Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chad Pennington tears ACL in pickup basketball game

Impending free agent quarterback Chad Pennington experienced yet another tough break this week, as he suffered a torn ACL in a pickup basketball game in Miami. Dr. James Andrews will perform surgery on Pennington's knee next week.

It represents the latest in a long line of injuries for the 34-year-old former Miami Dolphins quarterback, who has undergone four shoulder surgeries since a 2004 rotator cuff injury suffered with the New York Jets.

Pennington, who arrived in Miami shortly after his release from the Jets in August 2008, led the Dolphins to an AFC East title after passing for 3,653 yards and 17 touchdowns with a passer rating of 97.4.

2008 second-rounder Chad Henne took over for Pennington as the team's starting quarterback three games into the season due to a shoulder injury, and Pennington attempted just two passes in 2010 before yet another shoulder injury wiped out his season.

Slated for free agency whenever the 2011 offseason actually begins, it was reported that Pennington was not yet ready to call it quits and could possibly land a short-term starting job on the open market. The Dolphins were also reportedly interested in retaining the veteran.

With training camp scheduled to start in roughly four months, it now seems unlikely that Pennington will be able to recover from the knee injury, which usually takes 6-9 months to fully heal, in time to take the helm for anyone heading into the 2011 season.

It's also unlikely that any franchise would gamble on rolling with Pennington as their starting quarterback, even as a short-term option, given his recent inability to stay on the field.

Widely regarded as one of the most intelligent and accurate quarterbacks in the NFL today, Pennington may have to strongly consider a move to coaching sooner than he'd like.

As for the Dolphins, the team will likely continue with their plans to add a highly-drafted quarterback to push Henne for the starting job in 2011 and beyond. The team has already met with or scheduled meetings with nearly all of the top prospects at the position.

While Pennington would have been a nice presence as a veteran backup (and could still be of use as a coaching assistant or intern),  Henne remains the likely starter for the Dolphins entering the 2011 season.

Whether or not he remains the starter beyond that, or even the whole way through 2011, will depend on how well he performs and how quickly the Dolphins' soon-to-be-added rookie can develop.


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Miami Dolphins pre-draft workout roundup

Between March Madness at work and moving over the weekend, I've been way too busy (and often without internet) to write about all the draft prospects slated to work out for the Miami Dolphins in the coming weeks.

Because the names have piled up so high, I'll going to briefly hit on the names I haven't mentioned or covered yet, rather than devote entire articles to each!

Here is a list of the players drawing interest from the Dolphins that I've previously touched on, with links to my articles on their coverage:

I've also put up a new page on the blog solely for compiling and listing the prospects the Dolphins have worked out or met with, which you can view here.

Now, on to the new names!



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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dolphins receive seventh-round compensatory selection

The Miami Dolphins have picked up an extra seventh-round pick in next month's 2011 NFL Draft as a result of players lost via free agency in the 2010 offseason. The NFL annually hands out a total of 32 compensatory picks between rounds three and seven prior to every draft.

Two of the Dolphins' unrestricted free agents signed elsewhere, with cornerback Nathan Jones joining the Denver Broncos and linebacker Jason Taylor heading to the New York Jets. Jones totaled 57 tackles in 15 games (three starts), while Taylor racked up 36 tackles, five sacks, and two forced fumbles in New York.

The Dolphins now have a total of eight picks in 2011, including three seventh-round selections. Here is the full list:

  • Round 1, Pick 15
  • Round 3, Pick 79
  • Round 4, Pick 111
  • Round 5, Pick 146
  • Round 6, Pick 179
  • Round 7, Pick 216
  • Round 7, Pick 217 (from Jacksonville for Justin Smiley)
  • Round 7, Pick 234 (compensatory selection)

The Dolphins are currently without their second-round pick (46th overall), having traded it to the Denver Broncos an offseason ago to acquire wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

However, the Dolphins are likely to explore all options in trading down from the No. 15 spot in the first round and potentially picking up a new second-round pick.

As for 2012, the Dolphins have the opportunity to pick up multiple compensatory selections depending how how potential free agents like Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Tony McDaniel, Chad Pennington, Tyler Thigpen, Patrick Cobbs, Pat McQuistan, and others do next season.

Starting jobs elsewhere and good production from someone like McDaniel and at least one of the running backs would likely net the Dolphins multiple picks, likely higher than the seventh round.


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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lehigh OG Will Rackley to work out for Dolphins in April

The Miami Dolphins have scheduled a private workout with former Lehigh (Pa.) offensive lineman Will Rackley on April 5, according to Josh Buchanan of JBScouting.com.

Rackley, who reportedly excelled at Lehigh's Pro Day on Thursday in front of at least 15 NFL scouts and coaches, also has workouts scheduled with the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs. He claims to have spoken with up to 28 team reps at February's Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

A Georgia native, Rackley started all four seasons at Lehigh, including 13 games at left tackle as a senior in 2010. He was a three-time All-Patriot League selection and two-time AP All-American for the Mountain Hawks.

Measuring in at 6-foot-3 and 309 pounds, Rackley is a strong pass protector and run blocker that uses his excellent strength to push defenders. He was a team captain as a senior and an Academic Honor Roll pick in 2009 with the intelligence to analyze various defensive packages.

While he excelled at tackle at a Division I-FCS school, Rackley projected as an interior lineman in the NFL and is widely considered a top-five prospect at either the guard or center position.

CBSSports.com ranks Rackley fifth at the guard position in this year's class, behind Mike Pouncey (Florida), Danny Watkins (Baylor), Benjamin Ijalana (Villanova), and Clint Boling (Georgia). ESPN.com also has Rackley fifth among guards and rated as the sixth-best interior lineman overall.

Rackley is widely projected to go in the third round of April's draft, but could sneak into the second round depending on how his fellow guard prospects come off the board and his pre-draft workouts between now and then.

The Dolphins could certainly have their eye on Rackley in the third round, as they are potentially in the market for two new starting guards. Left guard Richie Incognito has been moved to center and is expected to start there, while 2010 third-rounder John Jerry struggled as a rookie and Nate Garner remains somewhat unproven after missing all of last season with a foot injury.

Known prospects to have drawn pre-draft interest from Dolphins:


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Friday, March 18, 2011

Dolphins schedule private workout with Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert

The Miami Dolphins have scheduled a private workout with former Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, according to Dennis Dillon of Sporting News.

Gabbert, who is widely regarded as one of the top quarterback prospects in this year's draft class, shined at his Pro Day yesterday and has drawn interest from the Denver Broncos (No. 2), Buffalo Bills (No. 3), and Minnesota Vikings (No. 12), among others.

Taking over for Chase Daniel in 2009, Gabbert started two seasons in Missouri's spread offense before declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft following his junior season.

In three seasons for the Tigers, Gabbert totaled 6,822 yards and 40 touchdowns against 18 interceptions, earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors both as a sophomore and junior.

Measuring in at 6-foot-4 and 234 pounds, Gabbert possesses the ideal size and arm strength for an NFL quarterback. He also offers nice athleticism for his size, running the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds with a strong 1.59 10-yard split.

There are concerns about Gabbert's ability to translate from Missouri's spread attack to a pro-style offense taking snaps from under center, but he has shown strong general intellect with a Wonderlic score of 31 and has reportedly diagrammed plays and coverages for NFL teams with ease.

Although slightly less heralded than Auburn's Cam Newton, Gabbert is probably a safer prospect due to his intelligence and passing ability. His draft stock is a little all over the place, with some having him first overall to the Panthers, and others having him fall to the middle of the first round.

It seems unlikely, however, that Gabbert will be available when the Dolphins are on the clock at 15th overall, although he is certainly one of the few prospects the team would consider at that spot rather than trading down as they are expected to do.

As he will likely be out of Miami's reach, Gabbert will need to use his private workout and interview to convince the Dolphins that he's worth trading up to acquire in the draft's top 10 picks, which will be even more difficult without a second-rounder to dangle.


Known prospects to have drawn pre-draft interest from Dolphins:



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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Miami Dolphins 2011 Offseason Preview: The Running Backs

The time has come to begin previewing the Dolphins' position by position entering the offseason (whenever that eventually begins). This article focuses on the running backs.


The Dolphins' personnel at running back didn't do anything but get better in 2010, as Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, and Lex Hilliard all returned in their respective roles and Patrick Cobbs recovered from the torn ACL that cost him much of his 2009 season.

What did change, however, was the offensive line, as Richie Incognito, Joe Berger, and John Jerry replaced Justin Smiley, Jake Grove, and Donald Thomas/Nate Garner as the Dolphins' starting left guard, center, and right guard, respectively.

While the Dolphins did save tens of millions of dollars with those moves, the results on the field were disastrous, as the team's run blocking efficiency took a nose dive. This killed the Dolphins' ability to produce yards on the ground, and in turn didn't make the job of quarterback Chad Henne any easier.

The Dolphins are facing massive changes this season, as their top three running backs are unrestricted free agents and seem unlikely to return. Hilliard and Kory Sheets should be back, but neither has much upside or starting experience.

In this article, I'll look at the team's strengths and areas of need, who is under contract, who are the free agents and their prospects for being re-signed, and who they might look at via trade, free agency, and the draft.


Under Contract
  • FB Lousaka Polite (through 2011) —Polite continued to find great success converting short-yardage situations as a ball carrier in 2010, but his run blocking significantly dropped off. It didn't help that he got less support from the offensive line or tight ends, but he wasn't the same blocker the Dolphins had in 2009.

Free Agents
  • RB Ronnie Brown (unrestricted) — The oft-injured Brown started all 16 games for the first time in his six-year career in 2010, but his overall production suffered due to the offensive line. He churned out 734 yards and five touchdowns, but averaged a career-low 3.7 yards per carry.
  • RB Patrick Cobbs (unrestricted) — Highly regarded by his peers for his work ethic and special teams prowess, Cobbs was eased slowly back onto offense after his torn ACL last year. He didn't carry the ball once in 2010, but he caught eight passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns while recording seven tackles on special teams.
  • RB Lex Hilliard (exclusive-rights) — A sixth-round pick in 2008, Hilliard languished as the fourth-string running back in 2010, failing to carry the ball once while totaling nine special-teams tackles.
  • RB Kory Sheets (exclusive-rights) — A speedy undrafted running back out of Purdue, Sheets was picked up off the 49ers' practice squad in 2009. He missed the entire 2010 season with a torn Achilles' tendon suffered in August.
  • RB Ricky Williams (unrestricted) —Williams fared a bit better than Brown behind the Dolphins' poor line, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. He rushed for just 674 yards and two touchdowns, however, and may not be back after publicly criticizing Tony Sparano and his coaching tactics following the season.

Strengths

The Dolphins literally have no strengths at running back right now because they don't have any under contract. ERFAs Hilliard and Sheets will be easy to retain, but they are merely special-teamers at this point that aren't ready for featured roles on offense, and may never be.

Polite remains a serviceable fullback even after a down year in 2010, and he should have a much easier time if the big guys up front can give him more help. He also remains highly effective converting short-yardage situations, adding to his value.


Areas of Need

The Dolphins need help at running back more than any other team in the NFL, because both Brown and Williams are unrestricted free agents likely headed elsewhere and wouldn't even be long-term answered if they were to be re-signed.

More than just a single starter, the Dolphins really need two capable running backs to share the load as so many teams do now, and they could even need three new running backs if the team doesn't deem Hilliard worthy of a larger role than he had in 2010.


Free Agency Outlook

The creme of the crop at running back in free agency is sure to be DeAngelo Williams (Panthers), who racked up an incredible 1,515 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground in 2008. Ahmad Bradshaw (Giants) isn't flashy, but he churns out yards and has been highly productive at times.

They are is joined by guys like Clinton Portis (Redskins) and Joseph Addai (Colts) as running backs with productive starting experience, but those guys, while cheaper, will also be much less effective.

If the Dolphins opt to go the cheaper route for a starter with more potential than past production, they could look to players like Kevin Smith (Lions), Jerome Harrison (Eagles), Jason Snelling (Falcons), or Brandon Jackson (Packers).

Free agency could also be where the Dolphins look for a specialist kind of running back, like small speedsters such as Darren Sproles (Chargers), Garrett Wolfe (Bears), or Jerious Norwood (Falcons). Sproles and Norwood, in particular, are players that couldn't carry a load themselves, but could be extremely useful splitting time with a bruiser.


Draft Outlook

Almost every mock draft around has the Dolphins taking Alabama's Mark Ingram at No. 15, and considering his talent and the Dolphins' need, it's not hard to understand why so many people on the outside see this as a perfect marriage.

The Dolphins would probably be better served using that first-round pick elsewhere, and it all could be a moot point if the Dolphins trade down as they are expected to do. It's possible the team could target someone like Ingram or Illinois' Mikel LeShoure in the late first if they trade down, but it might not even be worth addressing at that point over other needs.


More likely, the Dolphins will utilize at least one and probably two picks on running backs, but not until the second round or later. The Dolphins will have a handful of mid-round options, including but not limited to Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Jordan Todman (Connecticut), Delone Carter (Syracuse), Bilal Powell (Louisville), Roy Helu, Jr. (Nebraska) and Stevan Ridley (LSU).

Additionally, the Dolphins will probably look to add another body at the position late in the draft or in undrafted free agency, with players like Da'Rel Scott (Maryland), Evan Royster (Penn State), Anthony Allen (Georgia Tech), Noel Devine (West Virginia), Dion Lewis (Pittsburgh), and Mario Fannin (Auburn) among those worthy of consideration.


Conclusion

With zero players at the position under contract, the Dolphins are sure to address running back in the draft, free agency, or possibly both. It's possible the team will have no familiar faces at running back aside from Hilliard once the 2011 season rolls around, and he's certainly not guaranteed a roster spot after his lack of progress in three seasons.

But while running back is one of the Dolphins' needs heading into the offseason and one that needs plenty of attention before the 2011 season, it's not one of the Dolphins should throw millions of dollars at in free agency, nor is it one the team should use a high first-round pick on to acquire a good, but not great, prospect like Ingram.

Instead, the Dolphins would be best served picking up a change-of-pace, dynamic back like Sproles for decent money in free agency, and adding a quality prospect in the middle rounds like Helu or Powell.

If the Dolphins fix the offensive line, they'll be just fine with the players I've suggested. If they don't, it won't matter if it's Royster, Helu, Ingram, or DeAngelo Williams carrying the ball, because they won't have anywhere to run in front of them.


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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick schedules March workout with Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins have scheduled a private workout with former Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, according to a league source via various news outlets.

The Dolphins are currently one of nine teams that are slated to visit with Kaepernick, who met with 14 teams at February's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The San Francisco 49ers is one such franchise that is known to be working him out.

Kaepernick started four seasons for the Wolfpack out of the team's pistol formation, finishing his collegiate career with 10,098 passing yards and 82 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4,112 yards and 59 touchdowns, becoming the first player in Division I history to top 10,000 yards passing and 4,000 yards rushing.

The 23-year-old capped off his collegiate career with a Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl win over Boston College, and was integral in Nevada's overtime victory over undefeated, fourth-ranked Boise State in November.

Originally projected as a mid-to-late round draft selection entering his senior season, Kaepernick has thrown himself into the mix to be one of the first quarterbacks off the board following the big two in Cam Newton (Auburn) and Blaine Gabbert (Missouri).

Kaepernick clocked a higher throwing velocity than any of the other quarterbacks at the Combine (a field that included Newton), and has impressed scouts in the pre-draft period with his blend of size (6-5, 233), athleticism (4.53 40-yard dash), and passing ability.

(Update: Kaepernick also reportedly scored an impressive 38 on the Wonderlic test, ranking third in the draft class behind Gabbert and Alabama's Greg McElroy.)

While he did not play in a pro-style offense in college and is considered a bit raw with an elongated throwing motion, Kaepernick has shown the intangibles and potential to be a late-first or possibly second-round pick.

The Dolphins are likely to trade down in the first round (from No. 15 overall) to acquire a second-round pick. Along with the likes of Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), Jake Locker (Washington), Christian Ponder (Florida State), and Andy Dalton (TCU), Kaepernick will certainly vie for consideration as Miami looks to bring in competition for inconsistent and embattled starter Chad Henne.

Known prospects to have drawn pre-draft interest from Dolphins:


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Dolphins to hold private workout with California (Pa.) QB Josh Portis

The Miami Dolphins have scheduled a private workout with California (Pa.) quarterback Josh Portis for Tuesday, March 22, according to his agent's twitter account.

The Palm Beach Post's Ben Volin updates the story with the news that Portis, who is cousins with former Pro Bowl running back Clinton Portis, will work out at both quarterback and receiver with the Dolphins.

Portis certainly had a rocky collegiate career, arriving at Florida in 2005 and appearing in six games before transferring to Maryland and sitting out the 2006 season.

After he was caught cheating on an exam and suspended for the 2007 season, Portis served as a backup and option quarterback for the Terrapins in 2008, totaling 186 rushing yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.

Portis again transferred in 2009, this time to California University of Pennsylvania of Division II. In 2009, he threw for 3,421 yards and 36 touchdowns with just nine interceptions, earning second-team All-PSAC honors.

After another off-the-field incident that saw Portis arrested for using a stolen credit card in 2010, Portis remained the Vulcans' starting quarterback. He threw for 2,651 yards and 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions during his senior season.

Portis (6-3, 211) has predominantly been a pass-first quarterback despite his 4.5 speed. He compares strongly to Vikings' quarterback Joe Webb (6-4, 220), who was drafted as a receiver in the sixth round in 2010 despite playing quarterback at UAB.

Character concerns will certainly follow Portis in the pre-draft process, and the No. 5 high school quarterback in 2005 will just be fortunate to be drafted. CBSSports.com ranks him 19th at his position and grades him as a potential seventh-round pick or undrafted free agent.

While Portis' upside as a quarterback is certainly limited and his NFL future may certainly be at another position if he can shed what appears to be a strong presence of immaturity, he's an intriguing physical specimen that's worth looking at after draft for the Dolphins.

Known prospects to have drawn pre-draft interest from Dolphins:


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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dolphins showing interest in former basketball standout Julius Thomas

The Miami Dolphins had a representative at the Portland State Pro Day to check out former basketball standout and tight end Julius Thomas, according to Pro Football Talk's 2011 draft visits and workouts tracker.

Thomas reportedly had an impressive pro day Monday, choosing to only participate in position drills while standing on his workout numbers from the NFL Scouting Combine. He measured in at 6-foot-4 3/8 and 248 pounds and ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash in February.

Looking to follow in the footsteps of Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates in transitioning, from the hardwood to the gridiron, Thomas joined the Vikings' football squad in 2010 after four seasons lettering for the basketball team.

He left the court with school records in career games played (121), career wins (78), and field-goal percentage (.663), earning two All-Big Sky selections and helping the Vikings to two conference championships.

In his lone season on the football team, Thomas ranked third on the team in receptions (29), second in yards (453) and caught two touchdown passes on his way to a first-team All-Big Sky selection. He caught a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the East-West Shrine Game.

Thomas' quick adjustment to football after a hiatus since high school, combined with his impressive pre-draft workout numbers, have propelled his stock to the middle rounds of the draft.

CBSSports.com ranks Thomas as the ninth-best tight end in the draft and a projected fifth-round pick, while ESPN.com ranks him 10th at his position. Scott Wright's DraftCountdown.com has Thomas fifth, ahead of more established prospects like Virgil Green (Nevada), Lee Smith (Marshall), and Rob Housler (FAU).

The Dolphins, who previously dipped into the Portland State pipeline with undrafted offensive tackle Daren Heerspink in 2008, have a glaring need for a backup tight end behind Anthony Fasano. The raw but athletic Thomas fits the bill of someone the team could look at on the draft's second or third days.


Known prospects to have drawn pre-draft interest from Dolphins:


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John Bonamego resurfaces in New Orleans

Former Miami Dolphins special teams coordinator John Bonamego, who was fired on Oct. 5 after a disastrous showing in a blowout loss to the New England Patriots, has re-joined Sean Payton's staff in New Orleans as the Saints' assistant special teams coach.

Bonamego, who originally joined the Dolphins in 2008 after two seasons as the Saints' special teams coordinator, will now work under new coordinator Mike Mallory, who was promoted from his assistant role.

Tony Sparano and the Dolphins made Bonamego the scapegoat for a horrendous special teams exhibition in Week 4, in which the Patriots returned a kickoff and blocked field goal for touchdowns and also blocked a punt in a 41-14 victory on Monday Night Football.

The Dolphins handed the job to assistant special teams coach Darren Rizzi, who was hired in 2009 and was officially given Bonamego's old gig in a January announcement. The Dolphins also added Dave Fipp to serve as Rizzi's assistant in 2011.

While the Dolphins' trio of Dan Carpenter, Brandon Fields, and John Denney has excelled, the team's kickoff and punt coverage and return units have long been problematic. The Dolphins traded speedy returner Ted Ginn, Jr. to the 49ers in 2010 and might lose special teams ace Patrick Cobbs to free agency this offseason.

The Dolphins have found younger players that have shined in coverage, like Lex Hilliard and 2010 undrafted rookie Jonathon Amaya and Roberto Wallace, and that is a good sign.

However, the team allowed 24.6 yards per kickoff return in 2010 (fifth highest in the NFL) and 10.6 yards per punt return (11th highest), so it will be up to Rizzi to right the ship and do what Bonamego could not over the past three seasons.


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Dolphins hold private workout with Arizona DE Ricky Elmore

The Miami Dolphins sent linebackers coach Bill Sheridan to privately work out former Arizona defensive end Ricky Elmore Monday, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

The news comes just a day after it was reported that the Dolphins were expected to work out out Elmore's much more heralded pass-rushing teammate in potential first-rounder Brooks Reed.

While Reed finished his collegiate career with 17 sacks, including seven as a senior in 2010, Elmore notched double digits each of the past two seasons and finished his career with a 25 sacks. Elmore earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2010.

However, Reed is regarded as a much better pro prospect due to his blend of speed, size, and athleticism.

Elmore, meanwhile, posted a sub-par 4.96 40-yard dash at February's NFL Scouting Combine (reportedly due to illness) and improved that time a bit at Arizona's Pro Day with times of 4.86 an 4.83 seconds.

While some have said that Elmore lacks the speed and athleticism to play outside linebacker in the 3-4, the Dolphins are at least doing their homework to see if he may be worth taking in the middle rounds of the draft and grooming as a run-stuffer and situational pass rusher.

Elmore's strength and high motor are things the Dolphins certainly covet, and the depth behind starters Cameron Wake and Koa Misi is practically nonexistent.

(View Elmore's official draft website here.)


Known prospects to have drawn pre-draft interest from Dolphins:


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Miami Dolphins 2011 Offseason Preview: The Wide Receivers

The time has come to begin previewing the Dolphins' position by position entering the offseason (whenever that eventually begins). This article focuses on the wide receivers.

The Miami Dolphins made major strides to fix their receiving corps in 2010, shipping first-round disappointment Ted Ginn, Jr. to San Francisco for a fifth-round pick and acquiring Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall from the Denver Broncos.

The team also returned fan favorite slot receiver Davone Bess and 2009 fourth-rounder Brian Hartline, while giving two roster spots to undrafted rookie free agents in Marlon Moore (Fresno State) and Roberto Wallace (San Diego State).

Not everything went well for the Dolphins' passing game, however, as opportunities were limited by the lack of a running game and a struggling quarterback in Chad Henne. Marshall topped 1,000 yards but found the end zone just three times, while Hartline struggled with drops at times and ended the year on injured reserve with a hand injury.

In this article, I'll look at the team's strengths and areas of need, who is under contract, who are the free agents and their prospects for being re-signed, and who they might look at via trade, free agency, and the draft.


Under Contract
  • Davone Bess (through 2013) — The Dolphins' struggles in other areas were Bess' gains, as he set career highs in receptions (79) receiving yards (820) and touchdowns (five) in his third season.
  • Patrick Carter (through 2012) —The brother of former NFL receiver Tim Carter, he spent the 2010 season with the UFL's Hartford Colonials before joining the Dolphins' practice squad in December.
  • Brooks Foster (through 2012) —A 2009 fifth-round pick of the Rams who missed his rookie season with an ankle injury, Foster joined the Dolphins' practice squad on Sept. 30 and remained there the entire season.
  • Brian Hartline (through 2012) — The Dolphins' fourth-round pick in 2009, Hartline started 11 of 12 contests this past season and caught 43 passes for 615 yards and a touchdown. He was placed on injured reserve with a hand injury on Dec. 11.
  • Brandon Marshall (through 2014) — Marshall notched his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season in his first year with the Dolphins in 2010, totaling 1,014 yards and three touchdowns on 86 catches. Despite missing two games over the course of the season, he led the Dolphins in receptions and yards.
  • Marlon Moore (through 2012) — Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State in 2010, Moore appeared in nine games with zero starts as a rookie. He caught six passes for 128 yards and a touchdown on the year.
  • Julius Pruitt (through 2012) — Signed in September 2009 out of Oauchita Baptist, Pruitt has spent most of the past two seasons on the Dolphins' practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster on Dec. 31 and was inactive for the 2010 season finale.
  • Roberto Wallace (through 2012) — An undrafted free agent out of San Diego State, Wallace appeared in 12 games and caught six passes for 62 yards. He also notched eight tackles on special teams.

Free Agents
  • The Miami Dolphins do not have any players at the wide receiver position with expiring contracts in the 2011 offseason.

Strengths

Brandon Marshall has his problem child moments for sure and he failed to be an elite play-maker in 2010, but that was primarily due to the struggles around him. Marshall is under contract for some time and is still a top-10 talent at the position, giving the team security after lacking a true No. 1 wideout for so long.

Davone Bess, while limited on upside and big-play ability, continues to be a sure-handed and reliable slot receiver. He does a good job of making guys miss with the physical tools he has, and should remain the Dolphins' highly-productive slot receiver for years to come.


Areas of Need

When they traded Ginn, the Dolphins lost their only speed receiver and deep threat, and that void has yet to be filled. Marshall is an elite receiver but hardly stretches the field, while Davone Bess is purely a possession slot receiver and Brian Hartline has yet to establish himself as a starter. More than anything, the Dolphins need a complementary receiver to start alongside Marshall and threaten defenses vertically.

The Dolphins could also use some more depth behind their current top three, as both Moore and Wallace have fairly limited upside on offense.


Free Agency Outlook

The Dolphins aren't going to be handing out any huge contracts with $50 million devoted to Brandon Marshall, so you can pretty much forget anyone like Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, or Sidney Rice landing in Miami.

That doesn't mean the Dolphins won't be entirely quiet in free agency, however, as there are a few appealing options for talented speed receivers that won't require blockbuster contracts. Guys like Steve Breaston (Cardinals), Johnnie Lee Higgins (Raiders), Jacoby Jones (Texans), Lance Moore (Saints), and Brad Smith (Jets) could either start alongside Marshall or be a situational deep threat and returner.

Other potential No.2 receiver options that don't necessarily fit the pure-speed mold include James Jones (Packers) and Mike Sims-Walker (Jaguars). Sims-Walker flashed starter ability in Jacksonville and was Marshall's teammate at UCF.


Draft Outlook

While the Dolphins don't have a glaring need at receiver, they could use another talented player at the position and thus will be considering it throughout the draft in April. While I find it unlikely the team uses a first-round pick on one, they could potentially target a speedster like Torrey Smith (Maryland) or Titus Young (Boise State) if they trade down to the late first.

Assuming the Dolphins get back into the second round via trade, there are a handful of potential players available that could be of interest, including Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), and Edmond Gates (Abilene Christian). Smith and/or Young could also be available in the second, depending on how things unfold.

If you're looking for burners a little later, players like Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Ricardo Lockette (Fort Valley State), Ronald Johnson (USC), and Aldrick Robinson (SMU) could probably be had in the middle or late rounds.

In terms of undrafted free agent possibilities, someone like West Virginia's Jock Sanders could be intriguing. He measures in at just 5-foot-6 an 181 pounds, but he has the second-best 10-yard split time in this year's class behind Julio Jones.


Conclusion


You can't really consider wide receiver a top priority for the Dolphins this offseason, because they already did the hardest thing in finding a true No. 1 talent in Marshall. They also have guys like Bess and Hartline, who are either reliable in their role or have shown flashes of ability.

What the Dolphins do need, however, is a speed receiver and deep threat to complement Marshall and open up the offense. While Ginn wasn't necessarily that guy and it's probably best the two parted ways, his speed was exactly the kind of thing the Dolphins could use.

Odds are the Dolphins' depth chart at receiver will look pretty similar to last year, aside from some shuffling at the bottom as more Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace clones are brought in to compete. What could shake things up a bit is if the Dolphins do decide to look in free agency or the early rounds of the draft for a new starting receiver opposite Marshall.


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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dolphins to work out Arizona pass rusher Brooks Reed

The Miami Dolphins are slated to hold a private workout with former Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed at an unknown date, according to Pro Football Talk's 2011 draft visits and workouts tracker.

Reed spent three seasons as a starter for the Wildcats, earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors in 2008 and a first-team selection as a senior in 2010. He finished his collegiate career with 114 tackles and 17 sacks.

A relentless pass rusher, Reed possesses good size at 6-foot-3 and 263 pounds. He posted 30 bench reps of 225 pounds in pre-draft workouts and also ran a 40-yard dash of 4.65 seconds.

As a prospect with the pass-rush ability and athleticism to play either defensive end in the 4-3 scheme or outside linebacker in the 3-4 alignment, Reed's draft stock has risen in the offseason.

Reed is currently ranked as the 48th overall player in the draft by CBSSports.com, as well as the fourth-best outside linebacker, behind Von Miller (Texas A&M), Akeem Ayers (UCLA), and Justin Houston (Georgia). ESPN.com has Reed 12th among defensive ends and 85th overall.

While outside linebacker may not seem like a need position for the Dolphins after Cameron Wake's breakout season, 2010 second-rounder Koa Misi (4.5 sacks) struggled to get to the passer much as a rookie and the team has almost no depth behind them.

The Dolphins could consider Reed at No. 15, although they are expected to trade down in the first to reacquire the second-round pick they dealt in the Brandon Marshall trade from an offseason ago.

They'd have to be careful if they are hoping to trade down and still land Reed, however, as his stock has been on the rise for some time now and he is quite possibly going to go at some point in the second half of the first round.

Teams picking after No. 15 with a 4-3 defense that could consider Reed as a defensive end include the Jacksonville Jaguars (16th), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20th), and Atlanta Falcons (27th).

Reed will also draw heavy interest as an outside linebacker from 3-4 teams like the New England Patriots (17th and 28th), San Diego Chargers (18th), Kansas City Chiefs (21st), New York Jets (30th), Pittsburgh Steelers (31st), and Green Bay Packers (32nd).

It's hard to project who the Dolphins will land in the first round because they will probably be picking from a spot other than the one they're currently in, but Reed is certainly a possible candidate in the late first round as he fits the prototype and the need.

Known prospects to have drawn pre-draft interest from Dolphins:



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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Arkansas TE D. J. Williams to hold private workout with Dolphins

The Miami Dolphin are expected to hold a private workout with former Arkansas tight end D. J. Williams later this month, according to the National Football Post.

A Little Rock native, Williams started at tight end for three seasons with the Razorbacks, amassing a 149 receptions, 1,831 yards and 10 touchdowns in four years. He was a three-time All-SEC selection, was named to numerous All-American teams during his collegiate career, and received the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end as a senior in 2010.

Williams ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at February's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month, where he reportedly interviewed with the Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He stood on his numbers from the Combine at his recent Pro Day, choosing instead to only participate in position drills.

Williams is currently ranked by CBSSports.com as the third tight end in this year's class, behind Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph and Tennessee's Luke Stocker. ESPN ranks Williams as the fifth-best tight end and the 121st best overall player in the draft.


Analysis

While the Dolphins are certainly going to do their homework and look under every rock before the draft, I'm a bit surprised they are showing such interest in Williams as a tight end prospect.

He's absolutely one of the best tight ends available in this draft, but at just 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds, he significantly lacks the prototypical size the Dolphins have looked for in tight ends over the past few years.

It's possible the team could be interested in Williams for a potential fullback/H-back role due to his speed and receiving ability. It's also possible the team could be willing to give up a little in the size department to pair a quality receiving tight end with a well-rounded, good blocker like Anthony Fasano.

One final advantage to working out Williams and getting a chance to talk to the guy up close and privately is that they can try to dig for info on controversial but talented Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett.

If the Dolphins are interested in drafting Williams, however, they'll likely need to trade back into the second round or hope to land him in the third round this April.


Known prospects to have drawn pre-draft interest from Dolphins:

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Introducing guest blogger Brian "Cat" Catanzaro and his Dolphins 2011 Mock Draft

This is my first post on the Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and I should be contributing quite often from this point forward. With no team in St. Louis from 1987-1995, I adopted the Dolphins as my team and haven’t looked back. I’ve been through it all, including the 16-game losing streak in '07 and '08.

Nice to meet you. Lets get on to the draftthe only sure thing in the NFL right now.

Everything you hear in these next 46 days is a mere smokescreen. Having said that, I do believe that Jeff Ireland’s February proclamation that the Dolphins would try to acquire a second-rounder for the second consecutive year was legitimate. I’ll go a step furthertheir plan all along was to re-claim those second-rounders from the Brandon Marshall trade.

If you’re also rooting for the Dolphins to trade from No. 15 into the late first, the NFL Scouting Combine was kind for us. Julio Jones, Von Miller, Cameron Jordan, Prince Amukamara, and J. J. Watt all cemented spots in the Top-14 range with impressive workouts, which pushes value to the #15 spot for a possible trade down. 

I’ll single out one player that I have falling to #15: Wisconsin DE J. J. Watta perfect five-technique in the 3-4 scheme. The Packers and Steelers spent extra time with Watt at Wisconsin’s Pro Day, and both have needs at DE in their 3-4 alignments.
 
Here is my predicted trade: the Dolphins trade the No. 15 pick to the Packers for the No. 32 pick, a second-round pick, and a fifth-round pick.


First Round G Mike Pouncey, Florida (6-5, 303)

Pouncey replaces Stefen Wisniewski as my flavor of the week in a trade down. Re-signing Richie Incognito doesn’t necessarily solve the problem at center, but it does shift the primary offensive line need to guard. Pouncey’s size, athleticism, work ethic, and bloodlines make him a safe pick. He’ll settle in nicely at left guard beside Jake Long for the next 7-10 years.


Second Round (from Green Bay) RB Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State (5-7, 199)

Two words: Ray Rice. The 5-7, 199 pound Hunter has the lower body of a 225-pound power back and the vision to see holes quickly as an inside runner. When reports came out of Hunter being the best pass-protecting running back during Senior Bowl week, I was officially sold on this guy.


Third Round LB Chris Carter, Fresno State (6-1, 248)

Think outside linebacker isn’t a need? Think again. There is zero depth behind Cameron Wake and Koa Misi at the defense's most important position. Carter is a shade smaller than Ireland and Sparano’s ideal outside linebacker, but the organization could find Carter’s pass-rush potential intriguing enough to make an exception.


Fourth Round RB Delone Carter, Syracuse (5-9, 222)

If Ireland and Sparano have the same second-round grade on Carter that I have, he’d be a terrific value pick if he slips to the fourth round. Although he doesn’t excel in one area, Carter is a productive north-south big back with great inside running skills. A backfield of Hunter, Carter, and Lex Hilliard creates a nice competition of hungry running backs with contrasting running styles.


Fifth Round OT Lee Ziemba, Auburn (6-6, 317)

Ziemba started 52 rock-solid games at LT for an Auburn Tigers team that won the National Championship last season. He’ll move to right tackle or inside to guard in the NFL. I see Ziemba’s career resembling that of from the Saints—a great backup at guard and right tackle with the ability start in a pinch.


Fifth Round (from Green Bay) WR Jeremy Kerley, TCU (5-9, 189)
Don’t let Kerley’s 4.56 40-yard dash time at the combine fool you. He plays faster than his timed speed and has great instincts as a returner. Kerley gets Davone Bess off the field on punt returns and allows Nolan Carroll to focus on cornerback.


Sixth Round QB Greg McElroy, Alabama (6-2, 220)

If there’s a quarterback in this draft who isn’t getting enough credit, it’s McElroy. Here is a guy who had 37 touchdowns and nine interceptions in a pro-style offense at Alabama, showed great footwork and game management ability, and scored a 43 on his Wonderlic test. His arm isn’t great, but it’s fair enough to supplement his intangibles. I see McElroy climbing an NFL depth chart in the same ways Matt Flynn did.


Seventh Round FB Henry Hynoski, Pittsburgh. 6-2, 260)

Hynoski is low-hanging fruit here in the seventh round. The Dolphins are one of the few teams in the league who still use a true fullback, and Hynoski can challenge Lousaka Polite for a roster spot.


Seventh Round (from Jacksonville) G Zach Hurd, UConn (6-7, 316)

Another four-year starter who paved the way for Donald Brown and Jordan Todman at UConn.

Thoughts?


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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dolphins work out WR Terrence McCrae at Ohio Pro Day

The Miami Dolphins joined the Kansas City Chiefs as one of two NFL teams to hold private workouts with wide receiver Terrence McCrae at Ohio's Pro Day on Thursday.

McCrae's production was limited in the Bobcats' run-heavy offense. He ranked third on the team (behind Patriots' 2010 third-rounder Taylor Price) with 545 receiving yards in 2009, while leading the team in receiving with 505 yards as a senior in 2010 on his way to third-team All-MAC honors.

McCrae, who caught 18 touchdowns in each of his final two seasons (four more than Price in 2009), finished his collegiate career with 85 catches for 1,197 yards and 19 touchdowns. He leaves the school with the single-season and career records for receiving touchdowns.

A 6-foot-3, 198-pound receiver with potential 4.4 speed, McCrae is pretty far off the NFL Draft radar, ranked by ESPN as the 56th receiver and CBSSports.com as the 103rd receiver in this year's class. (For reference, 27 receivers were drafted in 2010; 34 in 2009; and so on.)

While the Dolphins are unlikely to draft McCrae and he would be a serious developmental project, he's certainly an intriguing prospect with a nice skill set that could interest the team following the draft in free agency.

With a nice blend of size, speed, and hands, McCrae could be a candidate to join the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent and attempt to earn a roster spot by making his mark on special teams, just as Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace did in 2010.


Known prospects to have drawn pre-draft interest from Dolphins:

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Miami Dolphins 2011 Offseason Preview: The Tight Ends

The time has come to begin previewing the Dolphins' position by position entering the offseason (which we all hope officially begins this month with a new CBA). This article focuses on the tight ends.

The Dolphins entered the 2010 season without a legitimate No. 2 option at tight end, with Joey Haynos suffering a torn Achilles' tendon in training camp and re-signed veteran David Martin failing to make the final squad.

While Anthony Fasano held his own as both a receiver and blocker as the Dolphins' starter, the Dolphins sorely lacked another option at the position with a mix of undrafted and late-round rookies trying their hand (and often failing) at the job.

As a result, quarterback Chad Henne had one less option in the passing game, and the running game that had been so productive over the past few years suffered and became one of the worst in the league.

In this article, I'll look at the team's strengths and areas of need, who is under contract, who are the free agents and their prospects for being re-signed, and who they might look at via trade, free agency, and the draft.


Under Contract
  • Dedrick Epps — A seventh-round pick out of Miami in 2010, Epps joined the Dolphins' practice squad in September after spending training camp with the Chargers. He was promoted to the active roster in December and appeared in three games.
  • Anthony Fasano —The Dolphins' starting tight end once again in 2010, Fasano started 15 games and set career highs in receptions (39), receiving yards (528) and receiving average (13.5) while adding four touchdowns.
  • Jeron Mastrud —Undrafted out of Kansas State in 2010, Mastrud was signed to the practice squad and later the active roster in September. He started two games and appeared in six others, but did not record a catch on the year.
  • Mickey Shuler — The son of former Jets Pro Bowl tight end, Shuler was drafted by the Vikings in the seventh round out of Penn State. He was claimed off waivers by the Dolphins in late September and went on to appear in six games (two starts), catching two passes for 44 yards.

Free Agents
  • Joey Haynos (restrictednon-tendered) —Originally signed off the Packers' practice squad in 2008, Haynos was the Dolphins' third-stringer a rookie and top backup in 2009. He missed the entire 2010 season with a torn Achilles' tendon.

Strengths

Fasano may not be an elite tight end on the level of an Antonio Gates, but he's certainly a notch below that and is a well-rounded starter. As frustrating as he can be at times, he carries a huge load for the Dolphins offense and is usually a reliable target in the passing game as well as a quality run blocker.


Areas of Need

Part of the reason Chad Pennington and the Dolphins' running game excelled so much in 2008 was due to David Martin, who gave the Dolphins a nice receiving threat and a tremendous run blocker for two-tight end sets.

Joey Haynos was unable to fill that void entirely in 2009, and the Dolphins' pathetic four-man backup of John Nalbone, Jeron Mastrud, Mickey Shuler, and Dedrick Epps was downright terrible.

The Dolphins had only two catches by a tight end not named Fasano in 2010, and both of those came by Shuler in the season finale. The team desperately needs another capable tight end to play with Fasano and get the entire offense back on track.


Free Agency Outlook

The Dolphins are unlikely to shell out big money for a top free agent tight end like Zach Miller (Raiders) with Fasano having just signed a new deal, and the market is pretty bare anyway with Marcedes Lewis (Jaguars) franchised and Owen Daniels (Texans) re-signed.

For a short-term fix, the Dolphins could look at released veterans like Daniel Graham (Broncos), Donald Lee (Packers),  and Robert Royal (Browns). The team already showed interest in tight end Jeremy Shockey, who signed with the Panthers after his release from the Saints.

Impending free agents like Kevin Boss (Giants), Jeff King (Panthers), Ben Patrick (Cardinals), Leonard Pope (Chiefs), and Dante Rosario (Panthers) could also draw interest from the Dolphins either as a receiving threat or blocking backup, but the Dolphins seem unlikely to dish out much money to the position.


Draft Outlook

Aside from a disappointing fifth-round pick used on John Nalbone in 2009, the Dolphins' current regime has entirely ignored the tight end position in the draft despite a few good classes.

This year, the Dolphins will have a handful of options at the position. Considering Fasano's reliability as a blocker, I'm inclined to think the Dolphins will target receiving threats at tight end that offer plus size and good speed for the position.


In the event of a trade down in the first and the acquisition of a second-round pick, the Dolphins could feasibly be interested in the top tight end of this year's class in Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph. They have bigger needs, but Jeff Ireland has long been a proponent of taking the best player available and Rudolph could fit that bill at some point.

Other early options include Nevada's Virgil Green or Florida Atlantic's Rob Housler in the second round. Jordan Cameron (Southern California) and Lance Kendricks (Wisconsin) could draw interest a little later. As good as he is, Arkansas' D. J. Williams seems unlikely to be on the Dolphins' radar, as he lacks the Dolphins' ideal size for the position at just 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds.

In the unfortunate event that the Dolphins do not address tight end on the first two days of the draft, a pure blocking prospect like Wesley Saunders (South Carolina), Charlie Gantt (Michigan State) or Lee Smith (Marshall) might be options in the later rounds.


Conclusion

I've been arguing against the Dolphins' current depth practices at tight end for what seems like ages now, calling for changes and additions to be made all offseason. In January, I even broke down the Dolphins' significant drop-off in production from the tight ends between 2008 and 2010.

While it'd be nice for the Dolphins to have one of those elite play-makers at tight end, that's certainly not a necessity if you have other good pieces (like a Brandon Marshall) and Fasano is more than serviceable as an NFL starter.

What the Dolphins do need, however, is a capable No. 2 man at the position. The free agent market doesn't offer much more than developmental or short-term options, which is why the draft is probably the place to go for a long-term player to pair with Fasano.

Whether it's a mauling run blocker to team with Fasano in two-tight end sets, or a speedy receiving tight end that could develop into a starter down the road and let Fasano become more of a full-time blocker, the Dolphins simply need two capable players at the position and will have the opportunity to acquire that second one next month.

Such a move would do wonders for the Dolphins' running game that struggled so badly in 2010, as well as help the quarterback (whoever he is) by giving him a reliable rushing attack and one more option in the passing game.


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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dolphins schedule private workout with Cam Newton

The Miami Dolphins have scheduled a private pre-draft workout with 2010 Heisman trophy winner and former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, according to Tim Graham of ESPN.com.

The Dolphins, currently holding the 15th pick in April's draft, are one of eight known teams to have scheduled a private workout with Newton. Joining them (with first-round draft slots in parentheses) are the Carolina Panthers (1st), Buffalo Bills (3rd), Cincinnati Bengals (4th), Cleveland Browns (6th), Tennessee Titans (8th), Washington Redskins (10th), and Minnesota Vikings (12th).

The former Florida Gators quarterback transferred to Auburn from Blinn College in 2010, leading the Tigers to a perfect season and national title over the Oregon Ducks on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and various other postseason honors.

Prior to declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft following his junior season, Newton threw for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns, while adding 2,908 yards and 30 touchdowns on the ground.

He was involved in a pay-for-play controversy during the season, when rumors emerged of his father, Cecil, soliciting his son's commitment to Mississippi State in exchange for cash. The NCAA was unable to find evidence that Cam Newton was aware of any requests.

A gifted athlete, Newton's draft stock has ranged from the mid-first round to a potential first overall pick. He recently ran a 4.59 40-yard dash and 10-foot-6 broad jump at the NFL Scouting Combine while measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds.


Analysis

The Dolphins are searching for their quarterback of the future after Chad Henne's shaky third season in 2010, so it's no surprise to see they are doing their homework and getting an up-close and personal look at Newton.

That being the case, it's highly unlikely the Dolphins will be able to land Newton, as he will quite possible be a top-three pick and the Dolphins lack the ammo to trade up with no second-round pick in this year's draft.

It's also interesting to note that of the eight teams that are known to have scheduled private workouts with Newton, the Dolphins have the lowest pick in the first round at 15th overall.

Of course, that isn't necessarily a bad thing, because I for one have been a constant proponent of avoiding Newton in this year's draft.

While I consider myself a huge Auburn fan and significantly enjoyed watching Newton guide the Tigers in 2010, I am well aware of the problems he'll face transitioning from college to the pros.

Newton's college numbers are indeed astounding, but it's important to remember that his success is predicated entirely on a spread option offense that has no presence nor future in the NFL.

A physical freak with his size, speed, and athleticism, Newton was able to dominate college defenses simply by running over them, then scaring them with the run to the point that he was able to pass with great success. It's also important to note just how much worse the pass coverage is in college compared to the NFL.

While everyone is fawning over Newton for his physical tools and so-called upside, I confidently believe that he lacks the accuracy, intelligence, and ability to read the field to be an elite NFL quarterback.

Newton is a tremendous athlete that has a place in the NFL, and that place might even be as a starter. But as a fan of a team that has lacked a quarterback for so long, I want a guy that has the potential to be a Peyton Manning, a Tom Brady, a Drew Brees, an Aaron Rodgers, and so on.

As good as Newton was in college and as good as he may seem pre-draft, Newton is simply not that guy. Years from now, the Dolphins will be lucky they weren't high enough to grab him.


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Richie Incognito: Contract Breakdown

The Miami Dolphins made the somewhat surprising move of re-signing offensive lineman Richie Incognito last week before NFL operations got put on hold, but little was revealed about the contract except the length of three years.

Here are how the base salaries for Incognito, who made $725,000 in 2010, break down in this new contract:
  • 2011:  $1.05 million
  • 2012:  $3.3 million
  • 2013:  $4 million
The signing bonus and other guaranteed money are still unknown, although based on these numbers, I'd guess he received between $1-2 million up front, which would make this a three-year deal in the $9-10 million range.

The interesting thing to note about these base salaries, however, is the significant jump they take from the first year to the second. This, to me, says that the contract is essentially another one-year audition.

After that time, the Dolphins will either be satisfied with Incognito as a starter, and keep him at a fairly reasonable starter salary the next two years, or they'll cut bait before 2012 and only be out what they paid him the year before.

Despite being the Dolphins' best interior lineman in 2010 due to Joe Berger and John Jerry's horrendous play, Incognito struggled mightily at left guard for much of the season. He is tentatively expected to move to center in 2010, but a starting job is far from assured and the Dolphins are likely to look to the draft and free agency for more help.

It is very unlikely the Dolphins would keep Incognito as a backup in 2012-13 at those salaries, so he'll have to prove himself once again if he wants to remain in Miami.


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