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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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I see Baltimore as a potential trade candidate if Dez Bryant is still on the board at 12.

Cobra, Mr Miyagi wants his egg rolls now. please leave

cobra - if you know so much about football, let's talk about football. All you like doing is discussing animals and farms which makes no football sense nor does it prove any of your "football knowledge" you say you have...??

Lets see it must have been my first encounter with your sister in China Town. Cost me fifty cents. My buddies told me not to go down on her but i was just really drunk. Sooo of course i did and i believe the crotch rot from your sisters VAG rotted my tooth away. Or it could have been when your cousin delivered my orange chicken and rice and i bit into a bone in my chicken but that time it only chipped my tooth. God your family and me go way back soooo many goood stories. Would you like to know more...

Kobra Kai is a donkey without a tail w/ big teeth .

Depending on the Dansby situation if the Giants are looking for someone to replace Pierce they would be a nice trade partner if McClain is still sitting there

Lots of if's though

bobbyd12 - I 100% agree it will be a competition and a good one at that. All 3 could start for probably every team in the NFL. It will be great to see outcome. Do you see any of the 3 moving to a safety position of any kind? I dont, but figured I would ask...

Brandon nad bobbyd12 - both good points ion trade partners if we do trade, but they will only have to trade if they think another team between them and Miami will draft Bryant or McClain??

I don't think we let McClain go if he is there at 12 IMO unless they really have heart set on trading down to get another pick and get Williams, but it would a disaster to pass on McClain, trade down, then Williams be gone before we draft again...

I would rather have Dan Williams then McClain any day...

to my last point, if we trade down and the player we are looking to get later in the draft is gone, THEN WHAT?

Fo example, say we want Williams and trade down to the 21st pick and gain a 3rd round or even a 2nd round, but then Williams gets picked at #20. How bad would that look on us? Would it be worth trading down and taking that risk?

Then Graham is there indiana....

WestVaFins - What if we would be guaranteed that McClain becomes the next Ray Lewis type player, then what would you rather have? It is so hard to guess what the colloege players will become in the NFL...

WestVaFins - I still think Graham is going to be gone in top 15. Also, is he suited for a 4-3 and not the 3-4 we run? Not sure on that one...

WestVaFins - We still would have a big void at NT in which most people on here think that is our most important NEED...

I believe all the needs of the Dolphins are "must haves"! Can you acquire all your needs in one draft or one free agency...no...but you can acquire those needy players one at a time. A smart GM can acquire players in many ways...thru the draft, free agency and by trades...the Dolphins are going into their third season under the present management, it's time to get aggressive. The Dolphins need playmakers on both sides of the ball...at least two linebackers and a true receiver that can carry a offense...along with a TE can and will do wonders for the team not to mention their QB. Unlike the draft, a team can pick their players in free agency and by trade..in the draft...you hope the guy you want is going to be there, when you get to select and of course the draft is full of unknowns and unproven players. My wish is for the Dolphins to trade for Marshall...use next years first rounder as bait...acquire Dansby if he fits what you need. Forget about Wilfork...you won't get him and for the price, he's not worth the effort...draft either Cody or Jones at NT...IF BY CHANCE if either Haden or McClain are there at 12...draft either of them. Haden can play at CB and you can move Davis to FS...and if you select McClain...you can play him at ILB..or OLB. As I see it, the Dolphins must have's and need's are two linebackers, one true number one receiver, a NT and a TE and a FS.

If McClain was too be Ray Lewis then thats great but i dont see him being the linebacker that everyone here thinks he will be. I smell bust all over mcclain........

LUNCH TIME be back in thirty.........Have a good time!!!!!!!

If we traded back, and picked up a guy like Weatherspooon later in the first, Thomas in the second, that would be good.

Mando vs. Horton?

Advantage Mando!

The move is trade Camarillo to NE for Adelious Thomas and then move Patrick Turner up on the depth chart.
That improves the offense and defense and then we can draft CJ Spiller and an some defenders.

It's pretty obvious we will have Ginn in 2010! The coaches can utilize his speed by teaching him to run effect routes.. HOWEVER, THE DOLPHINS NEED DEPESPARTELY TO HIRE A SPORTS PSYCOLOGIST TO WORK WITH HIM OF HIS FEAR!!!

Yeah, good list Mando. Parcells/Ireland would do well to have the same list. I hope they learned from the Pat White pic to stay way from the 'want' list.

You would think that after 2 years, the 'must have' list would be shorter. Or maybe even working on 'needs' list by now.

I not going to quote the people who said this (too lazy to go back through all the posts), but I do have to correct some misinformation in the posts.

1) Dansby is an unresticted free agent, as long as he is not tagged (franchise or transition). It has been reported that AZ is not going to tag him, so he will hit the market and most likely go to the highest bidder. Hence, there will not be a trade for him.

2) Tony McDaniel is not 6'5 he is 6'7 and at that height to too tall to play w/enough leverage to be an every down NT. NTs are generally in the 6'2 to 6'4 range.

Ok now to how I rank our needs:

1) ILB
2) FS
3) NT
4) WR

Both ILBs (Crowder and Anderson) had down years and we need an upgrade in that position. Many are calling for Crowder's head. I think Crowder is an average #1 ILB, but would be a good #2. Hence if we get Dansby or draft McClain at R1 #12 we slide crowder back to the #2 spot and he will be a good fit.

FS was a HUGE weakness for us and cost us up top in coverage almost every game. Gibril should be a backup SS. Clemons maybe the answer at FS, but it is too early too tell.

NT we need an every down NT and depth. Solai is average, but could improve. It think he was playing a bit too heavy at 355 for our system and will be asked to lose some weight and play between 335-345lbs. That alone will improve his consistency. Fergi is a really good NT even at his age. We need to draft a good NT this year (expect that to be earlier than later in the draft).

WR is a need, but is more of luxury than the other needs. We have a good stable of young #2 WRs and slot. We do need a TRUE big playmaking #1 WR, but whether we get him through Free Agency or the Draft depends on where the Trifecta sees this team in terms of competing to for the playoffs/superbowl.

OLB is not a major need. We need a NT and a stud ILB so Crowder can move over to Ayodele's spot and we'll be much improved. We also don't need a FS, either G. Wilson will improve or it'll be Clemons.

Every time I've seen Charlie Anderson on the field the guy just makes plays. There's also chatter about moving Merling to OLB.

Matt Roth, 6-4 275lbs, Merling 6-4 295lbs. If the guy loses 20 lbs I'd love to see him at OLB.

GO FINS!!

To all those saying trade back to draft Dan Williams, don't be surprised if Williams is not even there at 12. Denver may take him at 10.

I read discussions of Mardy Gilliard, WR, Cincinnati earlier. I liked this guy from early on in the year (of course NJ Phin Fan tried to squash my promotion of Gilyard simply writing him off as too thin to play in the league only to promote Dexter McCluster later on who weighs 20 lbs less than Gilyard - go figure. No worries NJ, won;t hold that against you, ahha). He has the skill set the coaches are trying to extract out of Ted Ginn. blazing speed, excellent special teams. If he's there in the 3rd 4th round and selected, that would make me happy.

As far as the #12 pick, that all depends on what happens in the prime part of free agency leading up to the draft but my top guys right now are (in no particular order): Dan Williams, Sean Weatherspoon, McClain, Brandon Graham, Earl Thomas, Derrick Morgan, Jason Pierre-Paul. As you can see by the length of my list, we should be able to get an immediate impact defensive player at #12. I'm excited.

If McClain was too be Ray Lewis then thats great but i dont see him being the linebacker that everyone here thinks he will be. I smell bust all over mcclain........

Posted by: WestVaFins | February 16, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Taking a 2nd look to the youtube videos of McClain, many of his tackles could be easily broken. He can improve, but he will be playing in a higher level. Maybe you're right.

Mark in Toronto - If Gilyard is not taken on Day 1, I say we trade up to 1st pick in 3rd to draft Gilyard. If he is there in the 3rd, he won't be for long, guaranteed!!

Bigalfy @6:04 am and ALoco @7:12am.

Thanks for the accolades. I appreciate the kind words. I am a fellow Fin fan, much like you guys I guess, that just wants to see the Dolphins franchise elevate to the top in the NFL. I think the Trifecta is on the right track, let's hope for more good fortune.

Sure they have made a couple of blunders along the way but I feel like the days of mediocrity will be in past if we can get a few more pieces in place. No team is without personnel mistakes.

I like that the Fins are getting younger as I feel that is a key element in the NFL. You need a good mix of veterans vs young players to get the team chemistry working overtime.

Go Fins!

That is freakin AWESOME that the FINS have loyal supporters in Australia!!! Keep up the good Fins cheering down under Mates!

Cheers,

Dear Mr. Salguero

I Just read

"What if we would be guaranteed that McClain becomes the next Ray Lewis type player, then what would you rather have?"

If this pans out

I think a good Law firm should be the Dolphins highest priority.

Soiled :)

How tall is gilyard?????

Why a good law firm Soiled?

6 foot 179 lbs

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=77928&draftyear=2010&genpos=WR

He also has a 46 inch vertical leap

thats probably a generous six foot????

Sergio kindle

We don't know what we need until the new DC fixes what the old DC messed up. This was the softest Miami defense I've seen in years. Not one player knew how to tackle.

Alas, Mando still thinks stopping the run will somehow put points on the board. Mando believes that rushing the passer will make Ginn and Bess look like the Marks Brothers. Mando believes, however naively, that defenses win championships. Last time I checked, not too many defenders have been superbowl MVP's.

Mark in Toronto. stop putting words in my mouth or twisting my comments. You were taking about drafting gilyard , earlier on in the year, in the late first or 2nd round. I said he was on the lighter side , had inconsistant hands and that miami had a enough of those smaller lighter wr's. Can we stop with the BS and talk about was actually said and talk about the draft ??

Guys I really think Gilyard is very similar to Ochocinco. Maybe a little more shifty, but a good route runner, quick to get off the jam, very sudden, he is underrated as a WR I think.

NJ i dont know if we have heard lately... What does the dolphins draft look like to you....

Dear Mr. Indiana Dolfan

"Why a good law firm Soiled?"

From Wiki

"Following a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta on January 31, 2000, a fight broke out between him and another group of people, resulting in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Lewis and two companions, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were brought to an Atlanta police station for questioning. Eleven days later, the three were indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges."

"Lewis's attorney arranged for the murder charges against Lewis to be dropped in exchange for his testimony against Oakley and Sweeting, and a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice.[20]. Lewis was sentenced to one year of probation and was fined US$250,000 by the NFL"

Just saying if Mclain is the mirror image of Lewis a couple of legal eagles couldn't hurt

Soiled :)

Same goes for you BOOTANG2%, while everyone was talking about Cody , i was the first one on here to mention Dan williams as a player / NT to keep an eye on the will turn out to be better than cody MONTHS and MONTHS ago. I've actually seen him play in person against UCLA while i was in TENN. I Love him. What i said was it was to high to pick williams at 12 at that time. Everyone including scouts were in agreement. He had a good senior bowl week and moved up to the top 20. That happens.

boobyd12 @ 8:05am,

I do hear you and others when you say you don't want Spiller because he is a luxury, because the need is not as great as other areas... I do.

I am have more of a "Best Player Available" approach than you or others that say "In order for us to fix the Fins we absolutely have to go in this order NT, ILB, FS or get this Def guy period!"

My choice of Spiller as not only worthy of #12 but a make sense pick is based on his being the most talented offensive weapon...period. I feel he would be a huge asset based on the fact he can run like the wind, catch the ball and play up to 4 positions. I am not saying RB is our most wicked hole that needs to filled or else the Fins auto-lose. A "Fill Needs" draft strategy gets you a DT and try convert him to a NT (Ask McDanials how thats going) or an ILB that may not play lights out on all his game tape but you take him anyways to fill a hole with a body that has the look.

bobbyd12, I respect your right to say and chose ILB McClain and then DT Dan Williams as your first and second choices in round one. You won't get me to say that Spiller is not a viable choice or is not talented and therefore we will have to wait. Wait for FA to see if anyone gets added, wait for the combine to see if anyone wow's everyone and finally wait for the draft to see how it goes down. I don't see why you feel the need to convert me... I am not telling you that you have to see things my way bud.

Cheers,

NJ I wasn't bashing you. I was just saying I have really liked the guy for a while. You and I agree on most everything. I was making a point about wanting to sign Wilfork, at the right cost, to be able to draft other positions at 12. And wanted it understood my pick at 12 would be Williams.

They need to bring in competition for all of the linebackers.

A BIG LMFAO @ bigafly. You're the only idiot who found fake ron burganbv /y funny. The only thing this proves is that you're crying sour grapes because i put you on the buffoon post of the day list. Don't cry be happy. Byb the way , rob in oc is from california not australia. LOL !!!!!!

Bootang25 , i just watched and heard on espn that the pats will announce they will franchise wilfork any day now.

Soiled - I did mention Ray Lewis type "player". I was not implying him as a person. His playing ability is amazing and off field situation is not what I meant...

Write it down now, if McClain (ALA) is available at the no. 12 spot, he will be a Phin in 2010.

Horton hears a Who. the guy from Scouts is an idiot. We will not pick a WR in the 1st Round.

Dear Mr. Indiana Dolfan

"Soiled - I did mention Ray Lewis type "player". I was not implying him as a person. His playing ability is amazing and off field situation is not what I meant..."

I know what you where implying.

If you have seen any of my other posts you will know I am completely full of **it.

I'm just a fan like all on this blog...with a slightly different view of reality.

Soiled :)

Dave @8:03am,

There is a lot to like about Brandon Graham. While he does have the admitted shortcoming of his knuckles don't drag the ground when he walks like some Def players, he is not going to win many track meets as his time is a tick slow than some speed merchants and he is 6'2" which is shorter than many OLB's.

That said, to actually watch him play the game is what excites. He is just a really stellar football player, period.

I know the Trifecta prefer big people but they also love producers. They like people that get the job done as they know it needs to be. As for his weight he is 265 lbs right now before going through an NFL training regimen. I feel he has plenty of heft as he already is heavier than LB's we have. Picture him as a more athletic version of Matt Roth.

I know you stated you like him as a player and I do too. I hope the Trifecta see that he is a player that plays his game on the Offensive side of the ball most of the time as he led the entire nation in Tackles for Loss. He used Bryan Baluga that will be a top OT off the board at draft time. He will put all kinds of heat on QB's and running plays.

If your choice of Dez Bryant was picked I don't think it would be such a bad thing. I do think that Spiller is a more versatile Off weapon imho.

Cheers,

Graham is actually 6-1.

NJ, i never talked Gilyard as a #1 pick and just talked about him as an NFL playmaker and being the player that could replace Ginn on our team. I'm as up to date as anyone on player projections and NEVER EVER PRMOTED Gilyard as a #1 pick. I did consider him as a 2nd earlier in the year when the Dolphins really weren't coming up with any big plays at all. And someone may still take Gilyard in the 2nd, I just don't think it makes sense for the Dolphins to do so right now.

And I also remember you saying that you were unsure about Dan Williams being a NT when we discussed him being a first round pick while you promoted not even considering taking a NT at all in the 1st. you even said he was all about speed when i compared Williams to Casey Hampton because of his unreal leg strength.

Come on man, you make mistakes when it comes to players. Nobody's perfect.

Rob in OC, Graham has actually ran some very fast times in the past and even competed track at the NCAA level. He did have to bulk up a bit at Michigan to convert from LB to DE but since his best shot at the NFL is as a 3-4 OLB, he may shed about 10 pounds which might improve his speed a tick. He could be fast as anyone at OLB in the NFL.

Soiled - I just want to make sure we are on the same page with some not so smart people on here (ones who never like to discuss football) :)

Waterboy @ 9:20am,

Your comical man, EVERY NFL play is one tweak away from an ACL tear!

Hello, Mcfly? Two coats of wax on that car.

Cheers,

I have seem Mclain play in 1 live game. The title game. HE was an impact player, but I have read many "experts" scouts say the dude has some coverage issues. This is very worrisome.

I suspect he will have a monster combine # and will skyrocket to a "sure" top 10 pick.

I hope Denver takes him at 10 so we can take Dan Williams at 12 or trade down.

VOTE NO FOR MCLAIN just like America did

NJ??? How about your picks as you see it now??? I know there are players you like but really most of what i read is you telling other people why this person or that person will not work out. So im just wandering in your opinion what the fins plans look like?>??

LOL @ Mark , Exactly what i said . you said gilyard late 1st - early 2nd early in the year . You just mentioned you said gilyard in the 2nd earlier on in the year for miami. thanks for proving my point

Nice joke water boy, but you see what voting no for him has turned into... Maybe we should take McClain lol

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