As we wait for offseason events like free agency and the NFL Draft, let’s continue our look back on the season that was by ranking the top 20 Miami Dolphins of 2013. Today, we’ll look at player No. 3, defensive tackle Randy Starks.
Forced fumbles: 1
Passes defensed: 1
Pro Football Focus breakdown
Position rank: 7 of 69
Run defense rank: 5 of 69
Pass rush rank: 8 of 69
Snaps played: 742
Quarterback hits: 6
Why he’s No. 3
Randy Starks and fellow defensive tackle Paul Soliai are both scheduled to hit free agency in March due to expiring contracts. Many Dolphins fans have assumed that Soliai will be the one retained while Starks signs elsewhere. This thinking is derived from factors like Soliai’s lower-mileage count (seven seasons to Starks’ 10) and a projected cheaper price tag. But if the Dolphins value their interior defensive line enough to spend a little extra to keep it intact, Starks should, without a doubt, be the choice.
He’s one of the league’s most complete defensive tackles. His fifth-overall grade defending the run and eighth-overall grade rushing the passer among defensive/nose tackles by Pro Football Focus affirms that sentiment. Starks’ 30 quarterback pressures ranked sixth at the position in 2013 and his 35 stops, which mostly consist of tackles near or behind the line of scrimmage, ranked seventh. He’s a valuable member of the Dolphins’ front four and will certainly be missed in 2014 if GM Dennis Hickey chooses to let him walk.
Why he’s not higher
Starks graded as an incredibly efficient defensive tackle in 2013, but his production didn’t quite mirror that. The four sacks he tallied only ranked 18th at the position. Also, despite posting an outstanding run-defense grade, the Dolphins’ finished 24th in the NFL defending the run. Starks is a Pro Bowl-caliber talent, but his likely departure isn’t going to necessarily prevent Miami’s defense from improving in 2014.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.