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  It Has to be About the “O” Now
    | Home | News Wire | Roster | Depth Chart | Schedule |  

by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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It’s the first minicamp of the Cam Cameron era, a mere two weeks before the 2007 NFL Draft, and the Dolphins have the look of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde all at once.


Jeckyll would be the Dolphin defense. A very talented unit, with one of the best defensive coordinators and front sevens in football, and boasting the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, they’re capable of doing their part in taking the Dolphins deep into the playoffs.



Hyde would be the Dolphin offense. With only the right side of the offensive line and the running back positions set, it would be a frightening prospect indeed to have this bunch line up and play a game today.


Unfortunately for the Dolphins, free agency hasn’t been helpful in boosting the offense. Unless, that is, you see subtraction as addition with the departure of undertalented, overpaid players…Wes Welker exempted, of course.


Simply put, the Dolphins are now down to their final two outs…the draft and the June salary cap cut downs. Thereafter, they’ll be forced to play the cards in their hand.


Before we wail and gnash our teeth at the current state of affairs, we need to give Cameron and GM Randy Mueller the benefit of the doubt. We need to presume that they cannot be serious in standing pat with what they have. The cavalry has to be on the way, right?


More to the point, help for the Dolphin offense has got to be the priority here on out.


I won’t begin to guess who could come available in June, or if the Dolphins will be able to pry Trent Green away from the Chiefs. It may be that the Dolphins will wisely wait until after the draft is concluded to make a move, obviously not wanting to surrender a high pick for a 37 year old QB with a history of concussions.


And, for those of you moaning over the pass on David Carr, I ask you to please, please question your belief in a guy who hasn’t shown he is anything but the next Joey Harrington.


That, essentially, leaves the rehab room and the draft to address the top three priorities on offense.


1) Quarterback

As frustrated as we are with the length of his rehabilitation, and more of Nick Saban’s lies to the same, a healthy Daunte Culpepper is still one of the best players in the NFL. Let’s not forget that. Having a 100% Culpepper ready to go for training camp is the best possible solution, the one that gives the Dolphins the highest probability of a playoff run in 2007.


Still, the Dolphins cannot afford to place all their chips in his basket; it is just too risky. And while Green would be a decent short term insurance policy, a good young prospect must be added to the mix. The Dolphins cannot procrastinate on this any longer.


The top two prospects in the draft, LSU’s JaMarcus Russell and Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn, figure to be off the board before the Dolphins come to bat with the 9th overall pick. The big question facing the Dolphins is whether or not to move up in a bold effort to solve this paramount problem, or settle on a next tier guy like Michigan State’s Drew Stanton.


Moving up is a costly and risky proposition. There are no guarantees. On one end we have Peyton Manning, a former #1 overall selection. On the other we have Tom Brady, a sixth rounder. In between we have a collection of hits and misses that tells only one story…that first round QBs are indeed a risk.


Using the famed NFL trade chart as a guide, the Dolphins would have to give up their first round pick and their first of two second round picks to move up to the #4 spot (Tampa Bay). Russell and Quinn could be gone by then.


Whatever they decide will depend on the information they have on Russell and Quinn. All we can say is that, given Mueller’s reputation, we can expect them to address the position within the first four rounds.


2) Offensive Line

The right side of the line, with C Rex Hadnot, RG L.J. Shelton and RT Vernon Carey, is in good shape. It is the left side that needs work.


Next to Culpepper, perhaps the single biggest potential impact player the Dolphins have now is LT Anthony Alabi. There is a belief that Alabi is on the verge of earning a starting job. This is a player that came from TCU in 2005 with excellent size and athleticism but in need of coaching and development.


After two years under the eye of the incomparable Hudson Houck, and more than a few reps against one Mr. Jason Taylor, Alabi’s time may have finally come.


As such I find it difficult for the Dolphins to justify spending the 9th overall selection on a prospect like Levi Brown, who may not be as good as Alabi is today…or ever.


Therefore, look for the Dolphins to use a second or third round pick on an offensive lineman or two.


3) Wide Receiver

Once again I say that if Cameron thinks that Chris Chambers is his answer for #1 WR, we should be very concerned. That the Dolphins have been working Chambers in the slot speaks to a more common sense approach in how to best use him.


What they need now, desperately, is a gamebreaker at #1 WR, someone who can change a game with one play…a true difference maker.


There is no such veteran player available today. And, please, do not mention Randy Moss’s name. The Dolphins do not need the headache.


Rather, the name you should be saying is Ted Ginn, Jr. Still gimpy-legged, he nevertheless ripped off a series of 4.3 second 40 yard dash times in his recent workout. When healthy, he may become the fastest man in the NFL.


But Ginn is a lot more than a fast guy…he’s an impact player. Ginn started at Ohio State as a true freshman and made BIG plays against the best in college football for three years running. His exceptional ability returning punts and kickoffs is a huge bonus that would address another team need.


Ginn could be available when the Dolphins pick. In fact he may be their best option at instantly upgrading the offense, provided they stand pat with the 9th overall pick.


There are three other players who make sense at #9. Miami TE Greg Olsen has been compared to Todd Heap and would be a terrific add. The other two are defensive players that would be purely value picks should all the best offensive options be gone (which could easily happen).


The first is LSU safety LaRon Landry, a guy that is looking like a better fit for the Dolphins now that Jason Allen has been moved to CB (permanently?). The second is Louisville DT Amobi Okoye.  DT is not a primary need for the Dolphins given the pool of young and promising talent on the roster. However, Okoye is such an exceptional young man, on and off the field, that the Dolphins must seriously consider him.


Training camp is still three months away, so there’s no need to panic yet. But Mueller and Cameron must act decisively, and soon. Otherwise, it will be another season of Mr. Hyde and failed playoff expectations for the Dolphins.



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