It may not be Week 1 of the regular season, but real live action football is back. This Sunday's Hall Of Fame game marks the first time we get to see our Dallas Cowboys take the field against another team. They've been beating each other up for the past few weeks, so it's time to see what they can do against competition and talent that doesn't line up across from them on a daily basis.
Let me say first off that Miami has done a much better job of acquiring talent and building an organization under Joe Philbin. Coming from Green Bay, he knows first hand what the NFL Draft can do for the depth chart. General manager Jeff Ireland isn't a popular guy and he's definitely had some misses, but he does have an eye for talent. This is a much better football team than last year, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them compete for the AFC East title.
If you are not too familiar with the Miami Dolphins and want to keep your eye on a few younger players, well then I got you covered.
Let's take a closer look at what the Dolphins have to offer.
Reggie Bush decided to walk in free agency and signed with the Detroit Lions. With Bush' departure, it opened the door for former Miami Hurricane Lamar Miller. As a fan of the Hurricanes, I can tell you firsthand that this kid has the potential to become a dangerous running back.
He's fast and shifty, but Miller is fundamentally sound. His ball protection and blocking ability are very good, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. The Dolphins didn't give him a lot of carries and opportunities in 2012. After a year of learning on the job, he could be ready to take over the starting role.
Miami may have found a serious gem with Miller. He's a home run threat with the ability to become a special playmaker. With another offseason to work some things out, the former fourth-round pick is one of the running backs who could break out in 2013.
Martin's fall in the 2012 NFL Draft was interesting because he was one of the nation's best offensive lineman that year. The Dolphins scooped him up in the second round and now that decision may look like a wise move because Jake Long is now in St. Louis and they now have a young and talented player waiting in the wings to take over.
It hasn't been a good start for Martin. He's making the switch from right tackle back to left tackle. In college he protected Andrew Luck on the blind side, but the Dolphins had him starting the majority of his rookie season on the right side. It's extremely difficult for a young player to flip-flop positions like that and it may also have stunted his development. The organization is far from giving up on him, which is very smart considering he's only in his second season.
From my view, Martin's biggest issue of concern is his strength. He's more of a finesse tackle that has very good athleticism. Once he builds up strength and power, then Martin could become a very good player for the Dolphins. It will be interesting to see if Monte Kiffin attacks him, because as an opposing defensive coordinator I know I would go after him. It's only the pre-season, but Kiffin should take advantage of an obvious weakness on the offensive line.
Jeff Ireland took a risk on draft day moving up for the talented pass rusher. Many including myself, thought Ireland had made the trade for Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson. Honestly, both players are athletic freaks and have unlimited potential. Miami really couldn't screw this pick up because they were either going to get a stud pass rusher or a franchise left tackle. You can go either way and still come out with a player who is going to help your franchise for a very long time.
Jordan is off to a good start as he has dominated the Miami offensive line in practices. This was one of my highest rated players, ranking in as the second best player available in the 2013 NFL Draft. Oregon didn't highlight his pass rushing potential nearly enough and with time, Jordan could become one of the most dangerous rushers in the game.
Miami isn't running a 3-4 defense anymore, which is a shame because Jordan's skill set translate nicely to standing up at the line of scrimmage. Even though Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has more of a natural 4-3 background, he will probably mix in some 3-4 hybrid looks to stand Jordan up and allow him a free shot to use his speed as a pass rusher.
Dion will need to become better suited to stop the run and add more weight to his frame. Until he does so, teams like the Cowboys should play against his weakness and go at him with a power running game. Regardless he will be one of the most exciting players to take the field this weekend. If anyone is the next Aldon Smith, this kid could be it.