Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dolphins work out two linebackers; uniform numbers updated

Despite the signing of free agent Gary Guyton a week ago, the Dolphins' search for linebacker help continues. Reports Monday indicated the team hosted workouts with free agents Omar Gaither and Ernie Sims.

The ninth overall pick by the Detroit Lions in 2006, Sims seemed to be one of Matt Millen's better first-round picks early in his career after starting all 48 possible games and racking up 371 tackles during his first three seasons.

Ernie Sims

Those numbers were a bit deceiving, however, as Sims ranked fifth in the NFL among 4-3 outside linebackers with 20 missed tackles while allowing the fourth-most receptions, second-most receiving yards and the most yards after the catch.

In 2009, Sims started only eight of 11 games played but ranked as Pro Football Focus' worst 4-3 outside linebacker for the second consecutive year. He again struggled in coverage and had seven missed tackles on the season despite playing just 490 snaps.

Shipped to the Eagles prior to the 2010 season, Sims started 15 games and played 884 defensive snaps but incomprehensibly recorded just 55 tackles. He again struggled in coverage, although he did "improve" to grading out as just the third-worst linebacker in PFF's rankings.

After signing with the Indianapolis Colts as an unrestricted free agent in 2011, Sims started four of 13 games (406 snaps) and totaled 61 tackles. He graded out as PFF's second-worst 4-3 outside linebacker, marking the fourth consecutive year (which is the length of PFF's existence) he has ranked in the bottom three at his position.

Sims entered the league with a lot of hype out of FSU, but he's been a massive letdown thus far and I'm not sure there is anything to salvage. The 6-foot, 230-pounder is now 27 years old and has pretty much proved he can't be an NFL starter, and at this point I'm not sure you'd even want him as a backup. He's also pretty much a pure weakside linebacker and doesn't really play special teams.

Omar Gaither

A fifth-round pick out of Tennessee in 2006, Gaither spent five seasons with the Eagles (including 2010 with Sims) and was an on-an-off starter. He opened all 16 games in 2007 and totaled 102 tackles, but he saw his playing time and production each of the next three seasons. In 2011, Gaither signed with the Carolina Panthers and opened four of 10 contests, recording 31 tackles and a sack.

Gaither would come without the perceived "upside" Sims had, but has comparable starting experience in this league. The 28-year-old also does not project as a starter, but would certainly be a better depth signing than Sims because he's played all three linebacker positions and has more special-teams experience.

While no signing is imminent and the Dolphins may have just been kicking the tires on a few free agents, it's possible the team could sign one of these guys for depth at some point after the NFL Draft.

New Dolphins' receive jersey numbers, some players take new ones at Dolphins' minicamp

Here's a recap of the new/updated jersey numbers revealed today at the Dolphins' voluntary offseason minicamp, along with some notes:

  • Quarterback Pat Devlin switched from No. 9 to No. 7 and free-agent addition David Garrard takes No. 9, which he wore with the Jaguars. Devlin's new No. 7 was worn by Chad Henne (Jaguars) for the past four seasons. Devlin wore No. 17 at Delaware so this is a little closer to that.
  • Fullback/tight end Charles Clay takes No. 42 and new cornerback Richard Marshall takes No. 31, which he wore in both Carolina and Arizona.
  • New numbers for imported CFL running backs are No. 35 for Jerome Messam and No. 34 for Marcus Thigpen.
  • Newly-signed wide receiver Legedu Naanee takes No. 19, so get out those duct tape rolls and sharpies, owners of Brandon Marshall jerseys!
  • Basketball player-turned-accountant-turned-tight end Les Brown will wear No. 87.
  • Verteran lineman Artis Hicks, who is unfortunately projected to start at right tackle in 2012, is wearing No. 73.
  • Jamaal Westerman might need to change his twitter handle of @JWesterman55 because he's wearing No. 52 for the Dolphins. Although he could just be waiting for Koa Misi to get released for his battery charge/being terrible at football. Also as expected, Westerman is working at defensive end in the Dolphins' new 4-3 after playing as a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Jets.
  • Linebacker Gary Guyton is wearing the same No. 59 he did with the Patriots.
  • Safety Tyrell Johnson is donning No. 26 for the Dolphins after wearing No. 25 in Minnesota. How No. 26 isn't retired in Miami for Lamar Smith is beyond me.
  • Cornerback/kick returner Quinten Lawrence (a former receiver) has No. 36.
  • Corner Jonathan Wade is wearing Will Allen's old No. 25. Wade initially wore No. 32 in a stint with the Dolphins in 2011, but that's fellow corner Marcus Brown's number, which he took on the practice squad last year when Wade was cut.

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