A Closer Look at the Miami Dolphins Rookies
Every year a new crop of players are selected to help revive a franchise. They are expected to come in and contribute so they can lead their new team from the bottom to the top of the league.
Fans always expect all draftees to be Pro Bowlers even though they know it will not happen. The draft is a long and tenuous process in which teams look for at least three impact starters and players they can develop to eventually help the team.
For the Dolphins, Jeff Ireland, in my humble opinion, did a great job with this years draft. On paper it looks as if he drafted the impact starters that he needs and, if developed properly, the quarterback of the future.
With the controversial signing of Ryan Tannehill, many people forgot about the Dolphins other draft picks. They are a solid class that can potentially help the team in the near future.
Here is a look at Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the Dolphins draftees.
Completion Percentage: 69.15 (63.3 in his last two seasons)
QB Rating: 137.6 (135.1 in his last two seasons)
Possibly the most controversial pick in the draft (although Seattle might have something to say about that), Ryan Tannehill has the "potential" to be the starting quarterback for a team that has needed one for a while.
He comes into the perfect situation with the Dolphins now that Mike Sherman is the offensive coordinator. Tannehill says he knows the majority of the playbook already, putting him one step ahead of Matt Moore and David Garrard.
Tannehill will most likely not start come Week 1, but, if the coaching staff feels that he is ready to lead the team during the middle to end of the season given that either Moore or Garrard is having an average year, Tannehill will start. He cannot be rushed as the Jacksonville Jaguars did with Blaine Gabbert last year. Tannehill shows the ability that he is capable of leading an NFL team.
Having the task of protecting Andrew Luck's blind side is not an easy job for any offensive lineman, especially in college.
Jonathan Martin was once considered a lock to be a top 10 pick in the draft behind Matt Kalil. He was considered to be a future dominant left tackle in the NFL. The reason why he dropped? I have yet to find out.
The Dolphins took a top 3 offensive tackle in the second round. He will come in an compete right away for the right tackle position with Lydon Murtha. Martin possesses long arms and shows good balance when pass blocking. He has the athletic ability that Joe Philbin is looking for from his offensive line for the west coast offense they are trying to establish.
Martin will bring stability to an offensive line that was well below average last year (especially the right side). With Marc Colombo finally out of town, the Dolphins appear to have two tackles that will help not only stabilize the offensive line, but they will allow the new passing offense to blossom.
The right guard position is sill up for grabs, but the Dolphins now have a Pro Bowl left tackle, a potential Pro Bowl center, a solid left guard and potentially a very good right tackle.
Total Tackles: 81
Solo Tackles: 51
Miami desperately needed a pass rusher opposite Cameron Wake. It appears that they have now found someone who has the potential to be a great NFL pass rusher.
Olivier Vernon plays with a high motor that allows him to constantly put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. His specialty is rushing the passer which will be welcomed with open arms by the organization, the fan base and especially Cam Wake who won't be getting double teamed as often.
If he develops into the player Vernon is capable of becoming, the Dolphins might have one of the best pass rushing combination's in the NFL. With Tom Brady in the division, the Dolphins cannot afford to give him 10 seconds to throw the ball. Vernon will see limited action his first year, coming in mostly on passing downs, but will compete for a starting spot in his second year.
He was the first University of Miami player since Vernon Carey in 2004 to be drafted by the Dolphins.
Another need for the Dolphins looks to have been filled through the draft. They needed a seam threat tight end that can give them what Aaron Hernandez gives the Patriots and what Jimmy Graham gives the Saints.
Michael Egnew will be an extra target for the Dolphins quarterback which will provide mismatches against linebackers and safeties. He does need to greatly improve his blocking skills, but he will rarely be asked to block.
The Dolphins will now have the luxury of using a two tight end set. Anthony Fasano is very capable of catching passes downfield, but will not have to be the only tight end doing so. This pairing of Fasano and Egnew has the potential to be a great one. I expect Egnew to get a lot of reps this season, especially in the red zone.
The Dolphins may have pulled the steal of the draft when they drafted Lamar Miller in the fourth round. At one point, projected to be a middle to late first round pick, Miller fell to the fourth round due to a lack of experience and certain medical concerns.
Miller will join a backfield that includes Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Jerome Messam. He will compete right away for the second spot with Daniel Thomas, but will likely be used less often. Thomas is a more bruising running back while Miller has one of the fastest downfield speeds I have seen in a while.
He is also able to catch the ball out of the backfield, and, when paired with Reggie Bush, will give the Dolphins a ton of speed that will create mismatches. Miller will give Miami another toy to play with in the open field and will eventually become Miami's No. 1 running back.
Total Tackles: 104
Solo Tackles: 64
Already thin at the linebacker position, the Dolphins felt like they needed to add another body that they could develop. Josh Kaddu will most likely impact this team on special teams this year, but the Dolphins feel they can develop him into an eventual role player or even a starter.
Kaddu has an ideal frame to play outside linebacker and possesses the type of athleticism that can come in handy as a successful pass rusher. He needs to bulk up to be an impact player as a linebacker, but he will have an impact on special teams in his first couple years.
He improved every year during his college career at Oregon and will look to keep that process going as a part of the Dolphins. With Koa Misi's struggles at outside linebacker, Kaddu might get to see some playing time this year. However, it is very unlikely he wins a starting spot.
The Dolphins needed to draft at least one wide receiver and they waited until the sixth round to do so. Some people were expecting them to take a receiver in the first three rounds, but their waiting payed off as they were able to later draft an impact player for the position.
The new west coast offense Joe Philbin will install in Miami doesn't require an alpha receiver. This is one of the reasons they were able to let Brandon Marshall walk for a pair of third round picks. B.J. Cunningham is the perfect player as a Z receiver in the west coast offense.
He finished his career at Michigan St. as the school's all-time leader in receptions and reception yards. He doesn't have great speed or explosiveness, but has reliable hands and is willing to catch balls down the middle of the field while taking the big hit. He will serve as a reliable possession receiver for the quarterback and will help move the chains.
Total Tackles: 87
Solo Tackles: 45
The Dolphins did a great job in resigning Paul Soliai to a long term deal as they could not afford to lose his presence in the defensive line after his Pro Bowl season. Randy Starks is in a contract year so Miami felt like they needed to draft some insurance in case he does not return.
Kheeston Randall is a work in progress for the Dolphins who will probably see very little to no playing time in his rookie year. He has great explosiveness coming off the line and his big body allows him to eat up multiple blockers.
He was impressive during the senior bowl, but did not shine during his time with the Longhorns. He will have to learn the NFL game, but has the potential to be a contributor in an already good defensive line in a couple years.
With their need at wide receiver, the Dolphins felt like doubling up on wide receivers in the draft. Having chosen B.J. Cunningham in the sixth round, the Dolphins decided to pull the trigger on a raw but promising receiver out of Nevada.
Rishard Matthews played in only two seasons for Nevada, but broke out for 1,364 yards in his last year. He is well built with good speed that is also a good fit for the west coast offense. He finds himself near the bottom of the receiver depth chart, but has the ability to climb as coaches see his potential.
Matthews also has the ability to be a returner in special teams, which will give Clyde Gates the chance to focus only on receiving duties and will also allow Davone Bess to be relieved of punt return duties. Mathews needs time to develop as a receiver, but will help immediately in special teams, earning him a roster spot.