- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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There has been a lot of news and movement with the Miami Dolphins this offseason.
Let’s take a look at whose stock is rising and falling in Miami.
1. Dennis Hickey, Dolphins general manager: It’s only April, but the early reviews have been good so far on Miami’s new general manager. Hickey’s moves this offseason have made sense. He didn’t re-sign Richie Incognito and John Jerry – two main culprits in last year’s bullying scandal – and even got trade value in return for Jonathan Martin. Hickey also made strides to fix the offensive line (Branden Albert, Shelley Smith), defensive line (Earl Mitchell, Randy Starks), secondary (Louis Delmas, Cortland Finnegan) and tailback (Knowshon Moreno) positions. Hickey’s other major test will be the NFL draft. But it’s been so far, so good for the first-year general manager.
2. Ryan Tannehill, quarterback: Tannehill has yet to play a game in 2014. But his stock is on the rise after getting a new left tackle in Albert and a well-rounded running back in Moreno. Tannehill made strides in his second year, but his growth was stunted by getting sacked a franchise-high 58 times last season. Miami also couldn’t run the ball consistently, which put Tannehill in tough spots. Albert should provide better protection and Moreno brings toughness to the running game and is strong at blitz pickups. Tannehill also is doing the smart thing by working out with his wide receivers early to learn offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s new offense.
3. Joe Philbin, head coach: It’s no secret that Miami head coach Joe Philbin is entering a big third season. He is 15-17 in his first two years and has yet to post a winning record. But Philbin showed a new side of him last week at the NFL owners meetings. After listening and learning about locker room culture from his peers in Orlando, Fla., Philbin made a pledge to be more accessible and more visible to his players after last year’s bullying scandal. Philbin was unaware of what was brewing in his locker room, which turned out to be an egregious mistake. But Philbin is showing he’s willing to learn from those mistakes and become a better overall coach.
1. Lamar Miller, running back: There is a good chance that Miller will lose his starting job this year. The Dolphins paid Moreno $3 million in 2014 with the expectation that he can be the starter. Moreno is a better overall player in terms of running inside, pass protection and catches balls out of the backfield. On paper, Moreno should win the job. Miller was at his best in 2012 as a backup, change-of-pace back and could revert to that role again this upcoming season.
2. Mike Pouncey, center: The Dolphins are still awaiting word on whether Pouncey will be suspended for the start of the 2014 season for his role in last year’s bullying scandal. Pouncey must undergo a medical evaluation before the league makes a decision. Pouncey is one of Miami’s most important players. Hickey said the team will have a contingency plan in place. But until a final decision is made, there will be some nervous moments for Pouncey and the Dolphins.
3. Dallas Thomas, guard/tackle: Thomas remains one of the Dolphins’ biggest mysteries. The 2013 third-round pick still doesn’t have a set position. Philbin all but admitted his staff hasn’t figured out if Thomas is a guard or offensive tackle. In addition, the Dolphins signed veteran free-agent right tackle Jason Fox and most likely will draft another offensive lineman early to push Thomas further down the depth chart. Thomas has a lot to prove in Year 2. His status as a fairly high draft pick will only last so long without production.