The defensive line has been a strength of the Miami Dolphins. Cameron Wake and Randy Starks were named to the Pro Bowl, and our run defense finished 13th in league giving up only 10 rushing touchdowns (tied for 8th in the NFL).
We currently have two free agents on the defensive line: restricted free agent Tony McDaniel and unrestricted free agent Randy Starks. Both players have done really well for us and deserve to be signed. McDaniel will most likely remain a Dolphin, but Starks may not. It is hard to predict what Ireland will do when it comes to Starks. Rumors are he has reached out to Starks' agent. He likely will not get a long term deal, but a team friendly deal is a definite possibility.
Starks is 29 years old and he has had 22 sacks, four interceptions, and 13 tackles behind the line in five seasons with Miami. He can also play defensive end and defensive tackle, which he has proven to do effectively.
Let's say Starks is not a Dolphin next season. What are Miami's options? We have the option of moving Jared Odrick from defensive end to tackle. He has the size at 6'5" and 305 pounds. His numbers in two solid seasons (he missed 2010 because of injury) are 11 sacks, one interception, and nine tackles behind the line. They could also look at starting second year defensive end Olivier Vernon, whose numbers as a rookie were good in a rotation role with three and a half sacks, two forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks.
Another option is moving Odrick to tackle, Vernon to outside linebacker (which he has the size for at 6'2", 268 pounds), and signing a free agent at defensive end.
In recent mock drafts a few writers have the Dolphins taking a defensive end in the first round of the draft, and some fans would agree with that. I, for one, have no problem with drafting a defensive end.
Here are four solid free agent options at defensive end that would be worth considering:
Cliff Avril, DE, Detroit Lions
6'3", 260 pounds
Career stats in five seasons:
39.5 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, one interception and 13 stuffs
At 26 years of age he has been highly productive and most likely will get a huge contract, which Ireland probably won't do. Avril was one of the favorites last year before Detroit franchised him. He would make a nice bookend with Wake. It probably won't happen, but it's still possible.
Mike Johnson, DE, Cincinnati Bengals
6'7", 270 pounds
Career stats in four seasons: 23 sacks, two interceptions and 16 passes defensed
Johnson had 11.5 sacks in 2012. Could be franchised by the Bengals. A tall defender with the ability to swat passes. Is currently 25 years old and has familiarity with our defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.
Michael Bennett, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6'4", 275 pounds
Career stats in four seasons: 15 sacks, 4 forced fumbles 21 stuffs
2012 was a career season for Bennett with nine sacks, three forced fumbles and 10 stuffs. Not bad for an undrafted free agent. He is 27 years old, but he only played in seven games in 2009 so he could be a risk.
Osi Umenyiora, DE, N.Y. Giants
6'3" 255 pounds
Career stats in 10 seasons: 75 sacks, 32 forced fumbles and 26 stuffs
He is 31 years old and has been in the NFL for 10 seasons. He had only 6 sacks in 2012, but he has a ton of experience as a 4-3 end and a change to the warmth of Miami could get his motor going for a few years. He has two Super Bowls under his belt, and he could help mentor our young linemen.
I would like to see the Dolphins re-sign Starks and allow the three young defenders in Shelby, Randall and Vernon to develop. I would also like to see them draft another pass rusher at defensive end.
Let me know what your thoughts are and thanks for your time.
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