Miami Dolphins Most Underrated and Overrated Offseason Additions
The Miami Dolphins were active during the offseason this year, acquiring players in an attempt to rebuild an anemic offensive line while replenishing depth throughout the rest of the roster.
The ultimate goal of these acquisitions is quite obvious: improve the team from its 8-8 record in 2013. That doesn't mean that such improvement will take place, because as you know, free-agent acquisitions can (and will) backfire (case in point: Miami's linebackers).
Some moves can exceed expectations as well, and turn into real bargains.
So let's take a way-too-early look at the most underrated and overrated acquisitions the Miami Dolphins have made this offseason.
Overrated: Cortland Finnegan
Hopefully new Miami Dolphins' cornerback Cortland Finnegan isn't on the phone with Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio in this picture.
Before his incident with Florio last week, and before he blasted the defensive approach of his former team and called it "atrocious" (per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald), Finnegan was an overrated piece.
The Dolphins spent too much money on a player who last year showed signs of sharp decline. Sure, you could blame the scheme like Finnegan did, but when you consider that as a whole the Rams defense finished 15th in yards allowed, 13th in points allowed and 19th against the pass (while finishing ninth against the run), I'm inclined to go with the Rams and point out that Finnegan was terrible.
Pro Football Focus tends to agree, as in Finnegan's seven games, he finished graded out at minus-19.8 overall (subscription required).
He's been saying and doing all the right things in Miami, or at least he was until he had to talk about his time in St. Louis, then claim to be misquoted.
Just shut up and let your play on the field do the talking, Cort. Everything will sort itself out from there.
Underrated: Jordan Tripp
I wanted to keep draft picks out of this discussion, but I'm very impressed with the Jordan Tripp pick.
Tripp will be the only draft pick on this list because of where the Dolphins drafted him as well as what he could possibly do.
Tripp is already doing some work as an inside linebacker for the Dolphins, per Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel. In said role, he's done well in practice, but we'll have to wait until the pads come on to see what he can really bring to the team.
Tripp isn't going to start in his first season, but he will make an impact.
Overrated: Louis Delmas
I actually like this move for the Dolphins, as Louis Delmas offers Miami a possible upgrade at safety over Chris Clemons and brings big-play potential.
Here's why it's an overrated move: Delmas' injury history is a bit sketchy, being that Delmas has missed 13 games in the last three seasons, but thankfully none in 2013.
The troublesome knee is a concern, meaning that the Dolphins might find themselves having to reach back into their depth chart for a few games this season.
The best-case scenario is Delmas plays all 16 games at his usual high level when he's on the field, and in that case, he's a great pickup.
But the risk outweighs the reward this season.
Underrated: Shelley Smith
The big news along the Dolphins offensive line, at least other than the Mike Pouncey injury, was the signing of Branden Albert.
That signing was a good one, but under the radar came the signing of guard Shelley Smith, who will be Miami's right guard this season.
As we've cursed the tackle play from the Dolphins the last two years, right guard has been a worse-off position, thanks in part to the unwavering loyalty to John Jerry, who to me is one of the worst draft picks the Dolphins have made.
Now Jerry's gone, giving the Dolphins a chance to upgrade by signing former Rams guard Shelley Smith.
Smith will help with the running game the most. Last season, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) graded him out at 13.2 in run blocking and 7.2 overall. His pass blocking left much to be desired, but he's still young and malleable and is still a major upgrade at the position.
Overrated: Knowshon Moreno
I hate saying that a signing I like is overrated, but yes, Knowshon Moreno, even pre-injury, was an overrated signing.
Moreno was signed based off of his production with the Denver Broncos last season, especially in pass blocking. While on the surface this is a good reason to make such a signing, keep in mind that Peyton Manning makes it easier for running backs to produce and has a Marino-like quick release that also cuts down on sacks.
Moreno also struggled his first few seasons in Denver, and it was telling that the Broncos really didn't put up much of a fight to retain him.
Now with news about Moreno's possibly chronic knee condition (per James Walker of ESPN.com), the signing looks worse than it did when it first happened.
That's a shame; it looked promising at the time, but still a bit overrated.
Underrated: Earl Mitchell
Branden Albert was the big prize, but on the same day he signed, Miami got younger (and possibly better) at defensive line in signing former Texans defensive tackle Earl Mitchell.
Mitchell wasn't as highly touted as others prior to his signing, but he did impress ESPN analyst and former general manager Bill Polian, who graded the Mitchell signing as an A, then said this about him (subscription required):
"Mitchell has become a real inside force and one of the most productive penetrators in the NFL at generating consistent inside pressure. He is a much better athlete than most guys who play his position, and his effort is outstanding. He is a one-gap penetrator with good quickness and really works to finish the play. He is young and will only get better."
What makes the signing better is that Mitchell was playing out of position as a nose tackle in Houston's 3-4 defense. He's a better fit as a defensive tackle in Miami's 4-3 scheme.
This will go down in the end as Miami's best free-agent signing of the 2014 offseason, and right now is the most underrated signing.
Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
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