After finishing the 2010-2011 season a lackluster 7-9, the Dolphins need to make a change. In a city full of stars and high-profile social life, Miami needs a team that can keep up.
The Fins have won the Super Bowl twice, appeared in the playoffs 22 times and completed the only perfect season. Yet, they have not been a memorable force in the AFC and have been lackluster as of late. When they make the news, it is usually more dramatic than positive.
Since turning around a 1-15 season in 2007 to an 11-5 season in 2008, they have gone 7-9 two seasons in a row.
They have the 15th overall pick in the first round, do not have a second round pick and then have two picks in the seventh round after normal picks in the third to sixth rounds.
This draft is an opportunity to get players that can become key pieces to a successful 2011 season.
Let’s look at whom the Miami Dolphins should ideally pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Dolphins were ranked 16th overall last season in passing yards, with an average of 220.4 per game. The TCU Horned Frogs may have been ranked 53rd in the nation with 229.5 yards per game, but Dalton still excelled at quarterback.
At 6’3’’ and 220 pounds, Dalton threw for almost 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns with a passer rating of 166.48 during his senior year. The two-time MWC Offensive Player of the Year and 2011 Rose Bowl MVP led his team to an undefeated season, while becoming one of the country’s top quarterbacks. Although he may not be a household name like Cam Newton, he had a very successful combine performance by showing off his arm, passion for perfection and football intelligence.
The Dolphins need a quarterback who will eventually become a franchise quarterback. Chad Henne is not consistent and solid enough to lead an offense anymore, and with a talented staff, Dalton could be what they need.
Not having a second round pick is a very sticky situation to be in, but they need to take a risk. Dalton is a very athletic and dedicated leader, and may be just what the Dolphins need.
The Dolphins are always known for having a strong defense, however Channing Crowder, Tim Dobbins and Karlos Dansby are not effective enough.
Their opponent's passing yards and rushing yards were ranked eighth and seventh, respectively. But the Dolphins inside linebacker productivity in 2010 was simply not enough: Crowder had a measly 39 total tackles, Tim Dobbins had 47 total tackles (better) and Dansby had 95 total tackles (best).
Dansby, at 6’4’’ and 250 pounds, needs someone to complement him. Sheppard, at 6’3’’ and 240 pounds, could be that guy. In his senior year with a powerful SEC team in LSU, he had a total of 70 tackles (48 solo), four sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception.
Considered one of the top five linebacker prospects, he has the ability to make an instant impact with the Dolphins. The third round may seem like a far way for such a talented player to be drafted, but if available, the Dolphins must take him.
Another Horned Frog, Jake Kirkpatrick won the Rimington Trophy in 2010 (nation’s top center), while helping his team to a 12-0 finish. TCU had the 10th ranked rushing offense (247.4 yards) and fourth-ranked scoring offense (41.6 points).
The Dolphins rushing offense was ranked 21st (102.7 yards), and in their seven wins, they averaged a total of 20.8 points. Granted, these mediocre stats cannot only be attributed to the offensive line, however it does have a great impact.
Joe Berger, the 28-year-old center for the Dolphins, has only started 20 of the 38 games he has played in over the span of his seven-year career.
Kirkpatrick is a top ranked center at 6’3’’ and 301 pounds, who may have been snubbed from a combine invite, but is enough of a stud that it does not matter. If available in the fourth round, the Dolphins cannot afford to pass him up.
He will be a crucial anchor in an offensive line that needs a considerable amount of help.
He may be only 5’9’’ and 190 pounds, but Jernigan leaves Troy University as the Sun Belt’s all-time leading receiver in yards (3,128), receptions (262) and all-purpose yards (5,971). His junior and senior year numbers are both outstanding—he was a successful receiver, as well as rusher.
A versatile wide receiver is just what the Dolphins need to complement Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess, who combined for only eight touchdowns total last season.
Jernigan could possibly go in the second or third rounds, which is why saying he will be picked fifth by the Dolphins is a risky claim. If he’s available, he should undoubtedly be picked. His size is not anything outstanding for a receiver, but he has been remarked for his great hands and concentration on the ball. He may even be able to help the Dolphins on special teams.
Jernigan, who played quarterback in high school in Alabama, comes from a family of talented athletes and has even said he ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at his junior pro day. Jernigan may not be available come the fifth round, but for the Dolphins sake, is an automatic pick if he is.
For a team that averaged 102.7 yards per game, the Dolphins definitely need some help. Veterans Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, who combined for only seven touchdowns and 1,407 yards, are both currently unrestricted free agents.
Right now, fullbacks Deon Anderson and Lousaka Polite are all the Dolphins have in the backfield, who have scored a combined one touchdown in their entire careers—combined.
Shane Vereen, out of Cal, may seem like an odd pick. He is a very talented and an interesting player. At 5’10’’ and 204 pounds, he rushed for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, while also catching 22 balls for 209 yards and three touchdowns.
The Golden Bears may have had a forgetful 5-7 season, but Vereen was able to make a name for himself as one of the top running back prospects in the 2011 draft.
He also helped his status as he ran a 4.50 40-yard dash and had 31 reps in the bench press. Being under-the-radar has played in his favor so far, and he will not disappoint when the Dolphins give him a chance and hopefully draft him in the sixth round. He is both a reliable and durable running back, which is exactly what the Dolphins need.
Anthony Fasano, the current favorite tight end, gets more fan approval than he honestly deserves. With only four touchdowns and 528 yards receiving, one can argue that he is not a very effective tight end.
This is where Stephen Skelton comes in.
He is one of the most accomplished tight ends in Fordham University history, ranked fourth in the Patriot League in receptions per game (3.8) and 81st in the nation for receiving yards per game (57.6).
His numbers may not be the most phenomenal, but at almost 6’4’’ and 247 pounds, he can become a pass-catching tight end that will help the Dolphins down the field. His size is a huge advantage at tight end, and he pairs well with Fasano, 6’4’’ and 255 pounds.
He may be a low-profile player, but he has the potential to be high impact.
Although Hill is another player who has the potential of being drafted earlier than the seventh round (think fifth round potential), there is still a strong possibility that he will be available this late.
Currently, the Dolphins have five safeties listed on their official roster: Reshad Jones (rookie), Tyrone Culver (five years experience), Chris Clemons (two years experience), Yeremiah Bell (seven years experience) and Jonathon Amaya (rookie). In terms of total tackles, they recorded: 14, 13, 60, 101, and zero respectively. These numbers could use some additional help.
Will Hill, at 6’1’’ and 207 pounds, adds depth and strength to their defensive line. At Florida, he was a standout player, and at the combine he was impressive in a fairly weak class of safeties. He is a great player who will be able to develop into a key starter for the Dolphins.