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The reasons the Starks move is a gamble

We all know the Dolphins made the decision to move Randy Starks from defensive end to nose tackle the first night of the draft.

It is a fascinating approach to solving the team's questions at nose tackle.

But it is a gamble and one that just as easily might not have been necessary.

You will recall the Dolphins traded down from their No. 12 overall spot in the first round to No. 28. The move was brilliant on several levels. It put the Dolphins in position to upgrade the nose tackle spot one way or another and also gave them a chance to add another starter by adding a second-round pick.

The interesting part was that the Dolphins had options. When they traveled from No. 12 to No. 28, the Dolphins had both nose tackle Dan Williams and defensive end Jared Odrick on their radar. If Williams had not been picked by Arizona at No. 26, the Dolphins might well have taken him at No. 28.

In that regard, reports of Miami's interest in Williams were accurate. And in that scenario, Williams would fill the bill at NT and Starks would have simply stayed at defensive end.

But the Dolphins found themselves with no Williams available, so they picked Odrick instead -- knowing that they would soon be asking Starks to make the move to nose tackle. When Jeff Ireland wouldn't say where Odrick would play (inside or outside) the night of the first round, it was because he still had not told Starks that the move was officially being made.

The next day, after Starks had agreed to the change, Ireland announced Odrick would be a defensive end.

And in moving Starks the Dolphins are gambling.

Starks, you see, is coming off a season when he grew into the 3-4 DE position to the point where my friends at ProFootballFocus believe him to be the second-best 3-4 DE in the NFL in 2009. The PFF guys have Starks as the second-best run-defender among 3-4 DEs and the sixth-best pass rusher.

(Quick aside, Kendall Langford is ranked the seventh-best pass rusher and sixth-best run defender. Phillip Merling is rated 15th best overall, with a slightly better showing as a pass-rusher than run-stuffer. Also interesting in the ranking based on film study is that Vonnie Holliday, who the Dolphins cut last offseason, rated higher than either Langford or Merling.)

But I digress. The greater point is Starks offered the Dolphins a pretty good DE option already. Starks was a known quantity at DE.

So what's the gamble?

Obviously the Dolphins must hope Odrick, an unproven quantity, comes in and plays as well or better than Starks at DE while also hoping Starks moves to NT and upgrades that spot. And the team must hope the the combination of both moves upgrades the overall defensive front more than having, say, Starks at end and Paul Soliai or Jason Ferguson or someone else at nose tackle.

It is a calculated move that could eventually adequately fill all the defensive line needs Miami had prior to the draft. But as with everything else that is unproven, it is, well, a gamble the Dolphins have taken.


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Indeed a gamble, but I'm trusting in Nolan to deliver a slew of looks, and really keep offenses guessing.

Hey, heard you got a shout-out on The Bottlenose, Armando. Congrats!

We will see how this works out. I believe it will. GO PHINS!!!!

The lost point in all of this is obvious passing situations. Any combo we could have possibly had would not be as good as Starks/Odrick as the down lineman in Mike Nolan's 2-4-5 defense. We may lose a tad as far as stopping the run, but that is also where Paul Soliai and, later in the year, Big Ferg come into play. Also, Koa Misi can not be any worse than Joey Porter was at setting the edge, so that also improves the run defense.

I said immediately after day 1 of the draft Miami felt confident that if they traded back, they could get either Dan Williams or Odrick. And that they were comfortable with either the Williams/Starks combo, or the Starks/Odrick combo.

So there may be a small dropoff from Starks to Odrick, but that move also resulted in Koa Misi, and made the Brandon Marshall trade basically Marshall for next year's 2nd round pick. I'd say we came out smelling like roses.

I think you can consider almost every personell move you make a gamble in the NFL.
The exceptions being Brandon Marshall, Karlos Dansby types of moves.
It sounds like we were rolling with the punches in regards to how the draft unfolded.
I have to believe that the Trifecta has a pretty good idea to how this will work out.
It's not that much of a gamble realistically. We already know what we've got with Solia on nose and Starks at end. We'll get a good look at the switch during pre-season and go from there.
I ain't sweating it much one way or the other.

Can we get an UPDATED roster and maybe a depth chart?! It would be much appreciated. Thanks

Question. Porter and JT are gone, Pennington is a backup, and Ferg is suspended half the season soooo who are the team Captains this year?

All the features in this app are nice, and seem to stay updated; however, the roster is severely outdated. Nate Jones is still on here?! C'mon guys, let's get this thing updated. Thanks.

Can we get an UPDATED roster and maybe a depth chart?! It would be much appreciated. Thanks

Posted by: ryancall32 | May 04, 2010 at 12:23 AM

You can get the roster with all the rookies/free agents from the Dolphins official website.
The official depth chart isn't released until sometime in August.


Offense I would think Chad Henne, Ricky Williams, and Jake Long would be captains. Defense I. Think Randy Starks, Karlos Dansby would be the captains.

Bootang I like that. Why Ricky over Ronnie? Cause Ronnies hurt?


How many captains do we get?

I would vote for Henne, Browm, Dansby and Bell.

Geronimo no clue. madden
gives me 3 :)

Odinseye I second that group!


I don't think you put both at Captain. I just think Ricky embodies Miami Dolphin football more right now. And I have stated that Ronnie is my favorite player a few times. I just think Ricky has earned it. What makes both so good for the captain spot, is if you asked each of them who should be the captain between both of them, I would almost guarantee you that they would say the other.

I think it has been a true honor and pleasure to watch 2 really good football players embrace the idea of teamwork, of sharing the load, of complimenting each other. Not one single time, have you ever heard either guy complain. Very rare to see guys with so much talent have so little ego. I wouldn't argue with them both being captains, but if I had to pick one now, I'd think Ricky deserves it more, even though he might not even be the starter.

Geronimo no clue. madden
gives me 3 :)


I had to put Geronimo to bed. He gets to crazy when we drink!

Henne Long Starks Dansby... If not Dansby then Bell.

Guys isn't it awesome that we can literally name 8-10 guys who could be team captains. I love what we have done with our roster. And guys like Jared Odrick, Koa Misi, and AJ Edds are all guys you could see as captains in a few years.


I agree with everything you said. Ricky's just as deserving as Brown.
Still I think Ricky's demeanor doesn't seem suited for being a team captain.
He seems to me like a quiet shy type that would much rather lead by example.
We are truly blessed with these two talents and no big ego problems. Definitely two of my all time favorites.

Wow we have alot of good players. Noone mentioned Polite who many players commented was a big time leader last year. Also not mentioned is Marshall. And we just drafted ALL CAPTAINS. What a great team we got going. Thank u Jeff Ireland.


That football first, stay out of the spotlight, let my actions do the talking approach that Ricky has is in a nutshell everything that the Trifecta would want in a football player. When you consider he plays a position that that is one of the easiest to be in the spotlight, to have a big ego, his approach is even more refreshing. In my list of favorite Dolphins, no doubt him and Ronnie are both high on that list.

Ok im gonna sneak a drinkadink before the Misses notices and hit the sack. Im out.

Possible team captains: Starks, Dansby, Henne, Bell, Brown

Either way... we just drafted a bunch of of team captains... they probably wouldn't be able to really lead as rookies, but down the road that shouldn't be a problem and when you're in the heat of a dog fight, who your team captains are isn't as important as anybody rookie/veteran's saying what needs to be said.


That is what is great. Henne. Pennington. Polite. Williams. Brown. Marshall. Bess. Long. Starks. Ferguson. Dansby. Bell.

That list doesn't include good players like Grove, Smiley, Langford, Crowder, W Allen.

Noone named Vontae Davis or Sean Smith. Interesting. My thought in not naming them is they are still relatively young, and yet a little unproven. And both have some areas of concern. Am I the only one with those sentiments about these 2.

I think these guys know how to choose a nose tackle, and do not forget that Ken Nolan runs a quick attacking defense.

Am I the only one with those sentiments about these 2.

Posted by: Bootang25 | May 04, 2010 at 12:50 AM

Nope! That was exactly my thought process as I went down the possible team captains list.
Ultimately though, I'm convinced they'll become the best CB tandem in the NFL.
Smith is the subject of one of my "useless predictions" for this year.
I'm predicting he has breakout year and surpasses Davis as the best corner on our team. You can hold me too this one.

I think these guys know how to choose a nose tackle, and do not forget that Ken Nolan runs a quick attacking defense.

Posted by: Jake | May 04, 2010 at 01:09 AM

I think the name is Mike Nolan, but yeah, I agree with you.
I think getting Nolan over Pasquali has been one of the most overlooked moves we've made.
The concensus on Nolan is that if he has the tools, the job gets done.


I'm glad I'm not the only one. It is weird with Sean Smith. I for some reason just have some doubts about him. I don't say that due to lack of INTs when the games really mattered. I remember after the NO game Drew Brees stated Smith had the best coverage he had seen up to that point. Pretty good compliment if you ask me. I guess I just don't see any real passion with him, and that is the area of my concern. With Vontae, you see the ferocity with which he plays, the swagger, the way he attacks the football. Maybe it is a case where Smith makes it look easy and effortless.

One of the things I will be looking at the closest this season is the two of them. Experience, plus a better defensive scheme, and some accountability at the S position (it can't be any worse) should allow both of these guys the oppurtunity to make the next jump.

Mando: So the bigger story in your column is that Lopez if she had information about the draft and Dan Williams may have let something slip. I wonder if this happened and if anyone is pursuing it. Mando--who else do we know that Miami was pursuing but didn't get? Do you think getting Misi was worth it if Dan becomes a pro bowler? David from CA

That's what I was saying as soon as I heard their plans with Starks....they just got worse at TWO positions. Your taking a pro-bowl quality DE and taking him out of his position. If he doesn't work out at NT, the Dolphins are worse at NT and DE.

As soon as Williams dropped past #22, the Dolphins should have traded back up to get him. I bet the could have done it for like a 4th this year and a 5th next year. It totally would have been worth it. 3-4 NTs are a unique breed. It was stupid not to trade back up to get Williams....or at least pick up Cody.

NT could turn out to be just like the safety position for the Trifecta. There's going to be a new guy they're trying every year and none of them are going to work out.

Davis has the attitude I love in a cornerback. Brash, cocky in your face confidence. That's the way I like to see the CB play.
With Smith I think what appears to be a lack of passion was really just having to think too much instead of just playing.
Davis made the transition seem like nothing. Smith I think just struggled more learning the new system. At least that's what I'm hoping.
With a season's worth of confidence behind him, I think were going to see alot of INT's like that one handed pre-season one against the Saints.

NT could turn out to be just like the safety position for the Trifecta. There's going to be a new guy they're trying every year and none of them are going to work out.

Posted by: mrmikejohnson | May 04, 2010 at 01:30 AM

This could be the way it turns out. I had/have the same thoughts and concerns. However, it could be alot worse.
Our offense is absolutely loaded in my opinion. As a whole our defense has been steadily improved.
So looking at the big picture the Trifecta has our team moving in the right direction.
You have to remember too, we had a lot of holes to fill with just one off-season.

"But it is a gamble and one that just as easily might not have been necessary."

Of course. especially when you're a sissy never played the game nancy boy contrarian with a laptop hack.

And your doctor love?lol

This whole defense is going to change with nolan at the helm.What we saw last year in the d-play (scheme wise)is nothing of what we will see this year.Nolan could be the biggest add of all.

Does anyone think that nolan DID NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT WHO THEY DRAFTED ON D?I think he knows who fits his style of D.

Davis has the attitude I love in a cornerback. Brash, cocky in your face confidence. That's the way I like to see the CB play.

Odin, agree with u there, same kind of attitude i hope to see in guys like Odrick, Jones, and Carrol, ect. not a care-free, nervousness, but a confident, not afraid to go out there and perform mentality.

Pasquali's defense was more of a bland, no frills what you see is what you get.
Good QB's could make their pre snap reads and check down accordingly.

Nolan's defenses are known to be more high pressure disquise and confuse. Even with the pre snap looks. He tries to confuse the opposing QB from the time the huddle breaks all the way until the whistle blows. This is the way it should be and it's going to make a big difference this year.


That's what I want to see.
Jones seems to play with a confident swagger. If he turns out to be the real deal, were going to put the beatdown on a whole bunch of recievers.
I don't know if you've seen the Edds mini camp interview. If you haven't it's worth watching. If the guys talent level is anywhere near his self confidence level he'll be all pro in no time.

I think drafting Dan Williams would have been an even bigger gamble. Why? Because he was an inconsistent 4-3 DT in college and there is no guarantee he will be a quality NT in the pros! I like the thinking behind the Starks move, a rested Ferg comes back after game 8 if it's not working out.

Armando what do we know about the new Dolphin acquired from San Diego Tim Dobbins? whats his story? does he have a chance to start? or make an impact? these are the stories id like to read about in your next blog. Also how about asking the Phins front office about the potential of adding Atogwe to the roster. yes i know theyre secretive but whats the worst that can happen except another run around. Great columns but you already know that keep it up- Dan


I'm not Armando, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express once.
Dobbins is a lot better than Crowder right off the bat. So even if the rookie doesn't pan out were upgraded already!
Dobbins wasn't a regular starter for San Diego. When he did start and when he got playing time his stats were unreal.
Another great move that's been widely overlooked.

Dr. Love, you really need to stop taking it up the pooper so you won't be so angry about life.

Dobbins had 55 tkls, 1 forced fumble and one pick with the chargers in 2009, and he only started a handful of games, trust me when i say miami definately got a good deal from swapping picks with the chargers in the draft and picking this guy up.


thats good news that edds is fitting in with the others, and i hope he does well. For once i would like to see a dolphins rookie class stick around for awhile*

They will rotate the line to keep them fresh.

I believe Odrick will eventually be an upgrade from Starks. Maybe not right away, but in the near future -- maybe by the end of the season.

Mando, I also believe the reason why the Fins did not announce the move of Starks until late on Friday is because they wanted everyone else to think that they still needed a NT in the second round. This increased the probability that they could get Misi at the 40th pick with everyone else, including me, that they would go with at NT.

Cam Thomas was available in the 5th round and they passed on him. i thought that was a possible way to go for NT considering he would been had in the 5th round, instead they went CB, hmmmmm??? anyways, this is what they do, they must have a plan, and i believe in it(their plan)... as a fan, i trust!

just wondering about Tony McDaniel and where he is going to fit into all this -- at 6'7 310, I gotta think hes up front somewhere

1701972 you punk, NJ is looking for U

Wow , thanks menace for saying alex attacked first, then why say something about me in the 1st place. olive branch my arse !!!Posted by NJ

You see you gdamn plumber, stick to plumbing. YOU broke the peace, you are jealous of the cuban's popularity on this blog. Cuban is 10x more popular than you with 1/10th of your football knowledge. ahhahahahahahahahahah

im shaking in my boots!

hey im gonna call a spade a spade...the truth hurts!

but hey u can get off your knees and stop entertaining NJ

We had it w/ u numbers freak. I wanna piece of you punk! Name place and time. I u saw how huge NJ is and his rage from roids, you better watch out!

If u saw....

Mando, how do you know that they were even thinking of drafting Williams even if he was there at 28? They didn't want him at 12. Ireland also said they had this plan of moving Starks to DT since they were coaching the Senior Bowl. And what's with this line "Odrick, an unproven quantity"? No matter who the Dolphins drafted, every player is unproven. C'mon man!

Morning folks, I'll be in and out today...

Tim, I know the Dolphins were interested in Williams after the trade-down based on what a source told me.

Secondly, teams -- Dolphins included -- often place a value on a player at a lower slot that they don't have for him at a higher slot. It's no stretch that Miami didn't think Williams at No. 12 was a better choice than going to No. 28, getting a second-rounder and still having a chance to get Williams. It didn't work out, but they obviously had other options, also.

More than the defensive line changes, Anyone else noticed how the linebackers are going to be pretty much a different group next year. Only starter coming back is Crowder and he is probably going to have to fight for his life to have a job. The wholesale changes at linebacker, pretty much is an indictment by the organization of the linebacker play last year. Along with free safety.

It seems to me, that by changing the defensive coordinator and attempting to fix the weaker positions on the defense, the Dolphins have temporarily taken a step or two backwards with the opportunity to get younger and move forward faster over the next season or two.

My .01 dollars worth....

Lets not panic about moving Starks to NT just yet. Ferg. is only out for 8 games. If Odrick works out at DE and Starks works out at NT, when fergison returns there is depth and possible trade value with either Solia or Fergison. If the Dolphins cant hold out for 8 games with the personel they have, then there are more problems than just NT.

What happens upon the return of Ferg? Does Starks move back outside or stay inside? Moving back outside will create a logjam at DE...

Smokescreen, been wondering about that myself.

Mando, got any info on this?

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