For Dolphins fans, 2010 started as a season of hope and growth. After finishing the 2009 with a 7-9 record, fans saw flashes of potential in one of the NFL's youngest teams. In 2010, fans hoped for the team to take a step further and reach the playoffs. Instead, fans received a repeat 7-9 season. However, despite the undesired record, progress occurred. Younger players on both offense and defense received a year of experience and growth.
The fans observed how the hiring of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan helped the progress of the defense. In fact, the defense finished sixth overall. On the other side of the coin, the Dolphins finished 21st in offense.
Now we can see where the problem lies.
In order to take a step forward, the problems need to be addressed primarily in the 2011 NFL draft.
I know that the Dolphins need to focus on offense this year, but the one position on defense the Dolphins could use is another pass rusher. Cameron Wake proved to be a great player and much deserving of a Pro Bowl appearance. However, if forbid he went down to injury for a few games, are you really confident someone could step in and fill his role?
While not a priority, the Dolphins could use a lower round pick to try and fill the depth behind Wake.
The Dolphins have needed to add a second tight end since releasing David Martin. Back in 2008, the Dolphins received excellent play from the tandem of David Martin and Anthony Fasano. Since then, Fasano has done a decent job on his own.
However, for their two tight end sets, the Dolphins better hope to find an above average tight end in the draft to pair with Fasano. In the third round, the Dolphins should find a tight end like Tennessee's Luke Stocker or USC's Jordan Cameron.
The Dolphins would be wise to draft one.
The sign the fan is holding may speak for plenty of Dolphins fans. For some of the fans dissatisfied with the quarterback play this past season, they may be asking why quarterback isn't No. 1 on this list. The reason being that while the Dolphins should draft a quarterback, it would be well-advised to let Chad Henne have one more year to start at quarterback, a last chance of sorts. Let's face it, the Dolphins could draft a quarterback, but with the current lockout, the Dolphins would need a veteran to play while the rookie quarterback learned the playbook.
It would also be advised that if Pennington leaves, the Dolphins need to pick up a veteran quarterback to compete with Henne for the starting job. If the Dolphins do select a quarterback high in the draft, keep an eye on Ryan Mallett or Colin Kaepernick.
The cornerstone of the offensive line, Jake Long, could use some more help up front. While the addition of Richie Incognito helped and Vernon Carey being decent, there could still be more help at the center and guard positions. We have seen many names like Jake Grove, Donald Thomas and Justin Smiley come and go, but there still remains a hole that Tony Sparano and staff have tried to fill since arriving on the scene.
Offensive line may not be the most attractive and flashy position to draft, but this team desperately needs to draft the right lineman to fix the stalled offense. The offensive line is the reason for the poor run game this past season and needs work. Don't be surprised to see the Dolphins trade down in the first round and draft a guy like Mike Pouncey or wait until a later round and draft a linemen like Will Rackley or Orlando Franklin.
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are both free agents, and by the sounds of the chatter, the Dolphins might be willing to part ways with one, if not both. If both were to leave in free agency, that would leave Lex Hilliard and Patrick Cobbs as the starters, which will not happen. While normally in free agency, the Dolphins would be considering running back's like Darren Sproles and DeAngelo Williams, but with the lockout, free agency is up in the air.
The Dolphins can't afford to wait on an important position and will likely draft a running back or two in the draft for security until free agency gets settled. While often hearing Mark Ingram being thrown around as the Dolphins pick on many mock drafts, don't be surprised on the Dolphins passing on Ingram. Look for the Dolphins to trade down in the first, and if they manage to pick up a second rounder, look for the Dolphins to take a guy like Mikel Leshoure or Ryan Williams.