2011 NFL Draft Grades: Miami Dolphins Address Their Biggest Needs

Mark LeskoCorrespondent IIMay 1, 2011

LAWRENCE, KS - OCTOBER 14:  Daniel Thomas #8 of the Kansas State Wildcats carries the ball as Olaitan Oguntodu #44 of the Kansas Jayhawks defends during the game on October 14, 2010 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Much like many Miami Dolphins fans, I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what the Dolphins were going to do.

Even when you are sure what the Dolphins are going to do, they can still surprise you on Draft day.

I would first like to toot my own horn a bit and give myself a good grade. Four months ago, I had the Dolphins first two picks as Mike Pouncey and Daniel Thomas. I then discussed that the Fins would need to trade-up if they wanted Thomas. I also profiled and begged the Dolphins to get speedy WR Edmond Gates.

I waited to write this article to soak in all the reaction from the fans and local sports media.

To be honest, I am disappointed in the negative reactions.

I think the Dolphins did exactly what they needed to do: They got the OL help (Pouncey), a RB (Thomas), a speed WR (Gates), and an athletic TE hybrid type player (Charles Clay). They also added some depth at the DT position (Frank Kearse) and took a chance on a guy who could help out in a poor special teams unit (Jimmy Wilson).

Yes, the Dolphins did not get the QB everyone wanted. However, I am glad they did not get desperate and force a QB pick like they did a couple of years ago with the Pat White pick or how the Minnesota Vikings reached with Christian Ponder this year.

Many are critical of the Dolphins for trading up to get Thomas. It is odd that the Dolphins did do that, but clearly the Dolphins wanted to get their man. If you read my article mentioned above, you will see that the Browns gave up a third round pick and two fifth round picks to make pretty much the same move the Dolphins did.

The Dolphins only gave up a third, a fifth and a seventh round pick. So this trade was pretty good value.

For those arguing that RBs can be found later on (and I was one of them), I would just like to point one thing out. Since 1980, the all-time leading rusher from each draft class was taken in the first or second round except for six instances (Undrafted Arian Foster in 2010, third round pick Frank Gore in 2005, third round pick Curtis Martin in 1995, fourth round pick Edgar Bennett in 1992, fifth round pick Herschel Walker in 1985, and tenth round pick Earnest Byner in 1984).

Here are my grades for this year's class.

C Mike Pouncey: B+

It is hard to grade OL as an A, because they are never the sexiest pick. However, Pouncey is solid and versatile. Good value without making a reach.

He will need to work on his center play out of shotgun formations.

RB Daniel Thomas: B+

I heard someone compare him to J.J. Johnson (a draft bust of the Dolphins in the 1999 Draft) and I do not think that is fair. I do not think he runs as upright as Johnson did. I would have loved if he had fallen to the third round, but the Dolphins did not think he would so they went and got him.

I am concerned with the fumble problems, but Ricky Williams always had fumble problems and has had a good NFL career.

WR Edmond Gates: A

I thought he was a third round value and the Dolphins got him in the fourth, so great value pick that addressed a great need. He needs some development, but the Dolphins did a good job of developing a raw WR before in Devone Bess.

His speed is undeniable; the key will be how the Dolphins utilize that speed.

TE/HB/FB Charles Clay: B

A guy that can do everything. He can run, block and catch. I see him playing some TE, but being great in third down situations as the RB.

He could stay in and protect or sneak out into the flat and make plays. It is hard to be critical of a sixth round pick, especially when it addresses a need.

DT Frank Kearse: C-

I am not very thrilled with this pick, even if it is just a seventh round pick. The theme of the seventh round was a lot of small school picks. Kearse definitely has potential, I am just concerned with his lack of strength (only 22 reps in the bench press).

DTs usually average 30 reps. The Dolphins will have to put some meat on his bones.

CB Jimmy Wilson: B-

Here is an excellent article on his story from the NY Times. Personal hardships aside, on the football field the guy can absolutely bring it.

I watched his videos play on ESPN and was like WOW, the guy can hit. Could find a place on the Dolphins as a special teams player.

A risky pick, but for a seventh round pick he was worth it.