The Other 31: Dolphins make moves as Tannehill tries to catch Luck, Griffin, Wilson

June 11, 2013

Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks to follow up his rookie season by turning the Dolphins into a winner. (Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)

Miami Dolphins

Background: Schedule | Depth chart | Draft | Team page | Previous Other 31 reviews

Last season’s record: 7-9

Key players released: LB Karlos Dansby, LB Kevin Burnett

Key free agents lost: TE Anthony Fasano, T Jake Long, RB Reggie Bush, CB Sean Smith, DT Tony McDaniel, S Jonathan Amaya, K Nate Kaeding, CB Bryan McCann

Key free agents re-signed: DT Randy Starks, WR Brian Hartline, QB Matt Moore, S Chris Clemons, G Nate Garner

Key free agents added:  WR Mike Wallace, LB Dannell Ellerbe, LB Phillip Wheeler, TE Dustin Keller, WR Brandon Gibson, CB Brent Grimes, G Lance Louis, DE Vaughn Martin, T Tyson Clabo

Key players traded: WR Davone Bess

Draft:

Rd. 1 (No. 3 overall)… Dion Jordan, LB, Oregon

2 (54)… Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State

3 (77)… Dallas Thomas, G/T, Tennessee

3 (93)… Will Davis, CB, Utah State

4 (104)… Jelani Jenkins, LB, Florida (former Good Counsel star)

4 (106)… Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State

5 (164)… Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida

5 (166)… Caleb Sturgis, K, Florida

7 (250)… Don Jones, S, Arkansas State

Analysis:  The Dolphins make big, attention-grabbing moves to try to put a team worthy of being a contender around quarterback Ryan Tannehill in his second NFL season. Those maneuvers were splashy. They were expensive. Were they enough? That remains to be seen.

Tannehill’s rookie season last year was good, at least by typical NFL rookie-quarterback standards. He threw for 3,294 yards, with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The Dolphins went a respectable 7-9. But in a year in which fellow rookies Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson rewrote portions of the record book and guided their teams to the playoffs, Tannehill’s debut seemed less than overwhelming.  Still, he could be poised to become one of the league’s more productive passers.

The Dolphins got him a big-play threat at wide receiver when they signed Mike Wallace to a five-year, $60 million contract in free agency. That was a significant deal, to be sure, for a player coming off a season in which he had a relatively modest 836 receiving yards. But Wallace had two seasons with more than 1,100 receiving yards in four years in Pittsburgh. The speedster adds an element to Miami’s offense and could accelerate Tannehill’s development into a top-tier quarterback.

The defense wasn’t ignored. The Dolphins added free agent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe for a five-year, $35 million deal. They also made a major move on draft night by trading up to get Oregon linebacker Dion Jordan third overall. With Ellerbe and Jordan, the defense becomes more formidable. The Dolphins signed cornerback Brent Grimes in free agency and used their second-round pick in the draft on Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor.

There were losses in free agency, as the Dolphins said their goodbyes to offensive tackle Jake Long, cornerback Sean Smith and tailback Reggie Bush. They released linebacker Karlos Dansby. But all of that seemingly was more than offset by the additions that were made. It perhaps is difficult to envision the Dolphins overtaking the New England Patriots in the AFC East. But it is not as tough to see them making a strong push to get over .500 in Tannehill’s second season and possibly contend for a playoff spot.

Why Redskins fans should care: Tannehill forever will be linked to the other quarterbacks taken with him in last year’s NFL draft, including Griffin. Luck, Griffin and Wilson outdid Tannehill in their rookie seasons. Can Tannehill begin to close the accomplishment gap?

Conversation starter: Will Ryan Tannehill join Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson as memorably good quarterbacks from the draft class of 2012?

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @john_keim (starting July 1) | @D3Keith | @Insider | @PostSports

More coverage:

D.C. Sports Bog: Vance: Give RGIII some room | McGinty: Fascination getting ‘creepy’

The Early Lead: Tebow signs with the New England Patriots

D.C. Sports Bog: Fred Smoot on Gibbs, Zorn and Sean Taylor

‘Pacman’ Jones arrested on assault charge

Ex-NFL player Chad Johnson gets 30 days in jail

The Mailbag: Orakpo’s impact, best regular-season game and more …

Redskins’ Morgan cherishes the ties he keeps to his home town of Washington

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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