Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dolphins work out Jonathan Goff, three more linebackers

The Miami Dolphins have already worked out free agent linebacker Rocky McIntosh and Philip Wheeler (who signed with the Raiders), but have yet to make a signing and are still exploring options at the position.

According to Howard Balzer of Lindy's Sports, the Dolphins have already hosted workouts with Jonathan Goff, Quentin Groves, Gary Guyton and Bryan Kehl.

A move is not necessarily imminent, however, as the Dolphins are short on cap space and are also in extension talks with a number of their current players. The Dolphins have roughly $6.4 million in cap space last week before signing safety Tyrell Johnson to a one-year, $700,000 contract.

The Dolphins also re-signed their two remaining restricted free agents Tuesday, as defensive lineman Phillip Merling and offensive tackle Lydon Murtha and each signed their one-year tender offers. The signings give the Dolphins 62 players on their 80-man offseason roster.

Jonathan Goff

A fifth-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2008, Goff spent the past four seasons with the New York Giants. He started all 16 games in 2010, recording 80 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble while grading out as the NFL's No. 9 inside linebacker against the run according to Pro Football Focus. Goff missed the entire 2011 campaign with a torn ACL and worked out for the Browns in March.

Of these four guys, Goff is probably the only starting talent of the bunch. Assuming he's healthy and barring any other signings or high draft picks, Goff would absolutely project as a potential starter in Miami alongside Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett.

Quentin Groves

After tying the career sack record at Auburn, Groves was a tremendous second-round bust with just 2.5 sacks in two seasons with the Jaguars. He's spent the past two years with Oakland (failing to record a mere half-sack since his rookie season of 2008). Groves started 12 of 15 games at outside linebacker in 2010 and has graded out as a solid run defender each of the past two seasons.

Like Koa Misi in Miami or Manny Lawson in Cincinnati, Groves has failed to develop into a reliable pass rusher at the pro level but has instead turned into a solid defender. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle was a member of a Bengals' defensive staff in 2011 that perhaps turned Lawson's career around by changing his role, and the same thing would be a best-case scenario for Groves, although he'd be far from a lock to start.

Gary Guyton

Despite going undrafted out of Georgia Tech in 2008, Guyton played in 15 games (two starts) with the Patriots as a rookie in 2008. He went on to start all 16 games at inside linebacker in 2006, totaling 85 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Guyton has been relegated to more of a reserve role over the past two seasons with the addition of Brandon Spikes, starting 14 of 29 contests and recording 110 tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions.

Guyton has starting experience, but his upside is somewhat limited and he struggles in coverage. He has experience at the inside spot in the 3-4 and both middle and weakside linebacker in the 4-3, which would at least give him a chance of earning a starting job with the Dolphins.

Bryan Kehl

A fourth-round pick by the Giants in 2008 out of BYU, Kehl spent two-plus seasons with the team before joining the Rams off waivers early during the 2010 season. In his career, Kehl has started five of 59 games played and totaled 85 tackles, a sack and an interception.

Despite going a round before Goff, Kehl failed to stick in New York and has by far the least starting experience of any of these four players worked out by the Dolphins. He has 24 special teams tackles over the past three seasons and likely wouldn't have a bigger role than that in Miami, barring some hidden, untapped potential.

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