WR Brandon Marshall, G Richie Incognito, G Cory Procter, DE Charles Grant, DE/DT Marques Douglas, ILB Karlos Dansby, ILB Tim Dobbins.
Early Draft Picks:
DE/DT Jared Odrick, DE/OLB Koa Misi, G John Jerry, ILB A.J. Edds, CB Nolan Carroll, S Reshad Jones.
WR Ted Ginn Jr., G Justin Smiley, NT Jason Ferguson, DE/OLB Joey Porter, DE/OLB Jason Taylor, ILB Akin Ayodele, ILB Reggie Torbor, CB Nate Jones, FS Gibril Wilson.
2010 Miami Dolphins Offense:
The Dolphins took one step backward to go two steps forward in 2009. Chad Pennington was a solid quarterback who didn't make mistakes, but that's all he was. He was never going to lead Miami deep into the playoffs because he lacked the appropriate arm strength.
Pennington's season-ending shoulder injury back was a blessing in disguise for the Dolphins. Chad Henne was shaky early on - he failed to complete at least 59 percent of his passes in eight of his first 10 appearances - but showed gradual improvement throughout the year. In his final four starts (three of which were against teams that finished 8-8 or better), Henne converted on 67.3 percent of his attempts. Now entering his second season as a starter, Henne should continue to progress as an NFL quarterback. If so, Miami can turn some of its close defeats - four losses were by a touchdown or less - into victories.
Helping Henne is Brandon Marshall, who was acquired this offseason for a pair of second-round picks. Marshall is one of the top wideouts in the league; he somehow managed to log 101 receptions, 1,120 yards and 10 touchdowns in 15 games in 2009 despite having Kyle Orton as his quarterback.
Marshall's presence will open things up for second-year wideout Brian Hartline and slot specialist Davone Bess. Hartline caught 31 passes for 506 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie - most of which came in the final six games of the season. Bess, meanwhile, totaled 76 receptions for 758 yards in 2009.
The addition of Marshall will also make the running game more effective because like Braylon Edwards with the Jets, Marshall's mere presence will garner tons of attention from the opposing defense. The only question is whether Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams can stay healthy. Brown is a talented runner, but has missed 16 games the past three years. Williams, on the other hand, just turned 33 and has 2,164 carries under his belt.
If Brown and Williams are in the lineup, they'll enjoy great blocking thanks to a stout offensive front. Jake Long and Vernon Carey form one of the top tackle tandems in the NFL; the two run block extremely well and were guilty of just nine combined sacks in 2009. Left guard Donald Thomas is serviceable, while center Jake Grove is a great force in the interior - assuming he's on the field. Grove has missed 17 games the past three seasons. The only question mark up front is at right guard. Richie Incognito is an overpowering beast as a blocker, but kills drives with frequent dumb penalties.
2010 Miami Dolphins Defense:
Brandon Marshall was one of three major additions the Dolphins made this offseason. The second was Karlos Dansby; Miami inked the former Arizona Cardinal to a 5-year, $43 million deal in early March. A Pro Bowl inside linebacker, Dansby filled a huge need in the interior of the defense right next to the oft-injured Channing Crowder.
The third acquisition was the hire of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Nolan worked wonders with a once-beleaguered defense in Denver last year. He might do even better in South Beach with all the talent Miami possesses.
Something the Dolphins failed to do, however, was acquire a proven or high-upside pass-rusher in free agency or through the 2010 NFL Draft. Both Joey Porter and Jason Taylor are gone, meaning the players responsible for 16 of Miami's 44 sacks are with other teams now. Cameron Wake, who had 5.5 sacks in his first NFL season, figures to be one of the starting rush linebackers (or at least he'll be on the field during every pass-rushing situation). Charlie Anderson (2 sacks) and second-round rookie Koa Misi figure to battle it out for the other position. Misi ran with the first team in minicamp, so it's entirely possible that he'll start in the opener.
Instead of spending the No. 12 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft on someone like Jerry Hughes, Jason Pierre-Paul or Sergio Kindle, the Dolphins opted to trade down, eventually selecting Jared Odrick in the first round. The move was surprising, given Miami's talent at defensive end. However, it was later revealed that Bill Parcells plans on moving 305-pound Randy Starks (9 sacks) over to nose tackle, creating a spot for Odrick across from Kendall Langford. If the Starks move works out - think Jay Ratliff in Dallas - the Dolphins will have one of the premier 3-4 defensive lines in the NFL. And who is anyone to doubt Parcells?
In addition to passing on a rush linebacker in the first round, the Dolphins eschewed selecting free safety Earl Thomas, who would have been a major upgrade at the position. Miami currently has nothing there; Chris Clemons is an underwhelming talent, and fifth-round rookie Reshad Jones hasn't been impressive in minicamp.
Clemons ruins an otherwise terrific secondary. Corners Sean Smith and Vontae Davis really shined as rookies last year, and former starter Will Allen is an incredible nickel to have. Strong safety Yeremiah Bell isn't great in coverage, but is terrific in run support.
2010 Miami Dolphins Schedule and Intangibles:
Pro Bowl kicker Dan Carpenter hit 25-of-28 field goals in his second season, including 8-of-9 from 40-49.
Punter Brandon Fields also had a terrific year, maintaining a 46.3 average with 25-of-75 attempts inside the 20.
Ted Ginn is gone, and so are Miami's chances of scoring a special-teams touchdown this season. Ginn took two kickoffs back to the house last year, but was traded to the 49ers. At least the Dolphins didn't allow a score.
The Dolphins had a brutal schedule in 2009; seven of their first eight opponents (Falcons, Colts, Chargers, Jets, Saints, Jets, Patriots) finished 9-7 or better, and four of them remarkably made it as far as the AFC or NFC Championship (Saints, Colts, Jets twice).
Unfortunately, things are only slightly better this year. Following an easy opener at Buffalo, the Dolphins have to deal with the Vikings, Jets, Patriots, Packers, Steelers, Bengals, Ravens and Titans the next eight games. Things do get easier after that though, with contests against the Bears, Raiders, Browns, Bills and Lions.
2010 Miami Dolphins Analysis: Too many people are sleeping on the Dolphins. Some (ESPN) foolishly have them in the early 20s of their uninformed 2010 NFL Power Rankings.
The Dolphins are unquestionably one of the top teams in the NFL and a legitimate Super Bowl contender. There will be a ton of money to be made by betting on them early and often during the first half of the upcoming season.
The selection of Jared Odrick proved confusing at first. With absolutely no need for a 3-4 end, why would Bill Parcells pick one in the first round? As it turns out, incumbent 3-4 end Randy Starks will be moving over to nose tackle, one of Miami's most prominent needs entering the 2010 NFL Draft.
The other huge need was addressed in the second round with a pick obtained when the Dolphins moved down from No. 12 to 28. Koa Misi figures to be a nice complement for Cameron Wake.
Parcells had a few other quality selections, including guard John Jerry and free safety Reshad Jones, a Round 2-3 prospect obtained all the way in the fifth round. With any luck, Jones will be an upgrade over Gibril Wilson, who was terrible last year.
Overall, the Dolphins did a good job addressing their needs with the best talent available. When grading Miami's draft, I also factored in the fact that the team's original second-round pick was used on Brandon Marshall.
Overall 2010 NFL Draft Grade given on 4/26/10: A
2010 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
28. Jared Odrick, DE/DT, Penn State
This doesn't fill a need at all, but Jared Odrick is the best player available. Still, I don't know where he's going to fit in. What are the Dolphins going to do about their pass rush? What about nose tackle and the free safety position? (Update: The Dolphins apparently will use Randy Starks at nose, so this pick makes a lot more sense now.) (Pick Grade: A)
40. Koa Misi, DE/OLB, Utah
Bill Parcells takes a talented rush linebacker? Say it ain't so! Koa Misi fits the range and fills a huge need. Can't argue that. (Pick Grade: A)
73. John Jerry, G, Ole Miss
I'll never forget that Thursday night game against the Panthers when the Dolphins ran out of bodies on the offensive line. This team needed depth up front, and John Jerry fits the scheme. (Pick Grade: B)
119. A.J. Edds, ILB, Iowa
A Bill Parcells player if there ever was one, A.J. Edds is a tough linebacker who should play inside in the 3-4 (or SAM if they use some 4-3 looks). I had Edds as a third-round prospect, so this is good value. (Pick Grade: A)
145. Nolan Carroll, CB, Maryland
A reach, but not a big deal in the middle of Round 5. This doesn't fill much of a need either. (Pick Grade: C)
163. Reshad Jones, S, Georgia
Leave it to Bill Parcells to find a Round 2-3 prospect at a position of need in the fifth round. (Pick Grade: A)
212. Chris McCoy, DE/OLB, Middle Tennessee State
Bill Parcells drafted an athletic rush linebacker with size? I'm shocked. (Pick Grade: B)
252. Austin Spitler, ILB, Ohio State
Another blue-collar linebacker for Bill Parcells. Can't say I'm surprised by this pick. (Pick Grade: B)
Key Undrafted Free Agents:
Vince Oghobaase, DE/DT, Duke
The Dolphins took a step backward in 2009, but doing so will allow them to move forward and perennially make deep playoff runs. Of course, this is assuming that Chad Henne continues to improve. Henne struggled at times last year, but exceeded expectations overall in his first season as a starter. At long last, Miami's desperate search for a quarterback could be over.
Dolphins re-sign TE David Martin
Dolphins sign DE Charles Grant
Dolphins sign DT Montavious Stanley
Dolphins sign DE/DT Marques Douglas
Dolphins announce retirement of NT Jason Ferguson
Dolphins re-sign TE Anthony Fasano
Dolphins cut ILB Reggie Torbor
Jaguars acquire G Justin Smiley from Dolphins for 7th-round pick
Dolphins sign G Cory Procter
Dolphins announce retirement of ILB Zach Thomas
Bengals sign FS Gibril Wilson
Broncos sign ILB Akin Ayodele
Dolphins acquire ILB Tim Dobbins from Chargers in 1st-round swap
Jets sign DE/OLB Jason Taylor
Dolphins re-sign DE/OLB Quentin Moses
49ers acquire WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr. from Dolphins for 2010 5th-round pick
Dolphins acquire WR Brandon Marshall from Broncos for 2010 2nd-rounder and 2011 2nd-rounder
Dolphins re-sign WR Davone Bess
Dolphins re-sign K Dan Carpenter
Dolphins re-sign TE Joey Haynos
Cardinals sign DE/OLB Joey Porter
Dolphins sign G Richie Incognito
Dolphins re-sign QB Chad Pennington
Broncos sign CB Nate Jones
Dolphins sign ILB Karlos Dansby
Dolphins cut DE/OLB Joey Porter
Dolphins cut ILB Akin Ayodele
Dolphins cut FS Gibril Wilson
Dolphins tender RB Ronnie Brown
Rush Linebacker: Joey Porter will be cut on March 5, while Jason Taylor might not be back next year. Even if Taylor returns, he'll be 36 in September and thus won't be very effective. Miami will look to bolster its pass rush in Rounds 2-3 of the 2010 NFL Draft. Drafted Koa Misi
Inside Linebacker: Channing Crowder is seldom healthy, and that's the least of the Dolphins' problems at inside linebacker. This position must be upgraded. Rolando McClain will be the pick if he's there at No. 12. Signed Karlos Dansby; traded for Tim Dobbins; drafted A.J. Edds
Nose Tackle: Jason Ferguson is a 34-year-old player with an expiring contract who has hinted toward retirement. Paul Soliai is a serviceable backup, but he's not a legitimate starter in this league. A Round 2-4 pick will probably be used on a nose tackle. Drafted Jared Odrick; Randy Starks to nose tackle
No. 1 Wide Receiver: The Dolphins have a slew of No. 2/slot receivers in Ted Ginn, Davone Bess, Greg Camarillo and Brian Hartline on the roster. What Chad Henne really needs is a dominant No. 1 wideout. Dez Bryant would be an option if Bill Parcells didn't hate drafting receivers in the first round. Brandon LaFell, Golden Tate and Jeremy Williams will be looked at in Round 2. Traded for Brandon Marshall
Free Safety/Cornerback: Gibril Wilson will probably be cut this offseason, so the free safety position will be addressed. If the Dolphins want, they can draft a cornerback and move Sean Smith to free safety. Drafted Reshad Jones
Receiving Tight End: Anthony Fasano is a tremendous blocker, but he's a liability as a downfield passing option. Chad Henne would really benefit from a dynamic tight end going over the middle of the field.
Offensive Line Depth: Remember that Thursday night game against the Panthers when the Dolphins were bringing in injured players because they were thin up front? That was fun, but it can't happen again. Drafted John Jerry; signed Cory Procter and Richie Incognito
Running Back: This will be a much bigger need next offseason when both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are free agents. The Dolphins will have plenty of options in the 2011 NFL Draft. I currently have them taking Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams in my 2011 NFL Mock Draft.
Backup Quarterback: Miami should have a veteran quarterback behind Chad Henne. Re-signing Chad Pennington could remedy this need. Re-signed Chad Pennington
2010 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Karlos Dansby, ILB, Cardinals. Age: 28. Signed with Dolphins (5 years, $43 million; $22 million guaranteed)
One of the top linebackers in the league, Karlos Dansby can play in any scheme. In a shallow market, teams will throw truckloads of cash at Dansby. Al Davis may even offer some of his virgins.
Richie Incognito (RFA), G, Bills. Age: 27. Signed with Dolphins (1 year)
Featured in a story that sounds like it came right out of the Emmitt on the Brink, Richie Incognito was criticized for sitting out a 2008 game for a fake illness. Jim Haslett was so frustrated that he actually slapped a candy bar out of Incognito's hands on the sideline. If Incognito can't find a job, perhaps he and JaMarcus Russell can start the Eating on the Sidelines Appreciation Society.
Charles Grant, DE, Saints. Age: 31. Signed with Dolphins (2 years)
Still solid against the run, but offers absolutely no pass rush. Tore his triceps in Week 17.
Cory Procter, G, Cowboys. Age: 27. -- Signed with Dolphins
Montavious Stanley, DT, Jaguars. Age: 28. -- Signed with Dolphins
Miami Dolphins Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 14): No cap.
Dan Carpenter (ERFA), K, Dolphins. Age: 24.
Voted to the Pro Bowl, thanks to a 24-of-27 season. Dan Carpenter is 2-of-3 from 50-plus in his career.
Ronnie Brown (RFA), RB, Dolphins. Age: 28. Tendered by Dolphins (1st round)
Ronnie Brown is one of the best running backs in the NFL when he's on the field. The problem is that he's seldom on the field. In the past three seasons, Brown has missed 16 games.
Davone Bess (ERFA), WR/PR, Dolphins. Age: 24. Re-signed with Dolphins
Davone Bess is a talented slot receiver who caught 71 balls in 2009. He'll only be 25 on Sept. 13.
Joey Porter, DE/OLB, Dolphins. Age: 33. Signed with Cardinals (3 years, $17.5 million)
Joey Porter had nine sacks in 2008, but at 33, he's not a consistent pass-rusher anymore. He can still be a rotational/nickel rusher in a 3-4 scheme, but he shouldn't be a starter any longer.
Jason Taylor, DE/OLB, Dolphins. Age: 36. Signed with Jets (2 years, $13 million)
Jason Taylor had seven sacks last year, but at 36, he obviously doesn't have much left in the tank. He can be a nickel rusher, but that's it.
Chad Pennington, QB, Dolphins. Age: 34. Re-signed with Dolphins (1 year, $2.5 million)
You know what you're getting with Chad Pennington - a highly accurate and smart, but noodle-armed quarterback coming off his third shoulder surgery. Pennington can be a solid transitional quarterback for the Rams while they groom Jimmy Clausen, but he doesn't have the arm to take any team past the first round of the playoffs.
Jason Ferguson, NT, Dolphins. Age: 35. Re-signed with Dolphins
Jason Ferguson is a 35-year-old nose tackle who is coming off a nasty torn quad. Ferguson hinted that he's thinking about retirement, as he won't be healthy until the summer at the very earliest.
Nate Jones, CB, Dolphins. Age: 28. Signed with Broncos (4 years, $13.6 million)
Played well as a nickel corner in 2009. Because no CBA has been reached, Nate Jones is one of the top unrestricted corners on the market.
Gibril Wilson, FS, Dolphins. Age: 28. Signed with Bengals (1 year)
We now know that Gibril Wilson isn't worthy of a massive contract. However, he would make a very good backup somewhere.
Akin Ayodele, ILB, Dolphins. Age: 30. -- Signed with Broncos
Anthony Fasano (RFA), TE, Dolphins. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Dolphins
Divisional Rival History: Buffalo Bills: Tony Sparano is 3-1 against the Bills, but that one loss was the last meeting between Buffalo and Miami. New England Patriots: The host has won 11 of 17 in this heated rivalry. New York Jets: The Jets had dominated this series for years - try 17 of the last 22. However, Miami swept New York in 2009.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2010 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)