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Miami's top personnel needs

A smile came to my face Tuesday when I was driving around town and one of our so-called Dolphins experts on the radio started barking out the Dolphins needs for the coming draft.

Wide receiver, tight end, interior lineman, kick returner, quarterback and running back.

I don't know if the "expert" was doing these needs in the order his mind has concocted them. I do know that's not the order the Dolphins have their needs currently pegged, based on conversations, texts, and emails I've had or exchanged with several team and NFL sources.

(Disclaimer: No one that tells you he knows the exact order of Miami's needs is telling the truth, unless that person's name is Jeff Ireland or Tony Sparano, and even then you might have to consider they might be working a smoke screen.)

(Disclaimer II: Neither one of those guys is telling folks the order of their needs, something that is really mundane but they guard as a draft secret.)

But I can tell you neither wide receiver nor tight end is at the top of Miami's needs list. And I can tell you neither runnning back nor quarterback is at the back end of Miami's needs list.

I think the more accurate order of Miami needs is running back, quarterback, interior lineman, speedy returner (If he's a WR or a RB all the better) and then a WR and TE.

Here is my thinking:

Have you looked at the Dolphins coming RB situation? Ronnie Brown is scheduled to be a free agent. Ricky Williams is scheduled to be a free agent. Patrick Cobbs is scheduled to be a free agent. Lex Hilliard is unsigned, although the Dolphins should retain his contract rights based on the fact he's been in the league only three seasons.

So none of Miami's running backs is signed for 2011.

The last time the Dolphins faced this kind of situation at a position was 2009 when they had Will Allen as the only experienced cornerback tied to a contract. They drafted Vontae Davis in the first round that year. And then they drafted Sean Smith in the second round.

Need solved.

This year? Running back, people.

Think running backs.

Yes, perhaps either Brown or Williams could return for 2011. But that is only an option. That is not the plan written in concrete. The Dolphins might find a RB in the draft and then go into free agency and love the idea of someone available there. No one can predict.

But we can predict the Dolphins will be eyebrows deep in the running back market this offseason.

Quarterback?

Well, Chad Henne is on campus. But Chad Pennington is a free agent and may or may not continue playing, depending on how his shoulder rehab goes. Either way, I do not think Pennington comes back to the Dolphins. Been there. Done that.

Love Pennington but if you re-sign a QB whose throwing shoulder has been surgically repaired three or four times and the last time you needed him, his shoulder dislocated without any contact, you are a candidate to buy land in the Everglades.

You go to that player in an emergency in the middle of a season if no one else is available. But to sign him as a backup? I think the Dolphins will try other avenues first. And second. And third.

Tyler Thigpen is an option. He's a free agent. He was the backup after Pennington got hurt. He's an option.

But the Dolphins need to add one and perhaps two more solid, more promising quarterback options if they can. They need a young guy they can groom, someone out of the draft probably. They need a vet that can challenge Henne for the starting job because, frankly, Henne needs the competition and isn't necessarily a sure-thing to win any competition anyway.

So quarterbacks. Big need.

Receiver?

Seems like a bit of a luxury. Yes, if a stud falls to the Dolphins, absolutely a speedy guy would be wonderful. Titus Young of Boise State comes to mind in the second round (assuming Miami acquires a pick in that round). But as the top priority?

Last year, in talking to a highly placed club decision-maker, I asked about Vincent Jackson. I was told the Dolphins were headed in another direction. And they went in another direction. They didn't think spending that much on another WR was the way to go.

I don't agree with that because you can never have too many playmakers. But that wasn't the internal thinking at the time.

That coupled with the fact Miami has promising young WRs on campus in Roberto Wallace and Marlon Moore, I think the team will view that position as something of a luxury and not the No. 1 priority. The situation may change between now and the draft in that, well, we cannot predict what will happen in the coming months.

Who knows? Maybe Brandon Marshall gets traded once trades are possible again. Yeah, I said it.

But right now, wide receiver isn't the top priority and probably not in the top two.

Interior lineman? Ab-so-lute-ly.

If and when free agency comes around, think Logan Mankins. That same conversation with the club official helped me break the story that Miami had contacted the Patriots about Mankins when he was in a contract dispute with New England.

Mankins is still unsigned.

Yes, it would be expensive. The Dolphins have proven they have no issue with spending money on the offensive line in the past. It makes sense in that Brian Daboll is now Miami's offensive coordinator and he saw Mankins early in his career when both were in New England. And adding Mankins would diminish New England so that's a plus.

So think of him as a free agent priority if he's available. 

Otherwise, the Dolphins could add an interior lineman in the draft.

The Dolphins will try to find a speedy return man. It's been three seasons under the Parcells-Ireland-Sparano administration and finding that dynamic return man has been a failure. The Dolphins have been able to put no significant speed that scares the opposition back returning punts or kicks. They've tried. But they've failed.

So look at that as a priority. But again, the top priority? No.

Tight end has been a priority for the Dolphins for some time. Yes, Anthony Fasano got a new contract but the Dolphins understand an upgrade is in order. Last year they liked Tony Moeaki in the draft. Loved him. He went to Kansas City and is showing himself to be a promising player. Those are the breaks.

The Dolphins may try to identify a tight end in the draft. But will they do it high? I do not know for sure. But is that the priority going into the first day? I have a hard time believe that's the ticket to solving Miami's offensive problems given the level of talent already at that position on campus relative to the lower leve of talent available at other positions on campus.

Bottom line: Think running backs and quarterback. 

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I say double down on two rb's, one must be a speedster that can return kicks - I sure hope we don't see Cobbs returning kicks for the 4th season, gimme a break! As Armando says, we have 4 WR's and one may be better than we realize, we have more pressing needs. TE/Oline either address in draft or FA. QB...just don't see them taking one high. Bring in a journeymen, and in 2012 go big time for a high #1 QB. Fire Sparano ASAP, hopefully before Thanksgiving.

"So none of Miami's running backs is signed for 2011."
Come on Mando. Please edit these better you're a reporter.

IF Armando is correct then I am once again disappointed by the thinking of the Dolphins personnel people.

A 1st round RB when quality RB's can be found in later rounds = poor value.

Going QB 1st round is very shaky when none of the QB's available at the 15th pick are sure picks. Plus the 1st round QB's look better next year.

The team desperately needs a quality WR to balance BM IMO and I am hoping for Julio Jones Alabama.

It just leaves me shaking my head to hear the Dolphins feel WR is a priority way down the list.

This team is going nowhere with Mr FG and Ireland.

I just saw that rolando mclain is a FA this year. I know he spit in crowders face but he can be as good as hillis if given the oppurtunity. We should go after him

O-line has to be the biggest priority this off season period. I think getting logan mankins would be awesome.

I bet the phins will try and sign him.

For those who favor going after Mankins i totally agree. Offensive success starts with the O-line.

Which always makes me wonder why the Dolphins O-line has been totally inconsistent and for the most part shitty for the entire time the Mr Fg has been HC.

Boulder, thats pretty interesting about Le'Ron Mclain. (i know who you meant lol) I wonder how Chowder would feel about it. So he may be a classless player, he sure as hell would be the best FB we've had since......idk, Byars maybe ? I would take a chance, I mean Channing Crowder himself isn't exactly a "class act."

Especially since mr. Fieldgoal was an olive coach!!!

Oline sorry

Oregon, I feel your pain, but its not like Sparano hasn't tried to build the Oline. You can thank him for Long. (no brainer, I know) Grove was a beast when he was healthy, and a definite upgrade over Satele. As for the guard spots ? We may have an answer in Jerry. And Smiley was Jake Grove's twin in terms of being very good when healthy and not being able to stay healthy. But, imo, our oline troubles are nothing Logan Mankins can't fix.

Armando-

Your blog is being ripped off here:

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Michael Scott..Thanks....I figured I was mixing them up...

The Dolphins need a Center. It won't matter who the running back is if the O Line can't block. Running backs can be picked up over the summer as waiver wire aquisitions. You can find speed backs in the 5th and 6th rounds. Pierre Thomas was an undrafted free agent, so was Willie Parker.

Besides trading our whole draft for a new front office and coaching staff the draft should go one of two ways.

If no CBA by draft time then we can't count on a vet QB so we should take one of the top ones if we can't trade down and one is available.

Otherwise I would go O Line with the early pick over RB, WR, or TE. Maybe we can find one with an injury history like Odrick.

I completely agree with you on this Mankins should be top FA. Hurts New England and we get a Pro Bowler. I also agree that Vincent/Marshall/Bess is exactly what we (and owner Ross wants) need.

Batman,

find another name ,it's mine monkey .

Red maple tree leaves rustle in gentle breeze
Candlelit lanterns float on lake
Grandmother hums old song softly in kitchen
Green tea perfumes the air

yea Le'Ron Mclain sorry.

I think whether they get him or not the phins want a hillis type running back. I beleive that's what Ireland meant when he said "get yards on his own".
Another guy that's a free agent is Bradshaw of the giants. He's a free agent as well.

hopefully we can move incognito to center. But I bet we also draft a center.

I have a proposal that some people might not like. As good as Mankins is the chances of us signing him are slim and it will be a bidding war. I say go after Panthers C Ryan Khalil which would take care of the C position. Next try to sign Denver QB Champ Bailey (could help our young qbs, plus has ties to Mike Nolan. Everyone remember Julius Pruitt is on our practice squad and he has pretty good speed.

Draft If you can trade down to mid 20's and a 2nd pick.

Draft

1- FLA G Mike Pouncey

OL for 2011
LG-Pouncey
LT-Long
C- Khalil
RG- Jerry /Garner/Incognito
RT- Carey

2- Neveda QB Colin Kaepernick
3- Kansas ST RB Daniel Thomas
4- ARK TE DJ Williams
5- Kent RB Derrick Locke
Rest of Draft BPA

One is appalled at the boorish manners, flatulence, obesity, and lack of mental dexterity exhibited by the average sports fan.

It is ghastly.

not bad bk. I still think if we get mankins that left side of the line will be awesome for years to come.

all I know is ball boy and TS need to get on the job and draft some more speed!

Im not disagreeing that Mankins would be an awesome hire. But I just think its going to be real hard and expensive to get him. I just think it would be easier to draft a stud G than a C. But I definitely wouldnt be upset with his signing.

By the way if we dont draft a power back in the early rounds I really like Bilal Powell in the later rounds.

*Get Mankins whatever the cost.
*Get Kolb or equivalent level of QB talent in FA to push Henne in camp.
*Draft RB @ #15...Ricky is gone & Ronnie is past his prime.
*Draft best available QB in 3rd round...do NOT give up a talented player on our roster to get our 2nd round pick back.

I have to agree that WR should not top the list of priorities. We just hired an Alpha Wide Out a year ago. Our owner doing what was right and signing the best FA WR available. Now having a $50 million WR is easily forgotten because he and the other WR's are underutilized. Particularly because of poor play at the QB position and poor protection from the line.
Right now, a Wide Out in early round is a 100% luxury on a team with 8 WR's on the roster.
Last year, none of the current unsigned free agent RB's did anything that would lend to giving either a strong, high dollar or long term deal. I like the premise from Ireland that a Running back needs to be capable of making yardage BEYOND what his O-line earns for him. That's what guy's like Johnson, Jackson & Jones Drew are capable of doing. Ronnie's been dancing and Ricky has lost several steps and is has -zero- upside. Hilliard is a -?- as a full time starter so this IS a necessity for certain. Fortunately, Miami has options starting in the Mid to lower first rounds with Mark Ingram or Mikel Leshoure. To Upper Mid Second rounds (if they recoup the pick through trade) with Ryan Williams or Demarco Murray. The good thing being not only the third, but also the 4th round should still have talent to be had. It should not be forgotten that backs like DeAngelo Williams, Arian Foster (Who will likely be tendered), Michael Bush and Darren Sproles who is a RB, KR and PR will be available in free Agency should Miami want to take one of those avenues. They also still have the option in keeping one of the guys they already have. I feel either would do better if HE were the featured back instead of a 2 man system.
As far as QB goes, It is a well worn subject and I feel we all know what the deal is. I have seen Mocks with Miami taking Newton, being that Newton has lost perceived value doing the Senior Bowl. And there are several FA QB who regardless of what one reporter wrote, are never out of reach until the dealing is done and there is no more bids accepted. Whether it is right or wrong, I would be surprised if Miami is not strongly considering the likes of Kevin Kolb, Caleb Haynie, Kyle Orton, Vince Young or Matt Flynn. Right now, Walter Football, a Mock site that has a 50/60% success on their mock picks has Can Newton being drafted in Miami at pick 16. www.walterfootball.com. Newton falling that far will not surprise me one bit. Every year we hear about team needing QB's and every year there are only 1 or 2 QB's off the board by the Mid 1st round.
Buying some speed is likely the easiest of these needs, as far as O-linemen go, I do hope Miami resigns Rickie Incognito and utilizes him at center, moving Carey who just signed a 6 year $42 million deal to Right guard then drafts a LG and RT to supplement the line and get some stability back in that unit. They need starters, I would like to believe Jerry will start to "Get it" this season, but that is no guarantee at all, Mankins would really solve more problems then we can even realize right now. Too bad we will not know if we can get him until the draft is long over.

I agree with dolfan29...

The Miami Offense needs a leader on the field. I think it's a bit early to decide who won't be available in the middle of the First Round. There's still plenty of time for projections to move up or down. Case in point: Marino dropped all the way to 29th.

cocoajoe, just out of curiosity, what FS in the draft do you think would be an upgrade over Clemons ?

Posted by: Michael Scott | February 02, 2011 at 06:17 PM


Rahim Moore is a shoo in....for some team

Armando, most logical article you've written all season. Get a Csonka style running back, Ingram if available. A QB is a must, Penny is toast, give Thigpen a shot along with the new QB, I don't trade down, I pick either the best QB or RB available at # 15, sorry, but we need a first rounder. Reshad Jones, Wallace or Moore....teach them how to return punts. Unless they can get Hankerson from UM. Just my peasant thoughts!

Hard to argue your thinking Redsky,

I think if Miami could grab Hankerson in the 3rd it would be great, But I do believe his work in the Senior Bowl has gained him enough momentum to get into the upper 2nd or lower 1st. Unless he gets to the Combine and really screws the pooch.

Not as a matter of argument, but as mere conversation, do you really believe there is that much difference in the talent that will be available in the Mid-Lower 1st Rounds as will be available nearly all the way through the 2nd? I feel that unless Miami has a targeted player (I.E a QB or RB) who they are sold on being "Their Guy" That trading into 2 2nd rounders and perhaps an extra lower round pick is not the worst idea that can be floated.

Thoughts...?

EVERYBODY SHUT UP NOW LOL

How are ya, Menace?... Rough day, or just being argumentative...?

cuban on drugs,LOL

I still think QB is your top need, saying you have Henne there is not a positive at this point. Also the RB touches the ball maybe 20-25 plays per game. The QB touches the ball on every play, that's 65-70 plays a game so the QB is your top priority. The QB position has been the Dolphins plan B since 1984, that's why we are still trying to find a replacement for Dan Marino, it's time they make the QB plan A.

Whatever Ross's mistakes have been, he did spend a significant amount of money on 2 FA's last year which, by the way, contributed immensely to the Team. Will he be willing and/or able to do that this FA season? I hope so.

No doubt about it, Manny. Miami has neglected the QB position since Shula left town,[Shula] NEVER did such foolishness as not have a contending QB both on the field and on deck. Johnson wanted rid of Marino but never offered any sort of replacement that made since to anyone but him. Wanny thought the sun rose and set on Fiddler... Saban took Ronnie Brown instead of Aaron Rogers and passed on Drew Breeze. Can was an idiot, Parcells took Long over Ryan and Flaaco. Ryan just enjoyed a Pro bowl last week and Flaaco has had his team in the playoffs since he arrived. I wonder if Trading up out of Phil Merling at pick #32 and grabbing Flaaco would have been a bold and smart move by Parcells?... It does not tale long to think about, of course it was the thing to do!
I believe Miami will get a kid to develop, unless they go big and try to get into one of the top QBs, who are still possible projects. I feel Miami's best shot is grab a young guy to develop, but go hard into FA and do what it takes to get whatever guy they can all agree will bring the team along as it should be, There are 3 such players out there and I listed them all above.

Cuban, did Empress kick you the curb? You sound, like your prostate is backed up! Funny!

They made two mistakes in drafting Henne and White, but the biggest mistake was not drafting a QB(any) last season.

Great point, Oscar. So few who are still pouting because they bought into the lie that a team 3 years removed from nearly losing every game was ready to compete for a Superbowl. Fact is, Miami will be getting back its young guys who are now hitting their 2nd, 3rd and 4th productive years. They are now both young AND experienced. Not to mention Miami still has a top 10 Defense returning, Nolan went no where and he will get a 1st and 4th rounder that he has yet to play with but which both have already been through a camp with installs. Learning how to be a pro and study film while on IR.
I feel Ross & Co. will go hard at Mankins and a QB in FA at the very least. He has certainly proven he is not afraid to pay players but I still read fools who write about Miami being "On the cheap" when they look for talent. That is ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with being frugal, Dan Snyder is not a Superbowl perennial because he spends money like an idiot... the same would be true if Ross did the same. Miami needs to target the high $$ players and keep the other guys happy but not overpaid. With a solid Defense and some more talent on offense, I respectfully disagree with those who feel Miami is heading for a disaster of a season.

Mando, I cannot see how running back becomes 1st priority suddenly over QB! This is what got us into this mess. No real commitment to the position. If nothing else gets solved this off season except QB we are in a better place. This is hands down our biggest concern on that side of the ball and we have to have tunnel vision about solving this once and for all.

Derek, thx, I appreciate your generous compliment. Personally, the draft is like playing poker, I don't trade in my cards for an unknown until the last minute, so if no one I want is available at 15....make your move. Some other team might need that pick at the last minute, it might be worth more then...just my thinking.

Derek,
I wouldn't be at all surprised if Miami turns into a dominant defense next season, a la Steelers. However at this very moment, other Teams are studying Nolan's schemes. But with the expected improvement of Misi, maybe Nolan Carrol and C. Clemons + the unknown talent of Odrick and Epps(which I think they have) we should be at least as good in defence as last year.

Lets be honest here the dolphins either make a play on Cam Newton and bring some life and hope back to the dolphin fateful or choose some rb and try and convince the ticketholders that we on track for something more than mediocrity.

Why is that we need Cam Newtons arm talent and leg talent to win at a high level, and everybody sports writers included are to cowardly to say it. The current superbowl qbs had less intangibles and neither of them had a 50td (30 pass 20 rush) season and yet they were 1st round selection. We will not find a tom brady 5th round pick on the cheap. but we can find is a stud rb on the cheap

nobody knows nuttin...total krap shoot. not fans, not scouts, not gms...every year millions are flushed away on loser players. as well, teams rarely start off where they left off the previous year, rarely. every season is a new deal. too difficult to project or assume anything. individual players routinely exceed or under achieve expectations. all this chat is nuttin more than passing time. nobody knows nuttin.

The main reason I would not want the Dolphins to take a QB before the 3rd rd. is there are none worth the 15th pick. Next years QB class is much better. The Dolphins should use Ron Wolfs strategy of drafting a QB every year in the later rounds. Not sexy but fix the o-line, get a TE, and take 2 -3 RB during the draft.

I think it is a joke talking about what players the team needs. They can not use the players they have to their fullest potencial. For years now, we have been picking up players that we hope will fill a need, only to see the vast majority either bom out of the NFL, or end up on another team where ocationally, they blossom to have great careers. I know that it is easy to play Monday morning QB and see all the great players the Fins have passed up, but that does not upset me as much as watching great players come to the team only to become mediocure. I blame the coaching staff on this. They continually, year after year, try to find players that will fit a system they like to run, instead of changing the system to best match the players abilities. Example: in the early 80's the Fins were a power running team. Along comes a very talented QB, and after a revamp of the offence, a Superbowl quality team is formed. Look a the Pats this year (as much as I hate them)... They have a totally new defence filled with young players. Are they running the LB heavey, no D line type of defence they were noted for a few years ago. They answer is NO, they changed into a fast aggressive D that fully uses the talent they have on the field. So, back to the Fins. They have great players on both offence and deffence. However, they tried to make a young QB into the type of player he is obviously not. They take their best WR (who is best running creative routes and fighting for the ball and for extra yards and they try to stretch the field with him. The list goes on and on. The one bright spot is the Deffencive coach. He is truely making a difference and I hope that progress continues. My point in all this is that the coaching staff needs to rethink how they run the team. They need to stop forcing players to fit their model, and start using them in ways that takes advantage of they skills to the fullest (like Welker for the Pats, and I would like to have him back please). Until they start to do this, they will continue to be an average team. And honestly, I am getting tired of average not year after year, but decade after decade.

Who can't see we are headed for the cellar? Worst Special Teams in the league. Worst offense in the league. Least competent Head Coach in the league. Most inexperience coaching staff in the league. No running backs. Question mark at QB. OLine/TE deficiencies. Player comments and performance indicate the coach has lost the team. That spells what exactly? Success or failure? Jets and Pats way ahead of us in all areas, have better coaches, better QBs, and more picks. 2011 will be worse than 2010.

Unfortunately I agree with your comments that we are headed in the wrong direction.

road to success trade down pick up 2nd
Draft 1st=Pouncey LG/C starter day 1
2nd=D Murray RB 3rd down RB can catch/4.38
3rd=J Moffit C/RG Starter, Meanstreak
4th=B Powell RB 3down RB,Workhorse/ 4.50
5th=R Stanzi QB compete/start year 2
6th J Bynes ILB Fiery Leader,push Edds
7th=V Green TE Speed stretch field/4.60
7th=B Miller OLB Pass rush/4.75

must resign NT Solai,DE Mcdaniel,OG Garner
C/OG Incognito,RB Brown ,QB Thigpen,

restructure W Allen or cut,trade or cut Crowder

look for FA OL Mankins,C Kalil,or OG Joseph
if price is right.look to sign WR/KR with
speed to stretch field maybe J Jones,or
S Breaston ,look for vetQB for competition
maybe Bulgar,Dixon,Flynn.maybe new line,new
vert threats,new running game,new Gutsy OC
can turn Henne Around?

after the impact of Wake I wouldn't be surprised if they went after Von miller

Alabama running back first pick after we move down, then Titus young in second

Speedy return man? Hmm didn't believe Ginn would be a good option =p

COULD GET RB AND OG ON THE FREE AGENCY MARKET, THEN TRY TO GET TITUS YOUNG, DEMARCO MURRAY AND A TE IN THE DRAFT.

Be afraid, be very afraid

At least they have not signed Ricky or Ronnie to a huge contract. These guys are clueless, just hope for minimal damage until the big Phins flush next year. Im still waiting for Sproano to bring back Fail Forward Fast. That was genius cause they did fail fast. We will see what happens next year, at this point it should be in the Dolphins front office contracts to do no harm. If we go 1 and 5 as I suspect, you have to remove the keys from Ireland and big meatball, while they pay the little meatball for so called quality control. The job shoudl be renamed CYA control.

Armandouche

Too bad they can't draft a real fan base

Madden football is like the playbook bible to fans. We understand X's and O's and how to call plays now due to that game. It is sad for the Dolphins because Henning worked from his old dusty 1979 playbook and people who knew how to call plays knew it. Shizzat had changed in the game and playing not to lose w subpar players will get u the Dolphins record w the Meatball Sr in charge. It is actually worse to be average and midpack in the NFL due to the way draft picks are awarded. The Phins continue to be lower midpack, maybe thay can waste the first pick this year like they did last year w Odrick. BTW we could have had Dez Bryant as a kick returner if Ireland was not so green and facinated w his mother. Someday they have to take responsibility for their F-ups, they cant keep blaming the fat tuna. I call it 1 and 6 and the Meatball gets thrown out the plan w his unqualified spawn
at week 8

I'm with Cuban on this. We are not going anywhere with Sparano, Ireland, Sparano, Daboll, Deville, Dubois, Dundee as our coaches.

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