What's Left?

By trading for Brandon Marshall and focusing heavily on defense during the draft, the Dolphins have done a good job of filling most of their needs. But there's still work to be done before now and the start of the regular season in September. Some of the holes that still remain are obvious, some not as much.

In the category of the obvious, you can start with free safety.

The position became vacant after the Dolphins got rid of Gibril Wilson, and the truth is it won't take much to provide an upgrade over the play at that spot last season.

But there's also no proven commodity on the roster at this time. Right now, the list of contenders for the starting job would include Tyrone Culver, second-year player Chris Clemons and fifth-round pick Reshad Jones.

Of course, another option would be to move a cornerback to free safety in light of the fact the Dolphins have Vontae Davis, Sean Smith and Will Allen at corner. Of those three, the one who appears best suited to play safety is Davis, and that's because of his tremendous tackling ability.

It has been suggested that perhaps the Dolphins should take a look at Jason Allen there, but he's given no indication in the past he can be a full-time starter in the secondary.

The next obvious spot on defense is at outside linebacker, where the Dolphins have to replace both starters from last year (Joey Porter and Jason Taylor). The thought seems to be that Cameron Wake will replace Porter on the weak side, and that second-round pick Koa Misi will get a shot at the strongside starting job, although Charlie Anderson might have something to say about that.

The only problem there is that Anderson and Misi both are more pursuit players and therefore better suited to play weakside linebacker.

Quentin Moses had some moments at strongside linebacker late last season, so he shouldn't be dismissed as a possibility.

The bottom line is the Dolphins need for someone to emerge as that spot and for Wake to deliver on the promise he showed last season.

On offense, there's no glaring need, per se, because only one of last year's starters no longer is on the team — and that's Ted Ginn Jr., whose loss was no big deal. With Brandon Marshall taking his place, the Dolphins should be much better offensively.

Sure, left guard Justin Smiley is in limbo and probably won't be back, but the Dolphins have replacements available with either Donald Thomas, Nate Garner or even third-round pick John Jerry, so there shouldn't be much of a drop-off there.

The only move we'd like to see on offense at this time is at tight end. Coach Tony Sparano came to the defense of Anthony Fasano and Joey Haynos during the post-draft minicamp, saying their decline in numbers had to do with the way they were used.

That may be so to a certain extent, but there's no denying the fact that Fasano wasn't nearly as reliable as a pass catcher in 2009 as he was in 2008.

Furthermore, neither Fasano nor Haynos is the type of tight end who will catch passes down the field, which is a nice dimension to have. Maybe third tight end Kory Sperry can be that kind of guy, who knows?

Truth is, it's not a huge need and the Dolphins have all the pieces to be very good on offense.

It's on defense where they will need to find some answers. And a big question at this time is whether those answers are on the roster or they're with another team.

For example, Rams safety O.J. Atogwe could be a nice alternative if he doesn't sign his tender as a restricted free agent by June 1 (which he won't) and the Rams then decide not to guarantee the offer at 110 percent of his 2009 salary (a distinct possibility).

Stay tuned.


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