2011 NFL Draft Grades: Report Card for the Miami Dolphins' 1st Round

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2011 NFL Draft Grades: Report Card for the Miami Dolphins' 1st Round
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The Miami Dolphins selected Florida center Mike Pouncey with the 15th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.

So much for all of that Mark Ingram talk, huh?

After four grueling months of recycled and unfounded speculation, the Miami Dolphins put all rumors to rest by selecting Florida center Mike Pouncey with the 15th overall pick on Thursday night.

Pouncey, a 6'4" 310 pound interior lineman, will likely step in right away to aid a thin Dolphins line that relied far too heavily on cast-off free agents in 2010. Replenishing the offensive front is the first—and most vital—step in reestablishing a power rushing attack.

Pouncey displayed uncanny athleticism for a lineman his size at the Combine in February, posting a 4.64 shuttle time and a 5.12 40. These times, coupled with his dominant play at Florida, suggests Pouncey could immediately become an effective pulling guard if Miami chooses to play him there rather than center.

Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland also endorsed Pouncey's intelligence and leadership, telling Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel, "He's very bright. He's a great leader." Although Miami never brought Pouncey in for a workout, they reportedly felt comfortable enough with what they saw during the Combine and his interview with the team.

According to Armando Salguero, Miami put Pouncey "through the ringer" at his Combine interview, but the youngster apparently performed well enough to capture the staff's respect.

This was obviously not the sexiest pick, especially with big name players like Ryan Mallett and Mark Ingram still on the board. But this was absolutely, without a doubt the correct pick.

Whether or not his gameplan is popular with Dolphins fans or owner Stephen Ross, coach Tony Sparano wants a ground 'n pound offense, and adding Pouncey will allow whichever running carries the load for the 'Fins in 2011 to succeed. Plus, there will be plenty of running back talent for Miami to pursue in the ensuing rounds of the draft as well as free agency (DeAngelo Williams, anybody?).

Miami has built the nucleus of an elite offensive line, and if Mike is as talented as his brother Maurkice, the 'Fins could soon boast two Pro Bowlers in the trenches.

Also, keep in mind the Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly were interested in trading up to acquire Mike's services. And the Steelers know how to evaluate collegiate talent.

So, I'm giving this pick an A.

It would've been ideal for the Dolphins to trade down and stockpile some extra picks, but Jeff Ireland told the media there were no legitimate offers on the table. Given the scenario, Miami made the best possible selection.

And I'm biased. After all, I hopped onto the Pouncey bandwagon in January, and never hopped off. Hopefully the rest of Miami gets behind him as well.

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