Thursday, May 14, 2009

The 2009 Miami Dolphins Linebackers - The Beginning

The following rundown was compiled by part-time blog contributor and full-time Knight of the Realm, The Knight Who Says Ni! who e-mailed it to me before scurrying off to find a shrubbery (one that is nice and not too expensive). Before we get into it, keep in mind that the Dolphins began the 2008 season with only SEVEN linebackers on the active roster and ended the season with TEN, after adding two for special teams and an aging vet when Crowder got hurt. Two of those players, Kershaw and Walden, are still on the roster as of now.~Tinshaker

OLB Joey Porter 6-3 250 - A seasoned pass rush specialist at this point in his career. If we can get some pass rush from some of the other OLBs we can keep Joey fresh all game and all season long. If we can cut his plays from what seemed like 45-50 last year to 30-35 this year, we might have a fresher more productive Joey late in the year as opposed to last year when he seemed to wear down.

OLB Matt Roth 6-4 270 - Now that Roth knows he's a SOLB on this team, I'm sure he spent his off-season conditioning himself to play OLB, not DE. Roth was up to about 283 last year and maybe dropped some weight during the season. Roth is a big guy and I don't expect him to drop too much weight but I could see him at 265-270 this year. That's his edge, a big physical guy to match up on TEs, set the edge against the run and provide some pass rush. It was his first year as a 3-4 OLB so I think we can expect him to get better, not worse. He was pretty good last year.

OLB Jason Taylor 6-6 250 - We all know what JT is capable of. Yes he's getting a little long in the tooth but I still think he has something left. The best role for him at this point in his career is being a pass rush specialist. Instead of the 50+ downs a game he's played for most of his career, maybe now it's 25-30. He can help keep Porter fresh. His presence also allows Cameron Wake to develop for a year and not have the pressure to be the 'other' pass rusher right off the bat.

OLB Cameron Wake 6-3 255 - The 2-time CFL Defensive Player of the Year is now a Dolphin. He has the size, speed and athletic ability. Does he have the other intangibles that make a good OLB? We're going to find out. We're looking for him to provide some pass rush for us and be one of those guys who can rotate at OLB.

OLB Charlie Anderson 6-4 250 - Last year was his first season as a 3-4 OLB after playing in a 4-3 in Houston for 4 years, mainly playing special teams. He did show some signs as a pass rusher there as well. He should be further along this year but this year is make or break for him in my opinion. After 6 years in the league you are what you are. Now is his time and I think he knows it.

OLB Erik Walden 6-3 245 - He has the size, speed and aggressiveness to be a 3-4 OLB. Does he have the skill set to be a pass rusher in the NFL? If not will he convert to the inside or just remain a backup LB and special teams ace? That's what we're going to start to find out this year.

OLB Quentin Moses 6-5 260 - He was a highly touted pass rusher coming out of Georgia in 07 and fell to the 3rd round for Oakland. He was cut and claimed by Arizona, cut again and claimed by us all in that same year. He's still with us so the trifecta must see something in him. He looks the part with his large 6-5 260 frame but does he lack the other intangibles to make him a pass rushing beast? I think this is his last shot to make the Dolphins. If he doesn't improve we'll go in another direction with someone else. The signing of JT might be the beginning of the end for him.

ILB Channing Crowder 6-2 245 - We all know what we have in him. He's a smart, active, energetic, physical and fast LB who can do a little bit of everything but does not excel at one thing. He's probably best making tackles all over the field and he's adequate in coverage. He's not a big play impact guy but at only 26 years old and now in his 4th year with 3-4 experience and with one year under his belt as the 'Mike' LB calling the defense, I think we can expect more from him this year and I would bet you Channing agrees.

ILB Akin Ayodele 6-2 245 - A solid veteran who plays smart and physical despite not being a great athlete. He adds leadership and experience to a relatively young team. You needs guys like this. That said we need to challenge him this year.

ILB Reggie Torbor 6-2 245 - That challenge could come from this guy. Now that he has a year playing 3-4 ILB under his belt coming from a 4-3 defense with the Giants, he should be ahead of where he was last year. Hopefully he'll think less and just play. I liked the way he played for the Giants. He could do a little bit of everything and he's active. He didn't seem as comfortable with us last year.

LB Tearrius George 6-4 260 - He has excellent size, he was very productive in the CFL and now he has a chance to prove that he can play at the NFL level. Is he a WOLB a SOLB or an ILB? With the signing of JT I say it's backup SOLB and ILB.

LB Orion Martin 6-3 260 - He looks like the same type of prospect/project as George. Same size and plays similar if you watch some video on them. The trifecta must have seen something in him to sign him as undrafted rookie FA. Is he a WOLB a SOLB or an ILB? With the signing of JT I say it's ILB.

ILB William Kershaw 6-3 240 - Another undrafted LB from 06 who has bounced around a bunch of teams' rosters thus far. He has to step it up and show he can play ILB at the next level this year or I don't see him making the team. I don't think there will be enough roster spots to develop him. Maybe the practice squad if he's still eligible.

ILB J.D. Folsom 6-3 240 - Our last draft pick in the 7th round. The trifecta likes his size, intelligence, character and hustle. He will have to win a spot on special teams to make the team. He's a long shot but you never know.

That's 14 LBs and outside of Porter, JT, Crowder and Ayodele, most of these guys don't have a lot of 3-4 experience. So with a year or two of experience for some of them, I would think they would be ahead of where they were last year. When they don't have to think too much they can play faster and we can do more creative things with them.

There will be a lot of competition this year for probably 8 spots. I'd say there is only 1 spot open if you consider Porter, Roth, JT, Crowder, Ayodele, Wake and Torbor locks and I do. 7 LBs will be competing for one spot. That's good competition.
But who knows, another LB or two could step up and surprise us by knocking someone else off. That's what competition is all about. There are only 5 LBs on this team from past regimes in Porter, Roth (DE), JT, Crowder and Moses. It didn't take long for the Parcells LB mold to take place.

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