9. RB RONNIE BROWN — For the second time in three years, Brown is faced with the task of coming back from a serious injury. This time it was a foot injury, which cut short what had been a productive 2009 season. Brown has yet to sign his restricted free agent tender and he'll likely be in a contract year. There is no question anymore about Brown's ability as a running back. He's a bruising back who can break tackles and also break long runs. The only issue with him has become one of durability.
8. RB RICKY WILLIAMS — Brown and Williams clearly are interchangeable on this list, but we put Williams ahead because of Brown's recent injury issues. Williams, for his part, has to deal with the age issue. Even though he won team MVP honors last year with a tremendous performance, the fact remains he's 33 years old — and that's ancient in running back years. Like Brown, this might be his last year in Miami because he has said in the past that 2010 would be his last season. Then again, with Ricky, you never know. At least it's good to know the Dolphins have him for the next season.
7. CB SEAN SMITH — Smith came in with Vontae Davis tabbed as the next Madison and Surtain, and nothing that happened in the first year changed that perception. Sure, both Smith and Davis gave up some plays, but they also looked very impressive considering they were rookies. Smith was particularly solid in coverage, which was the book on him coming out of the University of Utah. It was disappointing he didn't get an interception, but we're thinking he'll get his share before his career is over. Smith's tackling, on the other hand, definitely could use some improvement, which is why we always find amusing the suggestion he might switch over to free safety.
6. CB VONTAE DAVIS — It's almost mandatory to put Davis right next to Smith, so that's what we did. There really isn't much separating Davis and Smith, but we put Davis ahead because he just looks like he's got a bigger upside as a defensive back. The reason for that is that he's such a good tackler. In fact, he's probably the best tackling cornerback the Dolphins have had in years, if not ever. Yes, he did give up a few high-profile plays last year, but he also made his share of plays, as evidenced by his team-leading four interceptions. The reality is this guy will be in the Pro Bowl before long.