Miami Sports Day

NFL: Miami Dolphins’ Free Agency, Draft Shopping List

As the Miami Dolphins wade through free agency and prepare to evaluate draft prospects at the Indianapolis Combine (March 1-6), they must decide which players to keep as they seek to improve their 10-6 record from last season.

Although defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is the linchpin of the defensive line along with end Cam Wake, there is some need there after the release of end Mario Williams and tackle Earl Mitchell.

The Dolphins made the playoffs in 2016, but to do that again, the defense needs an upgrade, with linebacker another area to address.

THE BREAKDOWN
2016 finish: 2nd in AFC East (10-6)

STATISTICS
TOTAL OFFENSE: 332.8 (24th)
RUSHING: 114.0 (9th)
PASSING: 218.8 (26th)
TOTAL DEFENSE: 382.6 (29th)
RUSHING: 140.4 (30th)
PASSING: 242.2 (15th)

NEEDS, SHOPPING LIST

TOP THREE NEEDS

1. LINEBACKER
They badly need aggressive, athletic guys that can tackle and cover. This is the No. 1 offseason priority whether in free agency or the draft.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract’s average annual salary)
OLB:
Chandler Jones, Arizona (27, $2.04M)
Nick Perry, Green Bay (27 in April, $5.05M)
Melvin Ingram, L.A. Chargers (28 in April, $2.1M)
DeMarcus Ware, Denver (35 in July, $10M)
Julius Peppers, Green Bay (37, $8.67M)
ILB:
Dont’a Hightower, New England (27 in March, $1.93M)
Lawrence Timmons, Pittsburgh (31 in May, $9.6M)
Malcolm Smith, Oakland (28 in July, $3.5M)
Akeem Dent, Houston (30 in September, $2.25M)
& D’Qwell Jackson, Indianapolis (34 in September, $5.5M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., Proj. Rd.)
OLB:
1/18 Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt, 6-3, 230, 4.74, 1 (underclassman)
2/26 Takkarist McKinley, UCLA, 6-2, 258, 4.58, 1
3/27 Tim Williams, Alabama, 6-3, 252, 4.76, 1
4/31 Haason Reddick, Temple, 6-1, 237, 4.54, 1-2
5/48 T.J. Watt, Wisconsin, 6-4, 243, 4.76, 2 (underclassman)
ILB:
1/7 Reuben Foster, Alabama, 6-1, 236, 4.72, 1
2/41 Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State, 6-2, 240, 4.78, 2 (underclassman)
3/44 Jarrad Davis, Florida, 6-1, 238, 4.78, 2

2. DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Run-stuffing is at a premium for a unit that finished 30th (140.4 yards allowed per game) against the run.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract’s average annual salary)
Kawann Short, Carolina (28, $1.16M)
Dontari Poe, Kansas City (27 in August, $2.83M)
Domata Peko, Cincinnati (33 in November, $4.5M)
Vince Wilfork, Houston (possibly retiring; 36 in November, $4.5M)
Nick Fairley, New Orleans (29, $3M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., Proj. Rd.)
1/2. Jonathan Allen, Alabama, 6-3, 291, 4.82, 1
2/22. Malik McDowell, Michigan State, 6-5, 276, 4.89, 1 (underclassman)
3/50. Caleb Brantley, Florida, 6-2, 297, 5.05, 2 (underclassman)
4/56. Carlos Watkins, Clemson, 6-4, 312, 5.06, 2

3. TIGHT END
The Dolphins want an athletic guy who stretches the field and makes the game easier for the wide receivers, quarterback and running back.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract’s average annual salary)
Martellus Bennett, New England (30 in March, $5.1M)
Jared Cook, Green Bay (30 in April, $2.75M)
Jordan Cameron, Miami (29 in August, $7.5M)
Vernon Davis, Washington (33, $2.4M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., Proj. Rd.)
1/11. O.J. Howard, Alabama, 6-6, 249, 4.57, 1
2/30. David Njoku, Miami (FL), 6-4, 240, 4.53, 1-2 (underclassman)
3/45. Evan Engram, Mississippi, 6-3, 236, 4.64, 2
4/72. Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech, 6-6, 245, 4.78, 2-3 (underclassman)

UFA KEEPERS
TE Jordan Cameron (29 in August, $7.5M)
WR Kenny Stills (25 in April, $589K)
LB Jelani Jenkins (25 in March, $658K)
TE Dion Sims (26, $657K)

ROSTER REVIEW
MAJOR COACHING CHANGES
–DC Vance Joseph left to be Denver’s head coach.
–LB coach Matt Burke promoted to DC.

DEPTH CHART
Starters and backups are listed according to their status at the end of the season, but players who were starters before being injured are included.
* Indicates player who ended 2016 season on reserve.
& Indicates player released since the Super Bowl.

QUARTERBACKS: Starter — Ryan Tannehill. Backups — Matt Moore, T.J. Yates (UFA).
RUNNING BACKS: Starter — Jay Ajayi. Backups — Damien Williams, Kenyan Drake.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter: *Jordan Cameron (UFA). Backups — Dion Sims (UFA), Dominique Jones (UFA), MarQueis Gray, Thomas Duarte.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters — Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills (UFA), DeVante Parker. Backups — Jakeem Grant, Leonte Carroo.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters — LT Branden Albert, LG Laremy Tunsil, *C Mike Pouncey, RG Jermon Bushrod (UFA), RT Ja’Wuan James. Backups — C/G Kraig Urbik, C Jake Brendel, C/G Anthony Steen, T Sam Young.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters — DLE Cam Wake, DLT Ndamukong Suh, DRT Jordan Phillips, DRE Andre Branch (UFA). Backups — DLT Nick Williams, RDE Terrence Fede, &DRT Earl Mitchell, &DRE Mario Williams, *DRE Dion Jordan (UFA).
LINEBACKERS: WLB Jelani Jenkins (UFA), MLB Kiko Alonso, *SLB Koa Misi. Backups — MLB Mike Hull, WLB Donald Butler (UFA), WLB Spencer Paysinger (UFA), SLB Neville Hewitt, SLB Trevor Reilly.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters — LCB Byron Maxwell, RCB Tony Lippett, *SS Reshad Jones, *FS Isa Abdul-Quddus. Backups — FS Bacarri Rambo (UFA), FS Michael Thomas (UFA), RCB Lafayette Pitts, LCB Jordan Lucas, LCB Xavien Howard, SS Walt Aikens, SS A.J. Hendy, *&FS Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, *S Isa Abdul-Quddus.
SPECIAL TEAMS: K Andrew Franks, P Matt Darr, KOR/PR Jakeem Grant, KOR Kenyan Drake, PR Jarvis Landry, LS John Denney (UFA)

The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com evaluated the Dolphins’ roster and created a shopping list to use in free agency and reference during the Combine.

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