Ranking Dolphins' top offseason needs: No. 1 linebacker

Kelvin Sheppard will be a free agent and the Dolphins could look to upgrade at his spot.. Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 season is officially in the books with the Denver Broncos winning the Super Bowl on Sunday. That means every team starts fresh in 2016, and it’s time to begin the offseason.

With that in mind, ESPN.com’s Miami Dolphins page is ranking the team’s biggest needs this week.

No. 1 need: Linebacker

Pending free agents: Kelvin Sheppard, Spencer Paysinger, James-Michael Johnson

Analysis: The Dolphins could use a major overhaul at linebacker. All three starters – Sheppard, Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins – struggled with performance and/or injuries last season. Miami was ranked 28th against the run and failed to consistently defend tight ends and slot receivers in the passing game. Sheppard led the group with 105 tackles, but didn’t make enough game-changing plays. He will be a free agent, which offers the chance to Miami to explore finding an upgrade at middle linebacker. Misi is scheduled to make $4.3 million next season and Jenkins will be motivated entering a contract year with a salary of $675,000 in the final year of his rookie deal. This is the Dolphins’ top need and must be addressed via the draft and free agency.

In case you missed it, here is the rest of this week's list, ranking Miami's needs: