NFL Nation: Brian Hartline

A closer look at the areas the Miami Dolphins could address in the draft. On Wednesday we look at the receiver position, which is scheduled to work out Saturday in Indianapolis.

Position of need: Change is coming for the Dolphins at the receiver position. Miami was ranked 17th in passing with 233.1 yards per game last season, and the immediate futures of several veterans are in question. Starting receiver Brian Hartline and slot Brandon Gibson could be salary-cap casualties due to their $5.95 million and $3.26 million salaries, respectively. The Dolphins must also decide what to do with No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace, who is due $9.9 million. Wallace was benched in the second half of Miami’s Week 17 loss to the New York Jets due to venting his frustration. It remains to be seen if both sides stay together or part ways. Either way, the Dolphins need to have a strong group of receivers around quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is entering his fourth season.

Three players the Dolphins could target in the draft:

Kevin White (WR), West Virginia: White's production was off the charts. He had 109 receptions, 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for the Mountaineers. White is a good fit for the Dolphins' offense. He has good ball skills and also is good at breaking tackles after the catch, which is very valuable in offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's system. White can solidify his standing as one of the top receivers in this draft class with a strong performance at the combine.

Devante Parker (WR), Louisville: Parker's numbers took a hit last season because he battled injuries. But scouts remain very high on him because of Parker’s physical tools and competitiveness. At this stage, it’s hard to separate White and Parker. It really depends on what teams are looking for. I give White the edge because of his consistency and production. But the Dolphins could be watching both players very closely this week.

Devin Smith (WR), Ohio State: Smith could be a Day 2 target. He is a speedster who averaged an astounding 28.2 yards per catch for the national champion Buckeyes last season. Smith also caught 12 touchdowns. The Dolphins are unsure about their situation with Wallace and currently do not have another deep threat on the roster. If Miami decides to trade or release Wallace, Smith is someone to keep an eye on.

Walker's Dolphins mock draft 2.0

February, 10, 2015
Feb 10
The 2014 season is officially over. Now, it's time to turn the page to 2015 and that starts with player acquisitions via free agency and the NFL draft.

With that said, let's do a periodic mock draft updating fans on the Miami Dolphins' top targets with the No. 14 overall pick.

Things will change periodically throughout the scouting process. But here is my latest Dolphins' mock:

No. 1: LB Shaq Thompson

School: Washington

Stats: 78 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four interceptions

Analysis: Thompson remains my leading candidate for Miami with the No. 14 pick. Significant changes are coming at linebacker, as the team is not expected to keep high-priced veterans Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler. Thompson would add youth and much-needed playmaking ability to Miami's linebacker corps. Thompson was so athletic that he also took carries at running back. Jelani Jenkins, who led Miami with 110 tackles, and Thompson would be a nice pair to build around.

No. 2: WR Kevin White

School: West Virginia

Stats: 109 receptions, 1,447 yards, 10 touchdowns

Analysis: The Dolphins were fine at wide receiver last season. However, changes could be coming over the next several weeks where this becomes a position of need. The immediate futures of starters Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace both remain up in the air. Hartline, who under-produced in Miami's new offense, is due $5.95 million. Wallace, who was benched in the second half of Week 17 following a verbal altercation, is due $9.9 million in 2015. Expensive backup Brandon Gibson ($3.26 million) also could be on the chopping block this offseason. These potential moves could push a young receiver like White at the top of the list in the first round. The Dolphins need playmakers around budding quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is still developing. White has good size and his production was off the charts. He could be a complement to Jarvis Landry, who does most of his damage underneath.

No. 3: WR Devante Parker

School: Louisville

Stats: 43 receptions, 855 yards, five touchdowns

Analysis: Choosing between White and Parker at this stage is really a matter of preference. Both are projected top-15 picks. Currently, I have White slightly ahead due to the difference in college production, which is something the Dolphins often value. But Parker has most of the tools that would fit in Bill Lazor's offense. He's big, tough and has good ball skills. However, Parker lacks the elite, top-end speed on tape. His 40-yard dash will be important at the NFL combine later this month.

No. 4: DT Danny Shelton

School: Washington

Stats: 88 tackles, 9.0 sacks

Analysis: Shelton was No. 2 on my mock draft list a month ago. The main reason why he's falling is because Shelton was so impressive at the Senior Bowl that there's doubt he falls to No. 14. In fact, Shelton has a good chance to go in the top 10. There aren't many players like Shelton in this draft. He's a natural run stuffer who is hard to move. Shelton also has surprisingly nimble feet. If Shelton happens to be available at No. 14 -- and that's a big if -- the Dolphins should not hesitate with this pick.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

December, 28, 2014

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 37-24 loss Sunday to the New York Jets:

What it means: The Dolphins were officially eliminated from playoff contention last week. So the loss didn't mean much in terms of the postseason. But Miami finished 8-8 for the second straight season, which is underachieving. The Dolphins failed to post their first winning season since 2008 and failed in an attempt at their first season sweep of the Jets since 2009.

Stock watch: Miami's defense continued its free fall in the final game. The Dolphins made Jets quarterback Geno Smith look like Joe Namath. Smith completed his first eight passes of the game and finished with a stellar 358 yards and three touchdowns. Jets receiver Eric Decker also had a huge game with 10 receptions for 221 yards. The Dolphins defense sprung major leaks in the second half of the season, and there's a need to re-evaluate everything. In terms of stock up, Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline was relatively phased out of the offense compared to previous seasons, but he was the most prolific option Sunday. He had five receptions and a season-high 94 yards. It is possible that this could be Hartline’s final game with the Dolphins. He is due a $5.95 million salary in 2015 and hasn't been an ideal fit most of the season in Miami's new offense under Bill Lazor.

Historic run: Miami running back Lamar Miller needed 79 rushing yards to get over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. He did it in style with a team-record 97-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that electrified the crowd at Sun Life Stadium. Miller finished with a season-best 178 rushing yards Sunday and 1,099 rushing yards for the season.

Game ball: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who threw for 259 yards and one touchdown Sunday, gets the MVP honor for 2014. He surpassed 4,000 yards passing for the first time and set a career high for touchdown passes with 27. Tannehill also set a franchise record, passing Hall of Famer Dan Marino, for the most completions (392) in a season. Tannehill was a bright spot and more than earned Miami’s starting quarterback job in 2015.

What’s next: The Dolphins' season is in the books. Owner Stephen Ross already has said there will be stability this season at head coach with Joe Philbin and in the front office with general manager Dennis Hickey. However, Philbin might have decisions to make about his staff, particularly defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle after such a poor second half to the season.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

December, 1, 2014

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 16-13 win Monday over the New York Jets.

What it means: The Dolphins had an ugly performance but did just enough to pull out a win and improve to 7-5. They scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to top the Jets, who fell to 2-10. Most importantly, the Dolphins currently hold the final wild-card spot in the AFC via tiebreakers. They had a chance to make a statement in a national game on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," but played uninspired football for three quarters. It makes you wonder if the Dolphins are truly contenders. Still, a win is a win and the Dolphins are firmly in the wild-card race.

Stock Watch: Miami's run defense is clearly on the decline. The Jets ran roughshod over the Dolphins. New York had 210 rushing yards in the first half and 277 rushing yards total, which is unacceptable for a Dolphins defense that was ranked No. 2 just two weeks ago. Miami couldn't get off blocks and had more issues with tackling. The Dolphins allowed a previous season-high 201 rushing yards last week to the Denver Broncos. In terms of stock on its way up, rookie receiver Jarvis Landry had a game-high eight receptions for 68 yards.

Hartline ailing: The Dolphins lost starting receiver Brian Hartline in the second quarter to a knee injury and he didn't return to the game. Backup receiver Brandon Gibson filled in for Hartline in the second half. Hartline finished the game with one reception for 9 yards.

Game ball: There weren't a lot of strong performances for the Dolphins. But linebacker Jelani Jenkins registered a game-high 16 tackles and two tackles for loss. Jenkins also returned from a first-half back injury.

What's next: The Dolphins have a tough game coming up in Week 14. They will host the Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at Sun Life Stadium in what could be essentially a playoff eliminator.

The Film Don't Lie: Dolphins

September, 23, 2014
A weekly look at what the Miami Dolphins must fix:

The Miami Dolphins have a lot of issues. But one silent killer has been dropped passes by wide receivers and tight ends, and it needs to stop immediately when Miami (1-2) travels to London to play the winless Oakland Raiders (0-3).

According to Pro Football Focus research, the Dolphins are second in the NFL with 11 drops after three games. Only the Baltimore Ravens (12) have more dropped passes. Miami had three drops in Sunday's 34-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill needs all the help he can get. He's on the hot seat and struggling with his accuracy (56.5 completion percentage) early in the season. On Sunday, Tannehill threw the ball well in the first half, but tight end Charles Clay and receivers Brian Hartline and Jarvis Landry all failed to bring in receptions that could have moved the chains early and potentially put points on the board.

Miami’s sloppiness on offense early led to a 14-3 halftime deficit against Kansas City, and the Dolphins weren’t able to overcome in the second half. The best solution is for receivers and tight ends to continue to do extra work during and after practice catching the football. It’s a group-wide issue -- not just one or two players -- so lineup changes wouldn't work.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 13

August, 11, 2014
DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • The Dolphins went full pads for the first time this week. Miami’s coaching staff is putting a major emphasis on tackling and worked on a few full-contact drills. The Dolphins did their version of the "Oklahoma Drill" with linebackers against running backs. The running backs dominated and won a majority of the one-on-one battles. Miami’s linebackers continue to be a concern with stopping the run and covering tight ends and slot receivers.
  • Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill had one of his strongest practices of training camp on Monday. Tannehill made strong, decisive throws and had big gains to receivers Brian Hartline, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams in team drills. Perhaps Tannehill gained momentum from his strong start to the preseason last week against the Atlanta Falcons. He will try to build on that Saturday in his second preseason game, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • Speaking of quarterbacks, one of the big stories in camp today was the Dolphins reportedly working out veterans Rex Grossman, Brady Quinn and John Skelton on Monday. Miami has dealt with quarterback injuries to backups Matt Moore (shoulder) and Pat Devlin (hamstring). Both participated in practice, but have been limited in camp. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin wasn’t willing to say what the workouts mean for his current quarterbacks. "We’ve had workouts nearly every single day," Philbin said. "This is no different. We’re always evaluation different people are out there."
  • On the injury front, Miami backup running back Damien Williams returned to practice after getting injured in Friday’s preseason game. New injuries Monday included offensive tackle Jason Fox (chest), running back Mike Gillislee (hamstring) and defensive tackle Micajah Reynolds (knee).
  • Finally, the Dolphins will return to the practice field at 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday for their third session this week.

Dolphins' offense and growing pains

August, 1, 2014
DAVIE, Fla. -- For all the excitement about Bill Lazor's new offense with the Miami Dolphins, the reality is there is a growing process the team must go through. Some days it's a painful process. Other days you can see growth.

The Dolphins' offense has shown flashes in the first week of training camp. But there have also been bad snaps, turnovers, poor pass protection and drops by receivers. Miami has been in the process of installing Lazor's offense since the spring and is still working out the issues.

"We're nowhere near where we want to be," Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline said candidly. "You can see it coming along. You can see guys, myself included, playing better, playing faster. We're still working on timing. We're still working on getting in and out of the huddle faster, getting lined up faster, maintaining our tempo through the heat. That will come with time."

Lazor said this week that it's his job to take the Dolphins' offense to places they haven't been before. The first-year offensive coordinator is throwing a lot at his players in terms of concepts and tempo.

It looks good when things are clicking. But more often than not, the offense has been inconsistent in the first week of camp. The goal is to have consistency by the time Miami faces the New England Patriots in the regular-season opener.

"I'm trying to get them out of the huddle faster," Lazor explained. "Sometimes, it's uncomfortable. Sometimes, it's uncomfortable for the line to make the calls that quickly. The quarterback might want them to settle in and make the calls. We don't want them [to]. We want to go. We want to go. So it's every single day it's a push."

The Dolphins were ranked 27th in total offense last season and averaged just 19.8 points per game. There was nothing Miami did particularly well offensively. The Dolphins couldn't run the ball with any consistency or protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was sacked a franchise-record 58 times last season.

In terms of concepts and tempo, Lazor's scheme does appear to be more creative and an upgrade from last year's basic offense under former assistant Mike Sherman. But creativity won't matter this season if Miami's players cannot execute in the regular season.

"We're still learning," Hartline said. "I think overall we kind of know it. It's just a lot of the routes will have conversions, so now you're going against the defense. If you're out there on air, it's pretty easy at this point."

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 5

July, 30, 2014
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.

Miami Dolphins' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Examining the Miami Dolphins’ roster:


The only question here is whether Devlin can hold off undrafted rookie Brock Jensen for the No. 3 quarterback job. Neither quarterback stood out in the offseason, but Devlin has the slight edge because of experience.


The Dolphins would like to have someone step up and challenge Thomas. Undrafted rookie Damien Williams from Oklahoma could be a sleeper to watch. But it's too premature to put Williams on the 53-man roster over the veteran Thomas before the pads come on.


This is a deep group with a lot of competition. Williams will be pushed for the final spot by Armon Binns and rookie Matt Hazel, who is practice-squad-eligible.


New Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor uses some two-tight-end sets. So there might be room for a fourth player such as Dion Sims. But we are sticking with three for now.

Pouncey’s hip injury puts a major dent in this much-maligned group to start the season. Miami will have five new starters in Week 1.


This is the strongest area of the team. The Dolphins can come at opponents in waves in the trenches.


This group must improve its play from 2013. The Misi experiment at middle linebacker is particularly important to watch.


This is a solid mix of youth and experience. As long as second-year players Taylor and Davis come of age and Finnegan stays healthy, the depth will be improved from a year ago.


This group is all about position flexibility. All four players must be able to play back in coverage and closer to the line of scrimmage in defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s scheme.


This trio will remain the same for the second straight year.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins ran a stale and predictable offense last season under former coordinator Mike Sherman. Miami finished 27th in total offense and was inconsistent running and passing the football.

But there is a significant amount of newfound excitement with Dolphins players under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Miami’s offense has a completely different look. There are various formations, motions and quick-hitting plays that you didn’t see last year from Sherman. Lazor learned under Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and is bringing some of those principles to Miami.

We are only in Phase 3 of the Dolphins’ offseason program, but Lazor is getting rave reviews from his players.

“It’s really interesting. I’ve never been in an offense like this, how it’s called, how it’s run, the combination routes,” Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline said. “There’s a lot of things going on that I haven’t done. It’s really exciting and actually, I’m really enjoying it. You can tell it puts a smile on my face. I can’t wait to learn more, do more and then put it into action.”

One of the major criticisms last year of Sherman was the fact he didn’t move No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace around to get favorable matchups. That’s one of the first changes we’ve seen from Lazor, using Wallace on both sides and the slot depending on the formation. Wallace has looked good in organized team activities. He had three touchdown receptions in Tuesday’s practice in Lazor’s new scheme.

“Nobody can ever key on me,” Wallace explained after Tuesday’s practice. “Last year, you kind of knew where I was every single play, what you had to do because I was there every game, same spot. Moving around, it’s harder for the defense to know where you’re at, harder for them to adjust.”

Lazor is still experimenting and learning his players. For example, one interesting wrinkle the Dolphins are toying with is how to use tailbacks Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno in the same backfield.

Not everything is going to stick come September. But Dolphins players seem to appreciate the creativity. That is a good sign at this early stage.
DAVIE, Fla. – On the first day of rookie minicamp, new Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry worked on routes needed as a slot receiver, an outside receiver, played gunner on special teams and even discussed the possibility of returning kicks. It could be that kind of rookie year for Miami’s second-round pick.

[+] EnlargeJarvis Landry
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeReceiver Jarvis Landry could see immediate playing time as a rookie because of his versatility.
The Dolphins ignored bigger needs earlier this month and drafted Landry because he’s a versatile and hard-nosed football player. He’s a wide receiver with the toughness of a hard-hitting safety. In fact, Landry was among LSU’s leaders in special-teams tackles during the early part of his collegiate career. That helped him earn the status of team captain last season.

But finding a role in Miami as a rookie will be one of the challenges for Landry and the Dolphins' coaching staff. The team already is deep at receiver with veteran starters Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, in addition to quality backups Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams. Landry could be as high as third on Miami’s depth chart by the end of training camp or as far back as fifth or sixth.

Rookie minicamp and organized team activities are valuable for Landry to begin finding his niche.

“It’s been a little bit of everything, just trying to learn the system as much as I can and trying not to be so one-dimensional,” Landry said Friday after his first practice. “[Coaches] have been putting us in different positions, making us learn every position on the field. It increases our chances of having success no matter where we line up.”

Special teams is a sure-fire way for Landry to get playing time in his rookie year. Landry was a strong gunner at LSU and also sure-handed enough to return kicks, despite the fact he doesn't have blazing speed.

If Landry or another rookie (Matt Hazel?) proves they can return kicks, it could put specialist Marcus Thigpen on the hot seat. The Dolphins like players with position flexibility and Thigpen hasn't provided much as a backup running back or wide receiver.

“There are a lot of guys that have those [return] skills, and that’s what we’re out here doing, just kind of further investigating,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said. “It’s one thing to do it at the college level. It’s another thing to do it at the NFL level. That’s what our coaches are working with these guys.”

Learning multiple positions as a rookie is not easy. It is difficult enough making the physical transition from college to the pros. However, Landry must be on top of the playbook at multiple positions mentally, as well.

“It’s very challenging, but the coaches, they give tasks and they expect them to be met,” Landry said. “It’s my job to study the way that I need to be on the field and have an effective offense.”
videoDAVIE, Fla. -- The pick: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU

My take: The Dolphins made the first two draft-day trades of the Dennis Hickey era. Miami swapped second-round picks with the San Diego Chargers and picked up an additional fourth-round pick and also with the San Francisco 49ers for an additional fifth-rounder. The Dolphins also added depth at receiver with Landry. The Dolphins were in a good spot Friday. This is a team without many glaring needs remaining after addressing the right tackle position in the first round with Ja'Wuan James. That provided an opportunity for Miami to trade down and pick up an additional pick later in the draft.

Plenty of competition: The Dolphins are deep at wide receiver. In addition to Landry, Miami also has Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews, Damian Williams and Armon Binns. It's a talented and competitive group that will battle for roles and roster spots in training camp.

What’s next: The Dolphins hold the No. 81 overall pick in the third round Friday. They don’t have any must-have positions to address, but Miami could look to add depth at positions such as safety, linebacker and tight end. The Dolphins have seven picks remaining.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins added depth to their receiver group by signing free-agent Damian Williams Thursday to a one-year, $800,000 contract, a source told

Williams, 25, is a former third-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2010. He caught a career-low 15 receptions for 178 yards in 10 games last season.

The Dolphins are searching for healthy veteran wide receivers to add depth behind starters Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. Backups Brandon Gibson (knee) and Armon Binns are both coming off season-ending knee injuries.

Nate Burleson visits the Dolphins

April, 3, 2014
The Miami Dolphins continue to bargain hunt in free agency. The Dolphins will host free-agent wide receiver Nate Burleson on Thursday, a league source confirmed to

Steve Wyche of the NFL Network first reported the visit.

Miami has solid depth at wide receiver. But it’s clear first-year general manager Dennis Hickey is looking to add as much competition as possible across the roster. Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline are Miami’s starting receivers. But Brandon Gibson, who is returning from injury, Rishard Matthews, Armon Binns and others are competing for roles.

Burelson, a 12-year veteran, caught 39 passes for 461 yards and one touchdown with the Detroit Lions last season. He’s also suffered various injuries each of the past two seasons.

Dolphins have plenty of cap room

February, 21, 2014
The Miami Dolphins can use some good news. And here it is: In less than two weeks, the Dolphins will have plenty of cap space to pursue free agents.

Look for the Dolphins to be major players for the second straight offseason when free agency opens March 11. Last year, Miami spent more than $100 million in guaranteed money for outside free agents such as Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler and in-house free agents such as Brian Hartline and Chris Clemons.

This year the Dolphins will have approximately $36 million to spend within the projected $130 million salary cap. That includes about $18 million in carryover from 2013, which trails only the Cleveland Browns ($24.5 million) and Jacksonville Jaguars ($19.6 million).

Dawn Aponte, Dolphins vice president of football administration, has done a masterful job with the salary cap to allow Miami to be aggressive for the second year in a row. Miami can certainly use the additional resources. The Dolphins have well-defined weaknesses, such as offensive line, cornerback and safety. Miami also has more than 20 restricted and unrestricted free agents looking for new contracts. Some will stay in Miami and some will sign with other teams.

Already in 2014 the Dolphins have gone through a GM change, coaching-staff changes and the Ted Wells report, which highlighted Miami’s ugly bullying scandal. But March 11 should be an exciting time for the Dolphins and their downtrodden fan base.