Miami Dolphins Sign Quarterback Kevin O'Connell to 1-Year Contract

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Miami Dolphins Sign Quarterback Kevin O'Connell to 1-Year Contract
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have added another new face at quarterback, but this one isn't going to challenge Chad Henne's starting job.

Rather, undrafted rookie Pat Devlin now has some new competition for the third-string quarterback job behind Henne and Matt Moore, as the Dolphins have signed Kevin O'Connell and waived quarterback Tom Brandstater.

O'Connell will wear No. 4 for the Dolphins and will spend the next month competing for a roster spot on the Dolphins' 53-man roster. The Dolphins currently have 82 players on the active roster.


Background

The son of an FBI agent, O'Connell was a team captain at San Diego State University, where he started 21 games over his four-year career. He totaled 7,689 passing yards and 46 touchdowns with 34 interceptions while adding 1,312 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. As a senior, he led the Aztecs in both passing and rushing.

At 6'5" and 250 pounds, O'Connell ran a 4.61 40-yard dash in pre-draft workouts. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft, becoming the highest-drafted quarterback by the franchise since Drew Bledsoe was selected first overall in 1993.

Serving as a backup to Matt Cassel as a rookie after Tom Brady was lost for the season with a torn ACL, O'Connell appeared in two games and went 4-for-6 for 23 yards. His NFL debut came as a reserve in a September loss to the Dolphins.

The Patriots waived O'Connell following the 2009 preseason, and he was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Lions. However, he was traded to the New York Jets just five days later and and spent the season as the team's third quarterback behind Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens.

O'Connell was released by the Jets on August 31, 2010 (at which time I called him an intriguing prospect for the Dolphins) and it was revealed soon after he had suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder during the preseason. The injury forced him to miss the entire 2010 season and he remained a free agent.

According to Dolphins' head coach Tony Sparano, O'Connell has been healthy since May and reportedly threw the ball very well during his workout before he was offered a contract.


Analysis

I had gleaned from training camp media reports that Brandstater was having a rough time in practice, so it's no surprise to see him replaced here. Brandstater has intriguing size and arm strength, but he'd been all over the place in camp and had clearly been outplayed by Devlin.

O'Connell offers a nice blend of speed, athleticism and size. He had a good arm before the injury and if healthy that strength should return. Where he struggles is with his footwork, consistency and technique. He was clearly drafted to be the long-term backup to Brady in New England, and it's telling Bill Belichick gave up on him so quickly.

While he hasn't panned out thus far, O'Connell still has some upside at 26 and is worth a look for the Dolphins. He has NFL experience—primarily with the Dolphins' biggest divisional rivals—that could come in handy as a third-string quarterback.

It'll be interesting to see if he can beat out Devlin for the job, because from what I can tell the undrafted rookie has been having a pretty good camp and is a solid prospect in his own right. However, don't expect either to challenge Henne or Moore for a spot higher up on the depth chart in 2011.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


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Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and currently works for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.

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