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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. 

Why?

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.

NT?

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.

FS?

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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Could Wilfork possibly be signed and then traded? I know its within the same division...but is that a possibility?

NO WAY a sign and trade for Wilfork. It would be like NE is giving up this year.

More chance of having him sign and then miami given their 1st round draft pick for him

If we proposed to give porter and ginn to another team they would give us an even worse reciever than ginn... If you trade people that you think suck then what do you think other people think about him????????????? Well hell he sucks but lets give up one of our top guys so the dolphins can be good. UHHHHHH NOOOOOO come on no ridiculous trade talk today we do this everyday.

Meant no chance instead of more chance

to help some understanding of people that just seem to not get it day after day. Good players get traded for good players or draft picks. People who are not good players are cut... So if you think that someone sucks rather than looking foolish and saying lets trade him say we should cut him....

WestVaFins - We were not even really supposed to get much snow in Indy, but woke up to 3 inches yeasterday morning and got another 2 throughout the day. Other parts just an hour South or even little farther South then Indy got up to 10 inches throughout the day yesterday.

Arizona said they trade mano a mano Boldin for Wilson

where at waterboy???????

Waterboy - You must be crazy...NO way they do this!!

>??????????????????????

"UHHHHHH NOOOOOO come on no ridiculous trade talk today we do this everyday."

I wanted to go out with a bang

When are compensatory picks awarded. Depending on who we lose or don't lose, I could see us getting a few of these?? Any thoughts?

HAVE FUN AT SCHOOL WATERBOY!!!!

you guys know too much football to smell the BS a mile away.

Now to some real discussion. Do you think we should add a QB in the late rounds. Assume Pat White gets move to KR/ SLot WR

Pat white would get murdered as a kick returner come on man...

When are we going to sign Zach Thomas, so he can retire a Dolphin? This should happen without a doubt in mind!! Maybe Thomas could become a coach in the organization..??

He probably still outplay the guys we got there now lol.........

Pat white weighs more than Ted Ginn... dont let the giant helmet fool you!

It could be quite an idea waterboy... my opinion is that it would be like a car crash... hard to watch but you couldnt look away from the devastating hit...

Waterboy - We already have to many options at WR for the position/role White would play who are better than White. He will stay at QB for insurance reasons for the team and will learn the NFL game. Pat White has NEVER played WR before in his career, so he could be a better NFL QB right now than he would be WR.

http://espn.go.com/blog/afceast/post/_/id/10490/video-wilfork-would-like-dolphins-option

GET WILFORK!!

I just want to get Pat White in space. Hard to do when at QB and with the monkey on his back that he can complete passes.

Can you imagine how different his life would be if he connected with Ted Ginn in the first bomb he threw.

they are going to tag him.....

If the Pats don't tag Wlfork, I say we get him RIGHT AWAY!! The would give us the opportunity to go OLB, ILB, FS and WR in the draft. NT would not be an issue if we were able to get Wilfork and I believe that would benefit us greatly come draft time...

I think Miami is 2 years away from being a contender and i think the only offensive player they should go for is Bolding if somehow he is available for a 3rd round pick.

This year they should devote most of their draft and free agency to the defense. Dansby would fill a huge void and then with their 1st and 2nd rd pick i would try and fill the NT,OLB\Pass rusher need and if one of those spots are lacking in talent when they pick then look for an ILB or FS. Get the defense setup this year and then next year devote your offseason to getting a young RB and TE and maybe another young Guard.

We need to have patience. When Parcells got hear this roster was a mess, i think 2 more years Miami will be a team to be wreckon with.

Indiana i would rather have Dan Williams.......

WestVaFins - For some reason I do not believe they will tag him. It does look like the Pats are going to land Julius Peppers also...wouldn't be a bad idea for us to go after him either!

If only the NFL was like our own personal Madden games where we could get who we wanted and when we wanted...

Boldin will not be a factor anywhere in two years Chris....

Peppers plays in a 4-3 i believe and if the pats dont tag him i still think Dan Williams is the long term solution. FA should be signed if there isnt a better alternative in the draft... Like i think the WR this year suck. So this would be a great year to pick up a WR and sign him to a short contract just to get through the season and wait for another draft. With all the good NT in this draft we are goign to find our long term solution and we will not have to pay whoever that is the money that Wilfork will want....

if the pats dont tag wilfork i now that sounded weird...the peppers and wilfork comments ran togeteher my apologies.

Dan Williams will not be available in the 2nd round when we pick and I think they are going to go LB with 1st pick, but only time will tell. One thing I do know is they will need to do 1-2 big moves in FA before the draft. I don't care who it is, but they need to do it.

Does anyone see them trading for a proven #1 WR(don't matter who) before the draft, so they don't have to address that position in the draft?

Awesome post. Totally awesome.

Well done.

Mark In Ottawa - AGREED!!

I feel Miami def. needs a big time WR, Henne is going to be the QB for years to come. We need to get him a go to target, we have great 2 and 3 WRs but no clear cut #1.

Miamifan305, forget Antonio Bryant, him and Parcells have had past confrontations and Mike Nolan cut him after one year in San Fran...ZERO CHANCE of him coming here

And just like Armando posted, WR is not a MUST HAVE position and will not be addressed in the top picks in this draft

I would love to see big Vince in a Dolphin uniform, how many times have we seen him be unblockable. You would worry once he got a big contract, his effort might go down. NTs generally play pretty well into there mid 30s and he is 29. I think he would be a good get, as it is a position that is a priority for us in the offseason.

EVERYONE KNOWS WE NEED A WR BUT WE CANNOT JUST PULL ONE OUT OF AZZZ... LOOK AT THOSE AVAILABLE TO US. ALL FLAWED IN SOME WAY... EITHER WE LOSE PICKS...TO MUCH MONEY...NOT A GOOD LOCKER ROOM GUY.... THE LIST GOES ON AND ON... THE FRONT OFFICE IS NOT STUPID DO YOU THINK THEY DO NOT KNOW THEY NEED A WR.... THERE IS JUST NOT ONE AVAILABLE TO US THAT WILL NOT F UP EVERYTHING THEY HAVE BEEN WORKING TOWARD.

OUT OF OUR AZZZ.....

Bootang, I would like to agree with you about Wilfork but I can't, there is far too much depth at NT in this draft...Dan Williams, Cam Thomas, Terrel Troupe, all much younger then Wilfork and none would demand the money he will want..If there was no NT depth in this draft it would be one thing, but far too many good players at this position are available

I have said it a few times, I'd really like if we got Ben Watson, he is still young, wouldn't break the bank, and add another weapon in the passing game. WR is not the only position that helps Henne in the passing game. Mismatches are the keys to the success of NO passing attack, Brees was 7-7 to 7 different guys on the go ahead drive in the SB and made it 8-8 to 8 different guys on the 2 pt. Indy is good because they have many options. While those teams have legit #1 WRs, they have much else as far as firepower. A guy like McCluster is a matchup nightmare. Does not have to be Dez Bryant or Anquan Boldin for us to get a player who helps Henne.

Besides the obvious trades that would never happen, what do you guys think would be a good trade (not giving up to much and still getting good value) if we did for a #1 receiver in the league??

Maybe a 4th or 5th and some playerfor a guy like Dwayne Bowe?? Something similar to that? Any thoughts?

(go to fantasy land a little bit for options if you want)!

WestVafins, understood on the WR but don't count out Boldin, kid is not a diva, plays physical and if we can get an extra pick down the line i wouldn't be upset about giving up a third or fourth for him... I have definitly had a change of heart with Boldin, I think he would be worth it to solidify that position

Bobbyd, the reaso. I say that is it opens up other ways to go in the draft. I have been on record now for a while Dan Williams is my pick if he is there. NJ basically called me a fool when I first posted that about a month ago. But a strong Senior Bowl and what I think will be a good combine push him up, and it is not as crazy to think he could be the pick. Maybe 5-8 picks too high, but understanding the importance of NT in our defense, not that big a reach. Getting big Vince allows us to draft the best OLB available at 12, and still doesn't mean we couldn't take Troupe if available in say the 4th round. I am not saying Vince is a must have, just think it gives us different options. And anything over 8 mill a year I'm not interested in anyway. And he is highly likely to get more than that anyways.

wilfork never gonna happen.. wishful thinking. would love it to happen, but time to move on.. never gonna happen

Bobby if you look at my thoughts on him last week... I like that move. He is the only guy i see us going after that makes sense. I did not like it at first and then really thought about it and my opinion gradually changed. He is the guy i was talking about earlier that we find someone sign them to a relatively short contract just to make it through until we find the WR that we want to make our guy...........

Dwayne Bowe would be good, but I doubt KC really let's him go for hardly anything. They invested so much in Cassel that they have to do everything in their power to make that work. But he would be the type of guy we need, a big physical WR.

Bootang, I agree on the Williams pick and I no longer think that taking him at 12 is a reach...again, if we could do a trade down with a team and get him and an extra pick I would be estatic!!!

We hadnt talked about wilfork for a few weeks it seemed that everyone got that out of their heads and now he is back up in conversation. Soooo one more time for those who just dont get it. The draft is stacked at NT why would we pay someone who will be thirty during the next season when we can get someone young to do the same job for less money...

Anquan Boldin would immediately become the guy Defenses focused on, creating space for Ginn, and a trickle down effect with all the other WRs. He was used in AZ version of the wildcat, the pahokee, so that also adds another element to our offense. I think he is a good player, he gets knocked for injuries, but he is so physical and that plays a role in that. A lot like Ronnie Brown. Boldin fits the type of player our front office likes, hard nosed, tough, versatile, and a leader.

I think Miami should forget offering a 3rd for Boldin. He's good but i'd rather Miami pick a WR in the 2nd. Arrelious Benn looks quality but i'm worried he might be picked by someone in the 1st

Most of the points that led me to liking the possibility of him being a dolphin bootang....

also love boldin. would love to see him in dolphin uni. just don't want to give up the draft picks for a guy that age who because of his playin style tends to get hurt.

WVA blogs are for people to offer trot opinions, and if you read my posts, I always said that it is a deep NT draft. Also said I wouldn't break the bank for him. Said that a big reason he would be a good get is to give us options going into the draft. You guys act like we only have 3 key areas to fill. If we could address NT in free agency, it would help us from picking 'must haves' and start picking 'needs' It seems to be a simple concept, and I think there are many ways to attack the offseason. Just because you don't think something will happen, doesn't mean that it won't.

there is not a WR in this draft i want in a dolphins uniform... The type of WR we need is not in this draft from what i can tell... If i am wrong please give me a name and some attributes to change my mind i just dont see it though...

And I didn't mean that in an attacking way WVA, I'm for talking football with fellow fans. I jus wanted to try and make sure that I have some logic behind te Wilfork move, not his the 'madden' sign everyone thinking most have.

Bootang25 - I agree with you on Bowe, but I was just using him as an example of the type a player we could trade for if we did trade...just a conversation peace!

Mark - Not to many rookies make an impact as a true #1 guy the defenses fear or have to plan around, so your thiinking of a WR in the 2nd I do not think will happen...

WVA it is funny because I have looked hard at the WRs and struggle to find a guy I would feel needs to be drafted. A guy I like on raw potential in the later rounds is D Briscoe of Kansas, very good size, but not polished.

We should just trade down and pick up a couple of extra picks and then use those to trade up again & then trade down again to get some more picks.

We will rock the draft with this startegy.

I'm still all about the Dolphins getting Spiller in the first round. It would help a lot and change the entire draft if we could sign Dansby. Spiller not only helps with our aging and injury prone RB's but he can also be used at WR like he often was at Clemson. He is a double threat with crazy wheels on him. We need to trade Ginn for some type of draft pick. The guy is a spinless punk that is terrified of getting hit.

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