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Karlos Dansby reps Dolphins among elite but does he belong?

You might have heard by now that Nike unveiled its new NFL uniforms today. The Dolphins' uniform is relatively unchanged. As part of the unveiling, each team sent a player representative to New York to model the threads.

Serving as model for the Dolphins ... Karlos Dansby.

Makes sense.

The man is an imposing figure at 6-4 and 250 pounds. He is well-known in league circles. He is a team leader. And he's a good player.

It's that last one that creates a bit of an issue. Unlike other reps at the Nike unveling -- such as Larry Fitzgerald for Arizona, Ben Roethlisberger for Pittsburgh, Wes Welker for New England, Ndamukong Suh for Detroit -- Dansby is not an elite player. And that, more than the uniform event is the point here.

The point is Karlos Dansby is good.

Sometimes he's excellent as he was last year against Washington when he had 10 tackles, including a sack and an interception. Sometimes he's not quite good as when he started 2011 very slowly because he was 24 pounds overweight and had only 11 tackles in his first three games combined.

But mostly that all averages out to, well, good.

The issue?

The Dolphins need better than good now. They've got plenty of nice, solid players. The Dolphins need elite. And that's what Dansby was brought to the team to be -- elite.

You'll remember that Dansby arrived just before Brandon Marshall in the 2010 offseason. He signed a five-year contract worth $43 million that included $22 million in guaranteed money. That agreement means Dansby's cap number in 2012 will be $12.8 million.

For that money and taking up that kind of cap space, Dansby needs to be elite.

But if his first two Miami seasons are to be believed, Dansby simply is not elite. He is good. He was second on the team in tackles in 2010. He was third on the team in tackles in 2011. Good.

He has combined for 3.5 sacks in two season. He has three forced fumbles in two years. He has one interception in two years. Good.

But Dansby has not been named to the Pro Bowl. He is not among the best two or three players at his position in the conference. Dansby is not elite.

Remember last year when I recounted for you that Dansby said he was the best linebacker in the NFL? "Period. Point blank, I'm the best," he said. "Period. Point blank."

I didn't weigh in on his comments then because I simply let him have his say. Well, after two seasons with the Dolphins, it is safe to say Dansby is not quite where he thinks. I really cannot offer to you any major flaw in his game. He has no off-field issues. He's brought stability to his position.

But the best?

That is not accurate.

And again, the problem with all this is Dansby was brought to South Florida to be outstanding. He is being paid as if he is a difference-maker. But outside of the Washington game last year, he really hasn't factored notably in any victory. He's played his spot. He's done his job.

But for $43 million it is fair to expect more.

This year Dansby will have the chance to give more. He is versatile enough that he can play both the middle or outside in Miami's 4-3 alignment. When the Dolphins go back to a 3-4 look, he can play the middle linebacker role.

If he's in shape at the start of 2012, chances are good he'll be able to pick up where he left off.

But, frankly, he needs to do better than that. At $12.8 million against the cap, Dansby needs to be elite. I assume he and the Dolphins know that.

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