The most important aspect early in the offseason for any NFL team is establishing a plan and a direction for a team’s roster. A football team’s front office and scouting department get together with the coaching staff during this time, and spend hours upon hours combing through lists of possible free agents and incoming college players. Most of the typical grunt work, like looking through hours and hours of tape and putting together scouting reports usually falls upon the team’s scouting department, with the ultimate goal of finding players who fit the mold of the team. Matt Williamson was once in that role as an NFL and college scout for the Cleveland Browns, and currently serves as an NFL scout for sports media giant ESPN.
In an interview with the Finsiders, Williamson gave a scout’s perspective on the Miami Dolphins roster, and possible avenues that the Dolphins may explore with their roster this offseason.
Williamson believes that Miami’s #1 priority concerning their own group of free agents should be Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. Grimes was a premier player on a passing defense that only allowed 17 touchdowns through the air all year, 3rd best in the NFL. In fact, that defense only allowed a total of four touchdowns to opposing receivers, and Grimes didn’t allow a single passing touchdown.
“I thought Grimes played great. That was a home run,” said Williamson.
Williamson also thinks that Miami will be able to sign Grimes to both a player and team friendly deal, and that’s good news for both parties.
“If you look around the league, there’s a ton of corners that are prominent players, starters, borderline pro bowlers that are coming up for free agency this year that they might cancel each other out, and you might be able to get him not at a discount, but not at an extreme price. ”
Now the premier position of the NFL is obviously quarterback, and teams are always searching for a franchise QB that they can rely on. While other teams may be looking for one, the Dolphins aren’t one of them. And the former scout agrees with that statement, despite an up and down year from Ryan Tannehill.
“Tannehill made strides and I think I still believe as I did a year ago that he is a franchise quarterback, and I don’t throw that term around lightly,” said Williamson.
For Tannehill to continue his development, he needs weapons on offense, and Williamson sees the Dolphins having those aplenty in the passing game.
“I’m fine with the receivers. You’re getting guys like Brandon Gibson back, and I think (Charles) Clay has developed into a true weapon,” said Williamson. “They have some young tight ends that really haven’t had a chance to blossom yet so in terms of pass catchers I’m fine.”
But Williamson sees a big hole up front on offense, as he’s expecting Miami to upgrade an offensive line that allowed the most sacks in the NFL this year.
“Obviously the offensive line is priority number one, and priority number two and three really,” said Williamson.” I think they need to find three starters more or less, and that’s going to be through free agency and the draft.”
Though he does feel that the Dolphins have one of the league’s best at the offensive line’s most crucial position.
“I think (Mike) Pouncey might be the best center in the league,” said Williamson. “He’s a better player than his brother (Maurkice), and people never give him credit for that.”
So where should the Dolphins go to fix issues on the offensive line? Well, both free agency and the draft are options that Miami will likely dip into, but Williamson sees Miami spending their first round pick on a blind side protector, such as draft prospects like Taylor Lewan of Michigan, Greg Robinson of Auburn, or Antonio Richardson of Tennessee.
“I think first round left tackles make a lot of sense for the Dolphins right now,” said Williamson. “There’s four or five other offensive tackle prospects that look like they’re not gonna go super high, but could go from that 10-20 range, and that might work out really well for Miami.”
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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