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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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it's not that I wouldn't love wilfork. just can't see the pats lettin him go IMO. like last year with cassel, who they had no intention of keeping..

Bootang25 - I do like Gilyard if he is there in the 3rd or maybe even the 4th...

I thought once Ronnie for hurt, and we shifted from power running to a more wide open attack, we passed the ball pretty well. I think bringing in guys who create problems for defenses is how we go, no matter the position. Now, not with the 12th pick. Or 44 for that matter. But through free agency or trade, and in the middle rounds, that is where. Add Anquan Boldin and Dexter McCluster to our offense, with Ronnie coming back, and I don't think being a top 10 offense is out of the question. We are way farther from being a top 10 defense than we are on offense. Defense will be our priority.

Rex Ryan's FUPA - Although it would be nice to have a Spiller type player on the team, it is NOT going to happen in the first. We have to many other "needs", so get over Spiller thoughts

Bootang you can offer up any opinion you would liek that doesnt mean i cant say that i disagree... dont cry just listen to the fact that getting wilfork is not worth it and its just not going to happen.......

Zach Thomas wants to resign with the Dolphins for one day so he can retire a Dolphin...class act and hopes the organization accomadates him

SAY NO TO SPILLER
SAY YES TO DAN WILLIAMS
SAY NO TO BEN WATSON
SAY YES TO DANSBY
SAY NO TO MCLAIN
SAY YES TO GRAHAM FROM THE U

Bootang25 - On your closer to being top offense vs. defense, look what Mike Nolan did to Denver in just one year. Pretty close to worst to first on defense (with a few former Miami players). Don't coun't out this defense with upgrades and the current players having a little more experience..

Indiana, I just listened to an interview with Gilyard last night, and he says he will run in the 4.4 area at the combine. Given his strong Senior Bowl, a good combine, and his value in the return game, I doubt he gets ou of the 2nd. If there in the 3rd, I'd strongly consider him. I may be crazy, but he reminds me a lot of Ochocinco. Not the biggest, not the fastest, but Gilyard does seem to have something.

no disrespect bootang....... its just a little irritating to hear the same thing over and over after people have been told it is just most likely not going to happen. ITs like the Brandon Marshall thing it took a freaking month for people to shut up about that because it finally sunk it that it wasnt going to happen. but its nice that we agree at least on the WR thing lol.......

Who starts for us at CB next year? Allen, Davis or Smith?

davis and smith IMO

Bootang25 - The 4th option was a stretch I agree, but I think he may be there in the 3rd which would give us an option to trade to first pick in the third to get him if he doesn't get picked on Day 1 of draft. Getting him in the third round would be a very good value pick IMO

Indiana, Nolans downfall was no true NT, that's why we are all in agreement of how important that position is. I do think the same defense we had last year, with a different approach, would have been better. Remember the NO game, how we gave Brees so many looks and blitzes, he was 4-12 for 22 yards and a pick at the beginning. We hardly ever played that style f defense. It was frustrating. My assessment is we could be 2 players away on offense from being top 10, and I think we are more than 2 players away on D. But a different scheme, and more talent will help our D a lot.

WestVaFins - Then you will have a unhappy veteran in Will Allen. Can Davis or Smith convert to playing either safety position for a year or 2 while we still have Allen on the team? Allen I believe is our best CB

i guess it is just me but i just dont like allen that much and i think that the two young guys getting all the reps will make us better going forward...

Bootang25 - Agree, but that is why I say with some upgraded talent via FA and draft along with the current players (rookies last season) getting a year under their belt and we could be dangerous. We all know we will get a NT somehow, but it is a matter of how, draft or FA? We will know that answer in just a few weeks. If Wilfork does not get picked up, we will go NT with 1st or 2nd...

WVA you will never hear me say about Marshall, lol, NEVER will happen. One of the things I enjoy about being a fan, our front office looks at football muchthe way I do. I disagree every so of often, but I think they run a team the way it should be run. WRs can easily be taken away by a good D or a good scheme, double team or shading coverage. Marshall plays the WR position in a way I am not a big fan of, I like guys like Anquan Boldin, Wes Welker, hard nosed WRs. As far as Davis, Allen, and Smith, I think it's a nice problem to have. A lot depends on the health of W Allen I would think. The best 2 will start, and whoever is the 3, very few teams will have a 3rd CB as good.

My rankings in "must haves" and needs -
1. NT - Too many questions related to Ferguson being present and durability. Soliai is not starting material. That's the core of our run defense.

1A. WR - We must have at least one gamebreaking #1 go-to playmaking WR. We expected that with Ted Ginn Jr and his family. Ginn's a bust. This is our top offensive priority.

1B. FS - Gibril Wilson was a bust in deep coverage and tackling. Chris Clemons may develop but is not ready to start. We badly need help in protecting against big plays.

1C. OLB - It's more than pass rush and sacks. You hear that JPeezy! You look pretty when you get a sack, but you got your a*s kicked on run and pass defense. We need the kind of players that can step in like a Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews who are young, aggressive, and intelligent. Do sign JT for another season as a stopgap measure.

2. ILB - We have veterans, but we badly need an upgrade. You mentioned who guys like Karlos Dansby and I include Zach Thomas who always have this knack for making a large number of tackles. Channing & Ayodele don't cut it. And most of their tackles are after the damage is done.

I consider all of them must haves. We may not answer everything but these represent the sore points on the team that must be addressed.

Will Allen has "the slip before giving up a huge play" syndrome. So if he can get this corrected I would start him over Smith. Smith is the ted ginn of CBs, avoid contact at all cost.

Sooo if miami goes running back are we looking speed back or power back????? Who fills that role in the 6 or 7 round....

This blog been take over by donkeys, farmers, mountain goats, and drunk peoples

Nose Tackle first. If you don't have one, the lynch-pin of the defense is gone, gone, gone. Look at the drop-off we suffered without Ferguson. No, Soliai is not the answer at NT. After NT, a quality OLB, so that the pass-rush can be sustained once Taylor leaves. He might even up and leave to another team this time around, so we need to be realistic. After OLB, an ILB who can tackle to replace Ayodele, who clearly isn't the answer. I think Crowder has enough in him for a season or so, but he needs an effective partner. FS - well, I'd like to see what Clemons can do. I'd be tempted to trade Wilson for a pick to a team that needs a SS - a team like the Rams, Browns, Lions, Chiefs. Surely one of them would bite.
.
I do believe that the Dolphins have to be more aggressive in free agency. Getting Dansby would be such a major boost, I'd be willing to pay a bit over the odds, and Antrel Rolle is surely worth going after. As for Wilfork, Marshall etc, dreams are nice, but these dreams are going to end when the alarm-clock goes off. Sorry.

So can we all agree Allen (helathy) is our best CB. If that is the case, which 2nd year guy starts? Davis or Smith?

GO with Power back : Ei Rickys successor.

Will Allen is going to compete for his job in training camp, no one is going to be handed the position cause they are a vet, especially on this team

I believe that if Miami was able to nail down the Dansby deal... they could trade out of the #12... move down and take Dan Williams... and perhaps even get another 4 or 5 out of it. Dansby wants to go to New York's G-men... But I listened to him yesterday on the radio and he made it clear that he desires to be where he is wanted most (That is NFL talk for "Show me the Money!")
Dan Williams is going to be a hell of a player... and I know Sparano is big on him... but he is not a #12 player for certain... That is either McClain or Bryant territory. Boldin may be an answer... maybe? But... he will cost a #2 or a #3 and a #5... that is expensive for a WR who is MAYBE a guy who makes the elite bar... then again... he could get paid and shrink into obscurity playing like he hasn't a worry in the world... hard to read the Boldin situation.

I like letting the young ones take most of the reps and then when they screw up then we have a vet coming on the field.......

RB would need to be a speed guy, I would think. We have 2 of the top 5 or 6 power backs in all of football. As for who would be the 2nd CB, I'll answer it this way. Which of them do I like more in the slot? I like Davis on slot guys more than Smith, and I like his run support. So I think Smith would be number 2, but more to do with Davis and his ability inside.

Thank to god a smart fans like bobbyd12

Trade for Marshall, acquire dansby, and draft NT, olb, fs, AND CALL IT A DAY. JESUS its not that hard..

cobra you forgot to include people who barely speak english and provide nothing to the conversation as people in here........Like yourself.......... when does the buffet open again????

Spiller have great chance to be next Ted Ginn Jrs with whoever taking him draft whole family and only get one touchdowns

sign Dansby and Rolle,Taylor,Ferguson
Trade out of 12th aquire a third?
draft NT Williams 1st,43rd draft Hughes at OLB
trade one of our thirds for Boldin,our other
3rd draft TE Ed Dickson,4Th Mike Johnson OG
draft for depth at ILB,OLB,OG/C,FS. In a
Perfect world..

Oh boy here come toothless wv with his moonshine venom and hate for all people not likes him

JT had his shoulder operated on. I wonder if this affects the resigning.

The RB I would love to have, character concerns aside, who may be available come round 4 is Lagarette Blount. Doubt he will be there but he is a beast.

Cobra you talked football!!!!!!!!!!! WOW maybe today will be a good day... I as well do not want Spiller..... good stuff....

yes bootang25 Lagarette blount would be good pick for dolphins this guy tough and good rb

bobbyd12 - I agree, but do think Allen will win his position back as starter.

cobra kai is a jackazzzzzzz who is a nobody?

Cobra you think everyone is mean to you for not being from AMERICA..... You are equally as rude to people in here soooo deal with it.

Indiana know a jackazz when he see one, he best donkey farmer in whole world and WEstvadolphins just no teeth and grains alcohol

Blount is going to be a problem guy in the NFL... We need better character guys... Not sucker punching bit**es.

i do agree though he is a good back just not what we need in a locker room guy right now/....

If dolphins draft him I give Legarrett Blount free memberships for my dojo so I teach him to punch better for when play Jets and Pats

Cobra kai did your buffet close early today is that why you are here sooo early.. I normally dont have a headache til about 330.

Cobra, have you meditated today? You speak with much more clarity when you do, and bring good talk to the blog.

cobra kai - You actually have stated some football comments, very surprising. Here is some research to do: When did "donkey farms" as you say start anywhere in Indiana, cause you are making no sense. Maybe on top of your English class you desperately need, sign up for a United States Geography and/or History class jackazzzzzzz!!

Bootang25 - When does cobra ever bring good football talk to this blog. He has made 2 actual football comments so far and that are the first 2 I have seen him make in 2 weeks

Indiana ignoring all times I correct his donkey ways or answer his question. I forget ten time more football in hangover than you ever know in whole life.

TRUE INDIANA, COBRA LIKES TO MAKE FUN OF AMERICANS WHEN HE ISNT AT WORK AT THE BUFFET HE RUNS WITH HIS 32 COUSINS...

Indianas hate and jealous of my football knowledge make him blind to facts and good football talk

I don't make fun of americans only you jackazzzz think he know football but really just like sheep

Trade Pat White for 1/2 a draft pick. Trade Gerbil Wilson for the other 1/2.

New Movie coming to you:
"Illiterate Cobra, Hidden Dragon"

Indiana, lol I can't remember exactly what, but there was a couple somewhere. I was unaware of the football watching that goes on in dojos. I had no idea.

i no speak english i join blog make friend and no body like me so i make joke about animals that i have tattooed on me because those my only friend. Signed Cobra......

Mando,

I agree with your list and think if Dolphins brass does as well they will look to trade down and then draft either Dan Williams or Brandon Graham.

westva can please you tell us a story of the first time you lost a front tooth?

Indiana, I don't know if Allen wins back his position, I do know that Smith and Davis definitly deserve to compete considering how well they played, should be an interesting battle though

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