by: Joshua Baumgard

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Dolphins were expected to be a 4-6 win team at best this season, but are looking like a playoff contender at 4-3 on the season.

So which Dolphins are key to to the franchise’s success this year and in the future? CBSMiami looked at the 2012 Dolphins on a value scale for this list.

This list takes into account variables such as age, skill, production, and upside. They are based on each player’s value to the franchise. While Ryan Tannehill may not be a top five player on this team now, his ultimate worth is in his potential. There is a scarcity of talent at the position and that shall also be taken into consideration.

Honorable Mention: Reshad Jones, Sean Smith (Both have made massive strides this year but a six game sample size is just too small)

10. Davone Bess, Wide Receiver
Bess is the type of player Joe Philbin craves for at every position. This is a professional who consistently maximizes his skill set within his physical potential.

His career 10.3 yards per reception isn’t gaudy, nor is his 4.6 speed in the 40 yard dash or his sub par 5-10, 190-pound frame. Nonetheless, Davone is someone 31 other teams would make room for. He catches the ball away from his body with ease, creates space with his quickness, and keeps his mouth shut in the process.

He’s smart too. Late in the Jets game, Bess caught a pass close to the sidelines and immediately halted momentum and went down in bounds to keep the clock ticking.

Players like Davone last a long time in this league.

9. Brian Hartline, Wide Receiver
Before his 253 yard frenzy in week four most fans couldn’t spot him on the street.

Further proving his legitimacy as a deep threat, Hartline’s 16.8 yards per reception currently sits ninth in the league. He’s also on pace for a career high 75 receptions

The Dolphins still need a number one receiver with the ability to routinely inject fear into the defense, but Hartline and Bess are more than adequate second and third receivers, respectively.

8. Paul Soliai, Defensive Tackle
“Men” like Mr. Soliai are anomalies to the human race, even for football players. One of the key cogs in a fearsome front line, this 6’5″ running back eater cannot be moved at the point of attack.

For that he has solid value.

7. Reggie Bush, Running Back
While Reggie hasn’t lived up to the expected value of a second overall pick, he’s found his niche in Miami. When not trying to do too much, this versatile former Heisman Trophy winner puts immense pressure on a defense from all angles.

Miami will have to get creative going forward as he’s become the focal point schematically by all opposing defensive coordinators. Expect his role as a receiver to expand.

6. Mike Pouncey, Center
The former Florida Gator is on the up with his fine blend of quickness and strength. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 9th best run blocking center in the league as a rookie and 31st in pass protection.

Through week six of 2012, those ranks have spiked to 3rd and 4th, respectively, collectively grading out as the top center in the game. Cheers Mr. Ireland.

5. Randy Starks, Defensive Tackle

Starksy is as big as any offensive lineman and quicker than most. A force both against the run and as the pass, he’s in line for a massive pay increase in the offseason.

The question is whether that comes in South Florida or somewhere else.

4. Karlos Dansby, Linebacker
The vocal leader of the defense is starting to look ultra comfortable in his new role as an interior linebacker in a 4-3 set.Dansby is the top playmaker on the defense outside of Cameron Wake.

His biggest strengths reside his instincts and ability as an every down linebacker.

3. Jake Long, Offensive Tackle
Respect for him is still through the roof despite his recent string of injuries and decline in play. Long is still a beast up front and protects the quarterback’s blind side, but Miami is going to have to overpay this summer with what elite left tackles are earning these days.

Will they pony up the cash?

2. Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback
His stats aren’t splashy but his 3-3 record as a rookie in his first six games is.

Tannehill appears to be improving at a rapid weekly rate. He has the complete package with the arm, the feet, and smarts.

How quickly he develops after this season may rely heavily on the Dolphins urgency to surround him with a dynamic wide receiver or tight end. The kid cannot do it alone.

1. Cameron Wake, Defensive End
Above and beyond the biggest impact player on the Dolphins. The only slight negative on this man’s resume is his age (30) despite having just under four NFL seasons under his belt.

He consistently ranks among the top edge rushers in the game. According to Pro Football Focus, Wake grades out as the top pass rushing defensive end in football. He also ranks 3rd among all 4-3 defensive ends in quarterback pressures.

What makes the Penn State product unique is how he penetrates the pocket. His tremendous burst off the line and low center of gravity allow him to dominate the leverage battle with opposing lineman. He’s so low and powerful off the snap, he’s nearly unblockable in one on one situations.

His presence makes everyone around him better, the true measure of an elite player in any sport.


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