Miami Dolphins: Sam Brenner

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 5

July, 30, 2014
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DAVIE, Fla. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:


  • It was another sloppy day for the offense. The Dolphins are experiencing growing pains learning an up-tempo scheme under first-year coordinator Bill Lazor. This was one of those sessions where the Dolphins had poor throws, numerous drops and offensive line issues. I counted at least five drops by Miami receivers in what was probably the worst practice by the offense since the opening day of training camp. "I obviously haven’t looked at the film yet, but my instincts tell me that the defense had the upper hand," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin admitted.
  • The center position is starting to become a major concern. For the second day in a row, Shelley Smith had two errant snaps to quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The second bad snap was a ground ball that skipped past Tannehill in team drills. Soon after, backup center Nate Garner finished practice on the first team. Miami tried several different combinations in an effort to find the best five on the line. In addition to Garner, rookie guard Billy Turner also worked with the first-team offense at times on Wednesday.
  • The play of the day goes to Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline. Early in team drills Hartline beat cornerback Jamar Taylor deep for a 60-plus yard touchdown reception. Miami’s offense protected Tannehill enough for him to throw a pretty deep ball that Hartline caught in stride. To Taylor’s credit, he responded with an interception of Tannehill and had a couple of tipped passes.
  • The three punt returners Wednesday were receivers Marcus Thigpen, Jarvis Landry and Rantavious Wooten. Thigpen is the incumbent but must compete to keep his job with punt and kick returns.
  • On the injury front, Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace had the day off. He said earlier this week his hamstring was tight. Backup center Sam Brenner, who was carted off the field Tuesday, did not practice but spent time on the sideline watching the offensive line. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey (hip) and running back Knowshon Moreno (knee) continue to be on the physically unable to perform list and worked on the side with a team trainer.

The Dolphins will continue their training camp Thursday at 8 a.m. ET.

W2W4: Dolphins training camp

July, 24, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins will begin their 2014 training camp on Friday amid many expectations following last year’s 8-8 season. This is an important season for many within the organization, starting with head coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who are both 15-17 the past two seasons.

ESPN.com’s Dolphins blog will be there every step of the way for Miami’s training camp. Here are some things we will be monitoring closely as practices begin:

1. Dolphins' plan at center

Pouncey
The Dolphins have been mum on their contingency plans at center since starter Mike Pouncey underwent recent hip surgery. Pouncey initially was expected to miss approximately four to six games. But the Miami Herald reported Wednesday that Pouncey could be out as many as eight weeks. Friday’s first practice will reveal what Miami’s coaching staff has in mind. It could be Sam Brenner or Nate Garner at first-team center. Maybe guard Shelley Smith moves to center. But what happens Friday might not stick two weeks from now or in Week 1 against the New England Patriots. However, this is a valuable time for Miami to start figuring out how to replace its Pro Bowl center.

2. Ryan Tannehill's development

Tannehill
All eyes will be on Miami’s third-year quarterback as he tries to put together his first winning season. Tannehill is learning a new, up-tempo scheme under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. There were some growing pains in organized team activities and minicamp, with a mix of good and bad practices from Tannehill. He must put together a strong and consistent training camp, starting Friday.

3. Rookie development

In an important season, the Dolphins cannot afford to have a repeat of 2013 with their rookie class. Miami needs valuable draft picks such as Ja’Wuan James, Jarvis Landry, Billy Turner and Walt Aikens to immediately contribute and find roles. The Dolphins got very little from last year’s draft class, and it was a significant reason they were unable to get over the hump. For Miami to reach its potential, the Dolphins must get quality production from both their first- and second-year players.
One term you hear over and over from the Miami Dolphins' coaching staff is "position flexibility." Head coach Joe Philbin values players who can be plugged in at multiple spots, even if they're better at some positions than others, because injuries happen.

Colledge
Philbin wants as many versatile players on his roster as possible. Going by that train of thought, Monday’s signing of veteran offensive lineman Daryn Colledge to a one-year contract made sense for the Dolphins. Miami did not sign a true center to replace injury Pro Bowler Mike Pouncey, who is out for at least 3-4 months following hip surgery. The Dolphins got a dependable, durable player who provides options for Miami’s offensive line.

Colledge, 32, is a longtime starter for the Green Bay Packers, where Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was an assistant, and most recently the Arizona Cardinals. He’s started 97 consecutive games dating back to the end of the 2007 season. Colledge is a "plug-and-play" veteran who could be ready by Week 1 despite missing Miami's entire offseason program.

The bigger question is this: Where would Colledge play?

Most of Colledge’s experience is at guard, and moving a new player out of his natural place may be a bit risky. The Dolphins have plenty of in-house options, such as moving starting right guard Shelley Smith to center or playing backups Sam Brenner or Nate Garner at center. The Dolphins will have a full training camp and preseason to work through their options. Colledge provides flexibility to move players around. They can try his hand at center or he can become a valuable backup.

Either way, Miami is expected to have five new starters on its offensive line when it hosts the New England Patriots in the regular-season opener. It’s not an idea situation, especially when learning a new scheme under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. But the Colledge signing at least is a step in the right direction.
NFL scouts and general managers get paid a lot of money to find the best talent available from the collegiate ranks. However, every year there are surprise rookies who went undrafted and are able to make an impact around the league.

Last year, for example, Miami had success with undrafted rookie Sam Brenner, who was overlooked by every NFL team last April but was a valuable role player for the Dolphins. Brenner played in seven games, including four starts, for Miami after last year’s bullying scandal tore apart its offensive line. This year Brenner is in the running to be a Week 1 starter at center in place of the injured Mike Pouncey.

[+] EnlargeDamien Williams
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsFormer Oklahoma running back Damien Williams is vying for a spot in Miami's crowded backfield.
So who could be this year’s undrafted rookie surprise for Miami? Here are three under-the-radar rookies to watch:

1. Tyler Larsen

Position: Center

Thoughts: Opportunity is knocking for Larsen. A week ago, Larsen would be considered a long shot to make the 53-man roster or a prime candidate for the practice squad as an undrafted rookie. However, Pouncey’s significant hip injury and subsequent surgery has opened the door for Larsen to push for a roster spot and maybe even compete for a starting job. Pouncey is expected to miss anywhere between 2-6 games this upcoming season. Brenner and veteran backup Nate Garner are the in-house favorites to start. But Larsen is one of the true centers on the roster, which certainly helps his standing to make the team.

2. Damien Williams

Position: Running back

Thoughts: On paper, the Dolphins are pretty much set at running back. Incumbent starter Lamar Miller and 2014 free-agent signing Knowshon Moreno are locks, and Daniel Thomas has been a stalwart on Miami’s roster the past three seasons. Even 2013 draft pick Mike Gillislee saw a little playing time last season. That makes it very hard for an undrafted rookie such as Williams to make his mark. But the former Oklahoma product has done well in limited opportunities. Williams showed some quickness and explosiveness during offseason practices. He also looks like a good fit for Miami for new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s scheme. Miami’s running back field is crowded, but Williams has a chance.

3. Garrison Smith

Position: Defensive end

Thoughts: Smith flashed big time on the final day of mandatory minicamp, when he recorded two would-be sacks in Miami’s team scrimmage. That kind of performance in a game-like situation is exactly how an undrafted rookie gets noticed. Unfortunately for Smith, defensive end is probably the deepest position on Miami’s roster. Smith will have a hard time making the 53-man roster over the likes of Pro Bowler Cameron Wake, 2013 sack leader Olivier Vernon, former No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan and valuable backup Derrick Shelby. But the practice squad is not out of the question for Smith if he continues to progress.
More than 1,000 Miami Dolphins fans have spoken in the wake of bad news this week.

On Monday, Dolphins Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey went under the knife to reportedly repair a torn labrum in his hip. The recovery time is expected to be at least 3-4 months. This will force Miami to start the regular season without its best offensive player.

Garner
That led to our latest SportsNation poll question: Who should start at center for the Dolphins in Week 1 against the rival New England Patriots? There were various in-house options. But the player with most of the votes was Miami career backup Nate Garner.

Keep in mind that Garner started two games last season in place of Pouncey. The Dolphins went 1-1 in those games and Garner held his own. However, Garner has played backup offensive tackle in Miami’s offseason practices this year.

Sam Brenner received the second-most votes. He is the player who has received second-team reps at center behind Pouncey. There are a thin crop of outside free agents. However, that option received the third-most votes, and moving starting right guard Shelley Smith to center received the least votes.

The Dolphins have about two months to figure it out. With Pouncey on the shelf, Miami will have five new starters on the offseason line to start the 2014 season.
The foundation of the Miami Dolphins' offense took a big hit Monday when Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey had hip surgery, which will sideline him for the next 3-4 months. This means the Dolphins will have to to start the regular season without their best offensive player.

SportsNation

Who should the Dolphins start at center in Week 1?

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    32%
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    39%
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    8%
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    21%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,063)

So who will start under center in Week 1 for Miami against the New England Patriots? On Tuesday we laid out Miami’s in-house contingency plans. On Wednesday, we let Dolphins fans decide via our SportsNation poll.

Will it be backup Sam Brenner? This is the player who received second-team reps at center during the offseason. However, Brenner has never started at center at any level. Is an undrafted second-year player capable of handling the job?

What about versatile backup Nate Garner? He started at center for two games last season when Pouncey had a health issue. Garner has the ability to play all five positions on the offensive line but hasn’t received snaps at center this offseason.

The Dolphins also could move starting right guard Shelley Smith. Miami signed Smith in the offseason to play guard but might need him in a pinch to start the season. But this also would weaken the right guard position. Is this a good idea?

Using our SportsNation poll, vote on which player you want to start at center for the Dolphins in Week 1. You can share your thoughts below or send a message via Twitter to @JamesWalkerNFL.
The bad news struck down like a hammer on Monday afternoon. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey will miss 3-4 months following major hip surgery.

Pouncey was probably the player the Dolphins could least afford to lose early in the season. According to his timeline, Pouncey could miss the first couple of games or even be put on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and miss the first six games, depending on his progress. Either way, it’s horrendous news for a Dolphins team trying to end a five-season playoff drought.

But now it’s time for Miami to move forward and find the best contingency plan possible. Here is a look at the Dolphins’ remaining options at center:

Brenner
1. Sam Brenner

Why it can work: When Pouncey missed time during mandatory minicamp, Brenner was the starting center and received a bulk of the reps. That's a clue to what Miami’s top in-house contingency plan is. Brenner, as an undrafted rookie, shined at guard last year. He was a four-game starter who performed well in a short period and impressed the coaching staff. The Dolphins may ask him to do the same for a month or so to start this season.

Why it can’t work: Brenner has never started at center at any level. He played guard for the Dolphins last year and guard and left tackle in college for the University of Utah. The fact that Miami worked Brenner as the No. 2 center this offseason shows its coaching staff believes he can make the transition. But you never know for sure until Brenner performs well in a real game situation. Do the Dolphins want Brenner learning on the job against the AFC East rival New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills? Both opponents have good players on the defensive line.

Garner
2. Nate Garner

Why it can work: Garner is Miami’s most versatile backup. Despite his lanky frame (6-foot-7), Garner started at center for two games last season when Pouncey had a health ailment. The Dolphins were 1-1 in those games and Garner held his own. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin may revert back to what was comfortable for him last season in game situations (Garner) versus what he’s currently doing in practice (Brenner).

Why it can’t work: Garner hasn’t played center during the entire offseason program. Those reps went to Pouncey and Brenner. For the Dolphins to completely switch the plan at this stage and go back to Garner would seem like a patch-work idea. Garner’s biggest strength is he can play every position. But the bad news is he’s average -- at best -- at every position. Average may not be good enough in the middle of Miami’s offensive line.

Smith
3. Shelley Smith

Why it can work: Smith, who signed as a free agent from the St. Louis Rams this year, also can play center. The Dolphins have looked into it a little just on an exploratory basis. But this option has to receive more consideration now that Pouncey is on the shelf. Smith is probably the best player of the aforementioned group.

Why it can’t work: Smith only has eight career starts in four seasons, including just two starts in 2013. It’s important for Miami to get Smith comfortable in his new surroundings and a new offense under first-year coordinator Bill Lazor. By all accounts, Smith is holding his own at right guard. Do the Dolphins want to take that momentum from Smith? I’ve never subscribed to the theory that you weaken one position (right guard) to fix the other (center). Now, you’ve weakened two positions.

The Dolphins have a full training camp and preseason to figure this out. Miami will take the field in Week 1 with a new center and without Pouncey on Sept. 7 against the Patriots.
For months, the main concern for Miami Dolphins fans centered around Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey potentially missing the start of the regular season because of his involvement in last year's bullying scandal. Many wondered if a NFL-mandated suspension was looming, but it turns out it doesn't matter.

Pouncey will be sidelined anyway for the start of the 2014 season because of hip surgery, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Pouncey is expected to miss the next three to four months, which includes all of training camp, the preseason and the start of the regular season.

This is a huge loss for Miami. A strong case can be made that Pouncey is the one player Miami can least afford to lose. Not only is Pouncey one of Miami's top two or three players, he is the center who works closest with young quarterback Ryan Tannehill and in charge of calling pre-snap protections at the line of scrimmage. Without Pouncey to start the regular season, the Dolphins are expected to have five new starters on the offensive line in Week 1.

Speaking of Week 1, that is when the rival New England Patriots come to Miami. The Dolphins are an awful 4-8 against division foes the past two seasons and need to start the division games on the right foot. The same goes for Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills, who swept the Dolphins last season. Both opponents have solid defensive lines who will look to take advantage of Miami's plight without Pouncey.

The Dolphins' offensive line was awful last year and allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks. New Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey spent the entire offseason remaking the offensive line center around Pouncey. Now, Pouncey won't be available in September. Schefter also reports running back Knowshon Moreno will miss several weeks and should return at some point in training camp, which is of lesser concern.

Where does Miami go from here?

The Dolphins have three options at this stage. First, they can go with undrafted second-year player Sam Brenner, who received second-team reps at center this offseason and filled in at guard last season for the suspended Richie Incognito. Second, versatile backup Nate Garner also played center last season in place of Pouncey for two games and could be the second in-house plan. The third option is to look for outside help via trade or free agency, which could be slim pickings at this stage of the offseason.

Whatever choice Miami makes, it's replacement plan won't be nearly as good as Pouncey. He is one of the top centers in the NFL and the drop off will be significant no matter who plays in Week 1.

This is a make-or-break year for many in Miami's organization to make the playoffs. The Dolphins need a fast start to accomplish that task and it just became much more difficult.
DAVIE, Fla. – The mammoth size was apparent on the first day of Miami Dolphins rookie camp. So was the youthful exuberance.

First-year offensive linemen Ja'Wuan James and Billy Turner looked the part of two major building blocks in Miami's 2014 draft class. The Dolphins invested first- and third-round picks, respectively, in hopes that James and Turner can fix Miami's struggling offensive line.

[+] EnlargeJa'Wuan James, Billy Turner
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeRookies Ja'Wuan James, left, and Billy Turner are aiming to be immediate contributors on Miami's rebuilt offensive line.
James and Turner have the potential to become Miami's dynamic rookie duo in the trenches. Both were in shape and ready to begin competing for starting jobs when the veterans returned for organized team activities next week.

“It felt good to get back out here,” James said after Friday's practice. “I haven’t played football in a long time. We've been practicing to be track stars through this whole draft process. So it’s good going out there and competing."

Dolphins first-year general manager Dennis Hickey was left with an empty cupboard on the offensive line when he joined the team in January. On the field, Miami’s offensive line allowed a franchise-record 58 quarterbacks sacks and had an inconsistent running game that was ranked 26th in the NFL. There also was a bullying scandal off the field involving three starters: center Mike Pouncey and former guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry.

A major overhaul of the offensive line was needed, and Miami could have as many as four new starters this season. Hickey and the Dolphins are hoping James and Turner are NFL-ready rookies. Both are former team captains and four-year starters with 105 combined collegiate starts.

“Well, I know those guys are talented players, and through our research we felt like they had the makeup that could contribute and help our team,” Hickey said. “So, obviously, that’s why we drafted them. They played a lot of football. They’re both smart and they’re both tough and we’re excited to have them. They’ve done an outstanding job so far.”

Turner will have the hardest time of the two rookies to win a starting job. Miami has an opening at one guard position, but there are a lot of competitors with more NFL experience. Holdovers Nate Garner, Sam Brenner and Dallas Thomas are all potential competitors for Turner this summer, and the coaching staff will not play favorites.

We will know more about Turner's game once he puts the pads on in training camp. At North Dakota State, Turner was known for his mean streak and dominant play against small-school competition. He will try to translate that style to the NFL level.

“I like to hit people. That’s why I play the game, that’s why I play offensive line,” Turner said. “I’m an aggressive guy. ... Coming off the ball being as aggressive as I can is how I play.”
A lot has been made of the Miami Dolphins drafting five small-school players in one class. Marist, Montana, Liberty, North Dakota State and Coastal Carolina were all represented during Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey’s first draft.

Some football fans in South Florida are worried that Miami’s draft class will not make an immediate impact because so many rookies have to make a significant jump to NFL competition. That leads to our latest “Poll Friday” question: Which small-school rookie will make the biggest impact in their rookie season?

SportsNation

Which small-school prospect will make the biggest immediate impact with the Dolphins?

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    59%
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    10%
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    24%
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    5%
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    2%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,594)

There are plenty of choices, starting with third-round pick Billy Turner of North Dakota State. Turner played left tackle in college but projects as a guard in the NFL. Miami has a need there and Turner will compete with holdovers Sam Brenner, Nate Garner and Dallas Thomas. Will Turner start and make an immediate impact?

What about fourth-round pick Walt Aikens? The Liberty cornerback is viewed as a value pick for Miami. He will add depth in the secondary and try to push second-year corners Will Davis and Jamar Taylor for playing time.

Former Montana linebacker Jordan Tripp is another interesting prospect. The Dolphins need linebacker help but waited until the fifth round to get Tripp. He most likely must prove himself on special teams. But could Tripp make an impact at linebacker?

Finally, former Coastal Carolina receiver Matt Hazel and former Marist defensive end Terrence Fede have an uphill climb as late draft picks. Will either player surprise?

Using our SportsNation poll, vote on which small-school rookie will make the biggest impact for the Dolphins. You can share your thoughts in the comment section below or send a message via Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL.

Scouts Inc. on OL Billy Turner

May, 15, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins selected North Dakota State offensive lineman Billy Turner in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft. Turner can play offensive tackle or guard, but he projects as a guard in Miami, where a potential starter is needed.

ESPN.com’s Dolphins page
continues to look at each prospect this week and examine the skills they bring to the table. Here is Turner’s scouting report via Scouts Inc.:
  • “Above average recognizing and picking up pressure off edge in pass pro. Keeps head on a swivel but late seeing some line stunts. Ducks head and below average locating linebacker on combination blocks. Adequate locating assignment when pulls. ... Got some mean in him. Can put assignment on ground and not let him up. Above average initial aggressiveness but doesn't always block to and through the whistle. Content to get into position and wall off assignment at times.”

Turner will have a solid chance to compete for a starting spot at guard opposite Shelley Smith. Turner will compete with Sam Brenner, Nate Garner and possible 2013 third-round pick Dallas Thomas. It’s a deep group but the best lineman will win. Turner comes from a small school and must prove he can make the jump to top-level competition.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The NFL draft's first round is in the books for the Miami Dolphins. They selected former University of Tennessee right tackle Ja'Wuan James at No. 19 overall to boost their offensive line.

But what’s next for the Dolphins in Rounds 2 and 3?

Here is a preview of where the Dolphins stand:

Friday’s picks: No. 50 (second round) and No. 81 (third round)

Remaining needs: Guard, linebacker, safety

Analysis: The Dolphins filled a major need at right tackle by drafting James, but many question whether it was a good value pick. Either way, it’s time for Miami to move forward. The Dolphins still have several needs to address. There is still a hole at guard on the offensive line. Miami signed free agent Shelley Smith but the other spot is wide open. Currently Sam Brenner, Nate Garner and Dallas Thomas are all backups competing for that spot. The Dolphins also could use help at middle linebacker. Dannell Ellerbe played out of position last year and struggled. He could move outside if the Dolphins find a potential starting middle linebacker in the second or third round. Miami missed on former Alabama middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, who was taken by the Baltimore Ravens at No. 17. The Dolphins also could use depth at tight end, receiver and running back, although they have starters at those positions. The draft still have some good prospects in Day 2 available at those positions.

Potential targets: UCLA G Xavier Su'a-Filo, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Marqise Lee, RB Carlos Hyde, RB Tre Mason, LB Chris Borland
The NFL draft is two days away, and ESPN.com’s Miami Dolphins page continues to examine the team’s needs heading into this big week.

Let's take a look at a second need on the offensive line.

Updated need: Guard

Analysis: The Dolphins lost both starting guards from 2013 -- Richie Incognito and John Jerry -- due to last year’s high-profile bullying scandal. Both were allowed to walk in free agency as Miami looks to move forward. The Dolphins signed former St. Louis Rams guard Shelley Smith in free agency, and he is expected to be one replacement. But Miami is still searching for their second guard. Holdovers on the roster include career backup Nate Garner and Sam Brenner, who was a surprise contributor last year. But the Dolphins could take a guard fairly high in this draft in order to compete for a starting job. UCLA’s Xavier Su'a-Filo could be a first-round option for Miami. Other guards such as Trai Turner of LSU and Gabe Jackson of Mississippi State are more second- and third-round prospects.

Need-O-meter (Scale of 1-to-10): 7.5
Free agency has been open for about a month. After a furious start, teams slowed down their spending and turned into bargain shoppers as they approached the NFL draft.

The Miami Dolphins addressed several of their needs in free agency, such as left tackle, running back and safety. Here are their top remaining needs:

1. Right tackle

Analysis: The Dolphins did a good job of securing quarterback Ryan Tannehill's blind side. Miami spent $47 million to sign Pro Bowl left tackle Brenden Albert, which was the team's highest-rated free agent. But who will protect Tannehill's front side? This remains the top need for the Dolphins entering the draft. Miami signed career backup Jason Fox, who was often injured with the Detroit Lions. Fox adds depth to the position, but the Dolphins need to add a top draft pick to the mix.

2. Guard

Analysis: The Dolphins lost both starting guards -- Richie Incognito and John Jerry -- due to last season's high-profile bullying scandal. Miami signed Shelley Smith in free agency to fill one guard position. But who will fill the other guard position? The Dolphins have backups such as Sam Brenner, Nate Garner and 2013 draft pick Dallas Thomas ready to compete. But none of these players have proven to be the long-term solution. Miami could spend a high draft pick at guard.

3. Linebacker

Analysis: The Dolphins spent plenty of money last year on linebackers. Former general manager Jeff Ireland thought he fixed the position by signing Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe to free-agent contracts and extending starting outside linebacker Koa Misi. But this trio underachieved last season, as Miami finished 26th in stopping the run. Now, the Dolphins are exploring their options at linebacker and how to make this group better. Miami tried to sign linebacker D'Qwell Jackson when he was a free agent. It won't be a major shock if the Dolphins use a pick in the first three rounds on the position.

4. Safety

Analysis: The Dolphins let Chris Clemons walk in free agency and replaced him with the more dynamic Louis Delmas. In terms of talent, Delmas should be an upgrade. But there is considerable risk considering Delmas' lengthy injury history. He's missed 14 games in the past three seasons. The Dolphins could use more insurance at safety. Reshad Jones fills the second safety position but must play better after an inconsistent year in 2013.

What holes remain for Dolphins?

March, 13, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins got off to a successful start in free agency. New Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert, safety Louis Delmas and defensive linemen Earl Mitchell and Randy Starks all filled holes. Miami even got compensation in a trade for embattled right tackle Jonathan Martin. Overall it's a good start.

But there remains well-defined needs that remain for Miami. Here are several areas the the Dolphins must still address:

No. 1: Right tackle

Analysis: Despite having two Pro Bowlers in the fold in Albert and center Mike Pouncey, there are still holes on the offensive line. The biggest right now is at right tackle, where the Dolphins don't have a legitimate starter on their roster. Dallas Thomas is a 2013 third-round pick who is a major project. Based on last year's performance, Thomas appears too raw to fill that role. The Dolphins may wait to fill this position in the draft, where a player like Notre Dame's Zack Martin could be available at No. 19 overall.

No. 2: Guards

Analysis: Miami's two guard positions are wide open. Richie Incognito and John Jerry were the Dolphins' two starters last year. Both are unrestricted free agents who will not return after being involved in the bullying scandal. Currently Nate Garner and Sam Brenner are the two replacements on the roster. Both are backups. The Dolphins need to find quality starters via the draft or free agency to build around Albert and Pouncey.

No. 3: Cornerback

Analysis: The Dolphins lost seven interceptions from their cornerback position last season when they cut Dimitri Patterson and let Nolan Carroll go in free agency. That leaves a big hole to fill opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. The Dolphins may rely on 2013 draft picks Jamar Taylor and/or Will Davis to step up in Year 2. Both players have potential but didn't get on the field much last season due to injuries. Miami could add another veteran to the mix to push its young corners and challenge for a starting job in training camp.

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