 49ers pass on a risky Mark Sanchez in favor of the extremely talented Florida State underclassman.

11. Buffalo Bills - Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State

Linebacker Kawika Mitchell and defensive end Ryan Denney tied for the team lead with four sacks each in 2008. Needless to say, a little pass rush upgrade is needed.

12. Denver Broncos - B. J. Raji, DT, Boston College

The Broncos don't have many pieces to run the 3-4 they will likely implement, but Raji gives McDaniels his own Vince Wilfork in Denver.

13. Washington Redskins - Tyson Jackson, DE, Louisiana State

The Redskins are thin at both defensive tackle and defensive end, and Jackson could be a productive player at either position in their 4-3 scheme.

14. New Orleans Saints - James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State

Jonathan Vilma is a free agent and they have little else at linebacker, so Laurinaitis who be a great pick here and give the Saints a reliable and versatile linebacker for years to come.

15. Houston Texans - Larry English, DE, Northern Illinois

The Texans need someone to help Mario Williams rush the passer and English is the best defensive end left on the board.

16. San Diego Chargers - Rey Maualuga, LB, Southern California

The Chargers could use some inside linebacker help alongside Stephen Cooper and Maualuga would be the perfect fit.

17. New York Jets - Mark Sanchez, QB, Southern California

Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff likely aren't the answer and if Sanchez falls this far I expect the Jets to jump on him.

18. Chicago Bears - Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri

The Bears luck out here with the No. 2 receiver in the draft dropping to No. 18. Teamed with Devin Hester, Maclin helps the Bears start to build a respectable receiving corps.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss

Jerry's stock is on the rise and he's a perfect fit for defensive tackle in Tampa's scheme.

20. Detroit Lions - Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State

Having selected their bookend tackle first overall, the Lions get their rookie quarterback with the pick they acquired from Dallas in the Roy Williams deal.

21. Philadelphia Eagles - Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State

Not an absolute need pick, but the Eagles couldn't pass on this kind of value here and Wells would be the perfect complement to Brian Westbrook.

22. Minnesota Vikings - Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois

There's little depth behind an aging Antoine Winfield and with the Josh Freeman already off the board the Vikings opt for the No. 2 corner in the draft in Davis.

23. New England Patriots - Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest

There's little talent at cornerback on the Patriots' roster and Smith could be their new Asante Samuel.

24. Atlanta Falcons - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State

Atlanta has no starting-caliber tight ends on the roster (or backup tight ends, for that matter) and they grab the position's most complete prospect in Pettigrew here.

25. Miami Dolphins - Brian Cushing, LB, Southern California

Cushing could play anywhere in the Dolphins' 3-4 scheme, replacing Channing Crowder or giving them a starting outside linebacker opposite Joey Porter.

26. Baltimore Ravens - D. J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt

Chris McAlister's gone, Samari Rolle wants out and there isn't much remaining on the roster. Moore injects some talent and youth into the position.

27. Indianapolis Colts - Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

With Marvin Harrison on the way out, the Colts pick up a versatile athlete in Harvin to line up with Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez.

28. Philadelphia Eagles - Eben Britton, OT, Arizona

Both Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan are old and pending free agents, so it makes sense for Philly to grab the best tackle left on the board here.

29. New York Giants - Clay Matthews, LB, Southern California

A receiver like Heyward-Bey or Kenny Britt to replace Plaxico Burress is a strong possibility, but Matthews would be a huge upgrade for the Giants at outside linebacker.

30. Tennessee Titans - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

The Titans lack a true No. 1 receiver and Heyward-Bey possesses a great blend of size and speed they could really use.

31. Arizona Cardinals - Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

Edgerrin James' career is winding down and Moreno would give the Cardinals a great tag-team partner with Tim Hightower.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers - Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma

Chris Kemoeatu is a free agent and Kendall Simmons is coming off a torn Achilles' tendon. Robinson's the best guard in the draft and would be a great addition to the Steelers' line.

Friday, February 20, 2009

2009 Offseason Preview: Tight End

After getting little production from the tight end position in 2007, the Dolphins remedied the situation by acquiring Anthony Fasano from the Dallas Cowboys prior to the 2008 season.

Whether it was Fasano, Cam Cameron holdover David Martin or unknown rookie Joey Haynos, the Dolphins' tight ends were always reliable in 2008. But with all of those players entering contract years in 2009, is tight end a position one that needs to be addressed in the coming offseason? I discuss the issue and analyze the possibilities in free agency and the draft in the following video. Enjoy!

2009 Offseason Preview: Offensive Tackle

This is my 2009 offseason preview for the offensive tackle position. Unfortunately, I made this video a few hours before the news broke about Vernon Carey's re-signing. So pretend like that hasn't happened yet, okay? Thanks. Enjoy!

P.S. Yes, in the video I say I don't expect us to re-sign Carey. But in my defense, he would have been the best tackle on the open market so it's certainly surprising to see him re-up before at least testing the waters!

Breaking News: Dolphins Re-Sign OT Vernon Carey

According to Edgar Thompson of the Palm Beach Post, the Miami Dolphins have re-signed impending free agent offensive tackle Vernon Carey to a multi-year deal. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Selected by the Dolphins 23rd overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, Carey has started 64 games for the Dolphins and played in 78 total. He has started all 16 games for each for each of the past three season, including every game at right tackle in 2008.

The surprising move comes just a week before the free agent signing period is set to open. With the Steelers placing the franchise tag on Max Starks and the Panthers re-signing Jordan Gross, Carey looked to be the top offensive tackle on the market.

I'll have more on this move in an analysis article this weekend, plus my offseason preview for the offensive tackles (which was unfortunately made before the news of the Carey signing broke).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

2009 Offseason Preview: Guard

The guard position was one of the most problematic for the Dolphins in 2008 as injuries forced both of the team's starters on injured reserve. Thus created Miami's 2008 guard carousel as the team spent the entire season mixing and matching and trying new players to pick up the slack.

Will Justin Smiley and Donald Thomas return healthy and ready to regain their starting jobs in 2009, or will the Dolphins need outside help to fill in the gaps? In the following video, I examine the uncertainty surrounding the guard position and the options the Dolphins have in the free agency and the draft. Enjoy!

2009 Offseason Preview: Center

After a strong showing as a rookie in 2007, center Samson Satele took a step back in 2008, developed a reputation for struggling with stronger defensive linemen and nose tackles. After two seasons with the team and having started all 32 games in his career, the once-promising Satele could be on the trading block this offseason.

As the Dolphins look to make some changes at the center position, I examine their options in both free agency and the draft. Enjoy!

2009 Offseason Preview: Defensive End

A key component of the Dolphins' pass rush that allows linebackers like Joey Porter to rack up sacks, the defensive end position was certainly one of the most efficient on the team in 2008.

With three talented players at the position - Randy Starks, Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling - all 25 years of age or less, the Dolphins appear to be set at defensive end for years to come regardless of what becomes of high-priced veteran Vonnie Holliday.

In the following video, I examine in further detail the Dolphins' defensive end position, and where any players added to the roster there might come from. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dolphins waive G Matt McChesney and LB Kelvin Smith

The Dolphins have plenty of room on their offseason roster, but that hasn't stopped them from trimming a few of the more expendable players heading into the offseason. The latest casualties - guard Matt McChesney and linebacker Kelvin Smith - were both waived on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

Kelvin Smith

A freshman All-American at Syracuse in 2003, Smith was drafted by the Dolphins in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He appeared in four games as a rookie, recording one assisted tackle.

Smith suffered a torn ACL in the Dolphins' 2008 preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Aug. 9. He was subsequently waived/injured and reverted back to the Dolphins' injured reserve list, where he spent the entire season.

Matt McChesney

One of the many players to join the Dolphins' guard carousel in 2008, McChesney was originally signed to the team's practice squad on Sept. 24 after tight end Drew Atchison was released. He was eventually promoted to the active roster on Nov. 7 to replace a waived Evan Mathis. McChesney played against the Seattle Seahawks in a reserve role two days later, but was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Nov. 15.

Originally a defensive tackle out of Colorado, McChesney signed with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2005. He played in three games for the New York Jets that season before making the switch to the offensive line.

McChesney's release gives the Dolphins eight offensive linemen under contract and three with expiring contacts. He has since been claimed off waivers by the Denver Broncos - now his fourth NFL franchise.

Analysis

There isn't any real loss here and I can't say I'm shocked at either move. In fact, in my offseason preview video for the inside linebacker position, I said I wouldn't be surprised if Smith didn't even make it to training camp with the team.

Smith doesn't look nearly as big as his listed height and weight (6-2, 240) and isn't a great fit for inside linebacker in the Dolphins' 3-4 scheme. He likely would have been gone last August had he not gotten hurt, but by rule the Dolphins were unable to release him due to the injury which he why he spent all season on injured reserve.

If Smith has a future in the NFL it will likely be on special teams. Assuming he recovers from his knee injury sufficiently, he should be able to latch on with a 4-3 team and compete for a backup/special teams gig.

As for McChesney, he was always a project the team never expected much out of and it seems they were ready to move on. He's likely about out of chances to make it in the NFL as a reserve guard and will probably be out of the league within a year or two if he doesn't significantly improve his game.

In all honesty, when I think of McChesney, it just reminds me that this guy - a former college defensive tackle who hadn't played an NFL game since 2005 (and never one on offense) was able to get on the field for the Dolphins before our 2008 fourth-round pick, Shawn Murphy. When you look at the way McChesney's career has gone and his track record (or lack thereof), it speaks volumes that the guy was able to get on the field before our rookie fourth-rounder.

With the two roster moves, the Dolphins now have 56 players under contract for the 2009 season - 24 under the 80-man offseason roster limit. That room will be filled with some re-signed free agents, free-agent additions from other teams, draft picks and undrafted rookies.

Friday, February 13, 2009

2009 Offseason Preview: Nose Tackle

The nose tackle is a vital part of the 3-4 defense and while Jason Ferguson has played very well in that role, he's not getting any younger and the Dolphins have very little depth at the position.

In the following video, I examine the Dolphins' current situation at nose tackle, while also looking at the options available for the team in free agency and the draft. Enjoy!

2009 Offseason Preview: Outside Linebacker

After struggling in his first season with the Dolphins under Cam Cameron in 2007, linebacker Joey Porter embraced the Dolphins' new 3-4 scheme brought by Tony Sparano and Paul Pasqualoni in 2008 on the way to 17.5 sacks and his fourth career Pro Bowl selection.

While the Dolphins finished 8th in the NFL in sacks in 2008, Porter had nearly half of them and the team was quite in need a of a better pass rush at times during the season - especially later in the year. The Dolphins have already moved to remedy the problem by signing two-time CFL Defensive MVP Cameron Wake.

Will Wake be enough, or do the Dolphins still need to add more talent to the outside linebacker spot? I address this position for the Dolphins heading into the 2009 offseason in the following video. Enjoy!

Last word on Chris Canty/Harvey Fialkov situation

A few days back, I wrote about a blog entry posted by Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. In his entry, Fialkov raised the possibility of upcoming Dallas Cowboys free agent defensive end Chris Canty signing with the Miami Dolphins this offseason.

In my response, I outlined my reasons why I felt this was unlikely to happen. However, I was also insulting by calling Fialkov 'irresponsible' for the entry, and he understandably took offense to it.

While I stand by everything I said about the football aspect of the situation, I certainly could have chosen my words better and been less insulting. As a result, I've put together this video both apologizing for that and explaining, in a more civil manner, my problems with Fialkov's entry.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chris Canty not likely to land in Miami

Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel has posted a blog entry about Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty - an upcoming unrestricted free agent - possibly landing in Miami this offseason. Begins Fialkov:
"Cowboys DE Chris Canty could be the latest to end up on the Miami Cowboys if Dallas continues to drag their feet to re-up him."
His reasoning: 1) Canty was drafted by Parcells in Dallas and played for Parcells' friend Al Groh at Virginia; and 2) Canty speaks highly of Parcells; and 3) the Cowboys haven't gotten far in negotiations with Canty.

Fialkov ends the entry asking readers for their thoughts on Canty in a Dolphins uniform. Well here are mine:

Before Dolphins fans get their hopes up, I just want to say that it's highly unlikely Canty lands in Miami. Don't get me wrong - the guy is a talented, young 3-4 end with a lot of upside. In the right situation, I'd love to have him starting for my team. But that right situation is not in Miami, regardless of his past connections with Parcells.

Consider:
  1. Canty is reportedly seeking a deal similar to the seven-year, $50.5-million contract defensive tackle Tommy Kelly received from the Raiders this year.
  2. Regardless of whether or not expensive veteran Vonnie Holliday gets the axe this offseason, the Dolphins still won't be in the market for a defensive end, let alone a very high-priced one. They drafted two players at the position in the first three rounds last year (Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford) and signed Randy Starks to a $21-million contract.
  3. All three of the players above are not only talented, quality players, but are all younger than the 26-year-old Canty.
As good as he is, signing Canty just does not make sense for the Dolphins from a football standpoint of a financial one. The team has plenty of holes and defensive end might be one of the few positions where there isn't even a hint of one.

Higher priorities for the team include (but are not limited to): A starting wide receiver; a starting center and/or right guard; a young nose tackle; a starting inside linebacker; another pass-rushing outside linebacker; a starting cornerback; a starting free safety; and a starting strong safety (if Yeremiah Bell leaves). If the Dolphins are going to shell out big bucks for a free agent, it should almost certainly be somewhere else.

I don't mean to rag on Fialkov here because he's a fine journalist and provides plenty of good info on the Dolphins. But writing a blog entry about a potential free agent signing that's so unlikely it's hardly worth discussing seems irresponsible to me.

If you think the situation through, Canty just doesn't make sense for the Dolphins. The Dallas-Miami pipeline that was created when Parcells joined the Dolphins is a guideline, not a rule, and the notion that Canty could land in Miami is a poorly-thought-out one bore from it.

Complete List of 2009 NFL Free Agents

Finding info on all the free agents has always been a hassle in my experience. Since this whole "internet" thing has seemingly caught on, more and more places have been getting better at keeping up with the stuff. But I still find it hard to find a completely reliable source of NFL free agents.

It is for that reason that I've put together a spread that includes all NFL free agents for the upcoming season. Not only is it a list of players with expiring contracts, but it is also sortable by player, team, position and free agent type.

I'm proud to present what I believe is a one-of-a-kind document that I've put together. As far as I know, there is nothing like it on the internet. I plan on updating it throughout free agency as players sign with new (or old) teams, and I'll always have it linked at the top of the site for easy access!

Note: The file above is a Microsoft Office 2007 file. If you are running an old version of Office, you will need to download and install this compatibility pack from Microsoft.

Also, a special thanks to Mike for helping compile the information contained in the file.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Breaking News: G Matt McChesney and LB Kelvin Smith waived

In my inside linebackers video on yesterday (Feb. 9), I said I wouldn't be surprised if linebacker Kelvin Smith didn't even make it to training camp. I had no idea how right I was.

The Dolphins waived two players today, including third-year linebacker Kelvin Smith. A seventh-round pick out of Syracuse in 2007, Smith appeared in four games as a rookie and spent all of last season on injured reserve with a torn ACL.

Also waived was guard Matt McChesney, who was signed to the team's practice squad in September and had a brief stint on the active roster before finishing the year on injured reserve.

I'll have more info on these movies as well as the outside linebackers offseason preview video, so be sure to to check back Wednesday for that content!

Note: The projected depth chart and salary info files have been updated following these moves. These links are always available at the top of the site!

Monday, February 9, 2009

2009 Offseason Preview: Inside Linebacker

Three videos in two days? Man I am on a freaking roll!

One of the Dolphins' biggest free agents this offseason is inside linebacker Channing Crowder. A local product, the son of a former Dolphin and a fan favorite, Crowder appears to be on his way out of Miami and the Dolphins will have a glaring open spot next to Akin Ayodele inside.

In the following video, I address the Dolphins' current situation at inside linebacker and where they might look for some help at the position. Enjoy!



Next video: Outside Linebackers - Tuesday, Feb. 10

Sunday, February 8, 2009

2009 Offseason Preview: Cornerback and Safety

Once again, I've kind of been slacking on the offseason preview videos. Give me a break, I've been busy! I mean, where am I going to find the time to do these videos, which take upwards of 30 minutes total, when I'm staying up until 6 a.m. playing Fallout 3?

Anyway, I'll be back on schedule with an inside linebackers video tomorrow, so I'm certainly not in a whole I cannot dig out of. (That's right, I end sentences in prepositions. What are you gonna do about it?)

The secondary has received its share of criticism in recent years (much of it deserved) and the last time it was really good was in the days of Sam Madison, Patrick Surtain, Brock Marion and Brian Walker.

In the following videos, I talk about what the Dolphins have at cornerback and safety (and more what they don't) and where to find the pieces they need. Enjoy!

Safeties



Cornerbacks



Next video: Inside Linebackers - Monday, Feb. 9

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

2009 Offseason Preview: Special Teams

It took a day longer than I had planned (hey, I was tired) but the first video in my long-awaited and critically acclaimed (at least in my own mind) offseason preview series is finally here!

As we all know, the Dolphins' special teams was a sore spot for much of the season. That being the case, will we see any significant changes to the unit in 2009? For all the info, check out the following videos. Enjoy!

Part I:



Part II:



Next video: Safeties - Thursday, February 5

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl Thoughts ... Offseason Preview Videos Schedule

What a great Super Bowl wasn't it? I still maintain the Titans-Rams was the best I've ever seen and last year's was the most personally satisfying, but I was hoping for a great game and that's what we got.

The Steelers' dominated the first half, the Cardinals really rebounded in the second half and seemed to take the momentum completely from away from Pittsburgh, who looked like they were falling apart. (I'm talking to you, Ike Taylor and James Harrison.)

Then Pittsburgh mounts an amazing drive in the final minutes and caps it off with a remarkable touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes. I tell ya, that's the kind of player I fellow OSU alum Ted Ginn, Jr. to be.

All in all, a fantastic game with many great moments. As a fan of neither team with no real stake in the game, I just really enjoyed watching it.



Now that the Super Bowl is in the books, the offseason will be picking up steam in a hurry. As a result, I'll once again be doing offseason preview videos for the Dolphins' roster. In these videos, I'll be analyzing the Dolphins' current standing at each position. I'll cover any free agents we have at the positions and who we have under contact there; how set the positions are or if we need some help; and where we might add some players (draft, trade, free agency, etc.) at each position.

With free agency officially beginning on Feb. 27, my offseason preview videos will start tomorrow and run all the way until the signing period begins. Here is my tentative schedule for the videos:

Feb. 3: Special teams
Feb. 5: Safeties
Feb. 7: Cornerbacks
Feb. 8: Inside linebackers
Feb. 10: Outside linebackers
Feb. 12: Nose tackles
Feb. 14: Defensive ends
Feb. 16: Centers and guards
Feb. 18: Offensive tackles
Feb. 20: Tight ends
Feb. 22: Wide receivers
Feb. 24: Running backs
Feb. 26: Quarterbacks

Be sure to check back all throughout February for the most comprehensive breakdown of the Dolphins' 2009 roster heading into the offseason anywhere on the internet!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Prediction

It's been slow in Dolphins Land lately, but that will all change once the 2008 NFL season officially ends tomorrow and the offseason really starts to pick up in February.

For the second straight year, I'll be doing videos every few days leading up to free agency breaking down each position on the Dolphins' roster and analyzing where we stand, if we need help and who we might bring in at the position. I'll release my schedule for those videos on Monday, and the first one will be the day after that.

For now, I'll just be positing my prediction for Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers. Some people are hating on this game because no one really cares about Arizona, but I like the matchup and I'm anticipating a good contest.

I think what we have here is a good battle between a very potent Arizona offense and an outstanding Steelers defense. Obviously Pittsburgh has some talent on offense as well and the Cardinals' defense has had a great postseason, but I think this game will be decided by how much pressure the Steelers get on Kurt Warner.

Larry Fitzgerald is an absolutely amazing receiver, but if the Steelers' pass rush led by James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley can knock Warner around early, it's going to take Fitz out of the game.

It's certainly not a given and like I said I expect a good game, but in the end I have to go with one of the best defenses I've seen in my lifetime. I like the Steelers to shut down the Cardinals' offense enough to come out on top, winning their second Super Bowl in four years and sixth in franchise history.