Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
Nothing about Koa Misi screams project at first look.
He's a 2010 second-round pick entering his fifth season in Miami, which is the second season of a five-year, $17.63 million deal that guarantees him $8.45 million. His numbers certainly don't scream project either. In four seasons, he has played in 57 games, racking up 133 tackles, 11 sacks and two forced fumbles.
The project part comes from his new position: middle linebacker.
Misi has been an outside linebacker throughout his career in Miami and was a defensive end while at Utah. Converting a player from defensive end to outside linebacker is seen quite often (and in some cases would be highly recommended, especially with one certain Dolphin), but seeing a second position change is rare.
Why do the Dolphins want to move Misi to the middle? To shake up a linebacker group that showed itself to be the weakest spot on the defense.
At middle linebacker, Misi serves as the leader of the defense, getting the unit lined up and receiving the play calls from the sidelines. This was a role that Dannell Ellerbe (a 3-4 inside linebacker before signing with Miami) at times had issues with, which is why he's moving back outside.
The Dolphins seem to have confidence in Misi, with head coach Joe Philbin telling ESPN.com's James Walker:
We think he has great leadership qualities. We think his play has certainly exemplified that over the course of period of time that I've been here. He plays football the right way, so we are going to see how we adjust to that position and how he relates to the other players at his position and the defense in general. So far he's done a nice job.
Misi has improved in every season he's played as a Dolphin, showing more maturity each year. The move to middle linebacker looks like the next step in his evolution.
Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Salary-cap information provided by Spotrac.com.