Tony Sparano needs a successful Draft this year
The Phins' Front Office needs a successful draft to keep their jobs next season, and with a number of areas of need, they can ill-afford a poor pick in any of the early rounds.
Miami needs to strengthen the offense, with both their starting running backs out of contract, and an offensive line which let defenders through at will last year. In addition, there is a need for a deep threat wide receiver, and a tight end who can stretch the field.
On defense, depth at linebacker and cornerback is all that is required. However, Miami isn't adverse to picking the best player on the board, regardless of position.
So, here goes...
Miami Dolphins Choose to Trade Down
Miami is in trade down mode, and they should not have a problem finding a trade partner on the first day of the draft. With the abundance of offensive linemen and defensive ends on the board, someone will trade up to ensure they don’t miss out on their man.
Possible trade partners include Tampa Bay, who is in the market for a defensive end, and San Diego, who is known to be fond of JJ Watt, who has also caught the eye of the Patriots. New England selects one place ahead of the Chargers, and with Miami trading with San Diego last year, the relationship between the two organisations is there.
Seattle could be a possible partner too, as they are in the market for a quarterback and a defensive end. Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett could take their fancy, and may not be around when the Seahawks select at 25.
If Miami is on the clock, and players such as Robert Quinn, Aldon Smith, Tyron Smith or Anthony Castonzo are still on the board, the Dolphins’ front office should expect an opposing GM on the phone.
While it might be the most sensible option, I don’t see Miami making more than one trade back. Getting out of the first round could be useful for Miami, particularly if they pick up both of Denver’s second-round picks, but I just can’t see Miami giving up a first rounder, even if it is more multiple second and third round picks.
Miami Dolphins Select Mike Pouncey, Florida (Guard)
This pick really could go any direction. It’s hard to put a quarterback at this slot, knowing that very few are NFL-ready, and the front office’s jobs are on the line. Gambling on a QB who struggles in his rookie season could cost them their jobs.
In the end, I think need dictates Miami selecting Florida Gators’ guard Mike Pouncey.
Having said that, I’m not sold on the pick yet, but there aren’t many other directions that Miami can go at the moment. Pouncey offers value at the pick, and fills a big need, so this selection currently makes more sense that any other.
The value just isn’t there to take a running back in the first round. Despite all Mark Ingram’s talent, and with Vernon Carey set to return as starting right tackle next year, it would be unwise to use a first rounder on a backup offensive tackle, even if the best player and most value comes with that selection. As previously mentioned, the front office will likely shy away from a gamble on a quarterback, but are any of this year’s draft class good enough to become an elite NFL quarterback anyway?
Pouncey would be a good value pick in the early 20s of the first round, which is where Miami would likely end up if they trade down. He could immediately slot in at left guard, and start from day one, with Incognito playing at center, and a position battle on the cards for the starting right guard job.
Pouncey is not the elite talent his older brother, Maurkice, is. However, he has the ability to be a Pro-Bowler, even if it isn’t in his first season like Maurkice. Mike would provide Miami with the pulling guard they require, and has the intangibles that the front office desires.
Picking Pouncey would immediately secure the left of the offensive line alongside Jake Long, and then the left of the line is set for the next decade. Solving the interior offensive line struggles is vital to Miami’s running game next year, and the selection of Mike Pouncey would do just that.
Other possible selections:
Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama)—You can’t ignore the Heisman winner, but have to question the value of using a first-round pick on a running back with a troublesome knee.
Christian Ponder (QB, FSU)—The most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft, but injury concerns are a big worry. Miami can’t afford to take that risk on a first-round pick with a history of injuries (including shoulder issues).
Mikel LeShoure (RB, Illinois)—A workhorse back, but does he offer enough value as a first rounder? Some later-round prospects would be more tempting targets than LeShoure, despite his abilities.
Gabe Carimi (OT, Wisconsin)—Has the potential to become a quality right tackle, but with Vernon Carey likely to start at that position next season, it would be odd for Miami to draft a backup tackle with a first-round selection considering how many needs the organisation has.
Miami Dolphins Select Jerrell Jernigan, Troy (Wide Receiver)
Considering trading down would likely yield a late second-round pick, Jernigan could be the man who becomes Miami’s deep receiving threat. He is projected as a late second or early third-round pick, so could be a reach for the Dolphins, but would fit their needs better than any other player at this point in the draft.
He has speed to burn, registering a 40-yard dash as low as 4.32, and can beat out any defensive backs on a deep ball. He can also play the slot, and has the versatility to move around the offense, which could intrigue the Dolphins, and is a return man, which would fill another glaring need of the Dolphins.
His hands are reliable, meaning the Dolphins can avoid a second case of "Ginn-itus" too. With no off-field concerns, he has the character the Front Office like, and despite Jernigan’s size ruling him out of Miami in the past, the front offices seem happy to sacrifice size for speed this year.
If they carry out this promise, then the 5-9, 185lbs Jernigan becomes a fit in Miami. If the Dolphins want speed, Jernigan is the direction they will go. However, if Ireland finds it impossible to put size concerns out of his mind, then Miami’s own Leonard Hankerson and Maryland’s Torrey Smith are real possibilities.
Other possible selections:
Leonard Hankerson (WR, Miami)—Has the potential to be a deep threat receiver, and could still be on the board when Miami selects. Could be a strong candidate if Miami opts for a little more size and strength at the expense of straight-line speed.
Colin Kaepernick (QB, Nevada)—Miami is known to like the Wolfpack QB, but he may even force himself into the first round, and likely won’t be around late in the second. Issues with his mechanics and college offense style make him a project, so he could be out of the reckoning with Miami needing to win right away.
Stephen Wisnieski (C, Penn State)—The best center in the draft, and comes from a good football bloodline. Miami need to upgrade at the position, but Richie Incognito is likely to move to center from guard; in this case, Wisnieski isn’t needed.
Martez Wilson (ILB, Illinois)—Many scouts and draft experts consider Wilson to be overrated, but despite this he may not be on the board when Miami picks.
Torrey Smith (WR, Maryland)—Considered a deep threat receiver and a return threat, but questionable hands might rule him out of the running in Miami. The Dolphins have tried drafting a burner solely for his speed before, and everyone remembers how that turned out; most wish that they could forget though.
DJ Williams (TE, Arkansas)—Great seam threat tight end, and fantastic leader and human being. He would be a certain pick for Miami were it not for his size. At 6'2", he lacks the height Miami wants at that position, but he has terrific hands and great speed for the position.
Miami Dolphins Select Mason Foster, Washington (Outside Linebacker)
Despite their needs on offense, you can’t expect Miami to use all their picks on that side of the ball, particularly if there isn’t anyone who really interests them and fills a need on the board.
If this is the case, the Dolphins’ could go for a defensive player, and having filled a need on the interior line and solved their deep threat issue, Miami opts to improve their pass rush and select the Huskies’ Mason Foster.
Foster is a versatile linebacker, who can be used in a number of schemes as he has the instincts of a middle linebacker, but the athleticism of an OLB. The Dolphins want another pass-rushing OLB to push Koa Misi to improve, and Foster has the potential to do just that. In addition, he is a standout special teams’ contributor.
He is productive and consistent, and would fit nicely into Mike Nolan’s blitz schemes, as he times the snap well. He does a good job avoiding blockers, and has good burst in open lanes. In addition, he looks to strip the ball off the quarterback when he has a blindside hit on the cards. Foster registered 6.5 sacks as a senior, and led the Pac-10 in tackles with 163 (58 more than the next leading tackler in the conference!)
Although he lacks a full repertoire of pass-rush moves, he could contribute quickly for Miami on special teams, and would push Misi to improve. For the record, I believe Miami expects Misi to be just fine, but they still need depth at the position, and his special teams’ qualities are required by the Dolphins.
Foster is instinctive and a quality tackler. He will bring depth to the outside linebacker corps which includes just Quentin Moses, Cameron Wake and Misi at present. While Miami might want to draft on offense here, they won’t ignore the defense if there is no value selecting an offensive player at this point, and the Dolphins might see this as the case. Foster offers decent value in the third; he is unlikely to reach the fourth, but picking him in the second would be a reach. He has the qualities and character that the front office would enjoy working with, and could help Miami right away on special teams.
Other possible selections:
Quan Sturvidant (ILB, North Carolina)—Solid inside linebacker, and possible selection at the end of day two. Sturvidant has the ability that Miami would covet, but might be a reach in the third.
James Carpenter (OT, Arkansas)—Quality offensive tackle who would definitely be a potential pick for Miami. He would eventually take over at right tackle for the Phins, but is unlikely to reach the middle of Round 3.
Titus Young (WR, Boise State)—Another deep threat receiver and return man, who can make yards after the catch. However, his reputation as a diva is hardly something Miami wants in their team, particularly when he has this reputation without even playing a snap in the NFL.
Ricky Stanzi (QB, Iowa)—Perhaps the best developmental quarterback in the draft, Stanzi has improved every year in college, and is the perfect character for the front office; however, he does not have the qualities to start right away, and that might rule him out of the running for Miami.
Kendall Hunter (RB, Oklahoma State)—Quick and elusive running back with good vision, and the ability to make big gains whenever he has the ball in hand.
Taiwan Jones (RB, Eastern Washington)—4.3 speed and is a home run threat every time he touches the ball; however, he has a worrying injury history, and some speculate he may only see a few snaps a game in the NFL.
Edmund Gates (WR, Abilene Christian)—The fastest man at the Combine provides a great deep threat, but he is raw and there are concerns about the level of opposition he faced in college.
Miami Dolphins Select Virgil Green, Nevada (Tight End)
The Dolphins choose to use their fourth-round pick on a seam threat tight end in Virgil Green. This might be a bit of a reach for Green, but he will be off the board in either the fourth or fifth round, and Miami won’t want to miss out on this target.
Miami is desperate for a tight end to stretch the field and open up space for their wide receivers, and with very few players in this year’s limited draft class capable of this, Green is likely to be drafted sooner rather than later. He has the size that Miami wants at the position (6-4, 250lbs), and ran a 4.6 40-yard dash at the Combine.
Green is not a great blocker, but his reliable hands, good size, speed and elusiveness make sure his upside outweighs the negatives. He would be a good foil for Anthony Fasano in the two-TE formation, and can open up space underneath for Davone Bess. His route running is crisp, and he would be able to stretch the field, or even get behind a safety for deep balls.
Any player who can take attention away from Brandon Marshall should be coveted, but Green is a dangerous receiving weapon in his own right. The Dolphins won’t want to miss out on Green, so pulling the trigger in the fourth makes sense.
Other possible selections:
John Moffitt (OG, Wisconsin)—Another of the Badgers’ solid O-Line. Nasty lineman, who plays hard, and whose style would be well-liked by Tony Sparano. Moffitt could even become a starter in his rookie season.
Tim Barnes (C, Missouri)—Highly-rated center with all the tools to become a quality player. Durable, intelligent and tough; would be a great fit in a scheme were he does not have to rely on his average athleticism.
Reshad Carmichael (CB, Virginia Tech)—Instinctive and a top zonal-coverage defender. Sub-4.4 speed, with quality play-making ability and the potential to play in nickel formations.
Dontay Moch (OLB, Nevada)—Lacks hustle and physicality, but has outrageous 4.4 speed, and is as dangerous a pass-rusher as any. His speed makes him a danger on any blitz, and he is a pass-rush specialist Miami covets.
Jalil Brown (CB, Colorado)—An excellent prospect, who can help immediately on special teams. Did a good job for the Buffaloes despite seeing a lot of action, as teams picked on him instead of fellow cornerback Jimmy Smith. Good potential, and could become a starter within a couple of years.
Bilal Powell (RB, Louisville)—Running back with good speed and elusiveness, and possess the ability to take it to the house on every play.
Nebraska's Roy Helu Offers Great Value in the Fifth Round
Miami Dolphins Select Roy Helu, Nebraska (Running Back)
Helu is the sort of player that the front office would love: tough, durable, great character. He is a dangerous runner with 4.4 speed, and is a threat to take it to the house on every play.
He is a workhorse, and is happy to take the bulk of the snaps, while he has the speed that Miami wants in their new running backs. He is difficult to catch in the open field, and if he can improve his vision and decision making, he could have a good career in the NFL.
Helu is explosive and can get round the outside, he is a leader and a team player and the Dolphins would not be able to pass up a player with his character, attitude and ability. His breakaway speed is what Miami wants, and he offers great value in the fifth round.
Other possible selections:
Julius Thomas (TE, Portland)—Basketball convert with great potential, but is still a little raw. Has all the tools to become this year’s Jimmy Graham.
Rob Housler (TE, Florida Atlantic)—Good size and runs a sub-4.6 40. Small-school prospect with great potential and character, and has the ability to stretch the field.
Jah Reid (Offensive Tackle, UCF)—Big, nasty tackle who will definitely be on Miami’s board. Good character, and great potential as a right tackle on Miami’s line; flying under the radar, and difficult not to pick if he falls this far.
TJ Yates (QB, North Carolina)—Mobile quarterback with potential, but lacks great arm strength. A born leader with good accuracy on short and intermediate throws.
Damien Berry: The power back can stay in Miami
Miami Dolphins Select Damien Berry, Miami (Running Back)
Berry is a perfect complement for Helu in the backfield. Strong, physical and powerful runner who hits the hole well, and is difficult to bring down. He continues to work hard to improve his game, and having played for the Miami Hurricanes, he would be a popular selection among the Dolphins’ fan-base.
He lacks the breakaway speed Miami wants, but is a dangerous runner, and makes the hard yards. His carries at college were split with Graig Cooper, meaning he does not have a lot of wear and tear, and this also reduced the numbers he put up, meaning he is a projected late-round pick as he does not have elite stats.
Berry would offer something different for Miami on offense if he worked with a faster tailback like Helu, but he is a threat in his own right with his vision and power. The Dolphins would like to have a power back on their roster, despite their assertions that they want speed on offense, and Berry is that man.
Other possible selections:
Brandon Fusco (C, Slippery Rock)—Guard/Center who has attracted a lot of attention from Dolphins’ scouts. Small school prospect with potential to become a starter in time.
David Arkin (OG, Missouri State)—Decent late-round prospect at guard, who started all 44 games in his career, and earned a number of honours from his excellent senior year. His big 6'5", 305lbs frame will appeal to Miami.
Denarius Moore (WR, Tennessee)—Deep threat wide receiver who has good size and ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the Combine.
K.J. Wright offers depth at linebacker and on special teams
Miami Dolphins Select K.J. Wright, Mississippi State (Outside Linebacker)
Miami go back to the defense in Round 7, and again select an outside linebacker who can contribute on special teams. Wright is capable of playing in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, and is an instinctive defender with good burst and athleticism.
Although he was a little disappointing at the Combine, he made a good contribution to the Bulldogs defense with 79 tackles, including nine for a loss, and four sacks. He is not a pure pass-rushing linebacker, but the Dolphins need depth, and alongside Wake, Misi, and the already drafted Foster, he would be a solid backup.
A very durable athlete, Wright has good size at 6'3" and 246lbs, and his contribution to special teams would be invaluable to the Dolphins. Wright would be a solid late-round selection who offers Miami good cover for their starting linebackers, and more toughness on defense and special teams—an area Miami is desperate to improve.
Other possible selections:
Schuylar Oordt (TE, Northern Iowa)—Seam threat tight end with lanky 6'7" frame, but runs a 4.56 40-yard dash, and can stretch the field well.
Aldrick Robinson (WR, Southern Methodist)—Deep-threat receiver with good speed, and is also a very capable punt returner. 2008 suspension may be a concern though.
Brandon Saine (RB, Ohio State)—5'11", 220lbs and runs a 4.4; Saine has the speed and power to interest Miami, and is a capable receiver too.
Miami Dolphins Select Mike Person, Montana State (Offensive Tackle)
Miami adds an offensive lineman to finish their draft, and Person fits the bill. Person has worked as right or left tackle, but projects as a right tackle in the NFL. He has good size, at 6'4" and 294lbs, and put on a good Combine performance.
Durable and tough, he won awards at college for his toughness and dedication in the weight room and was a respected leader for the Bobcats at college; he was chosen as a team captain by his colleagues. He needs to get a little stronger to cope with NFL defenders, but has good technique and works hard.
He is a good late-round prospect who is solid in pass protection, and could show enough potential to hold down a roster spot next season. An inspirational leader at college whose character will appeal to the front office, Person improved steadily throughout his college career, and Miami will hope that he continues to grow as a player to become a legitimate force.
Other possible selections:
Graig Cooper (RB, Miami)—Hurricanes’ running back who is also a dangerous kick returner. Injuries derailed college career, but if he can recover the speed he lost through injuries, he could be a late-round steal.
Mario Harvey (ILB, Marshall)—Undersized linebacker at 5'10", 250lbs, but had an impressive pro-day with a rapid 4.46 40-yard dash and good positional workouts. Aggressive, energetic and a playmaker with good potential. Can make an immediate impact on special teams, and drew a lot of interest from Patriots’ scout at his pro-day.
Nathan Enderle (QB, Idaho)—Developmental quarterback with good accuracy; hard-working prospect who offers good value as a late-round selection.
Miami Dolphins Select Brian Duncan, Texas Tech (Inside Linebacker)
Another seventh-round addition to the linebacker corps who brings excellent toughness to the defense, Duncan could see time on the field as a situational pass-rusher and special teamer immediately.
Duncan is versatile, and played inside, outside and defensive end in college. He has good size at 6'1" and 250lbs, and has very good pass-rush ability from anywhere on the field which will interest Mike Nolan in his blitzing schemes.
In college, he registered 94 tackles in 2008 and 88 tackles the following year. In 2010, in a new defensive scheme, he was asked to blitz more and tackle less as the hybrid end/linebacker. From this position, he registered 58 tackles, but this included 12 tackles for a loss and seven sacks, proving he can be a dangerous weapon as a pass-rushing linebacker.
While coverage is not his strongest area, he offers enough as a run-stuffer and pass-rusher to warrant consideration for Miami. In addition, he is a humble, hard-working football player who knows his assignments. He is a leader, which always appeals to the front office, and has good character.
Furthermore, Duncan is a special teams’ ace. He is a good, aggressive, tackler, and would give Miami a boost in this department where they were lacking last year. The Dolphins could improve their pass-rush and special teams by snapping up Duncan in the seventh, where he should be available, and this would be a good move for Miami which would improve two areas of need.
Other possible selections:
Anthony Sherman (FB, Connecticut)—Devastating blocker in the backfield, with reliable hands in the passing game. Would help tremendously on passing downs and is also a special teams’ ace.
Noel Devine (RB, West Virginia)—Diminutive figure at 5'8" and 179lbs, but has incredible elusiveness and speed; scored two touchdowns in the Senior Bowl but does have character concerns.
Wayne Daniels (OLB, TCU)—Would offer late-round value as a situational pass rusher, although may not have the height that Miami desire at around 6’. Would fit nicely as a rush end in Miami’s defense.