Miami Dolphins: Ranking This Year's Top 5 Defensive Players
The Miami Dolphins defense was easily the most reliable part of their team in 2011.
New defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle hopes to improve upon last year's performance and shut down opposing teams right from Week 1 in 2012.
Leading tackler Yeremiah Bell is gone, and a 4-3 scheme will certainly change the entire game plan for the defense that ranked 15th in the NFL last season.
Expect this squad to come out with a different style and a lot more intensity as they pursue their playoff dreams.
Let's take a look at the Dolphins' top defenders for this upcoming season.
5. Richard Marshall
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Defensive back Richard Marshall joins the Miami Dolphins for the first time in 2012.
The 27-year-old cornerback is expected to solidify the team's needs in the secondary with his versatility and experience.
With the loss of Yeremiah Bell, who was the Dolphins' leading tackler over the past four seasons, Marshall is going to have to hop right in and make an immediate impact.
He played well with the Arizona Cardinals last season, earning 78 tackles and three interceptions.
I would be surprised if those numbers didn't increase in 2012.
4. Kevin Burnett
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
The interior linebacking corps is the heart of the Miami defense.
With Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett working side by side, the Dolphins don't have too many worries about teams attacking the middle of the field.
Burnett earned 2.5 sacks in 2011 and was second on the team in tackles with 105. He also had one interception which he returned for a touchdown.
Expect similar numbers in 2012 as the terrible twosome continues to wreak havoc.
3. Vontae Davis
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Vontae Davis was the 25th overall selection in the 2009 NFL draft.
As he enters his fourth season in the league, he has shown excellent development and maturity that should help the Dolphins improve upon their pass defense that ranked 25th in 2011.
Last year, the cornerback had four interceptions and 43 tackles.
Expect him to improve upon those numbers in 2012 and have the Pro Bowl kind of year that Dolphins fans have been waiting for.
2. Karlos Dansby
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Karlos Dansby is the self-proclaimed best linebacker in the NFL, according to the Miami Herald.
I wouldn't go as far as to call him the best, but he's certainly a top-tier player who can impact a game with his play in the middle.
The defensive captain is going to be responsible for leading this new-look Dolphins defense to a successful season in 2012.
Expect Dansby to improve upon his impressive 103 tackles in 2011, especially with Bell out of the picture.
This will be a be a Pro Bowl type season that proves he truly is one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
1. Cameron Wake
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Cameron Wake is the key to the Miami Dolphins' defensive success.
He controls the tempo of the game with his ability to burst through the line and pressure the quarterback.
After signing a big contract extension last year and with the switch to a 4-3 scheme, he should come out firing on all cylinders.
He had a very impressive 8.5 sacks and 42 tackles in 2011.
In 2012, I expect him to record at least 10 sacks and possibly pass his career-best 14 sacks that he had two seasons ago.
His presence up front will give quarterbacks around the league all they can handle and then some.