This week, we'll take a look at key Miami Dolphins players who have a lot to prove in 2014.
Next we take a look at starting linebacker Philip Wheeler, who underachieved as a big free-agent pickup last season.
2013 stats: 118 tackles, .5 sacks
What he has to prove: Wheeler has to prove he is worth the five-year, $26 million contract he signed with Miami last offseason. Wheeler is a player former Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland was enamored with for quite some time. Ireland finally landed Wheeler, but he was a disappointment in his first season with the Dolphins. New Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has no ties to Wheeler. Miami actually tried to find an upgrade this season by making a pitch to D'Qwell Jackson when he was a free agent.
Walker’s 2014 outlook: I saw a lot of holes in Wheeler’s game last year, and I’m not sure those can be fixed or masked in one offseason. Wheeler missed a lot of tackles against the run and struggled in coverage against tight ends and slot receivers. Those are two primary responsibilities as an outside linebacker. Wheeler has good athleticism for the position. Perhaps Miami’s coaching staff can find a way to make better use of Wheeler. But I don’t have high hopes for Wheeler in 2014.