Countdown: The Most Valuable Dolphins, 6-10

With the start of training camp 2009 fast approaching, we set the stage by ranking the 82 players on the roster (the roster limit is 80 players under contract, so unsigned draft picks don't count). The countdown is based as much on value to the team as it is on ability. In this installment, we take a look at numbers 6 to 10.

10. OLB MATT ROTH — This might seem high for a guy who didn't put up sack numbers as a starting outside linebacker in a 3-4 ... and it very well might be. But don't underestimate his importance in the run defense because for all the great pass-rushing work Joey Porter does, stopping the run ain't his forte. Ideally, the Dolphins would have a left outside linebacker who was sturdy against the run and a good pass rusher, like LaMarr Woodley in Pittsburgh, but they don't just yet. Until they do, Matt Roth is likely to start and the outside linebackers are vital in teh 3-4.

9. SS YEREMIAH BELL — Bell was re-signed this offseason before he become a free agent and one year after he had been re-signed to a one-year contract. In essence, the Dolphins' new regime wanted to take a long look at Bell and also make sure he could hold up physically before making a long-term commitment to him. Bell passed the test from a durability standpoint. From a performance standpoint, there's never really been much question about Bell's ability. He's a guy who makes his share of plays and always looks like he's on the verge of becoming a Pro Bowl safety.

8. CB WILL ALLEN — Good cover corners are difficult to find, and Allen most definitely is that, which is why the Dolphins signed him to an extension this offseason. The knock on Allen always has been that he doesn't have good hands and won't get interceptions, but there's no question the guy can cover. He's also pretty good in run support. On top of all that, this season he's added the role of mentor for rookies Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, and don't underestimate the importance of that.

7. DE KENDALL LANGFORD — The Dolphins invested heavily in the defensive line in the 2008 draft, and it was Langford who made the quickest impact. He started every game at left defensive end as a rookie and turned in a solid performance. He was good enough to earn All-Rookie honors, and he has said all along he benefited from playing in a 3-4 in college. The next step for Langford is to become more of a force as a pass rusher, but it's crucial that he continue doing his solid work against the run for the defense to be successful.

6. T JAKE LONG — Long made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, which is basically all you can ask of the No. 1 overall pick. The truth is that Long actually can get better, and he figures to get better because he has the physical tools along with a great work ethic. The bottom line is the Dolphins have the makings of a very good offensive line, and you can't have a good offensive line without a stud left tackle. The Dolphins have that with Long, and should have it for the next 10 years or so.


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