- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
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Through April 20, "SportsCenter" will put every NFL team "On The Clock." Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.
The Nick Saban era is over in Miami. The Dolphins are probably in worse shape now than when he arrived. The root of their personnel problems starts at quarterback, but new head coach Cam Cameron is inheriting a roster that has plenty of holes. Defensive player of the year Jason Taylor is a superstar and the defense has potential with some additional help, but Miami's passing game is very worrisome, as is its offensive line. Cameron is going to have his hands full in his first year.
On offense, Miami brought in David Martin, Cory Schlesinger, Chris Liwienski and Az-Zahir Hakim as somewhat prominent additions. Hakim could be Miami's new slot receiver, but he hasn't been very productive of late. Schlesinger is declining and has taken quite a pounding over his career, but should provide an effective lead blocker for Ronnie Brown. Liwienski is a backup, but could potentially crack the starting lineup due to the lack of depth and talent along Miami's offensive line. Martin is a very good pass-catching tight end, but offers little as a blocker. This group is less than impressive overall as an addition to the Dolphins' struggling offense. Jay Feely will replace Olindo Mare as the Dolphins' kicker. This is a nice upgrade. The big splash made by Miami this offseason was the signing of Joey Porter. The Dolphins overpaid for his services and he is declining as a pass-rusher, but this is a good fit for both team and player. Porter should take some pressure off Taylor. Miami also re-signed Keith Traylor, who provides bulk and power in the middle of the defense, but he cannot be counted on for the long haul.
Five offensive linemen from last year's roster will not return. All five had starting experience. Miami's offensive line was a major problem last season, but now could be even worse. The greatest loss of those five was Damion McIntosh. Miami had success running behind him and the line as a whole became more productive when he was inserted as the starting left tackle. Wes Welker was traded to New England, and although he is a young and productive receiver, the Dolphins did receive a second-round pick and a seventh-round pick for his services. Although Miami probably will get RB Ricky Williams back this year, it lost Sammy Morris and Travis Minor. Williams' return could make those losses palatable. The loss of TE Randy McMichael will not be compensated for nearly as easily. Veteran DT Dan Wilkinson was also traded -- to Denver -- but that deal was later voided. Longtime starter Kevin Carter was released and will surely be missed. This, matched with the loss of Jeff Zgonina, leaves the Dolphins very thin on the defensive front.
The biggest question for the Dolphins is clearly at quarterback. They have been in a quandary at this position since Dan Marino retired. Daunte Culpepper was brought in as the savior, but Miami seems quite concerned about his recovery and future. The Dolphins have had trade talks with the Chiefs for Trent Green and might be best served to pull the trigger on that deal. Cleo Lemon is also in the mix, but is really just a backup. Quarterback is not the Dolphins' only area of need, though. Just about every position on this team could use some form of an upgrade, but Miami's biggest needs other than at quarterback are at left tackle, guard, wide receiver and along the defensive line. This could be a long season for the Dolphins.