Jeff Ireland did a fine job filling some crucial needs for the Dolphins this past weekend in the draft. The offense as a whole is in much better shape than it was this time last week.
With Mike Pouncey, the Dolphins may have reached some and his brother Maurkice may always be a better pro, but they have virtually a sure thing. Pouncey is likely going to be a solid starter, if not a Pro Bowl caliber lineman on the interior of the Dolphins’ O-line for years to come.
In the second round, the Dolphins traded up to get a back they obviously had a conviction about. If they weren’t so confident in Daniel Thomas’ ability they wouldn’t have bothered trading up.
Quality backs like Kendall Hunter and Roy Helu Jr. would have still been on the board when the Dolphins were on the clock in the third round. I have my concerns about Thomas’ upright running style and ball security issues, but we will give the front office the benefit of the doubt until we see the kid play because they obviously felt they had to have him.
Then there is the guy everyone is excited about- Edmond Gates- and the elite speed he brings to an otherwise slow Dolphins’ offense. And in the sixth round, Jeff Ireland and company finally addressed the need for a receiving tight end when they took Charles Clay, who figures to play H-back for the Dolphins in the same manner Chris Cooley is utilized in the Redskins’ scheme.
So all in all, this once needy offense is looking a little more complete these days. But there is still plenty of work to do. The Dolphins weren’t able to address all of their needs and whenever the lockout is actually lifted for good and free agency commences, they’re going to need to spend a little cash to complete the renovation process.
1. Running Back: I thought the Dolphins might double up on the running back position in the same way they addressed positions like corner and defensive end in years past. Daniel Thomas gives them one starting caliber back, but unless the Dolphins plan on retaining either Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams, another back needs to be acquired via free agency.
They nabbed their power back in Thomas, so look for the Dolphins to reel in a scat back that is capable of bringing some big-play potential to the Dolphins’ running game. Obviously, the ideal signing would be DeAngelo Williams, who is one of the league’s elite runners, but don’t rule out slightly less expensive options like Darren Sproles and Ahmad Bradshaw.
2. Offensive Guard: The Dolphins appeared to have solidified their offensive line by taking Mike Pouncey in the first round, because at first, he was thought to be selected as a guard. Richie Incognito was presumably resigned to play center where he showed promise in limited action, not guard where he was nothing more than average. But the Dolphins were pretty adamant that they will start Pouncey off at center.
To me, that means offensive guard is still pretty unsettled. Incognito is capable of holding down one guard spot, but his lack of pulling ability is going to hold the running game back to a certain degree. On the other side, Nate Garner will likely battle John Jerry, but neither is proven.
3. Quarterback: The biggest disappointment of this year’s draft, especially to those of us who were sold on Ryan Mallett, was that the Dolphins passed on the opportunity to bring in a rookie to compete with Chad Henne. Instead, they will be forced to fill the need with a veteran in free agency or land one with a trade. Make no mistake, it’s not a question of if the Dolphins will sign or trade for a QB, it’s only a question of who that QB will be.
At the very least, even if they don’t bring in someone capable of unseating Chad Henne, the Dolphins must add some depth at the position. Henne, Tyler Thigpen, and Tom Brandstater are the only quarterbacks on the roster. Thigpen could easily sign elsewhere once the lockout is lifted and Brandstater may never develop into anything more than a practice squad option. We’ve talked about the possible suitors before and I’m sure the discussion will continue to heat up. Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer, Vince Young, Kyle Orton, and Matt Hasselbeck highlight the possible solutions for the Dolphins.
4. Outside Linebacker: If Robert Quinn, the outside linebacker from UNC that was selected fourteenth overall by the Rams, would have still been on the board for the Dolphins in the first round, I wouldn’t have been shocked if they passed on Pouncey and addressed the pass rush.
Yes, the Dolphins have one of the league’s premier pass rushers in Cameron Wake, but they could really use a pass rush specialist on the other side for the nickel and dime packages to take some of the pressure off of him. I could easily see the Dolphins surviving without addressing the need this offseason, as Koa Misi could make huge strides getting after the quarterback in 2011, but doing so could be the final piece of the puzzle to an elite defense.