Miami Dolphins Line Backer Depth, and Early Round Draft Prospects.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock, The National Football Leagues April 30th 2015 Draft is just twenty six days away.

The Miami Dolphins nine man defensive line rotation is literally set in stone with the blockbuster acquisition of the leagues premiere interior force Ndamukong Suh. Those that will accompany the maker of lesser players are 2014 defensive tackle returnees in starter Earl Mitchell, backups AJ Francis (who spent 2014 on IR), and Anthony Johnson, as well as upgradable bubble probables Kamal Johnson along with Deandre Coleman who currently represent what would be slight overkill of a 10th & 11th defensive line roster spot. On the outside at the Defensive End position Miami has five highly qualified 2014 returnees with starters Cam Wake & Olivier Vernon as well as rotational prowess in Derrick Shelby, Dion Jordan, and Terrance Fede.

Miami's defensive line is good to go for the most part. Other than a potential minor tweak to the depth, or unless some unbelievable stud (DT Danny Shelton) were to fall in their laps at the 14th pick of the drafts first round. Perhaps one of the current rotational nine gets traded for a starter at another position of need, or a high draft pick? Otherwise, we are led to the next line of defense at Line Backer.

Gone are the penciled in 2014 starter Dannell Ellerbe (who spent 2014's entirety on IR), and was recently traded for the youthful, technically sound route running speedster receiver Kenny Stills. Also released was the overpaid under-achiever starting outside line backer Phillip Wheeler, and backups Jason Trusnik as well as Jonathan Freeney were both picked up in free agency to play elsewhere.

The Dolphins presently have seven line backers on the roster. Returning are Jelani Jenkins who stepped into the starting OLB spot vacated by the injured Ellerbe in 2014 and led the Miami defense in tackles for the year. Sophomore linebackers Chris McCain, and Jordan Tripp as well as Jake Knott are expected to battle for the outside line backer position opposite of Jenkins, and/or for the Middle Line Backer starting position.

Koa Misi is the returning 2014 starting MLB and he struggled through injuries in his first season at the middle line backer post behind a quickly fading and recently discarded Randy Starks. The current roster includes middle line backers Kelvin Shepherd an o14 returnee who started week 15 and had ten tackles. Meanwhile, just today the Dolphins signed Spencer Paysinger a versatile four year veteran New York Giant free agent line backer who started ten 2013 games in the middle of The G-Mens 4 - 3 defense.

Miami has plenty of young talented bodies (two deep) to man all three line backer positions, though none are yet studly while five of the current seven line backers have had minimal opportunities behind the now departed Wheeler, Trusnik, and Freeney. With Jelani Jenkins quickly becoming a household name among Miami fans the Dolphins appear extraordinarily deep (volume-wise) at the outside spots, especially if Misi were to return outside to his most productive position (thus-far), opposite of Jenkins.

If a healthy Misi is slated to be the starting middle line backer behind the new arrival of NdamuKONG Suh, then the OLB starter opposite of Jenkins becomes of most concern at line backer, and Miami has a plethora of outside line backer skill-sets to fill that particular void. The Middle Line Backer starting spot is the only real concern if Misi starts outside. A true Middle Line Backer is what the Dolphins most notably appear to lack on defense while an absolute stud MLB is highly instrumental to the success of a 4 - 3 defense. One way or another, (as of the present) one of Miami's unproven Sophomore's in Jordan Tripp, Chris McCain, or Kelvin Shepherd, Jake Knott, or Spencer Paysinger are currently penciled-in to start somewhere at linebacker for the 2015 Dolphins.

Otherwise. Here are a few first and second round potential line backer starters for the 2015 Miami Dolphins to consider.

Draft Grade Report Card According to
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player (Non-Existent in the 2015 draft)
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro (None)
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro (One Player DE Leonard Williams with a 7.6)
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player (Two Players)
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player (Five Players)
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter (Twenty Players)
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter ( Sixty Six Prospects)
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential (145 Prospects)
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster (49 Prospects)
Under-5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster (The Rest)

The above chart is just a suggested starting point, and by no means is an exact science while each player coming into the league is graded according to vigilant expert analysis. With that said, one would think that a team would want to land a prospect in the first round with a grade of at the very least 6.00 who ""should become an instant starter"" . Though you and I as well as each and every team will grade each and every individual to their own curve of ability and need. Therefore, some may be held in higher or lower regards to a particular team than what NFL.coms ballpark measurements might suggest.

With the fact that even Defensive Ends Dion Jordan, and Derrick Shelby are able to platoon at the outside line backer position. At least to some extent it has been established that the Dolphins have more than enough options at OLB, and Middle Line Backer is where the need lies with Koa Misi being the current leader in the clubhouse without a legitimate challenger.

The drafts top five line backer prospects are all of the outside pass-rusher characteristic, and an OLB isn't entirely out of the question (especially if the brass sticks to their guns with Misi at MLB)!

The Miami Dolphins presently own the drafts 14th pick of the first round.
The top outside linebacker prospects consist of.

7.0 Dante Fowler Jr is 6 - 3, 261 as the drafts top LB, and third overall prospect.

6.6 Vic Beasley who stands at 6 - 3, 246 is the second ranked LB and seventh overall best prospect as this individuals absolute favorite line backer.

Should one of the above two (doubtfully) fall to pick 14, they become no-brainer selections. Especially if targeted players at positions of more need have already been taken off the board.

The third ranked OLB who was also given a 6.6 grade is the eighth overall prospect Randy Gregory who is falling fast due to a dirty drug test at the combine while the fourth rated OLB Bud Dupree grades at 6.1 and has an overall 25th ranking. The next four ranked outside line backers stand at ""a chance to become an NFL starter"" with grades of between 5.5 and 5.9 .

When it comes to the Middle Line Backer grades is when one has to wonder if the Dolphins will automatically hand out slightly higher ratings due to the apparent need of an MLB stud and reach for a (Bernardrick McKinney or Eric Kendricks). Or do they like Koa Misi to the point of being patient enough to wait and hope that an MLB like (Stephone Anthony or Denzel Perryman) falls in their lap with the second rounds 15th pick, and 47th overall selection.

The top Middle Line Backer prospect list includes the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 11th rated linebackers.

5.86 Paul Dawson who is 6 - 0, 235, ran a 4.75 Pro-Day forty yard dash, 30" vertical jump, with 21 reps of 225#s, and is the drafts 38th ranked overall prospect. Though suggested to be too small for the Middle Line Backer spot he has the instincts of an MLB, and excels in pass coverage. He does however have some red-flag character issues, and study habits that would likely eliminate him from the Miami Dolphins Draft Board.

5.85 Bernardrick McKinney stands 6 - 4, 246, 4.66, 40.5" vert, with 16 reps is the 39th top prospect, and a personal favorite though similarly to Perryman, may be somewhat of a concern in pass coverage.

5.83 Eric Kendricks at 6-0, 232, 4.61, 38" vert, with 19 reps is rated 40th overall. He is the second best coverage guy of this bunch while due to his stature he is projected to be at his best as an NFL Inside backer in a 3 - 4 scheme, though he's not much lighter than Perryman who translates to the NFL middle spot while being quite a bit stronger.

5.82 Stephone Anthony standing at 6 - 3, 243, 4.56, 37" vert, and 23 reps coincidentally ranks 41st among all positional prospects. Another personal favorite with a great size to speed to strength ratio as one of the combines most impressively athletic line backers, and he can cover too.

5.68 Denzel Perryman who is 5 - 11, 236, 4.78, 32" vert, with 27 reps of 225 pounds is listed as the drafts overall 61st top option, and he is a true Old-School run stuffing Middle Line Backer.

Quite frankly.
I'd personally doubt that any of these projected interior line backers could unseat a healthy Koa Misi as rookies, current Dolphin Jordan Tripp is that guy for me, (if anyone is).

MAYBE the Dolphins trade down from pick 14 to recoup a no longer existent third round pick, and don't have to reach quite so far for one of these interior linebackers? If a targeted receiver, defensive back, or offensive lineman aren't available at their initial pick!

All other remaining Middle and/or Inside Linebackers grade below 5.5 according to which doesn't exclude them entirely, but one wouldn't want their first or second round pick to have the prescribed distinction of an ""NFL backup or special teams potential"".

Thank You for an Open Minded Read, and we look forward to your angle of view : )) !!


STAY-TUNED for the Defensive Backs addition, the release of the 2015 schedule, and the Offensive Line & The True Number One Receiver rundown on draft week.