This Miami Dolphins ranking on the cusp of the 2015 season factors in a player’s value, where salary, age, position, and potential are all considered.
It essentially comes down to whether you would trade Player A for Player B straight up, ignoring whether their contracts make it a feasible transaction.
12 – Ja’Wuan James, OT
Many may not have realized how much the Dolphins’ 2014 first-round pick struggled in the final month of last season.
James was brutal. He allowed 20 quarterback hurries over the final four games, according to Pro Football Focus. The next closest NFL offensive tackle had 15.
So how is he valued as No. 12? He was stuck playing left tackle after Branden Albert went down against Detroit in Week 10 and it’s a position he clearly wasn’t comfortable at during his rookie campaign.
We’ll learn more about James this year, when he settles in at the right side full-time.
11 -Lamar Miller, HB
Lamar would be ranked higher if running backs weren’t valued like pizza. Having an elite slice is a luxury, but a slice of Papa John’s — at a fraction of the cost — is acceptable.
Check out the leading rushers on the last 10 Super Bowl teams: Jonas Gray, Marshawn Lynch, Lynch again, Knowshon Moreno, Ray Rice, Frank Gore, Ahmad Bradshaw, Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Brandon Jackson, and Rashard Mendenhall. Sure, there are some stars on that list — three out of 10.
Heading into a contract year, Miller has an opportunity to be Miami’s first Pro-Bowl back since 2008, when Ronnie Brown snuck in with 10 touchdowns at the birth of the Wildcat Era.
The former Hurricane was Football Outsiders’ fourth best running back in the NFL last season. Fantasy owners should be wetting their pants.
10 – Reshad Jones, S
Known for his tendency to blow wideouts up at Georgia, Jones is easily one of Jeff Ireland’s best value picks. The former fifth-rounder graded out as PFF’s No. 3 overall safety in 2014.
He’s solid across the board but also graded out as the league’s top pass-rushing safety.
9 – Jarvis Landry, WR
8 – DeVante Parker, WR
Landry may be Miami’s best wideout and he’ll probably lead the team in catches again after snagging 84 as a rookie but Juice doesn’t offer the same physical ability and catch radius of Miami’s first-round pick out of Louisville.
At 6-foot-3 with 37-inch hops, Parker was drafted to be Miami’s premier playmaker for years to come. He should factor in immediately in the red zone, where Miami’s offense ranked 21st in the NFL in touchdown percentage, via Team Rankings.
7 – Branden Albert, OT
6 – Mike Pouncey, C
This was the toughest decision on this list.
Considering Albert is returning from a significant knee injury at 30, I’ll give the slide nod in value to the 26-year-old Pouncey, who struggled immensely playing out of position at guard last season but moves back to his natural center spot this fall.
5 – Brent Grimes, CB
Pound for pound, Brent Grimes could be the best athlete on the roster. His physical appearance resembles more math tutor than football star, but don’t let the packaging fool you — Grimes is a freak.
His nine picks over the last two seasons puts his ball-hawking prowess on display, but now his job becomes much easier playing behind one of the best defensive fronts in football. The question — Mrs. Grimes, STOP reading — is whether he’s starting to slow down a bit at 32.
Quarterbacks had a 66.3 QB rating when throwing at him in 2014, according to PFF. Last season? It soared to 84.8. Keep an eye on Grimes during Giants-Dolphins on Monday Night Football in December, when he’ll go up against the equally freakocious Odell Beckham Jr.
4 – Olivier Vernon, DE
Playing in a contract year opposite one of the most dynamic defensive-line tandems in NFL history (Wake/Suh), Olivier is going to shred the right edge in 2015 as offenses frantically worry about the left side.
In fact, he may be so dominant statistically against the routine single-man protection, he could play his way out of the Dolphins’ price range. Pass rushers are the most coveted players in football outside of quarterback and he’s going to get paid next summer.
3 – Cameron Wake, DE
Don’t let Wake’s 20 sacks over the last two seasons misconstrue his true value as a pass rusher. He’s significantly more impactful.
According to PFF’s Pass Rushing Productivity stat, which factors in quarterback pressures and is weighted towards sacks, Wake ranked second and third in 2013 and 2014, respectively, among all defensive ends. As a pure pass rusher, there aren’t many better. The way he utilizes leverage off the snap is a work of art.
The hope for Miami is Wake is a “young 33.” He’s only been in the NFL for six seasons after starting out in the arena league and hasn’t had a piece of cake since childhood or something.
Could he challenge the NFL’s sack record playing next to the man below?
2 – Ndamukong Suh, DT
1 – Ryan Tannehill, QB
This isn’t to say Tannehill is a better football player than Suh. It’s a testament to the obscene value of the quarterback in 2015.
For instance, if the QB-starved Cleveland Browns could pluck one player off the Dolphins’ roster today, who would it be? While they may give some thought to Suh at his goliath price tag, they’ll gladly take the franchise quarterback on an affordable deal.
Tannehill — at worst — is a Top 10-15 passer and there’s been no indication he’s close to peaking.
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