2011 NFL Draft: Grading the Miami Dolphins Overall Draft
The Miami Dolphins 2011 NFL Draft Class is set in stone and the picks are in.
Jeff Ireland's first official draft class seems full of question marks and uncertainties that will need to step up in game time in order for Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano to continue calling the shots for the Miami Dolphins organization.
Another early draft trade was made but not with the pick that most thought it would be, and more head scratching decisions were made.
Miami went offense early and defense late in hopes to improve in 30th-ranked offense and maligned running game.
Individual pick grades are based on positional need vs. the value of the pick and once and for all an overall draft grade is based on the individual selections.
Round 1 Pick 15: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida
Miami filled their biggest need with the best player available at that position.
If Miami went quarterback with Ryan Mallett (who was selected 74th; obviously the value would not have been there) they would have selected the fifth quarterback with the 15th overall pick in the draft.
Instead they got the best interior offensive lineman the draft had to offer and now their offensive line is made up of three players selected in the first round (Long, Carey and Pouncey).
With the continued development of John Jerry and Richie Incognito, Miami's offensive line issues may be completely solved.
The only reason this pick doesn't receive a grade of an A is because I would have liked Miami to trade back and still get Pouncey while acquiring more picks in the first round.
Sitting with the 18th overall pick were the San Diego Chargers with five picks in the first three rounds and ammo to trade up.
Overall Miami fans will likely be upset that the Dolphins went with the "safe" pick but the Dolphins took the best player where they needed it the most and absolutely got this pick right.
Miami's offense went from being ranked fourth overall in 2009 in rushing offense to 30th in total offense in 2010 with a 3.7 yard-per-carry average.
The running backs didn't change and the wide receiver position got an upgrade with Brandon Marshall on the squad.
What did change were the personnel on the offensive line and now Miami has addressed the biggest weakness on the team.
Pouncey can play center or switch with Incognito and play guard. In the draft, he was hands down the best pulling guard.
Round 2 Pick 30 (62 Overall): Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State
The Dolphins traded up into the end of round 2 to select running back Daniel Thomas from Kansas State.
This pick was a bit of a reach and to make it even worse in order to select Thomas, Miami traded their third- (79th), fifth- (146th), and seventh-round (217) picks in the draft to the Washington Redskins in order to move up.
For a team that has many areas of need and depth concerns, this was not a good move.
Obviously, Miami needed at least one running back in the draft and not to say Thomas won't be a good pick in the future, but he would have most likely been available to start off round three and maybe by the time Miami selected at 79.
There is little doubt that this was a system pick as Thomas has played some Wildcat formation quarterback in his time in college.
Thomas ran a 4.62 forty at the combine and isn't particularly fast. He is a power back that can get the extra yard and push the pile forward.
As a senior Thomas ran for over 1500 yards to go with 19 touchdowns and averaged 5.3 yards per carry.
He can catch the ball out of the backfield also with 52 receptions over his two seasons at Kansas State since transferring from a Junior College.
The biggest issue with Thomas is whether or not he will able to hold onto the ball or not as he fumbled 11 times in his career.
I like the pick I just don't completely agree with the trade when there are many positions that need to be addressed.
Round 4 Pick 14 (111 Overall) : Edmond Gates, WR, Abilene Christian
This is a great pick, especially in the fourth round.
Miami needed speed and they got exactly that. Gates has track-star speed and can be extremely dangerous in open field.
He is a bit raw and will get better with experience, but he can help a Miami wide receiving corps that lacked an open field threat.
Miami was patient enough not to trade up for him and they got their guy by waiting and letting Gates fall out of the third round and into their lap.
Gates played against Division 2 competition at Abilene Christian but averaged 17.9 yards per catch and scored 13 touchdowns as a senior.
He ran a 4.37 forty time at the combine and will surely help Miami out in the return game as well.
The pick of Gates puts some pressure on Brian Hartline, who hasn't been able to put up the numbers Miami has needed.
Gates gets off the line of scrimmage well, has amazing body control while in the air and adjusts well to overthrown or underthrown passes.
Round 6 Pick 9 (174 Overall): Charles Clay, FB, Tulsa
In order to select Clay, Miami traded its 179th and 218th picks for Green Bay's 174th and 231st picks in the draft, essentially trading places in the sixth and seventh rounds.
Clay is a versatile player who has spent time playing running back, fullback, wide receiver and tight end; Miami needs improved play from all of those spots.
He also spent some time playing in the wildcat formation and is a threat catching the ball out of the backfield.
Clay will most likely spend sometime at halfback and tight end.
He averaged over five yards per carry and caught 189 passes with 13.5 yards a reception and 28 receiving touchdowns in his four seasons at Tulsa. Clay blocked for Tulsa's all-time rushing leader, Tarrion Adams.
At almost 6' 3" it is possible he will focus on playing the tight end position and get some snaps as the wildcat quarterback.
With the pick of Clay and Thomas earlier in the draft, it looks like the Miami Dolphins are looking to continue its gimmick-style offense.
Round 7 Pick 28 (231 Overall): Frank Kearse, DT, Alabama A&M
The only reason this pick isn't a D is because Miami does need depth at the defensive tackle position.
Kearse was uninvited to the scouting combine and the Dolphins hadn't even attended his pro day.
As a matter of fact, the first time Miami even spoke to Kearse was today.
Kearse was a team captain his junior and senior seasons at Alabama A&M.
He stands at 6-foot-4, 315 pounds and started all 11 games for the Bulldogs last season. Kearse complied 122 tackles, five passes defended, three forced fumbles, two fumbles recovered, a block kick, 7 sacks and two interceptions in 44 career games played.
The numbers seem nice but it was against much inferior competition.
Kearse will be a developmental project for Miami to groom for the future. He is a big body who can clog the gap freeing up other players on his team.
I would have liked to see Miami go after Notre Dame DT Ian Williams or Texas A&M stud Colby Whitlock who was a four-year starter.
Miami may have drafted Kearse in order to guarantee they get him rather than letting him go into the undrafted free agent list and having to wait possibly months to sign him.
Round 7 Pick 32 (235 Overall): Jimmy Wilson, CB, Montana
The Miami Dolphins went out and got a player they really liked with this selection and provided some depth to the cornerback position.
Jimmy Wilson has one of the more interesting stories of anyone coming out of draft.
He started for Montana from 2004-2006 and then was accused of murdering his aunt's abusive boyfriend after the two got into an argument and words escalated into a rifle shot going off.
Wilson claimed he was acting in self-defense and pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges.
The first trial ended in a mistrial in which the jury was split 11 to 1 in favor of acquittal. After six months the case went to trial again and he was acquitted of all charges after spending 25 months in prison.
He then returned to Montana and got approval for another season of eligibility from the NCAA to play football. He played in 8 games and totaled 50 tackles, two forced fumbles and two sacks.
At 5' 11" Wilson will provide good depth at the cornerback position and could maybe compete for a starting spot depending on his development.
Miami left some players on the board who could have filled needs at other areas but in the seventh round, it's hard to say if this is a passing or a failed pick.
Miami Dolphins Overall Draft Grade
Overall Grade: B
With general manager Jeff Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano both on the proverbial hot-seat they had a solid draft.
The Dolphins filled some areas of need early and added depth late in the draft choosing offensive players all the way until the seventh-round.
Fans may not be happy because, for the most part, Miami acquired unattractive talent across the board, but there is no doubt that Miami's offense will be better than its 30th-ranked offense in 2010 and free agency has yet to occur.
The draft class could have been an A if Miami had either acquired more picks for this year or next years draft, and the trade in which Miami traded three picks for one in order to jump up and draft Daniel Thomas hurts the grade just a little.
Overall fans, should be complacent with this class and while it's hard to smile and jump around with excitement, the Miami Dolphins have become a better football team after the three days of the NFL Draft.
Feel free to comment and discuss below. Follow Zack on twitter @ZackDuarte