Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Can Dannell Ellerbe continue to evolve in his new home?
The Miami Dolphins were one of the league's busiest teams this offseason, scoring free agent prizes such as wide receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Brent Grimes and tight end Dustin Keller.
The Dolphins also added inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, signing the newly crowned Super Bowl champion to a five-year, $35 million deal.
In Miami, Ellerbe will be asked to provide a leadership role in the Dolphins' revamped defense, and to replace veteran Karlos Dansby, who was released and subsequently signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
The issue here is that Ellerbe really doesn't have the experience needed to take charge of a young defense. Although he did play a pivotal role in the Ravens' storybook championship run last season, he was largely a role player and a special teams standout in the years before.
Ellerbe appeared in 13 regular-season contests last season, amassed 92 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble, but in the three years prior, he had not started more than three games or logged more than 41 tackles or one sack.
While the Dolphins are hoping that they are getting the versatile playmaker who appeared last season, one has to remember that Ellerbe was surrounded by Hall of Fame talent on a championship-caliber team.
Things will be different in Miami, where the rising talent is apparent, but a winning pedigree is not.
This will be Ellerbe's first season as a full-time starter, and taking over for Dansby, who started all 16 games last season and racked up 134 tackles, will also be a difficult task.
As of now, it appears that the Dolphins have managed to snag a young up-and-coming defender just entering his prime. However, the expectations for Ellerbe will be high, and only time will tell if he has what ti takes to meet them.