Although the Dolphins organization is big on keeping and acquiring draft picks, the team apparently felt Tony McDaniel was just too good to pass up, deciding to ship their own seventh-round pick (232nd overall) to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for the fourth-year defensive lineman.
A Columbia, S.C. native, McDaniel played three seasons at the University of Tennessee before declaring for the NFL draft following his junior campaign. He finished his collegiate career with 33 tackles (six for a loss) and one sack.
Undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft, McDaniel signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars and went on to make the active roster. He appeared in 11 games as a reserve defensive tackle as a rookie, recording 16 tackles, a sack and two pass deflections.
McDaniel appeared in four games for the Jaguars in 2007 before breaking his wrist in an October contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The injury landed him on season-ending injured reserve as he finished the season with five tackles.
In 2008, McDaniel appeared in 10 games for the Jaguars, including his first three NFL starts. He recorded 16 tackles, half a sack and two pass deflections on the season. A toe injury in December landed McDaniel on injured reserve once again.
The Miami Dolphins acquired McDaniel from the Jaguars on March 19, 2009. He will wear No. 78 (most recently worn by guard Pedro Sosa in the preseason) and will compete with Lionel Dotson and Rodrique Wright for a reserve defensive end spot in the Dolphins' 3-4 scheme.
McDaniel has two years remaining on his contract, with base salaries of $1 million (2009) and $1.855 million (2010).
This is a good move for the Dolphins, who simply decided not to wait to use one of their three seventh-round picks in April's NFL draft. Essentially, the Dolphins chose to take a 24-year-old with three years of NFL experience to compete for a backup job at defensive end, rather than use the pick on a rookie.
McDaniel possesses great size for a 3-4 defensive end at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds. He's strong with great agility and athleticism. The lanky defensive lineman doesn't quite have the bulk to be a 3-4 nose tackle, though he could probably play it if needed.
On the downside, McDaniel has battled wrist, hip, knee and toe injuries in his three seasons as a pro and failed to progress as Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio had hoped. He might never be a starter in the NFL and, though he has a good shot at making the Dolphins in 2009, he's certainly no lock.
All in all, this is a solid, low-risk trade for the Dolphins. McDaniel won't be asked to do much with Miami's top three ends—Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling and Randy Starks—all set in stone. He's still young with a bit of upside, providing healthy competition to Lionel Dotson and Rodrique Wright in camp just as a seventh-rounder would have done.
Chris Nelson is a journalism major at Georgia State University. He operates his own Miami Dolphins blog, which can be found here.