This is a special time of year in the NFL. Some are fortunate enough to compete in the playoffs hoping all the hard work might pay off in a Super Bowl berth. Others find themselves at the other end of the spectrum searching for a new head coach to hopefully steer the ship away from the rocks. Every one else? Well now is a time for them to take stock. Take a look at what worked and what did not. It is time to make difficult decisions as they begin the journey through the 2015 offseason.
I started taking a look at what need the Miami Dolphins might need way back in November. While some things have changed since then the basic premise is the same.
I do not feel that the Dolphins are that far off the pace. Injuries and quality depth hurt Miami as much as anything on the field, just like any other team. To an extent the Dolphins could go BPA(Best Player Available) when the draft rolls around. I have however targeted three spots.
The Dolphins have two good promising starting linebackers in Koa Misi and Jelanie Jenkins. The problem is they are also saddled with Philip Wheeler and Dannelle Ellerbee who have drastically underperformed. The good news is that Wheeler and Ellerbee will most likely not be here next season. The bad news…who takes their spot?
Second year players Jordan Tripp and Chris McCain could possibly fill that third linebacker spot still leaving us with the question of depth.
Two players I do like are Erik Kendricks (UCLA) in the early round and Mike Hull(Penn St) in the later rounds.
Kendricks is an active versatile player who could easily be penciled in at middle linebacker from day one. Hull is a gritty, lunch-pail kind of player. While his measurables may not be as shiny he will outwork everyone.
2. Offensive Line:
Last season the Dolphins addressed their offensive line problems signing free agent Branden Albert and drafting rookie Ja’Wuan James. That seemed to help dramatically. When Albert went down with an injury it was clear more work is needed.
With James and Albert manning the tackle positions and Mike Pouncey expected to resume his career at center now it is time to find depth and possibly a guard or two.
Brandon Scherff(Iowa) would be a tempting first round pick. He could possibly man one of the tackle spots but he may be even better inside at guard. Another option Erik Fisher(Oregon).
Notice I said secondary. Not safety, not cornerback. My feeling is either or both may be a need. Louis Delmas and Cortland Finnegan could both be back or neither leaving more questions than answers. The simple fact is we need someone solid across from Brent Grimes and we do not know if Jamar Taylor can do the job. On the other hand while Delmas was good before his injury he does have an injury history.
There are a number of talented young players on the roster to look at for help: Michael Thomas, Walt Aikens, Jamar Taylor, Will Davis. Even if everyone contributes we will still need some secondary help.
Two safeties I like are Cody Prewitt(Ole Miss) and Gerod Holliman(Louisville). Both have good size and ball skills. They could allow Reshad Jones greater freedom to freelance and be the playmaker we have seen in the past.
As far as corner Trae Waynes(Michigan St) is a no brainer. I also like Kevin Johnson(Wake Forest). Both have the size we are frankly missing at corner to go along with excellent coverage skills.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Draft season is not quite upon us. As it gets closer players do begin to separate themselves. Just a little taste of what we could be in store for.