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Look to the draft for the biggest talent boon

I talked to two NFL general managers on Monday -- no, not Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland who flees at the mere smell of a tape recorder.

In e-mail exchanges with these two GMs, I came to believe that if a team is going to load up on talent in the 2010 offseason, it's going to happen primarily through the draft. These guys were truly excited about the college talent coming out, have already put in long hours of tape study on college players, and are eagerly looking forward to the Indianapolis Combine later this month.

And, no, they weren't bailing on the idea that free agency will have a few good players in the offing and even some intriguing surprises. But when 140 to 200 players in their mid to late 20s have basically been eliminated from unrestricted free agency lists because of the rules of an uncapped season, you can understand it diminishes the excitement about free agency.

Still, there will be a free agency this offseason, it just won't look like anything we've grown accustomed to in previous years.

Free agency will come in tiers. There will be street free agents hitting the market even before traditional free agency begins March 5. These street free agents are obviously discards, but maybe one or two will help teams in 2010.

One such street free agent hit the market Monday when the Cleveland Browns cut wide receiver Donte' Stallworth ahead of the lifting of his league-imposed suspension. If you remember, Stallworth struck and killed a pedestrian with his Bentley in Miami Beach on March 14, 2009. He pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter.

That got him suspended by Commissioner Roger Goodell (not to mention it sent him to jail for 24 days, sent him to house arrest and activated other punishment). Well, after a season out of the game, Stallworth is available.

And already I've gotten a dozen e-mails from readers asking if the receiver-starved Dolphins will be interested. I cannot tell you for sure. But I seriously doubt it.

Stallworth is not the answer for a team like Miami that usually avoids such mixtures of mediocre talent and high off-field risks. Plus Stallworth, at age 29 and two years removed from a football game, probably isn't No. 1 receiver material these days.

So I wouldn't bank on him being in a Dolphins uniform despite the fact the guy lives in South Florida and his agent is Drew Rosenhaus of South Florida. But, as I said, that's a guess.

This is not a guess: Throughout free agency, you'll see players come available that typically would not in a capped year. Teams are expected to view the uncapped year as a sort of jubilee, where all their financial mistakes of the past can be erased because no salary cap means no cap hit for getting rid of under-performing players or toxic contracts.

Those players will hit the market. And maybe a handful of them become significant contributors to their new teams. The trick is identifying those few players and pairing them in the right system to bring out the best results.

Another part of free agency is players that have six years or beyond and are out of contract. These players have not been re-signed by their teams for whatever reasons and will be legitimate unrestricted free agents.

But wait, the top players in this category also might not hit free agency. Teams, you see, can slap a franchise tag or one of two transition tags on the best of these players. That could effectively take about 30 players off the market. 

So most of the unrestricted guys on the market will not be game-changers, assuming their original teams do their homework. Some will be aging players. Jason Taylor might be one of those. Some will be younger but not necessarily game-changers. Ben Watson of the New England Patriots might be one of those.

That market, I'm told, will be lean.

And then there is the restricted free agency market. It should not surprise if teams make a play for a handful of these guys. Desperate times call for desperate measures and that is desperation as restricted players rarely get signed away from their teams.

It would not be a cheap venture for any team that tries because draft pick compensation could be due for signing these players.

Why is that such a steep price to pay for proven talent, you ask? Well, because even the most proven free agents can become free agent busts. Because teams will be doubling down on the move -- giving up draft compensation and paying bigtime contracts for the players.

And because in giving up draft picks, teams will not be maximizing their chances in the draft. Yes, the same draft the two GMs told me was full of very good talent.

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thank you very much bobbyd12. I asked that because Solai and McDaniel are good but not great and in order to compete with NE and Jets Do we need an upgrade in NT? and in the other hand we need too much a play maker in ILB or at last one who can cover a TE. And there is also the Mike Nolan factor, do he make our NT to step up?
In my case I like Jared Odrick and a guy from Carolina at NT ¿do they are an upgrade from out NT? ¿are they available in a 2nd round?

Ya, I think this conversation will become pretty redundant until such time as new variables are entered into the mix - ie the combine results.

Once they come out, we can start discussing the draft with a more complete picture.. and then we will start seeing good college players with bad combine stats, decent college players with good combine numbers.. and then it all depends on what is most important to the Dolphins when drafting a position..

this will get exciting!

Is Joey("I've got a 6th grade education)Porter still a phin?????

resing JASON TAYLOR and i agree with jamillion in everything.

OK guys the Menace is getting ready to board a flight to his place of birth,I'll be home around 1:20 get the Cuban coffee ready, get the Cuban pork cooked,cook up that black beans and rice baby ... THE CUBANS COMING HOME BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Adrian, after Suh and McCoy right now the top three NT possibilities seem to be Dan Williams, Cam Thomas and Terrel Troupe, I no nothing about the kid from Penn State Odrick except he is projected into round two at this time

Cuban, what time u land in Havana????

Jared Odrick is NOT a NT . He 'll be a 4-3 DT or 3-4 de. NT Cam Thomas of north carolina is worth keeping an eye on in rounds 3-4.

I'll be giving out the buffoon post of the day and so far anybody mentioning stallworth coming to miami is in the lead.

Of course ILB is bigger need over NT.

bobbyd12 - NT is only 1 position and ILB is more than one. More of a need for us --> ILB

LOL Bobby.....

What happened to all the weatherspoon supporters from last week? Where is he at in all of this?

Marino is right. The Dolphins need Ginn. He will stretch the defense if nothing else. But we still need one stud receiver. I say if we can get a good deal for Brandon Marshall we take it. See my previous comments from other blogs here on how I would address Marshall acclamation (spell check) if he became a Dolphin.

If not, I would look to draft with our first pick Dez Bryant, Golden Tate, Spiller, or Sergio Kindle (not necessarily is this my order of preference).

The three offensive guys are all very capable of being great offensive playmakers in the NFL.

Kindle IMHO is the best overall LB in the draft. He doesn't miss a tackle. Excellent pass rushing skills. I believe he can play inside too but if not he should be a stud on the outside.

Our LB group got torched all year long, couldn't run with WR's and RB's (Houston game perfect example). When your top tacklers on the team are your safties or corners, the LB's are NOT doing their job.

I am as high on Sean Weatherspoon as any defensive player in this draft. I want to see how McClain does in the combine tests but I can't imagine him being significantly better than 'Spoon.

Gerald McCoy is not a NT candidate either. He's eerily similar to Dorsey who came out of LSU 2 years ago and was passed over by Parcells in favour of Jake Long.

"With the 12th pick of the 2010 Draft the Miami Dolphins select, Matt Dodge, Punter from East Carolina"

Thank you NJ PHIN FAN Cam Thomas is the guy that I refer, you are right LipsinToronto I got to be more patient, thanks also to Mark in Toronto an congratulations to cuban menace.

If the nfl were ran like the franchise mode in madden all of these crazy ideas of picking up this guy and that and still having your draft picks would be perfect. But unfortunately there is no trade override button in real life so all these thoughts on picking up all these great players is nothing more than crazy talk. I would love to have all of them in MIA but its not going to happen.

Good thing Robert Meachem didn't have a big game in the SB, I think he may be available for a reasonable price (mid-rounder?)

Getting A. Bryant and B. Watson in FA would also be nice upgrades.


Flipper013 has now taken the lead.

Kindle the best linebacker? I wouldn't even put him in the top 10.

I'm agree with Mark in Toronto Kindle flashes some good things but not much more.

Indiana, IMO if u don't have a NT that is clogging up that line it don't matter if u have the greatest LB in the world back there because they will always be making tackles five yards down the field...And that's pretty much what happened when Fergunson got injured...everyone is jumping on Crowder saying he made tackles five yards downfield, well of course he did because that's where are NT got pushed back to...like I said, just my opinion but without that stud nosetackle the 3-4 defense isn't working

Mark. see post at 11:24. he even mentiomed kindle could play ILB. LMFAO !!!

1. The Dolphins need linebackers. 2. Karlos Dansby will be an unrestricted free agent and probably the best LB available that won't cost the team an arm and a leg. 3. he was already franchised by the Cards twice which shows how much they think of him. 4. With all of the talk in here about LB being a need why has no one talked about this?

We have talked about Dansby for a month now... Just not sure its going to happen. I really doubt it to be honest.

Because dansby just came off a contract that paid him 9 mil dollars. How much less do you think he going to ask for , especially with not many FA available ?? He will cost an arm and a leg.

NJ: I doubt Kindle can play any LB position at an NFL level at an all pro level. Way too many holes in his game.

Flipper: Kindle relies on speed way to much. he gets smoked at the line of scrimmage and often looks lost. he might be more effective as a 4-3 OLB but going one on one against NFL LTs is a battle he won't win. There are much better options for Miami at LB than this guy.

finfan: We were talking Dansby here months ago. You're right - he would be the easiest to attain and the administration here loves him. I think the stiffest competition for his services will come from Philly (I mean he has to be an upgrade over 84 year old Jeremiah Trotter) who historically overpay for LBS. It's going to be tough to get him but I would be happy if they do.

Keep Ginn only because he has no trade value. Unless Cam Cameron and him fall in love while sipping margarita's, I don't see this guy going anywhere. He will have to say a Dolphin to return kicks and rotate in the game for a play or two. Go after Boldin for no more than a 4th rounder (wont happen). Draft McClain if there at 12, if not trade down for 'Spoon and we might recover that 3rd we lost. Forget about Stalled-out-worthless WR. Hit the draft hard for defense...Bye Bye Peezy!

Mark in Toronto,
I think Kindle could do many things in a Tampa 2 defense, he has the body and speed to make it happen at OLB. Other than that, the guy is missing a lot to be competitive in any other scheme.

But at which point do the Dolphins actually start spending for quality like most of the league does. These depth signings are great but when do we get a pro bowler on defense and please don't bring up Bell. What's the plan here, never spend on a quality player, just keep hoping someone from the depth list steps up his game? Joey Porter, Wilson, and a few other useless players will be gone and we won't be able to afford someone like Dansby, why not? I understand he's going to cost money but no draft picks or players will leave the Dolphins hands so no, it won't cost an arm and a leg. That would be a player, mid round draft pick, and large contract. Or we could stick with Ayodele, Crowder, Anderson, Wake, and pray to God that one of our draft picks contributes this year. Doesn't sound like a very good plan to me.

draft is the way to go especially w/all the cap issues and how its effecting free agents and teams spending or willing not to spend. last year they were talking up this draft as being deep. who wouldnt want a Wilfork but thats just not gonna happen. but football never ends, combine soon and pro days... and then Prime Time draft(I like that)!

At which point? Maybe next year, not this one. Too much talent to choose from, and it happens to be at the positions we need.

To enrique1085.
Consider also Pat Angerer for a Tampa-2, IMO he have better ball skills, he will be available in the 3rd round. I also hope he will be Zack Tomas reborn

NJ and Marc i know he got hurt in the bowl game, but a guy I think is a sleeper is Micah Johnson the ILB from Kentucky. I saw 2 games this year and he was all over the place. Saw interviews and he seems a smart player, and always brings up team. I think he would have been a 2nd, and will now maybe go 3rd or 4th. And he is good size, 6'2 256. And no body fat. What are your thoughts?

Finfan, unfortunatly that is where we are. After years of abuse the Dolphins are finally developing a solid team through draft picks and picking through the league. Parcells has used this strategy successfully for years...you are looking at some future probowlers in the making..Signing Dansby would be great, can we afford it and will it be detrimental to getting what we need is another story..

Also a good H-back sleeper is Clay Harbor from Missouri St. Saw him in the Texas vs Nation game, and read a good bit on him afte I saw it, he's very good. I know we have Sperry and Just drafted Nalbone, but I like what I saw of this kid. Just throwing names out there you might not have seen

miami should get dumervil , wilfork , marshall , austin , etc.

re: Dansby. It's not whether he's worth the money or not. He's going to have his choice of at least a few teams to go to. He might not like the Dolphin organization, someone might go over the top and overpay, I think he will be pursued by Miami. The question is, can we catch him?

Bootang - Micah Johnson looks stout but I'm worried about his athleticism. This LB crew needs athleticism badly. The guys we have tackle well and are stout but average TE and backs were burning us all year. Johnson looks like another Channing Crowder physically - not that that's a bad thing. I guess if nothing else, he's a fall back option if we somehow miss out on both McClain and Weatherspoon and Spikes. Oooooffff. let's not even go there.

What is Jeff Ireland's problem anyway?

All this talk about free agents is moot... Great teams are built through the draft, grow up together and can then be supplimented by a need FA. The Dolphins are certainly not at that stage yet and it would go against the basic premise of building the team.

How many years did we suffer through the foolish mentality that this team was one player away? Ricky, Culpepper, even Ginn was brought in under that stupidity. We lost so many draft picks and selected terrible players by thinking need first. It was the biggest illusion in the NFL... This team has not been one player away since 1974.

I'm not meaning to be derogitory but we need as much talent as we can acquire without giving up draft picks. That means Chowder, Wilson, Ginn, Ayodele, JT, Jason Allen, (JP is a punk so to hell with him), but all these players should remain on the team to compete. If they don't win the job then bye bye. It's an uncapped year! We can pay everyone and let the chips fall where they will.

Spend Now. Spend More. Full Speed Ahead.

Right on Gene!!! And Manning andReggie Bush and Garcon and Ed Reed. Idiot

Mark from what I saw and what I read, Johnsons explosiveness and athleticism are his strengths. The knock is he is not as instinctive as one would like, and a mild injury history. I was right there with you on weatherspoon and I think mcclain will be great for us. But as we did with langford and merling, and smith and davis, hartline and turner, even henne and white, I think we could easily draft 2-3 LBs. And I know everyone talks NT, S, and WR, I also wouldn't be surprised if we took another CB or versatile offensive linemen. What will be nice is to see how FA shakes out, our board should be set by the combine, and know where we need to attack FA to help with the draft.

Another name you will start to hear Mark, Jared Veldheer. 6'8 325. Could play tackle, or move inside and play guard ie Leonard Davis. It's not out of the question to find a RT and move Carey back inside. One of the things I love about Carey is he is very versatile. This kid veldheer is impressive.

Right on Gene!!! And Manning andReggie Bush and Garcon and Ed Reed. Idiot

Posted by: bobbyd12

I don't know who Idiot is or what team he's on, but if he's available....YES! Sign Him now!

enrique, you're right. As I typed out, he would only be successful as a 4-3 OLB, where he wouldn't have to face off against NFL LTs. Don't think he's strong enough. As a matter of fact, I don't know where his elite draft level status really comes from. he's nowhere near the player Orakpo was that came out the year before from Texas.

To Bootang25.
So we need to trade for 2 3rd round picks and/or 2 4th round picks, who do you trade ¿Kendall, Langford, J. Allen, Ginn? ¿somebody else? because for Wilson we only get a late 6th.

because for Wilson we only get a late 6th.

And they call ME Idiot??

Bootang, I agree on the OL depth scenario. I don't think the Dolphins will be looking for a guard per se, they may very well be hoping that last year late rd draft pick Andrew Gardner continues to progress so he could start at RT and move Carey inside. Carey is a pretty good tackle but with his power and athleticism - he would be a weapon inside.

bobbyd12 - As I do agree with you that the NT is very important in a 3-4 defense. The only problem is when Ferg went out it wasn't our LB's making the tackles, it was our Safties or Cornerbacks. Also, th LB's should be busting the holes and stopping the run at the line of scrimmage when neeeded, not 5 yards off the line anyways. I don't think you could convince me that NT is bigger need for the Dolphins. If we only needed 1 ILB or just a slight upgrade I would be convinced, but we almost need a complete overhaul at the LB position.

I'm not saying trade any of those guys. I'm saying we aren't afraid to draft multiple players at one position. Even in the same draft. I like all those picks. White and turner need to get reps IMO. And merling and langford get bashed, not by me. They are 3-4 DEs. We have done a really good job with the draft, and I think we do the same again this year. As for trades, I doubt anyone would be dumb enough to give us anything for Wilson. Funny story, NFLN showed the NE-NYG game at the end of 07, which NE won to be 16-0, and the go ahead TD was to Moss, guess who got there 2 seconds to late? Gibril Wilson. Had to laugh.

Mark, smart teams can get away with only dressing 7 guys on the OL on gameday, if those players can play multiple positions. I agree with Gardner, and Garner proved his worth much of last year. As for Carey, moving him inside, the phone booth mentality, he is a monster. But a very good RT as well. I don't think he gets enough credit, yes he was a little shaky towards the end of the year, but some of that had to do with no continuity on the line.

Miami will definitely be looking for some guard help in the latter rounds of the draft.

to Gene E. Yus.
Yes to take something for Wilson for me is like a day dream, but by the other hand I don´t know is is any translate and with no offend, as we say here in Mexico: si lo le cabe, no reparta.

NJ, what are your thoughts on Micah Johnson. I know he got hurt, but what about later inthe draft? Mark and I have a pretty good draft discussion going on.

tank you very much Bootang25.

Gene e Yus .... i get it. Its a pun right. You make your name sound like the word genius and then clutter the blog with horrible ideas and make yourself sounds not so much like... you guessed it a genius. I am not sure i have read anything more far fetch than your last few post.

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