Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2010 NFL Draft: Top Outside Linebackers

With the 2010 NFL Draft less than a month away, I will be highlighting the top players at each position in this year's class.

These are my top outside linebacker prospects available in the 2010 NFL Draft.


1. Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri

A three-year starter at Missouri, Weatherspoon recorded 410 tackles, 12.5 sacks, and four interceptions on his way to three All-Big 12 selections and two All-American selections.

An outstanding all-around linebacker with top-notch ability and intangibles, Weatherspoon projects at any of the linebacker spots in the 4-3 and inside in the 3-4. He is likely to come off the board sometime in the latter part of the third round.

2. Sergio Kindle, Texas

Kindle racked up 115 tackles, 34.5 tackles for a loss, and 15.5 sacks in two seasons starting for the Longhorns from 2008 to 2009.

A Brian Orakpo clone, Kindle is arguably the top prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker in this year's draft. He should come off the board somewhere in the middle of the first round, and could develop into an elite pass rusher if he stay out of trouble.

3. Brandon Graham, Michigan

A three-year starter at Michigan, Graham was a constant pass-rushing force for the Wolverines with 135 tackles, 55.5 tackles for a loss, and 29 sacks in his final three collegiate seasons.

Although Graham doesn't have the ideal size for the 3-4 outside linebacker spot, his skills are undeniable. He'll push to come off the board in the middle of the first round, but at the very least shouldn't fall out of it completely.

4. Jerry Hughes, Texas Christian

The Mountain West Conference's top defender each of the past two seasons, Hughes racked up 110 tackles, 36 tackles for a loss, and 26.5 sacks over his final two years with the Horned Frogs.

Like Graham, Hughes lacks the ideal size for the 3-4 outside linebacker position, but his athleticism is second-to-none among his fellow rushers in this year's class. He has a chance of cracking the first round, but will certainly be gone before the third.

5. Daryl Washington, Texas Christian

Just a one-year starter at TCU, Washington concluded his career with the Horned Frogs with 109 tackles (11 for a loss), two sacks, and three interceptions as a senior in 2009.

Although he played inside at TCU, Washington is a bit undersized for an NFL linebacker and projects best outside in a 4-3 scheme. The highest he could go is probably 31st overall to Indianapolis, but he should definitely be gone sometime in the second round.


Who are your top outside linebacker prospects in the 2010 NFL Draft? Share your thoughts on the forum here!

2010 NFL Draft: Top Cornerbacks

With the 2010 NFL Draft just a month away, I will be highlighting the top players at each position in this year's class.

These are my top cornerback prospects available in the 2010 NFL Draft.


1. Joe Haden, Florida

A two-time All-SEC selection and first-team All-American, Haden was a three-year starter for the Florida Gators and recorded 218 tackles, eight interceptions, and 34 pass break-ups.

Although he doesn't have ideal timed speed, Haden is easily the best cornerback in this year's draft class. He's a strong, physical corner with excellent ball skills, making him a player that could crack this year's top 10.

2. Kyle Wilson, Boise State

A four-year starter and three-time All-WAC selection with the Broncos, Wilson racked up 160 tackles and 11 interceptions in 50 career games.

Mike Mayock's favorite prospect of this year's draft class has shot up the boards this offseason. A true playmaker in the secondary, Wilson is a likely late first-round pick.

3. Kareem Jackson, Alabama

Despite never receiving all-conference honors in three years at Alabama, Jackson was a strong corner for the Crimson Tide, recording 159 tackles and five interceptions in 41 games.

A solid all-around cornerback prospect with good ball skills and football intelligence, Jackson has an outside chance of going in the first round of this year's draft.

4. Patrick Robinson, Florida State

Highlighted by a six-interception performance as a sophomore in 2007, Robinson four-year career at Florida State saw him record 117 tackles, seven interceptions, and 21 pass break-ups.

Robinson's potential doesn't quite match his production, but he's a high-upside corner that should find a home in the second round of this year's draft.

5. Devin McCourty, Rutgers

A three-year starter for the Scarlet Knights, McCourty totaled 238 tackles, six interceptions, and 27 pass break-ups in a 52 collegiate contests.

The brother of Tennessee Titans' cornerback Jason McCourty, Devin McCourty is one of this year's most athletic cornerback prospects. A high-upside player that could also contribute as a returner, McCourty is likely to go sometime in the second round.


Who are your top cornerbacks in this year's draft class? Share your thoughts on the forum here!

Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 First Round Mock Draft 3.0

The NFL Draft is less than a month away, so it's about time for an updated first-round mock draft.

This is my current first-round mock draft as it stands today, which has changed greatly since my previous version just 12 days ago.

Previous versions:

1. St. Louis Rams — QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

A trade for Donovan McNabb would drastically shake up the top of this year's draft, but as things stand, all indications are the Rams will take a franchise quarterback with the first overall pick.

2. Detroit Lions — DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

There is certainly a strong argument for Russell Okung given the need to protect last year's No. 1 pick, Matthew Stafford, but the Lions have a glaring hole at defensive line and Suh is simply too good to pass up.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma

The Buccaneers haven't have a real impact defensive tackle since the days of Warren Sapp and Booger McFarland, and Suh is the best overall player on the board.

4. Washington Redskins — OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State

The Redskins are sorely lacking at offensive tackle, and they would be best suited grabbing Okung here and looking quarterback a little later in the draft.

5. Kansas City Chiefs — OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa

Scott Pioli seems unlikely to take a safety like Eric Berry this high, but he should have no problems drafting an offensive tackle. Bulaga could allow Branden Albert to move to the right side.

6. Seattle Seahawks — S Eric Berry, Tennessee

There is little talent in the Seahawks' secondary, with Jordan Babineaux and Jamar Adams currently penciled in as the team's starting safeties. Berry would add a tremendous playmaker to the defensive backfield.

7. Cleveland Browns — CB Joe Haden, Florida

Questionable timed speed or not, Haden is this year's best cornerback prospect, and would go a long way to help the Browns' dismal secondary.

8. Oakland Raiders — DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida

Reports are recently-acquired Kamerion Wimbley will play strong-side linebacker for the Raiders despite running a 4-3 scheme, making defensive end still a big need. "JPP" is the kind of physical freak Al Davis loves and fills a big hole in the team's pass rush.

9. Buffalo Bills — QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame

The quarterback of the future likely isn't on the roster at this point, meaning Chan Gailey will need his own guy to develop. Clausen is the best talent available before a huge drop-off, making him a reasonable choice for the Bills here.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars — DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech

The Jaguars are still in need of more pass rush despite using recent high picks on Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. Morgan fills that need as the best all-around defensive end on the board.

11. Denver Broncos (from Chicago) — WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State

I'm not buying reports of Bryant's plummeting draft stock, and I also don't see Brandon Marshall lasting much longer in Denver despite no trade coming yet. Bryant gives the Broncos the No. 1 receiver they'll need when they inevitably deal Marshall.

12. Miami Dolphins — DT Dan Williams, Tennessee

There are a lot of directions the team could go here, but nose tackle is one of the team's biggest needs, and Williams appears to be one of the safer picks available for the Dolphins at this spot.

13. San Francisco 49ers — RB C. J. Spiller, Clemson

While running back is not an immediate need for the Niners, Spiller would give their offense a dynamic complement to Frank Gore, as well as the impact returner they desperately need.

14. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver) — OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma

Walter Jones may soon be heading for retirement, meaning they'll need a new franchise offensive tackle. Williams is one of the safest, most refined prospects at his position and would be a great pick here.

15. New York Giants — LB Rolando McClain, Alabama

The Giants don't have the talent on the roster to replace Antonio Pierce, and McClain would be the perfect thumper to put in the middle of their linebacker corps.

16. Tennessee Titans — DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida

More pass rush is needed after the departure of Kyle Vanden Bosch, and Dunlap is a high-upside prospect worthy of a pick at this point in the draft.

17. San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina) — LB Sergio Kindle, Texas

The Niners have little pass-rushing talent outside of Manny Lawson, and Kindle would give them another skilled player to fill that role.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers — OG Mike Iupati, Idaho

Apparently uninterested in retaining free agent Darnell Stapleton, the Steelers could use Mike Iupati at either right guard, or maybe even right tackle down the line.

19. Atlanta Falcons — S Earl Thomas, Texas

Even after the acquisition of Dunta Robinson, the Falcons could use secondary help. Thomas is a play-maker that potentially projects at either cornerback or safety.

20. Houston Texans — RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State

The Texans don't have a legitimate long-term solution at running back on the roster, and Steve Slaton is better suited for splitting time in the backfield. Mathews is a talented runner with the ability to carry the bulk of the load in Houston.

21. Cincinnati Bengals — TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma

The Bengals haven't had a true receiving threat at tight end for some time, but they are in perfect position to take this year's best prospect in Gresham.

22. New England Patriots — LB Brandon Graham, Michigan

Although he isn't the ideal size for the 3-4 pass-rushing linebacker, Graham's skills are undeniable and would go a long way in upgrading the Patriots' linebacker corps.

23. Green Bay Packers — OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers

Keeping quarterback Aaron Rodgers upright was a big problem in 2009. Davis' talent says he should go higher than this, but he could very well fall to the last first round due to character concerns.

24. Philadelphia Eagles — LB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri

The Eagles were clearly desperate for linebackers when they plucked Jeremiah Trotter off the garbage heap in 2009. Weatherspoon has the versatility to play anywhere in the Eagles' scheme and would be a tremendous addition of talent.

25. Baltimore Ravens — CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State

With wide receiver no longer as big a concern, the Ravens can no focus their attention elsewhere. Kyle Wilson's stock just keeps rising, and he'd be a great addition to the Ravens' lacking cornerback spot.

26. Arizona Cardinals — OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland

The Cardinals have just quality tackle prospect in Levi Brown, and could certainly use another as Brown has overall been a disappointment. Campbell is a bit of a project, but has the physical tools to be an elite player at his position.

27. Dallas Cowboys — WR Arrelious Benn, Illinois

Outside of Miles Austin, no Cowboys receiver had a position grade during the 2009 season. With Roy Williams a huge bust, Patrick Crayton merely average, and Kevin Ogletree still an unknown, the Cowboys could use a true big-time target for Tony Romo.

28. San Diego Chargers — DT Terrence Cody, Alabama

The Chargers lost Jamal Williams to the Broncos and his injury replacements during the 2009 season performed horrendously. Cody would give the Chargers their next long-term nose tackle.

29. New York Jets — WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame

Braylon Edwards is a year from being able to walk in free agency, and there is little talent beyond him in the Jets' receiving corps. Tate would provide a good weapon for a developing Mark Sanchez.

30. Minnesota Vikings — S Taylor Mays, Southern California

Mays' questionable big-play ability may cause him to drop, but he'd be an ideal project for a Vikings team that is strong in most areas but lacking at safety. Mays also has the physical tools to play outside linebacker in the Vikings' scheme if he flounders in the secondary.

31. Indianapolis Colts — DT Jared Odrick, Penn State

The Colts' defense has been sub-par for years now, and there is little upside among the team's current defensive linemen. Odrick would be a strong addition to the unit and could start for a long time.

32. New Orleans Saints — DE Everson Griffen, Southern California

The defending Super Bowl champions don't have many holes in their roster, but Will Smith is the only viable pass rusher on the roster as Bobby McCray has been a free-agent bust and Charles Grant has been released. Griffen has a lot of upside and would be a good addition to an obviously strong squad coming off a Super Bowl victory.


Comment on my mock draft and post your own on the forum here!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 NFL Draft: Top Safeties

With the 2010 NFL Draft just a month away, I will be highlighting the top players at each position in this year's class.

These are my top safety prospects available in the 2010 NFL Draft.


1. Eric Berry, Tennessee

A three-time All-SEC selection during his final three seasons with the Volunteers, Berry racked up 245 tackles and 14 interceptions and 39 career games.

The undisputed top safety in this year's class, Berry is a playmaker in the mold of Ed Reed and should come off the board sometime in this year's top 10 picks.

2. Earl Thomas, Texas

Just a two-year starter for the Longhorns after redshirting in 2007, Thomas finished his career with 10 interceptions in 27 games, including an eight-interception performance in 2009.

A likely top-20 pick, Thomas has fantastic speed that could allow him to project at both cornerback or free safety at the next level.

3. Taylor Mays, Southern California

A four-year starter for some obviously talented USC squads, Mays racked up 276 tackles, five interceptions, and 21 pass breakups over four seasons for the Trojans.

A physical freak with 4.3 speed at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Mays' lack of big plays in college is concerning, and I still question whether he has the cover skills to be a starting NFL safety.

Regardless, Mays' upside is vast and he could project as a great linebacker in the right scheme if he doesn't pan out in the secondary. He's a likely first-round pick this April, but pinpointing a more specific spot is difficult due to his unique abilities.

4. Nate Allen, South Florida

A three-year starter for the Bulls, Allen finished his career with 226 tackles an nine interceptions, including two four-interceptions performances in 2007 and 2009.

Allen has an outside shot to go in the late first round if things played out the right way, but he will almost certainly be a second-round pick in this year's draft.

5. Chad Jones, Louisiana State

A two-sport star at LSU, Jones was a pitcher and outfielder for the Tigers' baseball team in addition to being a three-year safety in football.

A second-team All-SEC selection as a senior in 2009, Jones finished his career with 158 tackles and five interceptions in 40 games.

Jones has the size (6-2, 220) and physicality of an NFL strong safety, but is a bit lacking in coverage. He could sneak into the draft's first round, but is more likely a second-round pick.


Who are your top safety prospects in the 2010 NFL Draft? Share your thoughts on the forum here!

Monday, March 22, 2010

2010 NFL Draft: Top Placekickers

With the 2010 NFL Draft just a month away, I will be highlighting the top players at each position in this year's class.

These are my top placekicker prospects available in the 2010 NFL Draft.


1. Leigh Tiffin, Alabama

A three-and-a-half year kicker for the Crimson Tide, Tiffin excelled despite kicking for one of the nation's best teams, converting 30 of 35 (86%) field-goal attempts a senior and 75 percent of his career field goals.

Easily the draft's best kicker, Tiffin will likely come off the board sometime on the third day of the draft, possibly as early as the fifth or sixth round.

2. Aaron Pettrey, Ohio State

Although he's had some injury problems with a hip strain in 2007 and a torn MCL as a senior, Pettrey was an overall solid placekicker for the Buckeyes with 74 percent of field-goal attempts converted in three seasons.

Pettrey has a very strong leg, making him someone that should be picked on the third day of the draft as a kickoff specialist and project on field goals.

3. Hunter Lawrence, Texas

After kicking off during his first two college seasons, Lawrence spent his final two years as the Longhorns' placekicker, converting 34 of 39 (87%) attempts.

A reliable kicker with solid leg strength, Lawrence has a chance to be selected on the draft's final day.

4. Brett Swenson, Michigan State

A three-year starting placekicker for the Spartans, Swenson improved from a 68-percent field-goal rate to an 86-percent mark as a senior.

Swenson's lack of kickoff production will hurt his draft stock, but he could be drafted very late. If not, he'll be picked up as an undrafted free agent.

5. Mike Salerno, Northern Illinois

An All-MAC selection after each of his two seasons as the Huskies' primary plackicker, Salerno converted 76 percent of field-goal attempts and all but two extra-point attempts.

Salerno has kicking and punting experience, meaning he'll probably earn a job as a camp leg this summer.


Who are your top placekickers in this year's draft class? Share your thoughts on the forum here!

Reports: OG Justin Smiley on trading block

In a somewhat surprising development, numerous media outlets are reporting that Miami Dolphins guard Justin Smiley has been told by the team not to report to offseason workouts as they are attempting to trade him.

Signed to a five-year, $25 million contract in 2008, Smiley has appeared in 27 games for the Dolphins over the past two seasons, starting 24.

Durability has become a concern, however, as Smiley ended the 2008 season on injured reserve with a broken leg, and battled through a shoulder injury for most of 2009.

Although many—myself included—assumed the recent signing of free-agent guard Richie Incognito meant bad news for right guards Nate Garner and Donald Thomas, it appears Smiley is the one that will get pushed out of the starting lineup and off the roster entirely.

While this news is a bit unexpected, it's not at all surprising. Smiley has a lot of money left on his contract, his durability is problematic, and his run-blocking dipped a bit in 2009.

From the Dolphins' perspective, it makes sense to go with a much cheaper and higher-upside option at left guard in Incognito, while letting Joe Berger, Nate Garner, Donald Thomas, Dimitri Tsoumpas, and maybe others compete at right guard.

In doing so, the Dolphins save quite a bit of money that can be devoted elsewhere, acquired what I assume would be a mid-to-late round draft pick, and still not lose much on one of the NFL's best offensive lines.

If I had to guess, I would say Incognito is a near-lock to start at left guard barring a mental meltdown, while Garner will win the right guard job for the time being as the Dolphins' best available option.

Long-term, I suspect the Dolphins would prefer to have Garner return to a versatile backup role, while looking in the middle rounds of the draft for a young, high-upside prospect (John Jerry?) to develop.


How do you feel about the Dolphins' attempts to trade Smiley? Share your thoughts on the forum here!

Miami Dolphins Alumni Update: February 2010

It's a little late consider March is nearing its end, but here are all pro football transactions involving former Miami Dolphins' players for the month of February:

  • Feb. 1 — The Alabama Vipers (AFL) signed defensive lineman Steve Fifita to a contract. Fifita spent the 2006 and 2007 seasons with the Dolphins, appearing in 13 games (one start) for the team in 2007 and recording 11 tackles.
  • Feb. 9 — The Pittsburgh Steelers signed wide receiver Brandon London to a contract. London spent the entire 2008 season with the Dolphins, appearing in 14 games (one start) and catching three passes for 30 yards.
  • Feb. 12 — The Pittsburgh Steelers signed linebacker Renauld Williams to a contract. Williams split the 2004 season between the Dolphins' practice squad and active roster, finishing the season on injured reserve with a broken wrist before his release in the 2005 offseason.
  • Feb. 12 — The Tampa Bay Storm (AFL) signed defensive lineman Tim McGill to a contract. McGill spent parts of the 2005 season on the Dolphins' practice squad and active roster, but did not appear in a game.
  • Feb. 15 — The Utah Blaze (AFL) signed defensive lineman Brian Soi to a contract. Signed by the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in July 2007, Soi was waived by the team during final cuts on Sept. 1.
  • Feb. 16 — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats acquired wide receiver Maurice Mann from the Edmonton Eskimos. Mann spent part of the 2004 season with the Dolphins, but did not appear in a game.
  • Feb. 16 — The Toronto Argonauts (CFL) re-signed wide receiver P. K. Sam to a contract. Sam spent part of the 2006 season on the Dolphins' practice squad and played in NFL Europa for the team in 2007 before being released during final cuts.
  • Feb. 17 — The Calgary Stampedes (CFL) acquired wide receiver P. K. Sam from the Toronto Argonauts.
  • Feb. 17 — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL) signed cornerback Will Poole to a contract. Drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Poole recorded 31 tackles, a sack, and five pass deflections in three seasons with the team.
  • Feb. 18 — The Cincinnati Bengals signed placekicker Dave Rayner to a contract. Rayner spent part of the 2008 offseason with the Dolphins between March and June.
  • Feb. 23 — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers released quarterback Casey Bramlet. Bramlet served as the Dolphins' third-string quarterback for part of the 2007 season, but was released in April 2008.
  • Feb. 25 — The Seattle Seahawks designated placekicker Olindo Mare as their franchise player. The Dolphins' all-time scoring leader with 1,048 points, Mare was the Dolphins' placekicker from 1997 to 2006 after joining the team as an undrafted free agent. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1999.
  • Feb. 25 — The Utah Blaze (AFL) signed defensive lineman Manuel Wright to a contract. Drafted by the Dolphins in the fifth round of the 2005 Supplemental Draft, Wright appeared in three games and recorded four tackles and a sack in two seasons with the team.

Discuss this article on the forum here!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2010 NFL Draft: Top Punters

With the 2010 NFL Draft just over a month away, I will be highlighting the top players at each position in this year's class.

These are the top punter prospects available in the 2010 NFL Draft.


1. Zoltan Mesko, Michigan

A punter in a linebacker's body at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Mesko has a big leg and will very likely be the first punter off the board in 2010.

Mesko boasts an impressive 42.5 career punting average, including a high of 44.5 yards as a senior with the Wolverines in 2009.

A four-time Academic All-American and two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, Mesko will push to be drafted sometime on the third day, possibly in the fifth or sixth round.

2. Brent Bowden, Virginia Tech

Bowden punted three seasons for the Hokies after redshirting in 2005 and not playing in 2006, eventually finishing with a career average of 42.2 yards and 72 punts downed inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

A good directional punter with solid hang-time, Bowden should hear his named called toward the end of this year's draft.

3. Matt Dodge, East Carolina

Originally a member of the Appalachian State Mountaineers in 2005, Dodge transferred to ECU and punted three seasons for the Pirates after sitting out the 2006 season.

Dodge showed steady improvement in four seasons of punting at the college level, improving on his 39.7 average as a true freshman to an impressive 45.8 mark during his senior year.

A first-team All-Conference USA selection in 2009, Dodge could come off the board in the seventh round next April or be picked up as an undrafted free agent.

4. Robert Malone, Fresno State

After just 22 attempts and unimpressive punting during his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, Malone stepped things up in a big way during his junior and senior seasons.

Malone capped off his collegiate career with a 45.2 average as a senior, and also downed 17 of his 44 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

An athletic punter with room to grow, Malone is a borderline draftable prospect, but will be in someone's camp regardless.

5. Scott Ravanesi, Southern Illinois

The lone non-FBS punter on the list, Ravanesi was a four-year punter for the Salukis from 2006 to 2009.

Despite a decreasing punting average each of his last three seasons, Ravanesi did increase his punts downed inside the 20 each year in the span, and finished his career with a respectable 42.6 average.

Although he is unlikely to be drafted next month, Ravanesi is sure to be picked up by someone and could challenge for a job down the line.


Who are your top punters in this year's draft class? Share your thoughts on the forum here!

Dolphins sign guard Richie Incognito

Despite already having one of the most productive offensive lines in football, the Miami Dolphins have made a move to shore up the problematic right guard spot, signing free agent Richie Incognito to a one-year contract.

Background

A New Jersey native, Incognito played high school football in Glendale, Ariz. and was named an All-American offensive lineman.

After redshirting as a true freshman at Nebraska in 2001, Incognito appeared in all 14 games for the Cornhuskers in 2002, earning recognition on several Freshman All-American teams as well as Freshman All-Big 12 honors.

After earning a first-team All-Big 12 selection as a left tackle in 2003, Incognito was moved to center during the spring of 2004, but was kicked off the team prior to the season due to off-the-field incidents.

Incognito then transferred to the University of Oregon, but was unable to play in 2004 due to NCAA transfer rules.

Incognito impressed at the 2005 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, posting a 4.84 40-yard dash, 29 reps on the bench press, and a Wonderlic score of 32. However, he suffered a serious knee injury during drills, which eventually forced him to miss his rookie season after being selected by the Rams in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

After starting the 2006 regular season opener at left guard, Incognito became the Rams' starting center in Week 2 of the 2006 season after a season-ending injury to starter Andy McCollum and went on open all 16 games for the Rams that year.

During the 2006 preseason, Incognito was fined $5,000 for two illegal chop blocks against the Kansas City Chiefs. He was fined by the league again in Week 10 of the regular season for unnecessary roughness.

Ankle and knee injuries limited Incognito to just four games in 2007, and he eventually landed on injured reserve due to a partial dislocation of his right knee.

After starting 15 games for the Rams in 2008, Incognito re-signed with the team as a restricted free agent during the 2009 offseason.

Incognito once again drew fines in the 2009 season opener, being docked $12,500 for two unnecessary roughness penalties against the Seattle Seahawks.

Despite starting the Rams' first seven games, Incognito missed time due to injury, and was benched upon his return in Week 14 after earning two personal foul penalties due to head butts and arguing with head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Incognito was fined $50,000 for the incident, and the team him the following week.

The Dolphins placed a waived claim for Incognito upon his release from the Rams, but he was awarded to the Buffalo Bills due to waiver priority.

Due to a myriad injuries along the Buffalo offensive line, Incognito started the team's final three games at right guard.

A restricted free agent in the 2010 offseason, Incognito was not tendered a contract by the Bills, allowing him to freely sign with any team.

After visiting the Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals, as well as conducting a phone interview with the Indianapolis Colts, Incognito signed a one-year contract with the Dolphins on Mar. 17.

Incognito will wear No. 68 in Miami, and will have a base salary of $725,000 in 2010. His contract also contains a $25,000 signing bonus, $50,000 workout bonus, and a $125,000 Week 1 roster bonus.

Analysis

Although the Dolphins' offensive line has been an overall strong and productive unit, the right guard spot has been a bit of a question mark in recent years.

After a game of music chairs in 2008 following Donald Thomas' Week 1 injury, Thomas was unable to hang onto the job in 2009 and Nate Garner was only average in his place.

Incognito provides much more talent and upside than either Thomas or Garner, making him a good low-risk signing for the Dolphins. His deal is small in both length and value, making him someone that would be easy to cut prior to the season if things didn't work out.

Obviously, Incognito has had some maturity issues in the past, and there is no telling if the guy will ever truly get things together mentally. He also has a somewhat troubling injury history, bringing his durability into question.

That said, Incognito is absolutely a starting-caliber guard and center in the NFL and has the powerful, mauling type of play the Dolphins love, making him what could be the final piece in Miami's expensive but highly-efficient offensive line.

Assuming he can stay healthy and out of the team's doghouse, I fully expect Incognito to win the Dolphins' starting right guard job in 2010, pushing Thomas to a bench role. Such an event would also allow Garner to serve as a versatile backup, as he is capable of playing every position on the line.


How do you feel about the Dolphins' signing of Incognito? Share your thoughts on the forum here!

Miami Dolphins Mar. 18 News & Notes

  • The Dolphins hosted restricted free agent linebacker Rashad Jeanty on Thursday, which could be a precursor to him signing an offer sheet. In that event, the Bengals would have seven days to match the Dolphins' offer and retain Jeanty, but would not receive any compensation if they decide not to match due to the low tender they gave Jeanty. In Miami, Jeanty would be a reserve linebacker and special-teamer, though he could compete for playing time on defense.
  • Newly-signed guard Richie Incognito will wear No. 68 for the Dolphins, according to the team's official website. Incognito previously wore the number with the St. Louis Rams from 2005 to 2009, before switching to No. 62 with the Bills last season after No. 68 was taken by former Dolphins guard Seth McKinney in Buffalo.
  • ESPN.com's Tim Graham believes the signing of Incognito "doesn't bode well" for Dolphins guard Donald Thomas, and I agree. Fans were excited when the 2008 sixth-rounder earned a starting job as a rookie, but he's done little to separate himself in two seasons and was eventually benched for Nate Garner late in 2009. My guess is that Thomas takes a backup role to Incognito in 2009, while Garner heads back to the bench as well as a versatile sixth lineman.
  • Dolphins' starting quarterback Chad Henne doesn't believe Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is "an NFL quarterback," and I share that opinion. I don't care for how Armando Salguero implies Henne is in the same boat, because really the two players aren't even in the same ballpark. I do, however, agree with Salguero that if Tim Tebow isn't an NFL quarterback, neither is Pat White.
  • The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly beats me to the punch and breaks down Karlos Dansby's contract with the Dolphins.
  • In the midst of a contract standoff with punter Jeff Feagles, the New York Giants have added former Australian rules football semi-pro Jy Bond to their roster. As you may recall, Bond was picked up by the Dolphins last April, only to be waived in June. It seems his quest to make it as a pro punter is still ongoing.
  • Virginia Tech defensive end Jason Worilds posted some impressive numbers at the Hokies' Pro Day, including a sub-4.5 40-yard dash. Although he lacks ideal size at only 6-foot-1, Worilds' measurables are sure to catch the eyes of the Dolphins, who could consider him for their outside linebacker position on the second or third round.
  • ESPN's Todd McShay considers Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan and South Florida's Jason Pierre-Paul the only two defensive ends worthy of the Dolphins' No. 12 pick, but concedes neither is a "typical 3-4 outside linebacker." I personally like Pierre-Paul's potential there, and think he'd be a good pick for the Dolphins. I do find it interesting that McShay is a little bit more down on Sergio Kindle than some, but I agree that Michigan's Brandon Graham is unlikely to draw consideration that early in the draft.

Share your thoughts on any of the topic discussed in this article on the forum here!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Miami Dolphins Mar. 16 News & Notes

With no major Miami Dolphins news to report, here are some of the items related to the team that have been floating around the internet in recent days:

  • Following free-agent guard Richie Incognito's Monday night visit with the Dolphins, he is scheduled to have a phone interview with the Indianapolis Colts. In Miami, Incognito would likely challenge Nate Garner and Donald Thomas for the starting right guard job, and could emerge as a favorite as the candidate with the most experience and upside.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals appear to be Miami's primary competition for Incognito, and their interest in the former Ram and Bill could escalate given that talks with one of their own free agents guard Bobbie Williams are "at a standstill."
  • The Miami Herald's Armando Salguero is for the signing of Incognito, while the Palm Beach Post's Brian Biggane says they should tell him "thanks, but no thanks." I'm inclined to side with Salguero, as Incognito would be a low-risk/high-reward signing and is the kind of mauler the Dolphins' staff loves upfront.
  • The Dolphins will reportedly conduct a pre-draft visit with Texas safety Earl Thomas in the first week of April, per Armando Salguero. Thomas is widely regarded as one of the top safeties in the 2010 NFL Draft along with Tennessee's Eric Berry and USC's Taylor Mays. The Dolphins would have to use the No. 12 pick to select Thomas barring a trade for another mid-first round pick, as there is virtually no chance of him falling to the Dolphins in the second round at No. 43.
  • Regarding some other potential prospects for Miami in the first round, Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle reportedly had a disappointing 10-yard split time, which Wes Bunting of the National Football Post argues is more telling of pass rushers than the 40-yard dash time. Meanwhile, the NFL Network's Mike Mayock says the consensus at Georgia Tech's pro day was that defensive end Derrick Morgan is purely a 4-3 defensive end, and not a 3-4 outside linebacker.
  • The Dolphins waived offensive tackle SirVincent Rogers due to a failed physical (ankle) on Mar. 9, less than a month after activating him from the reserve/retired list. Originally an undrafted free agent out of Houston in 2008, Rogers left the team at the beginning of training camp last August to complete his degree.
  • Former Dolphins linebacker Akin Ayodele is visiting with the San Francisco 49ers today, according to Matt Maiocco of The Press Democrat. The Niners have reportedly made it clear to Ayodele that he would be coming in as a backup to Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes at inside linebacker, competing with Matt Wilhelm and Scott McKillop for a roster spot.
  • The New York Jets have signed defensive end Rodrique Wright to a contract, per Adam Caplan of Scout.com. A seventh-round pick by the Dolphins in 2006, Wright spent three seasons with the Dolphins but appeared in only one of them, starting nine of 13 games played and recording 38 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2007. No longer eligible for a practice squad spot in the NFL, Wright spent the 2009 regular season out of football after being waived by the Dolphins on Sept. 5.

Share your thoughts on any of the topic discussed in this article on the forum here!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dolphins re-sign suspended NT Jason Ferguson

(Sorry for the lack of content this past week. I've been sick and just not feeling up to it. Obviously this is no longer breaking news, but I figured I should have something about it up here.)


In a somewhat surprising move, the Miami Dolphins re-signed free agent nose tackle Jason Ferguson to a one-year contract.

The move came just three days after it was announced that Ferguson would be suspended the first eight games of the 2010 regular season due to a violation of the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy.

The Dolphins' starting nose tackle the past two seasons, Ferguson appeared in all 16 games in 2008 and the first nine in 2009 before suffering a season-ending quadriceps injury.

With Ferguson unavailable for the first half of next season, Paul Soliai is projected to start for the Dolphins at nose tackle.

Analysis

Although this move is a bit surprising, it's certainly not a bad one for the Dolphins.

The team obviously needs a long-term solution at nose tackle, but Ferguson is still effective when healthy and will be a valuable asset during the second half of the 2010 season.

The bigger issue for the Dolphins is whether or not Paul Soliai can handle the starting job. He was adequate in 2009, but isn't the dominating presence you look for in a 3-4 nose tackle and has had some maturity issues during his career.

With the elite free-agent nose tackles all being re-signed or slapped with the franchise tag, it seems possible the Dolphins will address the position fairly early in next months NFL draft.

Strong possibilities include Tennessee's Dan Williams in the first round, North Carolina's Cam Thomas in the second round, and Central Florida's Torell Troup in the third round.


Was the re-signing of Jason Ferguson a smart one for the Dolphins? Share your thoughts on the forum here!

Friday, March 12, 2010

2010 First Round Mock Draft 2.0

We are a week into NFL free agency, and already much has changed in term of team needs due to signings, cuts and trades.

This is my current first-round mock draft as it stands today, although it's sure to change much more by the time the draft rolls around.

Previous versions:

1. St. Louis Rams — QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

The Rams just signed defensive tackle Fred Robbins, and all indicates are they will go with Bradford, and not one of the premier defensive tackles, with the first overall pick.

2. Detroit Lions — DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

The will have a shot at Suh or Gerald McCoy, and both if the Rams go with a quarterback first overall. I like Suh slightly better, so he gets the nod.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma

Eric Berry and Russell Okung are tempting pick here, but the Bucs' defensive line needs an overhaul, and they can't pass up on an elite talent like McCoy.

4. Washington Redskins — OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State

The Redskins need a long-term quarterback, but they have absolutely no starting-caliber offensive tackles. Jason Campbell is adequate for another year, but they can't pass up on a talent like Okung.

5. Kansas City Chiefs — S Eric Berry, Tennessee

The Chiefs have a lot of needs, but with Okung falling I have to have them go another direction. Eric Berry is a playmaker in the secondary and would be a great addition.

6. Seattle Seahawks — QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame

Matt Hasselbeck has been on the decline for some years now, and it's time the Seahawks address the quarterback position for the future. Pete Carroll has seen plenty of Clausen in USC's games against Notre Dame, and he's a quality candidate for the job.

7. Cleveland Browns — CB Joe Haden, Florida

With no quarterbacks worth taking at this spot, the Browns must turn their attention elsewhere in Round One. The secondary is sorely lacking, and Haden could give them the legit No. 1 corner the team needs.

8. Oakland Raiders — OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers

Mario Henderson just may be the league's worst starting offensive tackle, while Cornell Green has left for Buffalo in free agency and was horrible anyway. The Raiders need to address the position badly, and Davis is the type of physical specimen, high-upside guy Al Davis would love.

9. Buffalo Bills — OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa

The Bills are completely without a starting-caliber left tackle, and they're very misguided if they think Cornell Green is a starter in this league. Bryan Bulaga would be a great addition to a line that has a long way to go, but already has some young talent.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars — DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida

Despite drafting Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves early on in recent years, the Jaguars are still lacking a good pass rush. "JPP" isn't as refined or proven as Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan, but the in-state product offers some great physical tools and a lot of upside.

11. Denver Broncos (from Bears) — WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State

Whether they deal Brandon Marshall this offseason or not, a split is likely coming at some point, and the Broncos will need a true No. 1 receiver. Bryant is the best of this year's class and is well worth the No. 11 pick.

12. Miami Dolphins — LB Sergio Kindle, Texas

With inside linebacker somewhat addressed with the signing of Karlos Dansby (the team could still use an upgrade over Channing Crowder), the focus at No. 12 will likely shift to outside linebacker. Kindle already has experience standing up and be able to contribute heavily as a rookie.

13. San Francisco 49ers — RB C. J. Spiller, Clemson

Although they already have a Pro Bowl running back in Frank Gore, but they are seriously lacking a complementary back as well as a return specialist. Spiller could fill both needs, and would be an excellent addition to a potentially dynamic backfield.

14. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos) — OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma

Whether Walter Jones retires in 2010 or not, the veteran doesn't have much time left, and the team will need a long-term replacement. Williams could be that guy, or at least a quality right tackle instead.

15. New York Giants — LB Rolando McClain, Alabama

The Giants don't have many glaring needs, but they are lacking a legitimate replacement for middle linebacker Antonio Pierce. McClain is a stud, and the G-Men would probably be glad if he fell into their laps.

16. Tennessee Titans — DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech

With the departure of Kyle Vanden Bosch to Detroit, the Titans could use another starting-caliber pass rusher. Morgan fits the bill as the best defensive end on the board a this point, so he' the logical choice.

17. San Francisco 49ers — S Taylor Mays, Southern California

The Niners would probably like an offensive tackle here, but there isn't one on the board worth taking. There isn't much talent at the safety position, making the local physical freak an intriguing option.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers — DE Jared Odrick, Penn State

There aren't many needs on this team despite their disappointing campaign, and safety Earl Thomas (whom I originally had here) no longer makes sense with the signings of Ryan Clark and Will Allen. Odrick would be a great fit at defensive end in the Steelers' 3-4, which is a spot that could use an injection of some youth and talent.

19. Atlanta Falcons — DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida

John Abraham is getting older and 2007 first-rounder Jamaal Anderson has been a complete bust. Dunlap is a high-upside pick that could upgrade Atlanta's pass rush.

20. Houston Texans — DT Brian Price, UCLA

Outside of youngster Amobi Okoye, there is little talent on the Texans' interior defensive line. Price would be a great addition to the unit and could play significantly as a rookie.

21. Cincinnati Bengals — TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma

On a surprisingly good Bengals teams in 2009, one of the few weak links was tight end. Gresham is this year's best and would give Cincinnati the receiving threat they've been lacking at the position for so long.

22. New England Patriots — LB Brandon Graham, Michigan

The disappointing Adalius Thomas could be on the way out, and there is little talent among the Pats' pass rushers. Graham is a strong prospect and would start for the team immediately.

23. Green Bay Packers — OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland

Campbell is a bit of a risky pick after a rough senior year, but the Packers' pass protection has been awful lately, and Campbell has the tools to develop into a quality NFL tackle.

24. Philadelphia Eagles — LB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri

The Eagles need help at the linebacker position, and they'd be getting a steal in Weatherspoon, who I consider one of the safest picks in the draft.

25. Baltimore Ravens — WR Arrelious Benn, Illinois

They may have acquired Anquan Boldin, but Derrick Mason won't be around much longer and Mark Clayton will be a free agent next year. Benn gives Joe Flacco a long-term receiver to work with.

26. Arizona Cardinals — OG Mike Iupati, Idaho

The Cardinals' line is fairly weak both inside and out, and Iupati would give them a potential starter at either guard spot or right tackle.

27. Dallas Cowboys — FS Earl Thomas, Texas

Dallas has soured on free-agent bust Ken Hamlin, and local-product Thomas would be a perfect fit in the Cowboys' secondary.

28. San Diego Chargers — DT Terrence Cody, Alabama

Jamal Williams was cut and signed with Denver, and San Diego's backup nose tackles are inexperienced and with little upside. Cody would give them the monster in the middle they need.

29. New York Jets — WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame

There are few holes in a Jets team that has a great offensive line and quality defense, but Mark Sanchez could always use another target with Braylon Edwards a year away from free agency. Tate fits the bill and would add a playmaker to the Jets' offense.

30. Minnesota Vikings — DT Dan Williams, Tennessee

While still effective, Pat Williams is probably nearing the end of the line, and will need to be replaced. Who matter to replace Pat Williams and team with Kevin Williams than another Williams?

31. Indianapolis Colts — LB Daryl Washington, Texas Christian

Even after re-signing Gary Brackett, the Colts could use another quality linebacker. Washington is the speedy type of 'backer that fits the Colts' scheme.

32. New Orleans Saints — C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida

The Super Bowl champions understandably have very few holes, but Jonathan Goodwin could always be upgraded at center. Pouncy is clearly the best of this year's class would be a fantastic addition to an already stellar line.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dolphins Ink Coveted Free-Agent LB Karlos Dansby

In a move that goes a long way in shoring up one of the team's weakest positions and biggest needs, the Miami Dolphins have signed free-agent linebacker Karlos Dansby to a multi-year contract.

Dansby receives a five-year, $43 million contract that includes $22 million guaranteed. The deal makes him the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL who isn't primarily tasked with rushing the passer.

One of the most highly-regarded and sought-after free agents on the market in 2010, Dansby had garnered interest from the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, among others.

Originally drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Dansby has amassed 553 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, 10 interceptions, and 25 pass deflections in six pro seasons.

Dansby's signing comes the same day the team released the man he will replace—veteran inside linebacker Akin Ayodele.

Although he can play any of the linebacker positions in the Dolphins' 3-4, Dansby is expected to start inside alongside Channing Crowder.

Analysis

As an Auburn fan, Miami Dolphins fan, and simply a fan of good football players, I could not be happier about this signing.

Inside linebacker was one of the biggest areas of need for the Dolphins heading into this offseason, and this was the move I was hoping they would make to address it all along.

Dansby gives the Dolphins something they've completely lacked since implementing the 3-4—a quality all-around inside linebacker.

In Dansby, the Dolphins get a strong, athletic linebacker with good tackling ability, excellent coverage skills, and the ability to rush the passer as well.

Dansby gives the Dolphins what they didn't have in Ayodele and Crowder—a playmaker.

For comparison: In two seasons with the Dolphins, Ayodele had zero sacks, two interceptions, and a forced fumble.

Meanwhile, Crowder, while a solid tackler, has had an incomprehensibly difficult time making big plays, posting 2.5 sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles in 71 NFL games over five seasons.

Quite simply, what Ayodele and Crowder do over a few years or half a decade, Dansby does every season. I expect new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who has tutored some of the NFL's great linebackers, to get even more out of Dansby's talent.

While the Dolphins aren't finished building their team into a contender just yet with needs at receiver, right guard, nose tackle, outside linebacker, and free safety, they have greatly improved the squad with a play-making, Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker.


How do you feel about the signing of Karlos Dansby? Share your thoughts on the forum here!

Dolphins re-sign QB Chad Pennington

In a somewhat surprising move, the Miami Dolphins have opted to re-sign quarterback Chad Pennington on the same day he became an unrestricted free agent.

The one-year deal will pay him $2.5 million in 2010, and also includes a $1.515 million bonus to be paid by Miami if the team decides to trade him this season.

The Dolphins' starting quarterback entering each of the past two seasons, Pennington posted the second best passer rating in the NFL in 2008, but struggled early on in 2009 before a shoulder injury ended his season after just three games.

Analysis

While I did expect the Dolphins to re-sign Pennington in my 2010 offseason plan posted two days ago, I initially ended the 2009 season with the feeling that the team would let him walk, as Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen, and Pat White seemed unlikely to be moved.

I also felt Pennington would have at least a few starting opportunities elsewhere, as he's an extremely intelligent and effective quarterback when healthy.

That being the case, I'm glad to see Pennington return to the Dolphins, regardless of what happens with the team's other backups. Pennington is simply a great football mind and has a lot to offer as both a veteran backup and mentor.

Pennington's return gives the Dolphins four quarterbacks on the active roster—one more than the Dolphins will carry into the regular season.

As much as I'd like to hope the team will trade or release 2009 second-round pick Pat White, it seems more likely the Dolphins will attempt to deal Tyler Thigpen instead.

Thigpen, who was acquired last September after Pennington's injury, has some upside and is believed by many around the league to have starting potential.

Meanwhile, Pennington will likely serve as the primary backup to third-year quarterback Chad Henne, who was drafted by the Dolphins in the second round in 2008 and took over for Pennington in Week 4 of the 2009 season.

If the Dolphins do keep White and plan on continuing to utilize him in the spread-option, Pennington will have to be listed as the No. 3 emergency quarterback on game days.

NFL rules state that a team's No. 1 and 2 quarterbacks cannot return to the game if the No. 3 quarterback enters before the fourth quarter, meaning White would have to be No. 2 to allow the Dolphins to utilize him in certain offensive packages and still have Henne available as the primary starter.


How do you feel about the Dolphins' decision to re-sign Pennington? Share your thoughts on the forum here!

Dolphins release three veterans; other news and notes

I'll have articles analyzing the Karlos Dansby and Chad Pennington signings up later today, but for now, here is an article on the other Miami Dolphins-related happenings of the first day of free agency in 2010.

The Dolphins parted ways with three veterans today, facilitated by the absence of a salary cap in the new league year. Having their contracts terminated were linebacker Akin Ayodele, linebacker Joey Porter, and safety Gibril Wilson.

Acquired from the Dallas Cowboys along with Anthony Fasano in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Ayodele spent the past two seasons as the Dolphins as the starting "ted" linebacker inside.

Ayodele was average at best and mediocre at worst, averaging 73 tackles in two seasons while recording two interceptions and a forced fumble in that span. His tackling was solid, but he was an extreme liability in coverage in 2009.

Signed to a five-year, $32 million contract by the Cam Cameron and Randy Mueller-led Dolphins in 2007, Porter had a career year under Tony Sparano in 2008 with 17.5 tackles and four forced fumbles on the way to his fourth Pro Bowl selection.

However, Porter was extremely weak against the run, and didn't take too kindly to a reduced role in 2009. He again began displaying the kind of loud-mouth attitude and insubordination he'd become famous for, and simply was no longer worth the headache as a waning talent.

Wilson's release comes less than a month after Dolphin general manager Jeff Ireland gave him a public vote of confidence at the NFL Scouting Combine, but it's absolutely not a surprise to see him cut.

Signed to a five-year, $27.5 million contract last offseason, Wilson was asked to play the unnatural position of free safety, and was absolutely horrendous in coverage all season.

By releasing the three players, the Dolphins shave roughly $10.7 million in base salaries off the books for 2010. Although there is no salary cap and guaranteed money has already been paid, this at least gives the Dolphins some more cash to devote to other players this season.


Other free agency news and notes...
  • In the Dolphins' search for a starting safety, names that have been thrown around include Oshiomogho Atogwe (Rams), Antoine Bethea (Colts), and Darren Sharper (Saints). The Miami Herald's Jeff Darlington and I both like the idea of signing Atogwe, although the team has not shown interest as of yet. I'm not too keen on the idea of signing Bethea, who would cost a first-round pick in return and isn't that good anyway, or Sharper, who is 35 and not a long-term solution at the position. The New Orleans Times-Picayune mentions Miami as a possible suitor for Sharper.
  • Free agent guard Chester Pitts (Texans) is reportedly drawing interest from the Dolphins, among other teams. Pitts was one of my five top free-agent guards last month. A veteran at guard and tackle, Pitts would likely compete with Nate Garner, Donald Thomas, and Dimitri Tsoumpas for the starting right guard job if signed by the Dolphins.
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald is perplexed as to why the Dolphins didn't get in on the bidding for wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was traded from the Cardinals to the Ravens yesterday, and quite frankly, I am as well. Boldin would have filled the Dolphins' need for a No. 1 receiver, and I don't think the price tag was too great. Salguero suggests Terrell Owens might be needed as a one-year stop-gap, but I'm not to thrilled with that prospect.
  • Miami has shown interest in the man Boldin will replace in Baltimore—veteran Derrick Mason. Even at 36, Mason is one of the best receivers on the market right now and has topped 1,000 yards receiving in eight of the past nine seasons. While it would be ideal to find a younger No. 1 receiver for the job, Mason wouldn't be a bad fill-in for the next year or two if he wants to continue playing.
  • Free-agent wide receiver Antonio Bryant (Buccaneers) has expressed interest in playing for the Dolphins, but it is unknown if the feeling is mutual. Easily one of the best receivers on the market today, Bryant has a rocky history with Dolphins V.P. Bill Parcells, although it is believed the two have smoothed things over. Bryant certainly has the talent to be a No. 1 receiver.
  • Dolphins free-agent cornerback Nathan Jones has agreed to terms on a deal with the Denver Broncos that could pay him up to $13.6 million over the next four years. It's a good deal for Jones, who played fairly well as the Dolphins' nickel corner and excelled on special teams the last two years.
  • Former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Andy Alleman, who was non-tendered by the Chiefs as a restricted free agent, has been signed by the Indianapolis Colts. The Dolphins traded Alleman and Ikechuku Ndukwe to the Kansas City Chiefs last August.
  • The Dolphins are still in need of a long-term nose tackle, and one player I think they should at least consider is Ma'ake Kemoeatu, who was recently released by the Panthers. Kemoeatu is coming off an Achilles' injury that cost him all of last season, but he's an excellent nose tackle when healthy. At 31, he could very well play another six or seven years, and he has experience with Dolphins' defensive coordinator Mike Nolan from their time in Baltimore between 2002 and 2004.

Share your thoughts on the Dolphins' roster moves or any other free agent talk on the forum here!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My 2010 Miami Dolphins Offseason Plan

The official start of the new league year is mere hours away.

At that time, the Dolphins and the other 31 NFL teams can beginning signing unrestricted free agents, signing restricted free agents to offer sheets, trading players, and, in Miami's case, finally releasing Joey Porter.

What follows is my entire offseason plan for the Miami Dolphins, covering releases, signings, re-signings, trades, the draft, and undrafted free agency.

I did the same kind of article last year, and man, not much of it came true. But hey, at least I got the Sean Smith pick right.


Terminate the contracts of...
  • ILB Akin Ayodele — The 30-year-old was a nice pickup a few years back when we were transitioning to the 3-4, but he's a liability in coverage and his tackling has declined.
  • OLB Joey Porter — He finally isn't worth the headache anymore, and he was a liability against the run anyway. Time to move on.
  • ILB Reggie Torbor — He's extremely overpaid and hasn't shown that he can develop into a starter, struggling every time he gets the chance on defense.
  • FS Gibril Wilson — A big free-agent signing last offseason, Wilson was horrendous in coverage and failed to make even one big play in 2009. It doesn't matter who replaces him; this is addition by subtraction.


Place on waivers...
  • RB Tristan Davis, OG Ray Feinga, WR Taurus Johnson, WR Julius Pruitt, OT SirVincent Rogers, RB Kory Sheets, OLB Erik Walden. These guys don't need to be cut immediately, but these are my choices to be released to keep the offseason roster under 80 after all the free-agent signings, trade acquisitions, and draft picks I outline later in the article.


Re-sign...
  • WR Davone Bess (ERFA) — Bess doesn't have a ton of upside and lacks ideal size and speed, but he's a reliable pass-catcher and an ideal slot receiver.
  • RB Ronnie Brown (RFA) — Brown is a Pro Bowl-caliber talent when healthy, and should definitely be re-signed if no team is willing to give up their first-round pick to sign him as a restricted free agent.
  • K Dan Carpenter (ERFA) — Carpenter made the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement in his second pro season, and is an easy choice to bring back.
  • TE Anthony Fasano (RFA) — Fasano regressed as a receiver in 2009, but he's still a quality blocker and is good to retain until someone better comes along.
  • NT Jason Ferguson (UFA) — The Dolphin will hopefully draft their long-term nose tackle this offseason, but Ferguson is still a quality player when healthy and would be a nice veteran to split time and help groom the younger guy.
  • TE Joey Haynos (ERFA) — He might never develop into more than a backup, but his size (6-foot-8) is intriguing and he's definitely worth bringing back to compete.
  • OLB Quentin Moses (RFA) — "Q-Mo" has never lived up to his potential in the pros, but he's worth bringing back to again compete for a roster spot.
  • QB Chad Pennington (UFA) — The Dolphins may be able to get a fifth-round pick back for Tyler Thigpen, in which case re-signing Pennington would be an ideal move. He's a proven winner with experience in Miami's system, and would continue to be a great mentor for Chad Henne.
  • OLB Jason Taylor (UFA) — The Dolphins need to get younger at outside linebacker, but they can't replace both Porter and Taylor this offseason, and Taylor is still highly effective against by the run and the pass.


Don't re-sign...
  • CB Nathan Jones (UFA) — I'm a big fan of Jones as a nickel corner, blitzer and special-teamer, but his solid performance in Miami should get him a decent contract on the open market. Miami has three starting-caliber cornerbacks under contract, thus there is no need to open the wallet for Jones.


Trade...
  • Third- and sixth-round picks in the 2010 NFL Draft to the Arizona Cardinals for wide receiver Anquan Boldin — The Cardinals' asking price is reportedly a third-rounder, so Miami could use one of its sixth-rounders to sweeten the deal and out-bid another team. Boldin isn't extremely young and has some durability issues, but he's a legitimate No. 1 receiver and would give quarterback Chad Henne the big, reliable, play-making target he needs.
  • QB Tyler Thigpen to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 2010 fifth-round pick — Jacksonville had interest in Thigpen last offseason, and could still use him now as someone to groom. Miami has no need for Thigpen with Pennington re-signed. The Dolphins get back a fifth-rounder, replacing the one they dealt to Kansas City for Thigpen.


Sign free agents...
  • FS Oshiomogho Atogwe (RFA - St. Louis Rams) — The Rams placed the low tender on Atogwe, meaning they have the right of first refusal on an offer sheet, but receive no compensation if they decide not to match. Miami should sign Atogwe to a long-term deal with a "poison pill" that states Atogwe receives an insane bonus if he plays a certain amount of games in the state of Missouri (like Seattle did when they signed Nate Burleson and Minnesota in 2006.) The Rams can't match, and Miami's free safety problems are solved.
  • ILB Karlos Dansby (UFA - Arizona Cardinals) — The prized free agent of the 2010 class, Dansby would go a long way in solving the Dolphins' growing problems at inside linebacker. He'll cost quite a bit of money, but there won't be a salary cap, and this is the guy to open your wallet for.
  • CB Marlin Jackson (UFA - Indianapolis Colts) — Jackson wasn't tendered by the Colts as an RFA, meaning he can sign with anyone. The former first-round pick has knee issues and can't be counted on to start, but he has good size for a corner and has experience at every position in the secondary.
  • WR Kassim Osgood (UFA - San Diego Chargers) — A stellar special teams player and three-time Pro Bowl selection, Osgood has plenty of experience and intriguing size (6-4, 204). He'd be worth picking up just for his special-teams ability, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him compete for a significant role on offense.


Draft...
  • Round 1 — OLB Sergio Kindle (Texas) — I'd really like to take Alabama's Rolando McClain here, but after signing Dansby, the Dolphins need to address outside linebacker more quickly than I have them doing in the rest of this draft. Kindle has experience playing linebacker and is a quality pass-rusher, injecting some youth and talent into the position for the Dolphins.
  • Round 2 — NT Cam Thomas (North Carolina) — The Dolphins need a long-term solution at nose tackle, and Thomas is one of the best in this year's draft. He has a ton of ability and could anchor the Dolphins' 3-4 line for years to come.
  • Round 3(no pick; traded to Arizona for Anquan Boldin in this mock offseason)
  • Round 4 — OG John Jerry (Ole Miss) — The Dolphins have no clear-cut answer at right guard, where Donald Thomas and Nate Garner have been inconsistent or have little upside. Jerry is a mauler and could be groomed to fill the Dolphins' line offensive line void.
  • Round 5 (from JAX in this offseason mock)ILB Jamar Chaney (Mississippi State) — Chaney is flying under the radar after playing for a bad college team, but he's a great tackler and has the talent to start as a rookie. He'd be a great pickup to eventually replace the quite average Channing Crowder.
  • Round 6aOLB Justin Cole (San Jose State) — Cole has some upside as a pass-rusher and experience at linebacker, making him a good addition to a linebacker corps that needs to get younger.
  • Round 6b(not pick; traded to Arizona for Anquan Boldin in this mock offseason)
  • Round 6cFS Nick Polk (Indiana) — Even after signing Atogwe, it'd be nice to add a young safety through the draft, and Polk would be a steal here. He's very athletic and could potentially contribute as a returner too.
  • Round 7a — OLB Antonio Coleman (Auburn) — Another addition at outside linebacker, Coleman would play special teams early on, but could develop into a contributor on defense.
  • Round 7bWR Jeff Webb (UAB) — A college quarterback, Webb is raw but has good size (6-3, 220) and presents some interesting wildcat/spread option possibilities due to his experience as a passer.


Sign undrafted free agents...
  • QB Ryan Perrilloux (Jacksonville State) — An intriguing prospect that originally played at LSU, Perrilloux could serve as a camp body and potential long-term project if the team comes to their senses and dumps Pat White.
  • RB Stafon Johnson (Southern California) — More known for his life-threatening weight-lifting injury his senior year, Johnson is a solid running back prospect and work taking a look at as a potential practice squad player.
  • WR/KR Brandon Banks (Kansas State) — Although he measures in at just 5-foot-7 and 149 pounds, Banks is lightning quick and is a home-run threat as a returner. His size may prevent him from making it in the NFL, but his 4.2 speed alone makes him worth a look.
  • TE Michael Hoomanawanui (Illinois) — He didn't do much his senior season due to an ankle injury and a horrendous Illini offense, but Hoomanawanui has great size (6-4, 264) and a good blend of blocking and pass-catching abilities. He could push for the No. 3 tight end job or of a practice squad spot.
  • OT Levi Horn (Montana) — The Dolphins have picked up a few Grizzlies over the last few years, and here's another one. The 6-foot-7, 315-pound Horn is an intriguing project at tackle.
  • DE Lorenzo Washington (Alabama) — The Dolphins love stockpiling defensive ends, and this product of Nick Saban's 3-4 scheme at Bama would be a good addition to the camp roster.
  • NT Travis Ivey (Maryland) — The Dolphins already grabbed their long-term nose tackle in my earlier draft, but there's no reason not to add another prospect and see what you find.
  • ILB Lee Campbell (Minnesota) — A former defensive end, Campbell developed into a stout run-stuffing linebacker for the Golden Gophers. He'd compete for a role on special teams or the practice squad.
  • CB A. J. Jefferson (Penn State) — Jefferson wasn't very productive for the Nittany Lions, but he has decent size for a corner, good athleticism, and has some upside as a returner.
  • S Stevie Brown (Michigan) — Brown played linebacker and safety for the Wolverines, but would project primarily as a special-teamer and long-term project at safety for the Dolphins


Summary

Obviously, a lot of this won't happen. The Dolphins won't be interested in every player I listed above, and they may not even get a shot at some of the guys in the draft.

Still, I think it's interesting to build a team with the pieces of your choice, and see what comes out the other end.

That's why I've made a depth chart from the offseason roster that would come from making every move I've listed above, which you can download here.

Well that's it. Call me whenever you want, Bill. I'm ready for the job.


What do you think of this offseason plan? Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments or discuss this article on the forum here!