2011 NFL Draft: Why Dolphins Should Pounce On Pouncey

Zack DuarteContributor IIIApril 16, 2011

MIAMI - JANUARY 08: Mike Pouncey #55 of the Florida Gators reacts after a play against the Oklahoma Sooners in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

Before you, the reader, skip all of what I am about to tell you and jump to the comment section to blast the piece, please read and understand what the title tells you about what I am about to say.

It's not about what the Miami Dolphins need the most in the 2011 NFL Draft.

It isn't about who would produce the most for the Dolphins in the draft.

After debuting my Miami Dolphins complete 7-round mock draft, I received much backlash on the idea of Miami choosing Florida center Mike Pouncey with the Dolphins first round selection.

This post will analyze different variable factors, such as the value of the No. 15 overall pick in the draft and Miami's biggest holes, to tell you why drafting Mike Pouncey makes the most sense for the Dolphins.


That's the Way the Draft Cookie Crumbles

The 2011 NFL Draft's biggest weakness is a lack of offensive skill-position talent worthy of a first-round pick.

There is no doubt that A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Mark Ingram will be drafted in the first round. Now for fun lets say either Maryland WR Torrey Smith OR Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure are also selected in the opening frame, making a total of four wideouts and running backs in the top 32 picks.

The last time four or fewer wideouts and running backs were selected in the first round was 1992, a year with only 29 first round selections.

So what does this mean exactly?

It means that finding value at the running back or wide receiver position can be done later in the draft and that most of the talent worthy of using a first round pick is on defense or offensive line.


Debunking Other Options

Some fans have been clamoring for Miami to draft RB Mark Ingram with the No. 15 overall selection.

Ingram would surely be the first running back selected in the draft.

The first running back selected in the 2010 draft was C.J. Spiller, who totaled 238 rushing yards in his rookie season. The first running back selected in the 2009 draft was Knowshon Moreno, who has yet to total 1,000 yards in a season and averaged 3.8 yards per carry as a rookie. The first running back selected in the 2008 draft was Darren McFadden who rushed for a combined 856 yards in his first two seasons.

The most productive rookie running back in 2010 was arguably LaGarrette Blount, who needed only 13 games to rush for a rookie-high 1,007 yards.

Blount was undrafted.

The most productive all-around running back in 2010 was Houston's Arian Foster, who led the league in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, first downs and rushing yards per game.

Foster was also undrafted.

Of the 17 running backs who totaled over 1,000 rushing yards in 2010, only six were first round selections (Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, Stephen Jackson, McFadden and Cedric Benson) while five were 7th-round picks or undrafted free agents (Foster, Ahmad Bradshaw, Peyton Hillis, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Blount).

In recent years, just as many productive backs have been selected in the later rounds as in the earlier ones, proving that talent at the position can be found anywhere in the draft.

Ingram's plummeting production is also cause for concern, as the Alabama star's rushing yardage dropped by almost 50 percent last season, falling from 1,658 in 2009 to 875 in 2010. You can blame Trent Richardson or injuries but the numbers speak for themselves.

The other option that has been floated around is drafting a quarterback, specifically Ryan Mallett, with the 15th overall selection.

The problem is that Mallett does not provide an immediate improvement over current quarterback, Chad Henne. At best, Mallett is the third rated quarterback in the draft, one who will need a significant amount of time to develop into an NFL ready quarterback.  

Scouts Inc.'s top 32 selections doesn't even show Ryan Mallet on the board.


Pouncing on the Opportunity

The three biggest needs for Miami arguably are running back, quarterback and offensive line.

By drafting Mike Pouncey with the 15th overall selection, Miami would get the best guard in the draft, guaranteed.

Pouncey is a great run blocker who can move to the center position if asked to. If Sparano's head coaching tenure is any example, players who can play multiple positions on the offensive line are a must (unless you're name is Jake Long).

Considered one of the league's dominant running teams, Miami's vaunted rushing attack fell off a cliff in 2010 after significant changes were made to the offensive line.

After trading away guard Justin Smiley and releasing center Jake Grove, Miami played musical chairs with its offensive line, trying to substitute players with middling free agents or players acquired for a 7th round draft pick, such as Corey Proctor, Joe Berger and Pat McQuistan.

The experiment failed as Miami finished 21st in rushing offense, 30th in rushing yards per attempt, 29th in rushing touchdowns and had only three rushes all year of 30 yards or longer.

While trading down in the first round would be the ideal situation, the reality is four or five teams ahead of Miami would like to trade down as well and not many teams want to trade up.

So if Miami is on the clock and no team presents a deal suitable enough for Jeff Ireland to pull the trigger, drafting Pouncey with the 15th overall selection is the most logical pick that sets up Miami's 2011 draft class to be a success.


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