Miami Dolphins' Late Round Draft Targets: Quarterbacks

Luke TaylorCorrespondent IIFebruary 16, 2011

Pat Devlin: Could he be an option for Miami?
Pat Devlin: Could he be an option for Miami?Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

With the NFL Draft taking place in April, teams have shifted their focus to those players leaving college having declared for the draft.

Over the next few weeks, I will be publishing a series of these articles looking at the potential prospects available for the Miami Dolphins to select. The focus will be on positions of need for the Dolphins, and will not look at those areas where there is already good depth.

The aim of this article is to look at the strengths and weaknesses of players declaring for the draft, and analyse whether they are a potential fit for the Dolphins.

The following players are quarterbacks available for selection in the later rounds of the draft.

Pat Devlin, Delaware (Third Round)

Another accurate quarterback is Delaware’s Pat Devlin. He has a good delivery, and keeps his feet set when throwing. He can also complete passes when under pressure, off-balance or flat-footed. He is also excellent at continuing to look for targets downfield when he is escaping pressure in the pocket, and his accuracy often allows himself to find an open receiver.

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However, he only played out of a spread offense in Delaware, although he took some snaps under center, and although he has good accuracy, he was rarely asked to find a receiver under tight coverage over the middle. This means he will need time to adjust in the NFL, to avoid throwing interceptions to the high-calibre middle linebackers in the NFL.

If he struggles to make plays like this, there is also a question of how he will react mentally, as he is under a lot of pressure to emulate Joe Flacco’s success, as the Ravens’ quarterback was his predecessor in college.

He is known to occasionally stare down receivers, which is something that requires correcting, and he will likely be an investment who needs time before he can develop into a starter. However, Devlin could provide good competition for a starting quarterback, even if he is not immediately ready to take the role himself.

So far there is no news that Miami are interested in Devlin, but if the Dolphins do not draft a quarterback in the first two rounds, then Devlin becomes one of the more interesting propositions. Having passed on Flacco in 2008, will Miami be wary not to pass on another Delaware standout?

Andy Dalton, TCU (Third – Fourth Round)

With good accuracy, TCU’s Andy Dalton offers good potential in the mid-rounds of the draft. He is very accurate on the important intermediate throws, and is capable of making sure that big wide receivers, such as Brandon Marshall, are the only players capable of hauling in his passes in the end-zone by throwing high.

Dalton is an intelligent player, who can call a good audible if required (something Henne was unable to do under Dan Henning’s offensive rule). He is a leader, and was well respected at TCU by his teammates. He is happy to take a hit if it means getting the ball away, and there are no concerns surrounding his durability either.

A product of the spread-offense, Dalton has decent mobility to escape the pocket when he needs to, and can make a few yards, but is not really a threat on the ground. He does not keep his head up when running either, and does not slide when the defender is approaching.

He has to learn to read defenses from a drop, and is known to make poor decisions if his primary target is not open. When pressured, his passing becomes inconsistent too, so his decision-making will need to improve despite his intelligence at the line.

Dalton would offer excellent value in the fourth round, as the issues that concern scouts are all correctable and can be worked out of his game with time. Like most mid-round selections, Dalton would be a long-term successor to an already established quarterback, and this is something Miami currently lack. However, he does deserve serious consideration in the middle rounds of the draft, and could become a top NFL quarterback in time.

Greg McElroy, Alabama, (Fourth – Fifth Round)

A two-year starter in the SEC, McElroy is a winner, who has experienced success in high school and college, including a SEC Championship and BCS National Championship. He is very accurate, and during college threw 38 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Like Devlin, he can make most throws in the NFL, although he does not have elite arm strength, which will limit how often he throws the deep ball.

He is good at detecting the blitz, and his good footwork allows him to extend plays long enough to get a pass away. However, he is not blessed with great speed or ability, and is no threat on the run.

The biggest concern to scouts is McElroy’s throwing motions. Although he achieved great success and good accuracy with a hitch in his motion in college, most NFL teams will seek to correct the issue, and this could set back his development a little.

However, his accuracy alone will lead to consideration from Miami. The claims that he benefited from an excellent receiving corps in college and high school should not concern the Dolphins either; they have a strong set of receivers, so even if McElroy’s success is based solely on his receivers quality, then Miami can still succeed with him.

Ricky Stanzi, Iowa (Fifth Round)

A 6’4’’, 221 lbs three-year starter with the Hawkeyes, Stanzi has all the intangibles that teams want to see from a quarterback. He is a born leader with a great work ethic, and spent a lot of time watching film and trying to improve himself while in Iowa. He had responsibility at the line of scrimmage, and was able to call an audible or run check, and has had a lot of experience of games which went to the wire, knowing he had to make a play. He may be the most mature quarterback in the draft.

However, criticism of Stanzi comes with his accuracy on long or intermediate throws. He often failed to even get the ball away on deep throws, and his pocket awareness isn’t great; this results in inaccurate passing. He is not great at setting his feet in the pocket, but is athletic and good when outside the pocket.

Stanzi doesn’t have a big arm, and often throws check-down passes for short gains, but he is good throwing against man coverage. However, he has had problems against zonal coverage. He does have excellent touch when throwing, and is accurate on the run. His touch passes help him beat man coverage, and when throwing on deep crossing routes, he may be the best of this draft class.

Having operated under center at college, he does not have to adjust to that, but will need to get used to playing in the gun; something he rarely did in Iowa. A tweak on his release, and time spent improving his footwork would be advised, but if he can continue to grow mentally and better himself he could become a great player.

Obviously Stanzi is a project, and could not start straight away, but he certainly is the sort of football player you want leading your team, and this is one reason why Miami could look to the Hawkeye in the later rounds. If he improves the quickness of his play a little, something that he will be able to do with good coaches, then we could become a starter in the future.

Taylor Potts, Texas Tech (Sixth Round)

Potts is a spread-offense product, but threw the most accurate passes of any quarterback in the NFLPA Game. If given time in the pocket, he will make his reads and look to a second or third receiver if his primary target is covered, and he looks off targets to deceive defenders. He has good poise, and a lovely pump fake.

He will need to prove he can play under center, and may also have issues evading defenders in the NFL as he is tall and not the most mobile. This means he is unlikely to gain many yards on the ground, and his average arm strength means his deep balls float and are susceptible to interceptions.

He is not the most accurate passer either, and can miss targets on short throws, although when he is set and can step into a throw, he displays much better accuracy. His tall frame allows him to see the field, and he changed protection schemes at Texas Tech based on formation.

A good leader, and intelligent player, Potts may warrant consideration in the final two rounds of the draft, although he will need plenty time to improve his all-round game before he can take the reigns of an NFL team. He may be too much of a project for Miami, but could be a good late-round pick up for a team in less desperate need of competition at the position.

TJ Yates, North Carolina (Sixth Round)

The Tar Heels quarterback would be a solid late-round selection due to his experience and physical ability. He has decent accuracy, particularly on short and intermediate throws, but his arm strength means he will not be able to make every NFL throw.

Yates is the perfect size for a quarterback, and is very mobile, which helps him to avoid the rush while moving around the pocket, although he is not a big threat on the ground. He played in a pro-style offense for North Carolina, and is a leader with no off-field problems. His experience of four years starting in the ACC is a bonus, but he will also be 24 years old as a rookie in the NFL.

Inconsistency plagued Yates too, and he has had mental lapses during games, which is one reason he is seen as a late-round pick. At best he is seen as a developmental backup, as he does not have enough potential to go on to be great in the NFL. This probably rules him out of the running for Miami, as their focus is definitely on searching for a starting quarterback.

Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech (Sixth Round)

Confident, and intelligent, Taylor has worked hard in college to improve as a quarterback, and continues to improve due to his great work ethic. He makes a lot of plays with his feet, more than through the air, but has improve as a passer and led the ACC in pass efficiency.

He led the Hokies to a 23-5 record as starter, although he played just one play in one of the losses, and that experience is a big plus. A good work ethic helped him to continue to improve in college, and that may have been one reason for his confidence in the pocket.

Taylor is one of the more elusive quarterbacks in the draft, and difficult to tackle in open field. He is very quick outside the pocket, and carries the ball well, but also has good arm strength, and is consistent in making throws, putting good velocity on his passes.

He is an intelligent player, although he worked in a simple offense at Virginia Tech, so would need to adapt to a pro-style offense. He also tended to throw the ball to his primary receiver without making any other reads, which often meant forcing a ball into tight coverage.

He does not have great touch on passes, and is not accurate when throwing deep, and his size might also count against him. At 6’1’’, he would struggle to see over the big linemen in the NFL, and he is also from a line of quick Virginia Tech quarterbacks who struggled in the NFL. Miami know about this first hand, having selected Pat White in 2009; they would be unwise to even think about making the same mistake again!

His elusiveness boosts his case in the NFL, but he would need a lot of development before he was NFL ready. Teams may consider using him as a receiver, although he does not want to play another position (like Pat White). Having tried this route in the past and failed, the Dolphins are highly unlikely to opt for another undersized quarterback with good scrambling ability.

Nathan Enderle, Idaho (Seventh Round)

Technically sound, with good size, Enderle will be a pocket passer in the NFL. He has worked most from under center, but has experience in the shotgun, and he stands tall in the pocket to make plays. He changed plays for the Vandals, and read plays relatively well, although he often threw check downs if his first option was covered; when he tries to force a play, he often ends up throwing an interception.

He is a good developmental prospect, but not the most exciting quarterback in the draft, and that might turn off the Dolphins from taking a look at Enderle despite his potential. Although he is not accurate by the numbers, his accuracy continues to improve, and he has good touch on passes in the end-zone and along the sideline.

He has average arm strength, but his accurate short and intermediate passing will still make him an NFL prospect. While he lacks the speed to make gains on the ground, he is mobile and happy to leave the pocket before looking downfield for an open target.

Enderle’s experience will help his cause. As a four-year starter, he has matured in college, and has seen the highs and lows of football. While he has good potential, he will likely be too much of a project to garner strong interest from Miami, although he could mature into a solid controller of a short-passing offense in the future.

Next Article: Early Round Prospects - Running Backs