Thursday, March 23, 2017

Linebackers Are Still a Work In Progress

The weakest unit on the Dolphins roster last season was by far the linebacker position. So heading into this offseason it was an area that needed to be addressed and wholesale changes were a must. The Dolphins have done a lot to address this position thus far but much more work needs to be done.

The first move of adding Lawrence Timmons was in my opinion a great move to make. A 10 year vet who has only missed 2 games in his life Timmons is someone who brings instant credibility to the unit. Is he the same player he was 7 or 8 years ago, no of course not. Timmons is still an above average linebacker who can stop the run and will not kill you in the passing game. It is expected Miami will put him at the center of their defense at middle linebacker and he will be the leader of the unit.

The Dolphins then went out and signed Kiko Alonso to a 3 year contract extension to make sure his future is stable in Miami. Kiko was great last year and showed he was past his knee injuries. Kiko most likely will slide to outside linebacker which in my opinion is a more natural position for him and with his speed. To have Kiko blitz more I think will make Miami's defense more dynamic in many ways.

Just this week Miami restructured the contract of Koa Misi. When healthy Misi is a good run stopper the problem with Misi over the years is he is never healthy. Now he is coming off major neck surgery and to be honest I am not sure I would have kept Misi around. I know his contract is very low but to me that is a sign that Miami has little faith in him. If Misi is cut in late August do not be surprised people.

For depth this unit currently has very little to none. Neville Hewitt is a nice 4th linebacker who I like a lot but keeping it honest people he is not a starter in the NFL. He isn't that caliber of player at this time. Good special teams player, solid linebacker off the bench who can fill in when needed, but as a full time starter he isn't. Mike Hull in my opinion is someone who wouldn't make most NFL rosters but Miami's linebacker depth is so bad he is someone the Dolphins count on far too often.

So the question is what is next because this unit is far from fixed. Zach Brown is the big name out there and he recently visited with Miami but the Dolphins and Brown are far off on price. From reports it does sound like though Brown won't get the money he is looking for so he will have to bite the bullet and take the best offer out there. Oakland and Miami appears the only two teams left with an offer out there to Brown. IF (big IF here people) Miami were to land Zach Brown their linebackers would be one of the better units in the league and the weakness of the defense just became the strength overnight. With Timmons, Brown, Alonso as starters that is a nice unit right there behind Suh who will get his double teams freeing up space for the linebackers to make plays.

Whether Miami gets Zach Brown or not the Dolphins must be thinking linebacker in rounds 1 or 2 of the draft. With Alonso's injury history and with Brown IF he signs it will most likely only be a 1 year deal the Fins need to have depth on this unit. At pick #22 if Zach Cunningham is there Miami should jump all over him and race that index card up to the commissioner. If  Cunningham is gone at #22 then Miami should next look at Jarrad Davis out of Florida who is a do it all linebacker as well. Oh and there is this Hasson Reddick guy out of Temple who is a physical beast with size, speed, and ability. Honestly any of those three players at pick #22 would bolster this Dolphins defense in a big way and improve the linebackers greatly.

The Dolphins defense was terrible against the run last season and the main reason was the linebackers. The Dolphins front office has done a nice job overhauling this unit but the work is far from done.



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