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2013 NFL Team Previews, AFC East: Miami Dolphins - 2nd

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 2, 2013

2013 NFL Team Previews, AFC East: Miami Dolphins - 2nd

 

OFFENSE

QB:

Entering the league in a year when an unprecedented number of young quarterbacks played at a top level, Ryan Tannehill went largely unnoticed by NFL fans. Nonetheless, Tannehill possesses the talent to be a long term, championship competitive franchise player at a position that has been unsettled for the Dolphins for over a decade. There were however some inconsistencies in terms of completing deep passes, converting third downs, and being accurate under pressure. Some of those issues undoubtedly resulted from poor pass protection and a lack of dynamic pass catchers. He has the live arm, the height, the athleticism, and general accuracy to provide great long term stability for the Miami organization. Behind him, Matt Moore and Pat Devlin are decent options, grasping the system and moving the chains in limited time in camp and preseason.

 

RB:

Lamar Miller is a popular choice as a breakout second year player. He does have great speed and the ability to contribute in the passing game. Though he may not be an elite back and is not quite as talented as Reggie Bush, he should sport a strong yards per carry. Daniel Thomas is a good running mate, although he has incurred the ire of impatient Dolphin fans. He is a versatile, skilled bigger back who runs hard. The Dolphins further drafted Mike Gillislee, a nice rotational player with good all around athleticism and skill.

 

WR:

Miami overhauling this position was the story of the team’s offseason. They are much deeper and more explosive, if not yet quite elite. Mike Wallace is one of the premier big play receivers in the league, even if he lacks top ball skills and size. Brandon Gibson should be a consistent and effective short and intermediate worker and an overall upgrade over Davone Bess. The team re-signed Brian Hartline, a guy who is a legitimate starting outside receiver with terrific hands and body control as well as underrated height and speed. The guy to watch here is Marvin McNutt, a great athlete with big play ability and top size.

 

TE:

The Dolphins also injected athleticism and depth to the tight end group. Dustin Keller is one of the best pass catching tight end in the league and gives Tannehill a guy that can line up all over formations as a matchup weapon. Rookie Dion Sims is a beast of a second tight end with good in-line blocking ability and excellent size. Charles Clay will also line up all over the field and if he can be more consistent catching the ball, can be a very effective H-back piece, rendering true fullback Jovorskie Lane’s non-short yardage role obsolete. Meanwhile, second year TE Michael Egnew is a liability for the run game and is in serious danger of losing his roster spot.

 

OL:

Likely to be the Miami offense’s limiting factor is their offensive line. The projected starters form left to right are Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, John Jerry, and Tyson Clabo. While they upgraded the right tackle position by adding Tyson Clabo, the left tackle spot will take a significant step back as Jake Long departed to St. Louis. Jonathan Martin is physically overmatched against both speed and power at left tackle. There is also uncertainty at guard, depending on RG John Jerry’s health and conditioning. Young interior lineman Josh Samuda could fortify the line by winning a starting job and keeping Jerry on the bench. Overall, the line includes four of last year’s starters. But that line struggled to consistently protect as well as open up running lanes.

 

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Best Offensive Rookie: TE Dion Sims

Best Offensive Second-Year Player: QB Ryan Tannehill

2014 Draft Offensive Position of Need: Left Tackle

2014 Draft Suggestion: OT James Hurst, North Carolina

 

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line:

Miami should be home to one of the best two or three defensive lines out there. Cam Wake is a bona fide All-Pro type of player, violently abusing tackles with quick-twitch speed and power. Inside, Randy Starks and Paul Soliai return one of the best interior tandems. Starks was consistently disruptive and Soliai was one of the main reasons the team had a top run defense. But the break out player here is former first round pick Jared Odrick, a starter at end the past couple years who is a matchup nightmare inside. Odrick is a Pro Bowl talent. Vaughn Martin was also brought in and will provide high quality depth. The two wildcards on the line are super athletic second-year end Olivier Vernon and third pick in the draft Dion Jordan. Jordan is a versatile, freakish, physical edge guy with top upside, while Vernon will flash but may be better as a situational or rotational guy.

 

LB:

Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler replace Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett. The move is largely a wash but the new group is younger and the old group failed to make plays in the passing game. Koa Misi will keep his outside linebacker spot for the time being, and ideally he would get more opportunities to contribute to the pass rush as opposed to dropping into coverage. Rookie Jelani Jenkins is a great athlete but it remains to be seen how he would hold up as an instinctive, sure-tackling run defender.

 

Secondary:

Finally, Miami has the talent in the secondary to solidify an elite defense. The big addition was Brent Grimes, a diminutive, cat-quick playmaker with excellent leaping ability and instincts. Opposite him should be underrated veteran Richard Marshall, who needs to stay healthy. Dimitri Patterson and rookies Jamar Taylor and Will Davis round out the cornerback group. Taylor, in particular, once he gets back on the field, has the ability to be a top flight player with all the speed and ball skills. Nolan Carroll is an excellent special teamer.

At safety, the Dolphins feel secure bringing back the now experienced duo of Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons. The two have plenty of range and versatility. Jones is really the guy. He played like a top five safety in 2012, roaming all over the field and making numerous plays on the ball. Jimmy Wilson, a former cornerback, and second year man Kelcie McCray provide credible depth while rookie prospects compete to make the team.

 

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Best Defensive Rookie: DE Dion Jordan

Best Defensive Second-Year Player: DE Olivier Vernon

2014 Draft Defensive Position of Need: Free Safety

2014 Draft Suggestion: FS Ed Reynolds, Stanford