2011 NFL Mock Draft: Miami Dolphins' Draft Take
The Miami Dolphins didn’t have a good season last year, as they really struggled to score points on the offensive side of the football. They finished 30th in the league in scoring last year, and that can be attributed to the struggles of Chad Henne at the quarterback position. Look for the Dolphins to draft a lot of offensive players in the draft this season.
Chad Henne was thought to be the starting quarterback of the present and future, but he really took a step backwards in 2010. His long-term potential is now in doubt, and it’s entirely possible that they look for another solution in this offseason.
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are a solid duo at running back, but I don’t think that either of them will be back next season. Even if one of them returns, the Dolphins will need to find a complement either in free agency or through the draft.
Brandon Marshall had a solid season, but it wasn’t really the impact that the Dolphins were expecting. His lack of production could be attributed to the struggles of Henne, but he needs to have a better season in 2011. The Dolphins lack a real No. 2 option, but the overall depth of this unit isn’t that bad. Anthony Fasano had a good season by his standards last year, but the depth is an issue that needs to be looked at.
Jake Long is one of the best young tackles in the league, and he makes an excellent tackle pairing with Vernon Carey. John Jerry struggled a bit at guard, but he will get every opportunity to start again next season. Richie Incognito is solid, but it remains to be seen if he plays either guard or center next season.
The defensive line is one of the strengths of the team, with both quality starters and depth. Kendall Langford and Phillip Merling are very solid starters at defensive end. Randy Starks and 2010 first-round pick Jared Odrick will provide excellent depth. Paul Sollai had a very good season at nose tackle, but the depth behind him could be an issue.
The outside linebackers are very impressive, with Pro Bowler Cameron Wake leading the way. Koa Misi played well as a rookie and he gives the Dolphins another nice pass rusher. Channing Crowder and 2010 free-agent pickup Karlos Dansby are both very solid at middle linebacker. This position seems set for the next few seasons.
The cornerbacks are solid with Vontae Davis and Sean Smith as the starters. Benny Sapp and Nolan Carroll provide depth, but the Dolphins need to find a better option for the nickel position. Yeremiah Bell is a solid strong safety, and Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons give the Dolphins two young options at the free safety position. The starters on this defensive unit are all very solid.
2010 Draft Recap
1. (28) DE Jared Odrick, Penn State
Odrick suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the season, but he’ll have a big impact on the defense in 2011.
1 GP/1 GS
2. (40) OLB Koa Misi, Utah
He is a solid pass rusher who creates a good pairing with Cameron Wake at outside linebacker.
16 GP/11 GS
3. (73) OG John Jerry, Mississippi
Jerry struggled a bit as a starter, but he should only improve with more experience.
12 GP/10 GS
4. (119) OLB A.J. Edds, Iowa
Edds missed the entire season due to injury, but he should be a big part of the rotation in 2011.
0 GP/0 GS
5. (145) CB Nolan Carroll, Maryland
Carroll didn’t make a big impact on defense, but he did a solid job on kickoff returns.
13 GP/1 GS
5. (163) S Reshad Jones, Georgia
He showed some potential, and he could challenge Chris Clemons for the starting safety spot next season.
13 GP/2 GS
7. (212) OLB Chris McCoy, Middle Tennessee
McCoy didn’t make the roster, and he finished up the season on the Texans practice squad.
0 GP/0 GS
7. (252) ILB Austin Spitler, Ohio State
He won’t make much of an impact on defense, but he’s a solid special teams contributor.
12 GP/0 GS
This draft didn’t make a big impact in year one, but they lost two of their top four picks for basically all of the season. The first four picks should be starters for years to come, and Jones could even steal the starting safety spot. All in all, it was a very solid draft for the Miami Dolphins.
Team Need: Running Back
Both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are free agents this offseason, and there is actually a good chance that neither of them will be back next season. I’d say that there is almost no way that both of these guys are brought back, so this will be a position that the Dolphins will target early on in the draft. Brown is the more likely of the two to be back, so they will need to find a solid complement for him this offseason.
The Dolphins should have no problem finding a good running back in the early to mid rounds, as this is a very deep running back class.
Potential Running Back Targets
Kendall Hunter, DeMarco Murray, Dion Lewis, Shane Vereen
Jordan Todman, Jacquizz Rodgers, Delone Carter, Bilal Powell, Derrick Locke
Roy Helu Jr. Da’Rell Scott, Taiwan Jones, Stevan Ridley
The Dolphins will be able to find a very solid running back, despite not having a second-round pick. If the front office decides that they don’t want to bring either Ricky Williams or Ronnie Brown back, it’s a very strong possibility that the Dolphins will take Mark Ingram in Round 1.
Team Need: Quarterback
Chad Henne didn’t play well at all last season, and now there are serious doubts about him as the long-term option at quarterback. The Dolphins now must decide if they want to move forward with him as the starter, or if they want to bring in some competition. The Dolphins could bring in a veteran to compete with him, but they may decide that they want to develop a new franchise quarterback by drafting one in Round 1.
The Dolphins will most likely have the choice of taking a quarterback in the first round, and they may decide that either Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett could be their new franchise quarterback.
Potential Quarterback Targets
Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker
Nate Enderle, Pat Devlin
Scott Tolzien, Greg McElroy
The Dolphins won’t have the chance to choose between all four of the first-round quarterbacks, but they will most likely have the chance to take one or two of them. They could even wait until Round 3, where I think that Stanzi has the potential to develop into a starter in a year or two.
Team Need: Center
The Dolphins ended this season with Richie Incognito as the starting center, but he is better suited to play at the guard position. Jon Berger isn’t starting material, and the Dolphins really need to find an upgrade for him this season. They did re-sign Incognito, so it remains to be seen where they plan on starting him next season.
This won’t be a high priority, but the Dolphins may actually be better suited to finding an upgrade in free agency as opposed to the draft.
Potential Center Targets
Brandon Fusco, Jake Kirkpatrick, Kris O’Dowd
The Dolphins may look to bring in a guy like O’Dowd or Fusco to compete with Berger for the starting spot. This is a weak center class, so the Dolphins could probably find a better upgrade in free agency.
Team Need: Tight End
Anthony Fasano had one of the best seasons of his career last year, and he should be around for the next few years. However, I’m not really sold on him as the starting tight end, as the Dolphins could find a better starting option in the draft. The Dolphins need to find a more athletic tight end who can really stretch the field.
I think it would be a good idea for the Dolphins to take an athletic tight end later on in the draft to complement Fasano.
Potential Tight End Targets
Lance Kendricks, D.J. Williams
Luke Stocker, Virgil Green, Charles Clay
Julius Thomas, Rob Housler
Jordan Cameron, Lee Smith
The best option for the Dolphins would be to draft an athletic guy like Green or Thomas in Round 4 or Round 5. They are guys who are a little raw, but they can really stretch the field and they can be really good players in time.
Team Need: Wide Receiver
Brandon Marshall had somewhat of a down season, but he gives the Dolphins a legitimate No. 1 target for the foreseeable future. Davone Bess is a nice option in the slot, but the Dolphins need to find a No. 2 option to pair with Marshall. Brian Hartline showed some potential last season, but I really think that he’s better suited to being a backup rather than a starter.
The Dolphins can find a potential No. 2 option in this draft, but not having a second-round pick could hurt their chances of finding one.
Potential Wide Receiver Targets
Niles Paul, Greg Salas, Vincent Brown, Edmund Gates, Randall Cobb
Jeremy Kerley, Austin Pettis, Cecil Shorts
Ronald Johnson, Terrance Tolliver, DeAndre Brown
As I said earlier, the Dolphins can find a potential No. 2 option in either Round 3 or Round 4. I like the potential of guys like Paul and Salas, who I think can develop into solid No. 2 receivers in a year or so.
Other Possible Needs
Richie Incognito was re-signed, but they may have him start at center, which would leave a sizable hole at the guard position.
The Dolphins may want to look for a new nickel cornerback to compete with the likes of Nolan Carroll and Benny Sapp.
Paul Solai had a good season last year, and he is entrenched as the starter but the Dolphins have no depth behind him.
Team Draft Strategy
As you can clearly see, the biggest needs lie on the offensive side of the ball. The defense is actually very solid, and the only defensive players that will be drafted next season will be drafted solely to provide depth for the team. The biggest problem for the Dolphins is at the quarterback position, where they really need to find a long-term option due to the struggles of current starter Chad Henne.
With a solid draft this season, the Dolphins have a chance to make some noise in 2011. The defense is an all-around solid unit, so hopefully the Dolphins can find some impact offensive players that can improve the unit. I don’t think the Dolphins will overtake the Jets or the Patriots in the division next year, but they may be able to grab a wild-card spot.