Free Agency Pool Drying Up For Dolphins
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After nearly a week of free agency, the Miami Dolphins still have several key positions needing to be filled and the talent pool has thinned significantly.
The Fins filled a huge hole at left tackle with Branden Albert and fortified the defensive line by re-signing Randy Starks and signing tackle Earl Mitchell. The Fins also brought in a veteran guard Shelley Smith hoping he might be able to become a starter, or at worst, a quality backup.
Over the last few days, Miami signed cornerback Cortland Finnegan to help further bolster the secondary. Finnegan struggled mightily last season, but if he returns to anywhere near the form he had just two years ago, he’ll give Miami a pair of lockdown corners, but that’s a big if at this point.
After the signings, the Fins have around $23-25 million in salary cap space remaining to address the remaining holes on the offensive line. The Dolphins could use another veteran guard and/or tackle before heading into the 2014 NFL Draft.
According to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald, the Dolphins may have some interest in guard Wade Smith and tackle Ryan Harris. Both players most recently suited up for the Houston Texans. Of the two, Smith may be the more likely option of the two.
Smith started his career in Miami and struggled mightily before becoming a full-time starter for the Houston Texans. His offensive line coach in Houston is now leading the Dolphins’ offensive line. But, Smith will be 33 when the season starts and would be a one or two year fix at best.
With no top talent left in free agency, much of the Dolphins’ focus will start to turn towards the NFL Draft. Nearly every mock draft published has the Fins selecting Notre Dame tackle/guard Zack Martin with the 19th overall selection in the first round of the draft.
Martin is a high-character player that would help not only fix the offensive line issues, but also much of the public relations problems the Fins had in the wake of the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito fiasco.
Martin projects to either the guard or tackle position, depending on what the Fins need. Past Martin, the Fins could trade up to snag Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews if he starts to slide or even trade up to get Taylor Lewan out of Michigan. Both would be solid right tackles for several years in Miami.
Another name to keep your eye on at the tackle position is Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses. CBSSports.com projects him as a second-round selection, but at 6’6”, 314 pounds and very strong, he could be a good player quickly for an NFL team.
At the guard position, the top overall prospect is UCLA guard Xavier Su’a-Filo. Past Su’a-Filo, the next few guards likely to hear their names called include David Yankey of Stanford, Gabe Jackson of Mississippi State, and Brandon Thomas of Clemson.