Lining Up The Outside Linebackers

The Dolphins may have said goodbye this offseason to Joey Porter and Jason Taylor, but there's still no shortage of outside linebackers on the roster as they prepare for their rookie minicamp this weekend. The issue, though, is finding the right combination when it comes to the starting lineup as well as the rotation.

At last check, the Dolphins' roster included six outside linebackers and that total could go up to eight if you want to include Karlos Dansby and Reggie Torbor, both of whom are versatile enough to play both inside or outside.

For the time being, the assumption is that Dansby will start inside next to Channing Crowder and Torbor will be on the team as a swing backup (inside and outside).

That leaves these six to compete for the starting jobs vacated by the departures of Porter and Taylor: Cameron Wake, Quentin Moses, Charlie Anderson, Erik Walden, and draft picks Koa Misi and Chris McCoy.

Misi, picked 40th overall early in the second round, and McCoy, a seventh-round pick, both were predominantly defensive ends in college who are headed for a position switch.

Despite the fact he has pass-rushing ability, it's difficult to envision McCoy starting as a rookie. The same goes for Walden, who despite also having pass-rushing ability is known more for his special teams work.

Being picked as high as he was, one would think Misi would be headed for the starting lineup and he appears better suited for the weak side because his strength is chasing down plays rather than beating blocks to get to the quarterback.

This is where it gets interesting for Miami because Anderson and Wake also are better suited for the weak side, which leaves Moses as pretty much the only great fit for the strong side.

If you remember, Moses actually looked very good at that spot late last season. But the reality is he's still an unproven commodity.

Then there's the Wake dilemma. He showed in very limited action last year he's got the tools to be a fabulous pass rusher, but former defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni wasn't shy about saying Wake had a ways to go to become an all-around linebacker.

Still, the guy easily could get 12 to 15 sacks with any kind of playing time, so the Dolphins would be making a mistake to not increase his playing time significantly in 2010.

Anderson is another possibility on the strong side, but that might require him to bulk up a little bit because his best asset also is chasing plays down as opposed to taking on and beating blockers.

The bottom line at linebacker is that the answers seem a lot more clear inside, where Dansby and Crowder figure to start and Edds will see action on passing downs, according to GM Jeff Ireland.

On the outside, the Dolphins have plenty of options but no clear solutions just yet.

Maybe the rookie minicamp will start providing some answers.


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