With Paul Soliai catching on with the Atlanta Falcons yesterday, the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Texas native can expect to jump right into the rotation on the interior and fill the void created by Soliai’s departure. During his four seasons in Houston, Mitchell recorded 191 tackles, 3.5 sacks, four passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery and anticipates his production to increase in Miami’s scheme.
“I definitely wanted to be part of a 4-3 team because I think it will give me an opportunity to showcase my skill, make more plays and get after the quarterback,” Mitchell said. “I’m just trying to showcase the things that I’ve learned within the schemes that I’ve been in. I’ve played in both schemes and I think it’ll be really good just to show what I’ve learned throughout the years.”
At 26, Mitchell brings youth and still untapped potential to the position and caught the eye of General Manager Dennis Hickey early on in the process. Even though the defensive line was one of the deepest position groups on last year’s team, Hickey was fully aware that he wasn’t going to be able to keep everyone on the roster.
Like Albert, Mitchell identified the Dolphins as his first choice from the moment he hit the open market and touted his passion and love for the game as two of his biggest strengths. Hickey picked up on that during negotiations and face-to-face meetings with him, which made it easier for him to pull the trigger on the signing.
“As we did our free agent evaluations one player just kept standing out in terms of what he would bring to the table and bring to our team,” said Hickey of Mitchell. “We saw a talented player that was very productive and a young player that was on the rise and has great things ahead of him. Fortunately, we had a coach on our staff in John Benton, our new O-line coach, that had been with Earl and as he talked about Earl, Earl was about all of the things that we’re about – a passion for the game, a love for the game, extremely hard working and a productive player that is talented and will continue to grow into the player that we envision.”
Mitchell is still relatively green as a defensive lineman, having spent the first two years of his college career at the University of Arizona on the offensive side of the ball. He switched to defensive tackle as a junior and also played some nose tackle before being selected by the Texans in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
By the time he reached his fourth professional season, Mitchell had earned a staring spot on a talented Texans defensive line and racked up 87 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 14 starts last season. His best game came against Albert’s old team, the Chiefs, on October 20th when he put up 11 tackles and a sack and he sees having played alongside Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt as a huge benefit now that he will be joining forces with three-time Pro Bowler Cam Wake.
“It definitely benefits everyone,” Mitchell said. “When you have guys that you have to account for and they find that they are trying to double team guys on the edge it makes it easier for the guys on the inside. Just playing with a guy like J.J., it’s definitely going to be similar to playing with a guy like Wake and I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”