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Breaking down Miami's priorities this offseason

Wants. Needs. Must haves.

If you are a Dolphins personnel man or coach, you know what these words are about. If you are reader of this blog, you also know what these words are about. These words define the priorities the Dolphins put on their offseason moves.

A quickie tutorial: The must haves are the priority. The team must add talent at this position to function. The needs is next in line. The team needs to improve in this area, but it suggests there are bodies on the roster that can do the job -- although not at the optimum level -- to field a team. The wants? These are the greedy desires. These are the luxuries that can turn very good into great. Teams can make the playoffs without their wants.

So where are the Dolphins in their priority lists as the new league year looms March 5?

Ask Gary Horton at Scouts Inc. at ESPN.com and he believes Miami's priorities are 1. WR, 2. FS, 3. NT. Then he adds the team also needs help at OLB, ILB and OG.

Ask Salguero at, well, right here on this blog and I happen to disagree with Horton. I say Miami's must have is OLB, then NT, FS, WR, and ILB. 


I believe the OLB spot is key because the Dolphins simply don't have a lot of bodies at the spot and the ones they do have all are dogged by questions. We know Joey Porter will be gone from the team in 2010 as soon as the Dolphins figure out how to add and divide and are able to terminate his contract without screwing up the move as they did once already.

I digress.

Porter will be history and Jason Taylor, 36 in September, is an unrestricted free agent.

The Dolphins need to get younger at OLB, folks. And even if Taylor is re-signed as a stop-gap measure, the Dolphins need to get about the business of finding their future defensive star. In the 3-4 defense, the OLBs need to be stars. They are the guys who cause havoc. They are the ones the offense must plan around. They are the ones that can turn mediocre coverage on the back end into good enough because quarterbacks are either rushing their throws, or missing open receivers because they're on the ground or looking to avoid to the rush.

And so the Dolphins need to find a couple of those guys.

Cameron Wake is one of those guys, you say? Maybe. He showed how promising he is as a pass-rusher in 2009. But Wake has to become a three-down player to be the right answer. And he wasn't that when the season ended.

"I can tell you that's what I'm going to be, that I'm going to be a starter by next year," Wake told me when the Dolphins were packing their belongings after the season-finale. "But none of that matters. I have to do it. It's not about saying it. It's about doing it. I have to prove it to the coaches, to everyone. That's what matters."

Wake is confident he can prove it. But what else do you expect? We have yet to see it. So the Dolphins cannot simply be content in having Wake. Plus, there is a small issue of the strongside outside linebacker.

If Wake is going to man the weak side, the Dolphins need to identify a strongside linebacker. Taylor might or might not be that guy short-term. He definitely is not that guy long-term. Frankly, neither is Charlie Anderson, who is a good role player, but hasn't proven he can be a starter.

So do you understand that Miami must add OLBs just to field a defense? That means OLB rises to the level of a must have like no other spot on the team.

Many fans and pundits believe ILB is a must have but the fact remains the team still has its two starters -- Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele -- from the past two years. Yes, they both had subpar seasons in 2009. But they're signed. They're on the team. They're experienced. ILB is a need because it can use upgrading. But it isn't necessarily a must have, in my opinion.


Coach Tony Sparano described it as the "quarterback of the 3-4 defense," in that if the scheme's nose tackle stinks, the run defense will stink and the unit won't be able to stop anyone. The Dolphins have Paul Soliai on the roster as their best NT right now. Jason Ferguson, 36 in November, is an unrestricted free agent and he might or might not retire based on his recovery from a quadricep injury that shortened his 2009 season.

The drop from Ferguson to Soliai was precipitous. Horton describes Soliai as, "serviceable but not consistent," which is absolutely accurate. So the Dolphins must have a starting caliber player here. At the very least they must have a player to groom behind Soliai or behind Ferguson and Soliai. Obviously if Ferguson returns, the situation improves.

But if the Dolphins allow themselves to believe they can survive one more season with Ferguson and Soliai and think Ferguson will play all 16 games, they are deceiving only themselves. Nose tackle is a must have.


Gibril Wilson is not the answer. Period. He cannot cover and that matters only every time the other team throws the football -- which in today's NFL is about 60 percent of the time on average.

The Dolphins thankfully have youngster Chris Clemons waiting in the wings. Clemons seems to play fast and is confident. "My job is to come up with interceptions," he told me once last year.

Of course, no one has any idea if he will or not because he was only a rookie and not ready (in the coaching staff's estimation) to replace Wilson, who was terrible. So we have no idea if Clemons is the answer.

If he's not, the Dolphins must have a player ready to take over that is ready because putting Wilson back there again in 2010 is an invitition to more big plays. And in case you're wondering, Miami's defense yielded 40 passes of 25-yards or more in 2009. The free safety wasn't responsible for all of those, but he collected more than his fair share. The free safety spot must be addressed somehow.

Now you guys understand I want the Dolphins to add playmaking wide receivers. I want it badly. Simply, this team will not be a legitimate contender until it is able to throw the football with consistency and you can't do that without quality wide outs.

The Miami braintrust, winners of Super Bowls in the 1980s and 1991, may not agree. Maybe they believe a good running game and solid defense and avoiding mistakes can still bring you a Super Bowl title.

And to that I respond that eight of the NFL's top 10 passing teams made the playoffs in 2009. If you can't pass, you can't win. It ain't 1991 anymore. The rules have changed. The game has changed. You have to throw the ball or die in today's NFL.

But alas, I recognize a WR is a need. It is not a must have. The Dolphins have receivers on the roster. Some are even reliable, if not dynamic. Can the Dolphins win games with their current corps? Yes. Can they win championships? No way.

That makes WR a need. An obvious one. But not necessarily a must have.

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Hard to disagree. What are the chances they go for Hamtpon or Wilfork?

All of that would have sounded great about a year ago, before the league made rushing the QB illegal. The old adage: "if you throw the ball three things can happen, and two of them are bad" has been revised. As Farve has been proving for years, if you heave the ball forty yards down field, the worst you will get is an incomplete. More likely, it is an interference penalty, unnecessary roughness, or perhaps, a completion.
Unfortunately, we need a WR to do that. That said, all he has to be is big enough to get off blocks, and fast enough to get there in time. Actually catching the ball is incidental.

Your definitely right about the need for LB's...I still think Dez Bryant will be awesome in the NFL. Of course,Parcells won't draft him.

what about the idea of moving crowder back to olb??

My rankings:
1) OLB
2) FS
3) ILB
4) NT

Those 4 are "must haves" in the draft and FA.

The next biggest needs:

5) TE
6) WR
7) OG

We can probably address two needs in FA, and I'd say WR in FA or via trade for Boldin seems to be the best upgrade there. Then assuming Antrell Rolle or Karlos Dansby is available, sign one to meet one of the other needs. Ideally, if both can be signed, that's 3 fewer draft picks needed on those positions, and OLB and NT can be the draft focus.

I would add the following...

Well, the truth is they knew they were playing with borrowed time at OLB. I am sure they also realized Wilson was a "stopgap", although he did little to stop anything other then Miami's playoff chances a bit earlier then we had hoped.

The issue I see that not many are talking about is RB. Ronnie can't stay healthy, and RW will be another year older. Cobbs and his backup are just that..backups. I think this an area of need as well, if not for next season, then certainly for the following one. I would prefer it addressed sooner rather then later.

OL -- Can we agree that the unit has a few weak areas as well? Certainly Carrey had a down year considering he was back on the right side for the 2nd year in a row. I expected progress, he regressed IMO. And Guard still an area of concern.

There are so many holes on this team it is going to take quite an effort by the personal staff to fill half of them in the coming two drafts. The key IMO will be free agency, and even that is looking like a slim possibility.

While I agree that OLB is an important position to address, I still am of the opinion that if Dez Bryant is sitting pretty at #12, Miami HAS to grab him. I have taken 45 minutes or so to look at a bunch of the the video he has posted. I realize that you are just seeing a "Highlight Reel" but I see a few things in him you see in the greats, particularly his ability to break the first tackle, that can be big yards in a zone secondary. I also watched how he was able to make circus catches and come up or down with the ball when he was completely surrounded or in some cases, smothered by guys. I am also intrigued about the new and freshly dangling FA deal with a guy like Karlos Dansby. Just getting our hands on him would mean the reset button being pushed for the draft outlook. While I am not sure what to think about the Dansby trade... I do think Miami is serious about Boldin, and will give an honest effort for him. However, of all the "possibilities" I have heard in the last 48 hours, the Karlos Dansby deal if made would create the most opportunities and change the entire draft dynamic in Miami. The obvious question on everyone's mind, including my own after listening to him on WQAM... "How much $$ is it gonna take?"... and... "Are we buying a GOOD player with GREAT PLAYER money?".... Lots of Drama here in mid February... lots of Drama.

Uh ... yes ... what's your point, Mr. Obvious?

No chance on getting Wilfork. The Patriots would be stupid to let him go, this guy was a bright spot in their last year's D with lots of other weaknesses. The only obvious reason why they did not put a franchise tag on him yet is because they don't want to allure him. I believe the Pats to negotiate with Wilfork at this very moment at very high priority, and the result of this matter will lead to the question if the Pats play 3-4 next year w/ Wilfork or 4-3 w/o. Pats fans pray for the 4-3 punch, because they recognized the final 8 playoff teams played 4-3...

Well Mando,

I would say you are correct sir...at least about OLB being VERY important to the 3-4. The name I would slide right into that spot on the strong side is Brandon Graham. He is very adept at rushing the passer and containing plays to his side. Outside contain seemed to break down with uneasy regularity in 09. I can remember rewinding the TiVo numerous times dismayed at seeing Joey Porter not even in position to make a play. Graham has a super motor and can hand fight with the best of them. It seems OT's, TE's and RB's can't get to his chest to slow him down. He ends up around them in a hurry. He played at Michigan that has produced two good roster mates already in Jake Long and Chad Henne and is a Ross favorite. He played DE in college but he will make a smooth transition to OLB, especially the way Nolan will want to use him.

Spiller is a special game breaking type that I feel could make a case for as he can fill 4 different player roles in RB, WR, KR and PR. If they want a worthy #12 on Off he would be my choice bar none.

If they somehow get Dansby reeled in the Def would be getting a huge face lift already...

We have quality wide receivers. Camarillo, Hartline, and Bess are about as quality as you can get. What we don't have is an elite wide receiver, and we do need one of those badly. If we could get an elite receiver who is also a quality receiver, like Fitzgerald or The Man Child, that would be fantastic. But that ain't happening. If Bryant falls to 12 we pretty much have to take him - value pick who fills a need. Trading for Bowe would be the best move, if possible. Boldin would be a nice stopgap, but too expensive if he costs a third. Bryant may wind up being the best we can do here for now.

Our inside linebackers weren't just subpar last year. They were freaking awful. Torbor was our best at that position, and that's a bad situation. I'd spend as much of Ross' money as it took to bring Dansby and Foote here and try to forget 2009 ever happened as far as ILB goes.

Soliai played injured most of the year, so I give him a little slack. He does need to be more consistent, but if he keeps his head in the game he's got a combination of size and athleticism that's tough to match. He does need to figure out how to get penetration. If McDaniel can get his technique down well enough to play NT at 6' 5" then we're OK there even if Ferguson doesn't come back, but I still wouldn't pass on Cody if he's there at 43. Wilfork is the dream, but there's no way NE lets him come here.

FS is pretty straight forward. Get Antrel Rolle. Cut or trade Wilson, or move him over to SS to compete with Bell.

OLB is a problem. We really screwed up letting Roth leave the way he did. Just freaking pay him. He's better than Crowder, he's better than Ayodele, give him $4 million a year and call it a day. Would have been worth it just to have one less guy to worry about. But we did let him go, and now there are no answers in FA and nothing that really jumps out in the draft, either. Maybe trade down and take Kindle.

We're not going to solve all these problems this year. Especially since we also have to start thinking about running back (both starters could be gone next year, and neither can carry the load for a full season) and we still have a problem at right guard.

WR isn't as much as a priority as you claim it to be Mando. if you remember right we almost beat both the Colts and the Saints with our receiver corps. Even including Ginn's sorry excuse for skills. It was our defense and our defensive coordinator that lost us those games and many others like it.

We improve our defensive must haves and touch on needs and wants with the offense and we'll be good.

Those top 10 passing teams won't be able to do much as long as we continue to do what we do best. Move the chains and eat up the clock.

Youve hit the nail on the head Mando as usual..

I would go Brandon Graham before anyone else especially if we can get Boldin which I beleive is a distinct possibilty.

Nose Tackle is also a major worry.There is no garantee on ferguson at all.Im sure a NT will be selected in this draft.Lets see...theyve had 2 drafts and id say they have about a 60% hit rate.Although the PAT WHITE pick is looking like a disaster.....boy could we have used that on another player...!!!!

They want your advice! They Need your advice! They MUST HAVE your advice.

1. NT
2. NT
3. NT

Quentin Moses is still on the team, right? He and Anderson would hold down the fort at OLB MUCH better than Solai can hold down the nose. No NT = losing season.

Wake, JT, Moses, and Anderson are all as good as anyone that the Cheatriots have at OLB.

The Defense was horrid last year.....

One hundred percent correct. Linebacker, NT, Safety and then Wide Receiver. We only had to stop 2 or 3 big plays a game last year and we are 11-5 and in the playoffs.
In every sport I played we won games based on what we were good at doing. Just because every other team passes the ball doesn't exactly mean that the Dolphins have to pass the ball more. To win you have to play the best way you can with what you have. Pennington show us all that. He was great at dink and dunk. He used it against his opponents to great success. He brought us a winning season.

The OLB is a screaming need with JP gone. JT is a veteran that can give us a yeomans effort but his body is starting to deceive him more as each year clicks over.

The player I have a lazer beam radar lock on is non other that the Senior Bowl MVP Defensive MVP, Brandon Graham. Graham is a very tricky guy to fall for as his triangle numbers are not scary like some others. That's no problem as all he does is make plays! He's an awesome football player that understands leverage, change of direction, reads and anticipates extremely well.

In his last two years at Michigan he has played in 23 games. Has 110 tackles with 46 tackles for loss! He lead the ENTIRE NATION in Tackles for loss in 09 with 26!! He will be a beast and might be had for a slight trade back depending on how teams view him and his combine.

Many say he is like Lamarr Woodley and that suits me just fine.


Rob in OC...you are a legend pal...even from Australia you make sense...Im with you..I go GRAHAM..!!!

Rob in OC ,


Wasn't this supposed to be a three year reclamation project????how far are the mighty air breathers from the promised land???What are your thoughts people???

Aloco,Isnt it a little early for you to be up??


The trifecta seems to like to build the team from the OL/DL and work themselves out. While I agree with your observations, drafting for "must have needs" has proven to be a huge error in the NFL, as you bypass more talented players and end up taking a lower ranked player just to fill a huge need. I believe that must haves/needs have to be filled via free agency so that the draft can be used to pick the best player available, which is how you build a winner. For that reason, I expect the Phins to look at filling the as many of the must haves/needs via free agency, with ILB Dansby and FS Rolle getting a long look. I don't believe that a quality NT will be available in free agency (if one is, they will jump over it). For that reason, heading into the draft, I would say that the first four picks will be a NT, OLB, TE, WR with an OL posibly sneaking in if he is better at his draft spot than one of the ones I mentioned. The order they are drafted really depends on best player available when the Phins are up to draft. So first two rounds (NT or OLB), 3rd/4th round (TE, WR, OL). I expect UM TE Jimmy Graham to be a Dolphin if he doesn't shoot up the draft after the combine.

I believe you build a defense from the inside out. So I think the priorities should be (via free agency or the draft) ILB,FS,NT, next comes OLB,TE,WR, then RB and OL as insurance and depth acquisitions.

I love OLB Graham a lot. My only concern is his short arms. A lot of OLB that have short arms have problems in the professional game. Big left tackle will get their hands on him, and neutralize him. He has a great motor, but not idea size that the Trio likes. They are big on size/ratio, and I don't think they will pick him in the first round. I think Parcells will surprise everyone and take WR Bryant if he is available with the 12th pick.

Rob in OC, read the blog and the list over and over everyday till you realize that Spiller and RB is NOT a must have or need...thank you

Nose tackle, nose tackle...an absolute MUST have!!! I'd still take McClain 1st if he is there, not sold on Mr. Akin, if not Dan Williams

I have said this many times i love Dan Williams to anchor the middle of that D... The guy is solid..

Go Salguero; who says Miami's must have is OLB, then NT, FS, WR, and ILB and Why(?) for each! I feel that Gary Horton at Scouts Inc. does not have the as good knowledge of Miami's needs as Salguero does! I can not find one area where I can and would disagree with Salguero in any position mentioned above!

We also need a playmaker at TE and a young explosive Runningback.

doesn't matter who miami picks up at any lb spot if offensive lineman are allowed to run at them unhindered. get a NT that actually takes up a double team.

Spot On analysis, Armando! But I'd say it's a "tie" between NT & OLB, but that would be a quibble.

I too want a stud WR, but it's down the list & that's where it should be.

How do people get paid money to provide football analysis and say that WR is Miami's biggest need when they don't even have adequate NFL bodies to field a first team defense? They are down to one NT and 3 OLBs - 2 of them being special teams players. Mr. Horton needs to do some homework.

RB needs a look as some have said. ronnie is great but we don't even know if he will be effective. ricky can't hang on to the ball if he is the starter and cobbs is coming back from a surgery that usually saps some speed and acceleration from rb's and he wasn't exactly a burner. i like hilliard and he is an excellent receiver but not a game changer. spiller would be great but this defense REALLY needs help so drafting a rb isn't really something miami can do this year.

love BURGUNDY or BURGUNDV....either are hilarious....thanks for stopping by NJ

Posted by: Bigalfy | February 16, 2010 at 06:01 AM

You hear NJ

Dan the man williams or dough boy cody. Need a NT bad.
OLB you can make work with Wake, Anderson, Moses and a draftee.

FS in FA
WR in FA
Trade down in the First Round

Dez Bryant didnt even play in 09 he will be an impact player in 2011 or 2012
Draft a guy to start on day one. Dont pull another pat white or pat turner on me

Linebacker, NT, Safety and then Wide Receiver. Pennington show us all that. He was great at dink and dunk. He used it against his opponents to great success. He brought us a winning season.

Posted by: klndry | February 16, 2010 at 05:26 AM

I agree with you there on LB,NT,S and WR. Pennington was good at the dink and dunk, but it wont get you to the big game or close to it.


neither are good examples waterboy... pat white was meant to be a specialty player and turner should be a good reciever at his size. Pat was never expected to play from day one. i will say though Dan Williams is the guy i want...

A more appropriate example would be do not pull another teddy ginn on me... he was expected to be a starter straight out the gate and to perform at a high level...

1. OLB
2/3. FS/NT
4. WR

1. TE
2. OG depth
3. DL depth

2. DEPTH DEPTH and more DEPTH!!

By the way NJ, not so fast on you being correct about cutting Porter. (lol) You have to wait a few more weeks to be "right". I'm not saying Porter has trade value, but if 2 or more teams "really" want Porter a team could trade us a draft pick, so they are sure to get Porter. In retunr, Porter just may have trade value, but I only give that chance at about 10%...

Ted ginn has no balls, we know. but no other can get wide open like he can. He needs to stay and stick to what he can do : run deep patterns.

It would be so nice if Clemons, Wake and Patrick Turner can step it up and solve these three position problems...taking FS, OLB and WR out of the equation would make this draft a lot easier or a free agent pickup such as Boldin taking a problem position out...I can't wait till April 22nd!!!!

whats up indiana .... hows the weather there????

take dansby and sharper in FA then spend the first 4 picks in the draft on NT, OLB, FS, WR.

@ Indiana Dolfan... A pick for Porter??? are u kidding me.... everyone knows he will hit the market. Why trade a pick if you really want the guy justs pay him more than any other team (IN AN UNCAPPED YEAR) and save your pick

Nose tackle is the quarterback position of the
defense that tells me my coaching staff know what we need and its a nose tackle. A good nose tackle makes the ends and olbs better as well as the ilbs. That position in the 3-4 predicates how much success all the other positions will have.That position can make all the other ones better. Oh and by the way. We have a real defensive coordinator to start putting people in the right places to make plays. We will see people we didnt think were on our team next year. Any one heard of dumerville before Nolan.

Dont forget FA Non draftees: Bess, Carpenter etc
They might be able to solve the WR or FS this way

Sharper is 34 and why in the world would he leave the defending superbowl champs because as long as drew brees in there they are going to be in the playoffs every year.


I am starting an anti spiller campaign. This guy is one juke away from a MCL or ACL tear....

He must of meant A. Rolle in FA not sharper.
Sharper is getting the tag from Saints

waterboy i vote yes for no spiller but no for the reasoning you give. we just dont know that position right now... plain and simple and i must say i do not think your reasoning is solid. every single player in the league hell in any league is a move away from that....

WestVaFins - Hey there! The weather here kind of sucks. Got another 5 inches in my area, but some areas a little further south than Indy got up to 10 inches. The snow just won't go away, but it could be worse and I could live in DC!!

Waterboy - I am only saying that to get NJ all riled up. I figured he would like that comment. In return, it wouldn't surprise me for a team to give up a 5th - 7th pick for him. If you were a team that wanted him would you rather pay him millions more than another team or give up a late round pick in which Miami would take no matter what...

1- OLB

2- NT

3- FS

4- ILB

5- WR

6- C

7- TE

8- RB

@ West VA Fins. I was being dramatic. RB is the last thing we NEED. I still cant believe they didnt do squat about NT last year. They must have some masterplan or really have faith in Solai.

@ supershock, like your draft but whould change OG from C

BoulderFinFan - No way we get Sharper. Even if we did he would be a short term solution and not a long term . Kind of the same situation with JT. Would be nice to have him, but would never happen for many reasons. The #1, why would he leave his Superbowl team and the city of New Orleans to come to play for Miami?

I still vote we get Dansby. It would give our ILB solid play and we then can target OLB, NT and/or FS in draft. We should draft our MUST HAVE in the 1st-3rd and get our NEEDS in FA/late round picks.

DAN WILLIAMS!!!!!!!!!! thats the third time today LOL...
Indiana the snow here is coming down crazy right now... We got like three inches over night and i have been at work about two and half hours now so i havent seen outside sooo im sure we have even more by now. It has been nonstop for a month it seems.


As everyone says WR is not a big need for us, I CANNOT GO ANOTHER SEASON WATCHING US THROW 5 YARD OUT ROUTES. We have Solid 2-3-4 receivers in Hartline,Bess&Camarillo.. Please please please trade Ginn and Porter for something worth value..... While everyone is high on BOLDIN, I SERIOUSLY DOUBT THATS HAPPENING... and with him being injured many games this season, I think that makes our chances that slimmer.. I do think Antonio Bryant is more of a realistic option. I also like Marty Gilyard from Cinci in either the 2nd, or 3rd round if available...

Now, i know Defense is key and that being said I really think Rolle is more of an option than Dansby.First off Dansby wants to play in the NY before here and I think the Giants will take him up on that...Also The trio LOVE Crowder and thats why he got an extension. I think that in the draft we'll either A) take Mcclain if available, B) trade down and get Spikes or Kindle.... NT will be addressed in the 2nd round..

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