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Miami Dolphins 2023: What's next at inside linebacker?

The Palm Beach Post 3/13/2023 Joe Schad, Palm Beach Post

This look at inside linebackers is part of a series from our Dolphins beat writers.Dolphins inside linebacker Jerome Baker is on a contract averaging $12.5 million per year.

Pending free-agent inside linebacker Elandon Roberts has started 76 NFL games.

Dolphins inside linebacker Channing Tindall was a third-round pick last year.

Yet, Miami is likely looking to add an inside linebacker that fits the scheme of incoming defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who uses a base defense with four linebackers, including two in the middle of the field.

When it comes to linebackers Fangio likes, think Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman.

Willis was 6-foot-1, 242 pounds, a herculean, glass-eating, predator.

Bowman was 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, hard-hitting, speedy, and do-it-all.

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Baker is 225 pounds, Tindall is 232 and Roberts is 238.

Free-agent inside linebacker Duke Riley is 227 pounds.

If Fangio likes Bakers' athleticism, he'll likely look to pair him with a powerful, brawny, brute.

"We need to build some depth and create some competition there," Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said of the inside linebacker position.

How they did in 2022

The Dolphins defense was tied for 6th in the NFL, allowing only 4.2 yards per rush attempt.

Miami was also 6th in rushing yards allowed.

A lot of this had to do with the excellent run defense of defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler.

Baker improved his run defense metrics after three poor seasons in that area, according to Pro Football Focus.

Roberts is a thumper and a run-stopper, but not as quick as Baker in coverage.

Free agents of interest

The sheer number of talented free agent inside linebackers available is staggering.

Among the players: Lavonte David (Bucs), Eric Kendricks (Vikings), Devin Bush (Steelers), Tremaine Edmunds (Bills), David Long (Titans), Germaine Pratt (Bengals), Alex Singleton (Broncos), Denzel Perryman (Raiders) and, soon, Bobby Wagner (Rams).

Let's sort those linebackers by 2022 Pro Football Focus position grades: Bobby Wagner (1st in the NFL), Lavonte David (3), Tremaine Edmunds (5), Alex Singleton (10), Germaine Pratt (11), David Long (14), Denzel Perryman (19), Eric Kendricks (50), Devin Bush (54).

Let's sort those linebacker by age: Tremaine Edmunds (24), Devin Bush (24), David Long (26), Germaine Pratt (26), Alex Singleton (29), Denzel Perryman (30), Eric Kendricks (31), Bobby Wagner (32), Lavonte David (33).

Draft prospects to watch

Because Miami selected a linebacker in the third round last year, it would seem less likely the Dolphins would use a second- or third-rounder on another linebacker.

But linebacker is an important position in Fangio's defense.

Among the inside linebackers that may be available at picks 51, 77 or 84 are: Trenton Simpson (Clemson), Drew Sanders (Arkansas), Jack Campbell (Iowa), Dorian Williams (Tulane) or Henry To'oTo'o (Alabama).

What the Dolphins should do

The Dolphins seem likely to add one of the players listed in the free agency section above.

Tremaine Edmunds is a beast but may end up out of the price range.

David Long and Germaine Pratt, both 26, both solid against the run and pass, are worth monitoring.

It's also worth monitoring how and where Miami views Jerome Baker fitting in.

Joe Schad is a journalist covering the Miami Dolphins and the NFL at The Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at and follow him on Instagram and Twitter @schadjoe. Sign up for Joe's free weekly Dolphins Pulse Newsletter. Help support our work by subscribing today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Miami Dolphins 2023: What's next at inside linebacker?

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