NFL Draft vs. Free Agency: Filling the Dolphins Defensive End Need

February 13th, 2013

Osi Umenyiora

Cameron Wake causes opposing quarterbacks, and offensive tackles alike to lose sleep the night before a game against the Dolphins.  The offensive tackle that is lined up without Cameron Wake facing him is all smiles however as the Dolphins have lacked a second pass rusher for a very long time.  The last time the Dolphins were perennial playoff contenders, Jason Taylor had Trace Armstrong lined up down the line from him.  Wake has yet to find that partner.

Jared Odrick and Olivier Vernon have been drafted in recent years to provide that, but Odrick has proven more of a run stopper and Vernon will need a little more time to develop his skills as a pass rusher.   The Dolphins have an immediate need while Cam Wake is still in his prime so let’s check a few options the Dolphins have to upgrade a key need, one that can not only help the pass rush, but also helps the secondary not get exposed having to cover shorter amounts of time each snap. 

MDD Staff Writer:  Chad Pullen

Free Agency:
Osi Umenyiora   6-3  255  Age 31
Osi is the biggest “name” pass rushing DE on the market outside of Dwight Freeney, however Osi has a lot more mileage than what the Dolphins should be looking for.  With Wake already in his early 30’s, Miami should be looking to add someone with some years still left on their odometer so that when Wake does decide to hang them up, that player will still be around to pair with (hopefully) Vernon, and if not then a yet undrafted player that fits the bill.  If Miami does pursue Osi, it would be more of a win now type of signing, and one that frankly is not the right mindset given the current condition of the roster.

Cliff Avril   6-3  260    Age 26
At 26, Avril would indeed fit the bill the Dolphins need in terms of pairing him next to Wake for a few years, and him still having enough in the tank for the time that Vernon has developed into a pass rusher the Dolphins hope he becomes.  Avril fits into the 4-3 scheme just fine and can play both the run and pass rushing situations without being exposed.  The only drawback would be what his salary demands might be, Avril is certainly in a position to cash in and may be looking for the best deal rather than trying to fit in with a younger team trying to build for the long term.
Draft:
DE Damontre Moore – Texas A&M   6-4  250
Texas A&M has certainly become a pipeline for the Dolphin franchise three former players and one coach currently in Miami.  Moore could also find himself there if he drops a little in the first round.  A dynamic pass rusher that just keeps coming off the edge, he would fill the need at DE immediately and could start on day one as opposed to Vernon who is much more raw and more on a converted OLBer.  It could be possible however that Moore comes off the board before the Dolphins pick at #12, so if Miami truly falls in love with him, a trade may be necessary.

DE Dion Jordan – Oregon    6-6   245
Jordan’s frame could remind some of former Dolphin great Jason Taylor with his 6-6 height and lean body type.  He might also remind folks of Taylor with his elite athleticism and versatile ability on the field.  Jordan is an explosive speed pass rusher who is athletic enough to be used in other ways such as dropping into zones or flats to confuse quarterbacks.  He gives effort with his hustle which sometimes does lead him to be out of position against the run.  With solid coaching he could correct this and be a great weapon for any defense, and with Wake on the other side, he shouldn’t have to worry about facing too many double teams until Wake retires.

DE Alex Okafor – Texas      6-4  260
Okafor is another versatile end without the same raw athleticism that Jordan has.  Okafor and another potential Dolphin target, Safety Kenny Vaccaro, played all over the field for Texas with Okafor handling the disruption business for the Longhorns.  Every week Okafor made something happen at Texas, a key sack, a pressure, tackles for loss, something that would impact the offense he was facing.  He’d also benefit greatly from playing alongside Wake and learning some tricks of the trade as he’s still a bit raw himself.  Alex is versatile enough that Texas lined him up all over the field, left side, right side, he even played linebacker at times so the offense would have to account for him at all times.  He may not be a true value at 12, but he could drop to the second round with a little luck and the Dolphins may be able to add him there and should be very happy if he does fall to them.

DE Michael Buchanon – Illinois      6-5  240
Buchanon is one that could jump up draft boards very quickly depending on his performances in the Combine as well as personal workouts, or he could slide down based off those same factors.  He’s a very talented pass rusher with a variety of moves to get past offensive lineman but like Jordan, he may need to add some weight to succeed at the NFL level.  Buchanon is a little more polished at this point than a Jordan or Werner who both still have upside to improve upon but what he does have is good enough to survive, he’ll just need to apply it to the NFL game.  He may not be worthy of the twelfth selection, it could be possible that the Dolphins move down and then Buchanon could be worth a look later on in the first round.  My guess would be that at this point, Ireland needs to take sure things; talents that will no doubt translate to the NFL on day one and contribute, Buchanon may just fit into that mold.

DE Bjoern Werner – Florida St     6-4  275
With Miami drafting at 12 rather than the top of the draft, the odds of them landing Werner are slim at best.  However if Ireland finds a team willing to trade down, Ireland does have the extra draft picks to make a move and if the Dolphins target Werner they would be adding a dynamic high motor pass rusher.  Coming out of Florida State, the Dolphins would also be adding another Floridian player after years of ignoring their in state elite collegiate talent the past few years.   Ireland seems to be correcting that recently having added OC Mike Pouncey, RB Lamar Miller and DE Olivier Vernon the past two drafts.  Werner could be better than each of those three and would be a huge boost for the Miami defense.

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