During an animated meeting in December the Miami Dolphins considered moving Kiko Alonso out of his middle linebacker spot and to an outside (weakside) position to address some of the flaws among the team’s linebacker corps.
The idea was to move Alonso outside and use second-year reserve Mike Hull as the team’s middle linebacker instead. And the argument for the change was that Alonso outside and Hull in the middle could be more productive than, say, Alonso in the middle and reserve Spencer Paysigner or someone else outside.
Ultimately, the idea was rejected.
The Dolphins, sources say, didn’t want to “mess with Kiko’s head” three months into the season by asking him to move. The team also wasn’t certain moving Alonso to a position he had not played or practice much at the entire season would be an upgrade.
So nothing happened.
But this offseason ... the move will be revisited.
Kiko Alonso, the team’s leading tackler and one of the defense’s few playmakers, may be asked to switch from the middle linebacker spot he played in 2016.
The Dolphins, who expect to address the linebacker position with the addition of perhaps two new starters out of the three positions, want flexibility in their search for upgrades. And with an Alonso move on the table, scouts don’t necessarily have to limit their search to weakside and strongside linebackers. They can search for a middle linebacker as well.
So, for example, if the best available linebacker is a middle linebacker, the team can go in that direction and move Alonso outside -- accomplishing what it set out to do, which is improve the entire unit.
“Really, these next few months are a two-fold evaluation of our roster, and trying to make that better, and then our scheme fit, and trying to make that better,” new defensive coordinator Matt Burke said. “It kind of goes hand and hand. We’ll see what other type of players we bring in through free agency and the draft and where Kiko fits in.
“Obviously we see him as an important piece of the future. I had a great time working with him and helping him get to that point; but, we really haven’t even started to evaluate position moves, fits, schemes, all of that stuff. That’s going to be an ongoing process.”
The coaching staff hasn’t started evaluating position moves because 1. coaches are off until next week and 2. the players with which they can consider fitting the right pieces in the right position aren’t on the roster yet. But come free agency and the draft, the Dolphins will fill the linebacker room, and the conversation about where Alonso will play in 2017 will happen.
The question is whether Alonso will embrace a move if that’s necessary. Although he can play both in the middle and at weakside linebacker and the Dolphins know this, Alonso said during the 2016 he likes playing in the middle the most. Alonso was unavailable for comment but he has also said in the past he’d be open to doing “whatever is best for the team.”
(By the way, even though coaches, including head coach Adam Gase, are not scheduled to attend the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama next week for the gathering of some of the best college talent about to enter the NFL, the Dolphins will indeed be represented by their personnel department. And linebackers will be a priority.)
Florida’s Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis, Clemson’s Ben Boulware, Houston’s Tyus Bowser, Michigan’s Ben Gedeon, Brigham Young’s Harvey Langi, and LSU’s Duke Riley have all accepted invitations to participate in the game and the week of practices in front of NFL general managers and scouts that precedes it.
Dolphins coaches, meanwhile, will be back home evaluating their own players first before watching tape on the practices in Mobile and later the game.
“Honestly, not to deflect a lot of things, but it’s kind of early in that process, like I said,” Burke said. “There are going to be a lot of changes obviously on the roster. It happens every year. What Adam said in bringing us here was and has always been, ‘Look, when we get our roster set, we’re going to put our players in the best position to be successful for them.’
“Obviously, (Alonso) had a successful season. We’re excited that he’s a part of the organization now.”
Part of the organization, of course, either as a middle linebacker ... or a weakside linebacker.