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News » Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-04-17


Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-04-17


Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-04-17
Just because the Dolphins went from 1-15 to 11-5 doesn't mean they don't have a weakness -- or three. No one is more adroit at using the draft to do address team needs than Bill Parcells, the team president of football operations.


The Dolphins have shored up their offensive line through free agency with a virtual center swap with the Raiders in signing free agent Jake Groves and later trading Samson Satele to Oakland for another pick. They also re-signed right tackle Vernon Carey and added backup Joe Berger, so Parcells and general manager Jeff Ireland will most likely focus on shoring up the 15th-ranked defense in the first day.

While they did bolster the back end of the secondary by re-upping with Yeremiah Bell and signing Gibril Wilson, they are as thin as Manute Bol at the cornerback position with the loss of Andre' Goodman. Veteran Will Allen is in the final year of his contract and behind him are three street free agents as well as 2006 first-round bust Jason Allen and dependable nickel cornerback Nate Jones. So expect Parcells to shop for corners, early and late -- as in after the draft ends -- for a quartet of DBs who can also play special teams, a glaring weakness for the first half of 2008.

The competitive demand for mammoth nose tackles to anchor the growing trend of 3-4 defenses far outweighs the supply in this draft, and the Dolphins are desperate to find a young nose tackle to succeed an aging, creaky-kneed Jason Ferguson. Beyond the Boston College duo of B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, the cupboard is pretty bare, but that won't stop Miami from turning over every rock to find one. Clemson's Dorell Scott could be an interesting second-day project, unless the current regime is convinced that underachieving Paul Soliai or undrafted Joe Cohen are in-house answers.

Parcells is always in search of the next L.T. (not LaDainian Tomlinson) to bolster his outside pass rush, especially with Joey Porter soon to turn 32. Sure, they signed CFL quarterback terrorizer Cameron Wake and are high on Charlie Anderson, but there are too many quality hybrid edge rushers available in the first three rounds for the Dolphins not to grab one.

The fans are clamoring for a game-breaking, field-stretching receiver to go with a sure-handed, yet unspectacular receiving corps of Ted Ginn Jr., Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess and a still developing Brandon London. However, even if the Dolphins opted to fill this need in the first round -- a rarity for a Parcells-led draft -- the player won't be able to strut his stuff until a stronger-armed Chad Henne takes over in 2010. That said, Parcells is a firm believer in turning late-round receivers into playmakers, such as Troy Brown (eighth round) and Patrick Crayton (seventh).

Of course, Parcells, Ireland and offensive coordinator Dan Henning are always in the market for a huge, blocking, sure-handed tight end to help with the running game, someone like Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew. Current Dolphins tight ends Anthony Fasano and David Martin are in the final year of their contracts. Second-year tight end Joey Haynos, who is 6-8 and sure-handed, usurps the need for an early-round tight end.

TEAM NEEDS: Wide receiver, cornerback, outside linebacker, defensive tackle.

WR -- Vice president of football operations Bill Parcells may refrain from drafting receivers in the first round but he might make an exception for athletic, tall receivers such as Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks or even NFL-ready Brian Robiskie. Britt had 15 TDs his last two seasons, while Robiskie is more of a possession receiver.

Miami's receiving corps of Ted Ginn Jr., Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess caught a combined five TD passes last year and have had 12 in the last two years. They need to groom a field-stretching burner for a strong-armed Chad Henne for when he takes over for Chad Pennington in 2010.

CB -- Although the Dolphins signed Cardinals free-agent CB Eric Green, he is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he was replaced by a rookie during Arizona's Super Bowl run, and he has just two career picks in four seasons.

The loss of veteran CB Andre' Goodman and his career-high five picks to Denver will be felt, and returning starter Will Allen, 30, is in the final year of his contract. Utah's Sean Smith or Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins would be ideal fits, especially if Jenkins continues to drop. Smith is 6-foot-3, the size that Parcells craves, while Jenkins is the ideal hard-nosed press corner to go with a 3-4 blitzing defense. Unheralded Greg Toler of St. Paul's (Va.) has the speed and instincts (six picks) to be snatched in round seven.

OLB -- The Dolphins improved their overall pass defense, largely a credit to resurgent Joey Porter (17.5 sacks), but that was partly due to excellent press coverage from Allen and Goodman. Solid inside pass rusher Vonnie Holliday was allowed to walk, while promising youngsters Kendall Langford and Phillip Merling are still developing. And Porter, 32, slumped in the tail end of the season with just one sack over the last three games.

Miami signed CFL sacker Cameron Wake (39 sacks the past two years), but he was undrafted and not NFL-tested for a reason, and Charlie Anderson has been a slow work in progress. Late-blooming Clay Matthews is the kind of player that has cachet with Parcells and Virginia's Clint Sintim -- who was coached by Al Groh, a Parcells' disciple -- could be one-year reserves before starting in 2010.

DT -- Incumbent starter Jason Ferguson will be 34 and he's most likely playing his last season in Miami, so it's imperative the Dolphins draft a nose tackle. BC's Ron Brace could be groomed as Ferguson's replacement in the 3-4. However, Brace's injury issue, notably his back problems, has to raise eyebrows. The Dolphins had to deal with Tim Bowens' aching back for years, but he was worth it. The jury is still out on third-year NT Paul Soliai, who the team suspended twice last season for violating team rules. Joe Cohen is a complete mystery. Look for Ireland to draft a project such as Clemson's Dorell Scott.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 17, 2009

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Aaron Halterman Name: Aaron Halterman
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