Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Miami Dolphins Confidential Issue 8 " D-Line"

The offseason goal of every team in the NFL is to improve their team.  The primary wave of free agency has passed. Next up will be the NFL draft followed by the bargain shopping in the free agency after the draft. GM’s and fans alike tend to focus on the new additions to the team when trying to get a feel for how much improvement the team will show.  However, a very important aspect of the success of all teams will hinge on how the players remaining on their rosters from the prior season improve or decline.  We at Bitchin Dave’s thought it would add some intrigue to the offseason lull to have a discussion on where we feel the team is at and where they are headed.

The prognosticators will be Carl “The Ref” Leone , Chad “ The Baumhower” Ronnebaum . We will be having a position by position debate on where the Dolphins ranked in 2013 as well as where we see them ranking at the end of 2014.  We are going to start with our pre-draft rankings and then will update this post draft and probably once or twice prior to the start of season as the final free agent signings and injuries shape the team during training camp and the preseason.

Scale: We are using a 10 point scale to rank where we felt the positions ranked against the rest of league in 2013 as well as where we predict they will rank in 2014.  5 out of 10 for example would mean we rank the unit as about the 15-16th best unit in the league.  10 out of 10 would basically feature pro bowl players at the top of the league and 0 out of 10 would be dead last or the worst unit in the league. Issue Eight will review the D-Line.

Defensive Line

                                                                                                Chad’s Take                          Carl’s Take

2013 Position Rank
8 out of 10                             7.5 out of 10
2014 Prediction
10 out of 10                           8.5 out of 10



Predicted Depth Chart
2014 Improvement/Decline Prediction
Cameron Wake
0                                                0
Olivier Veron
+1                                             .5
Dion Jordon
+1                                             1.5
John Shelby
0                                                0
Randy Starks
0                                              -1
Jared Odrick
0                                                0
Earl Mitchell
0                                                0



Chad: The Dolphins have one the best defensive lines in the NFL.  The unit pretty much has everything you could want.  Proven pro bowl players, up coming talent and immense depth.  Cameron Wake had a bit of down year due to suffering a sprained knee which limited through a chunk of the season. That did not stop him from blowing through the Bengals to close out a game with a safety.

Carl: What an incredible ending to that game. That game had so many big plays in it. Wake can be a beast.

Chad:  He keeps himself in tip top shape and is a relentless pass rusher, one of the best in the game. Olivier Vernon is another player in amazing shape and he is still has a lot of upside. He registered double digit sacks in his first true year as a starter.

Carl: I thought he played very well last year. And he is young.

Chad: Despite a lot of reports being negative on Dion Jordon,I liked what I saw.  He is a rare talent. There are not many men that height who also have that kind of physical build and speed. He has a massive arm span and in limited action he caused a couple huge interceptions. He will now have a full workout during the offseason and also a full camp. I think Dion is going to be a beast.

Carl: He has got to get in the weight room and build up his upper body strength. When opposing tackles got their mitts on him, they threw him around like a rag doll. He has that burst of speed that I thought Coyle could have utilized more with stunts. But Jordan did come up with some big plays. I think he can improve immensely and graded him as such.

Chad: Derrick Shelby is no slouch and would start on half the teams in the league. He’s probably the best DE against the run and still gets after the passer. He actually reminds of former Dolphins DE Jeff Cross.

Carl: Good call. Shelby gets some big sacks. Boy, we have some good Defensive Ends.

Chad: Coming into the offseason it looked like we were going to have a set back on the interior.  However, give Dennis Hickey some credit. He was able to get a young athletic DT in Earl Mitchell and pulled off an unexpected free agency win by keeping Randy Starks.

Carl: So far so good with Hickey. He has done much better than I thought he would do, given the way the press was picking other candidates to get for our GM. I am afraid that Starks may be getting a little long in the tooth. I think he is starting to decline now and graded him as such.

Chad:  Mitchell, Starks, and Odrick can all rush the passer from the interior and are disruptive players. I know Paul Solia was a massive run stopper however his inability to control his weight rendered him practically worthless at rushing the passer.

Carl: Yeah but he could plug the middle. That is an issue with this unit. We gotta get back to stuffing the run.

Chad: In summary, what was already a very sound unit looks like it will only get better.   I actually think it is the best D-Line overall in the league.

Carl: I agree Chad. I cannot think of a better unit in the league although the Jets D-Line has a couple great players too but we have more depth.  If Jordan hits the weights hard, he can be an unstoppable force. I think we will draft a DT at some point in the draft just to shake things up a bit. But we are loaded on the D-Line.

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