Fins Loaded At Defensive End

Going into the NFL Draft, Defensive End was listed by many as a need of the Miami Dolphins. Obviously, Jeff Ireland and company felt the same way. Pulling off the surprising trade and jumping up to the third overall pick and selecting DE Dion Jordan.  However, going into to camp, it appears the Fins could be loaded at the defensive End position.

Cam Wake is a beast, and one of the top defensive ends in the game. The former Canadian Football League product had 15 sacks last season while facing constant double teams. The 2 time Pro Bowl player signed a 4 year extension last season, the 49 million dollar deal looks like a steal compared to other elite pass rushers in the NFL and should keep him in a Dolphins uniform through the 2015 season. With added help at the other end position, could he have an even better 2013?

After the 2012 NFL Draft, University of Miami Head Coach Al Golden commented that Olivier Vernon would have been a first round pick in 2013 had he stayed in school another year. (He also said it about Lamar Miller) Vernon did make an immediate impact on special teams last year and he did notch 3 ½ sacks last season. Word is he looks bigger and stronger heading into his second season. I would not be surprised if he had a little chip on his shoulder going into year 2. The supposed need for another DE fell directly on his shoulders, and he will likely be competing for playing time with Jordan. I expect to see a big jump in his production from his rookie year.

Derrick Shelby was a nice surprise last season. Shelby made the team as an undrafted free agent out of Utah. He immediately caught the coaching staff’s eye in OTA’s and camp, earned a roster spot and played valuable minutes last season. He only recorded 8 tackles (7 solo) with no sacks, but is considered a valuable run stopper and worked his way into the defensive end rotation.

Could Emeka Onyenekwu be this years Derrick Shelby? Onyenekwu earned first team All-Sun Belt conference last season while playing for Louisiana Lafayette.  He may only turn out to be a camp body or destined for the practice squad, but he did register 2 sacks in the scrimmage on the last day of OTA’s while going against new starting Right Tackle Tyson Clabo. He could be a sleeper to watch.

I am reluctant to even mention Jared Odrich’s name while talking about the DE position. I hope that he has finally found a home at Defensive Tackle for the Fins. It is his more natural position in a 4-3 defense, and with both Randy Starks and Paul Soliai in their last year of their current contracts; Odrich’s long-term position with the Fins should be defensive tackle. However, his versatility is an asset, and having the ability to kick inside or outside is a valuable skill set for the defense that is continually overlooked by the fans.

And of course since the draft day trade, every conversation about the Fins and Defensive End has to include Dion Jordan. He is an absolute physical freak, but there are plenty of questions going into camp. When will he sign? How is his shoulder? How is he going to play with his hand in the ground? What creative ways will Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle and the coaching staff use him? Like most Dolfans, I am excited for Jordan’s career as a Miami Dolphin to begin.

Going into the offseason, the Dolphins brass knew they needed to get more production from the Defensive End position. With last year’s rookies now benefitting from an entire year in the program and a surprising draft day trade, the Fins could now find themselves loaded at Defensive End.