Friday, February 27, 2015

Well Somebody Is Going To Have To Catch The Ball

But who?

Goodbye Brian Hartline.

Auf Wiedersehen Brandon Gibson.

Adios Mike Wallace?

We are waving goodbye to almost all of our entire Wide Receiver Corps.

Maybe that's why they call it "waivers".

Is last year's draft pick, Matt Hazel, ready to actually play?

Is Rishard Matthews ready to step into a starting role?

How about Michael Preston or Tyler McDonald, who signed futures contracts?

Can Jarvis Landry make every catch?

Holy shit! We are thin at Wide Receiver.

Suddenly we are in Sudden Death at finding guys to run down field and haul in passes.

I hope Dennis Hickey has a plan.

I truly do. 

Could you imagine trying to explain why Ryan Tannehill hasn't progressed in 2015 without having had adequate receivers around him.

I guess Charles Clay could catch a bunch of balls thrown his way.

Wait! He's a Unrestricted Free Agent.

Clay can't even walk into the team complex let alone run some patterns.

Well that's not good.

Ok.  Deep breathe.  Exhale.

No need for a brown bag now.

There is plenty of time to find a few good guys out there. 

Even some time to get them in and learn a new system and all nuances that come with it.

Screw this crap.  Give me the damn bag!

Put some sort of hallucinogens in it.

Now breathe deep!

Ok. Feeling much better.

As my best friend used to say when my fantasy receivers got hurt "Somebody is going to catch the ball."

I guess he is right. 

Just who?

Phins Up!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Brian Hartline released, what to make of the Dolphins WR group now

The Dolphins have released Brian Hartline to save $3.15 million against the cap. This comes a couple of days after a report stated that the Dolphins are looking to trade Mike Wallace. Hairline's production dipped in part to the increased role of Landry as the safety target, something that Hartline had been known for the last few seasons.

The question now arrises what the Dolphins do next. From how the season ended and from recent reports I would have to guess that we have seen the last of Wallace in a Dolphins uniform. This would free up a lot of cap space especially since last season the Dolphins had the highest paid wide receiver group in the NFL. And then there is the question on what happens to Gibson next. He has had trouble staying on the field and he could also be released to free up even more cap.

We would have to wait to see which of the free agent wide outs will be resigned and which ones will be available. I would also expect us to draft a wide out in the first three rounds if we do not make a big splash in free agency. In a season in which we want to see Tannehill progress, possibly not having 3 of the top targets from last season wouldn't help. But who knows maybe Hartline was released because Wallace worked everything out with the coaches.

UPDATE: Brandon Gibson has been released as well. Total this saves 6.4 million in cap space

Friday, February 20, 2015

7 Round Mock Draft For Dolphins' 2015 Picks (5th Edition)

The Dolphins wound up tied with the 49ers at 8-8 but since the 49ers' opponents' winning percentage was higher than our opponents' winning percentage, we will pick 14th in all the odd rounds and the 49ers will pick 14th in the even rounds in this year's NFL Draft.  We also get the 49ers' 7th Round Pick for the Jonathan Martin fiasco.

The purpose of this Mock Draft is to give fans an idea of who may be available in each.  I am utilizing a Computer App to make the selections for the 31 other teams in the draft.  Unfortunately, I do not have the time to list all the picks nor all the players who may have been available when I picked for us. Also, I am not taking into consideration the signing or losing of any Free Agents at this time.

The 4th Edition was posted on February 8th and in this draft, as in the last, I decided to accept a couple trades.  By trading back, I picked up an additional 4 picks.

First Round Pick # 14: I was offered 4 different trades for the 14th Pick.  The following players were picked right in front of us: OLB Shaq Thompson, WR Amari Cooper, SS Landon Collins and DT Danny Shelton. There was still plenty to chose from including OLB Vic Beasley, CB Trae Waynes, DT Malcomb Brown and OT Andreas Peat.  All who could help us but, surprisingly, the 49ers offered way too much to pass up in order to move up only one spot. For our 1st Round # 14, the 49ers gave us their 1st Round #15, 2nd Round # 14 and 3rd Round # 15.  I guess they truly desired Andreas Peat and feared we would have grabbed him just in front of them because that's who they picked.

First Round Pick # 15 (from 49ers): I thought I would grab the highest rated player still available this time around. And call me a homer as I picked a fellow New Jersey dude figuring he would be tough and could handle the 1st Round pressure. With the 15th Pick, I selected the 12th Rated Player in WR Kevin White  from West Virginia.  At 6-3, 215 lbs, White offers high leaping ability, strong hands, strength to contest for the ball and very good foot quickness to get some separation early against the press.  He is very athletic although he doesn't possess elite speed.  Due to academics, he went the JUCO route to play his first 2 years at Lackawanna College.  In his senior season, he led all FCS receivers with 69 receptions for 1,020 yards and 7 TDs.  With his speed, size and ball skills he will step right in and challenge either Wallace or Hartline immediately as a #1 receiver and will make either of those two expendable.

Second Round Pick # 14 (from 49ers): Since we need to shore up our run defense, I thought we would start right here with a 6-5, 321 lbs DT from Iowa, Carl Davis.  Davis has excellent size, strength and athleticism so he isn't an easy player to move around and often took on double teams in the Big 10.  At the Senior Bowl, he outplayed all the O Linemen placed in front of him in 1 on 1 drills.  Davis can step in immediately and replace either Starks or Odricks if we let them go.  Davis is the 39th Rated Player that I used the 46th pick on.

Second Round Pick # 15: With the 47th pick in the draft, I didn't like the trade opportunities as much as I liked this next selection.  A familiar name to those who have followed my Mock Drafts, ILB Benardrick McKinney once again became a Dolphin.  Only a Junior, at 6-4, 249 lbs, this beast out of Mississippi State just thoroughly intrigues me with his shear athleticism as he runs a 4.5 and leaps 34 inches.  He is explosive and has long arms and big hands to shed blockers.  As the 57th Rated Player, I reached slightly but McKinney is going to be a force in the middle of our defense for years to come.

Third Round Pick # 14: With the 78th Pick, I moved over to the Offensive line and grabbed the 60th Rated Player, OG Tre' Jackson of Florida State.  At 6-4, 330 lbs, Jackson is surprisingly quick for a guy as massive and thick as he is. Jackson could start right away at RG and allow Pouncey to return to his Pro Bowl self at Center.  He is very talented in the run game but will need some coaching up in the passing game techniques.  Jackson started 42 games and earned All ACC honors as well as being a consensus All American.  He is considered by many the best RG in the draft.

Third Round Pick # 15 (from 49ers): I was looking at some good corners still sitting atop the board so I accepted a trade from the Lions to move back 9 picks and get Detroit's 3rd Round at 24, 4th Round at 23 and their 5th Round at 22.

Third Round Pick # 24 (from Detroit): Not to insult anyone, especially our next pick, but a couple corners went between the 15th and 24th picks but I was still happy to select with the 88th Pick, the 82 Rated Player, CB Jalen Collins  from LSU.  At 6-2, 198 lbs, he has the size you want out of a corner.  Even though he lacks some strength to be a press corner, I like him playing in our zone coverage schemes.  Collins only has 10 starts under his belt but he offers exceptional athleticism and is worth developing into a quality long term starter who can contribute in the secondary as an outstanding backup early.  He finished his senior year with 38 tackles (28 solo), 3 for a loss, 9 pass breakups and 1 INT in only 7 starts.  Keep in mind that LSU is a secondary factory, so he is well schooled and just needs some seasoning.

Fourth Round Pick # 15: Back to the offensive line and time to find some depth at tackle.  With the 111th pick, I selected Penn State OT Donovan Smith.   At 6-6, 338 lbs, Smith brings plenty of experience having started 31 games in the Big 10.  He has the size, quickness and competitive nature you look for in an NFL lineman.  He can play LT or RT.  He needs some coaching up to work on his technique with his hands and arms in order to keep NFL rushers off of Tannehill but he is worth this pick as the 109th Rated Player.

Fourth Round Pick # 23 (from Detroit): Staying on the offensive and hoping to help our running game, I selected the 112th Rated Player with the 119th pick by selecting RB Jeremy Langford out of Michigan State.  He is simply a hardnosed workhorse who can pass protect and catch the ball.  He may be rated lower than 10 other RBs in this year's draft due to his lack of breakaway speed but he is the kind of runner who gets stronger as the game progresses. At 6-0 and only 208 lbs, this guy is tough as nails as Langford rushed for 1,522 yards and 22 TDs in 2014 and 1,422 yards and 18 TDs in 2013. 

Fifth Round Pick # 14: After grabbing a hard headed player, it was time to grab a guy who plays with his head and so I selected, yep you are reading this right, out of Harvard, OLB Zack Hodges.
Now this double major, may have to prove where he can line up to be successful in the NFL since at Harvard, he lined up all over the place.  At 6-3, 244 lbs, Hodges offers plenty of upside as he plays with a high motor and never gives up on a play. He has a very quick first step and angles very well.  How well this will translate from the Ivy League to the NFL is yet to be seen.  But who doesn't like the underdog story of a 112th Rated Player trying to beat some odds by being only the 21st Ivy Leaguer to be drafted after being selected with the 119th pick.  I know you'll take notice of when he actually does get picked.

Fifth Round Pick # 22 (from Detroit): After filling most of our needs, its time for one of those best player still on the board picks. Working with the 150th pick, I grabbed the 129th Rated Player in TE Jeff Heuerman out of Ohio State.  At 6-5, 254 lbs, Heuerman has a very athletic build and can be a physical receiver as well as an outstanding in line blocker.  He offers good build up speed to be a deep seam threat and high points the ball very well.  Heuerman didn't have the big numbers that those 6 TEs rated ahead of him did but they didn't win a National Championship by playing in a scheme that had plenty of other weapons to rely on.

Sixth Round Pick # 15: Lets add some depth and competition in the secondary, so how about FS Damarious Randall from Arizona State.  I may have reached a bit here with the 175th pick but I like Randall because he's another one of those high motor, never gives up stories.  He lacks ideal size at 5-11, 194 lbs. but he has above average speed and sticks his nose in there willingly.  Randall will push those in front of him and contribute well on special teams and possibly at nickel.  BTW, he is the 208th Rated Player.  Just call me a Hollywood Movie Maker. Or moron.

Seventh Round Pick # 14: More depth in the secondary with pick 206, SS James Sample of Louisville.  He looks the part at 6-2, 192 lbs and brings some quality tackling ability as Sample made 76 solo tackles out of 90 total in 2014.  Add 4 INTs with 12 pass defenses and you wonder why the 7th Round.  He just doesn't have a large sample (pardon the pun) size as he has only played 2 years at Louisville after transferring from JUCO and now leaving early to cash in on his big Junior Season.  Sample is the 209 Rated Player with long limbs hanging from broad shoulders which allow him to fight through blocks at the line and make the tackle sure handily.

Seventh Round Pick # 15 (from 49ers): I have selected this player in previous drafts and he was sitting here again at the 207th slot.  So why not grab the 204th Rated Player to add some depth at DT with 6-2, 315 lbs hardnosed and powerful player who made his living at Fresno State in the Mountain West.  Welcome our final Draft Pick in 2015, Tyeler Davison.  He lacks ideal height but makes up for it by being strong as a bull.  He most likely will have to begin his professional career on the practice squad and hopefully nobody cherry picks him late in the season because he isn't that far away from having a nice NFL career with his large frame, long arms and quick step. Even though he didn't face top line competition, he competed very well at the East-West Shrine game and turned a few heads with his toughness.

Well that's my 5th Edition and I think it may have been my best so far.  What do you think?

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Backing Tannehill: Update!

(Originally posted on January 29, 2015)

Ryan Tannehill will unquestionably be the starter next season.

What about his backup?

Matt Moore may be back, if he takes a lot less than the $5.5 million he made in 2014! In my opinion, the Dolphins won't re-sign him. Some team will pay him more than the Dolphins offer.

The Dolphins could find a draft prospect, but no one that could start if Tanny went down.

I like the young restricted free agent from the Detroit Lions, Kellen Moore!

Moore holds the unofficial all-time record for wins by a starting quarterback in NCAA Division 1 with a 50–3 (.943) record (the NCAA's official record book does not have an entry for that statistic). As a junior, he finished fourth in the balloting for the 2010 Heisman Trophy. Upon being signed by Detroit, Moore stated, "I don't think there will probably be a more motivated quarterback."

Wait a minute, you say, he's restricted! Yes he is, but he was undrafted, making $576,668 in 2014. The lowest tender amount is $1.323 million, but no compensation is required for an undrafted player on the lowest tender amount.

The Dolphins could offer him much more and the Lions could match it. Barring that, Miami would lose no draft picks as compensation for signing Moore.

He played in 12 preseason games and backs up Stafford and Orlovsky.

UPDATE: It appears that the Lions will not tender RFA QB Kellen Moore, so the stage is set. Come on, Dennis, grab a winner to back up Tannehill!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

7 Round Mock Draft For Dolphins' 2015 Picks (4th Edition)

The Miami Dolphins wound up tied with the 49ers at 8-8 but since the winning percentage of the 49ers opponents was higher than the winning percentage of our opponents, we will pick 14th in the odd rounds and 15th in the even rounds in this year's NFL draft.  We also receive the 49ers' 7th Round pick for the Jonathan Martin fiasco.

The purpose of this mock draft is to give the fans an idea of who may be available in each round.  I am utilizing a Computer App to make the selections of the 31 other teams in the draft.  Unfortunately, I do not have the time to list all the picks nor all the players who may have been available when I picked for us.  Also, I am not taking into consideration the signing or losing of any Free Agents at this time.

The 3rd Edition was posted on 1/24 and in this draft I have decided to accept a couple of trade offers in the first 3 rounds.  By trading back, I picked up 4 additional picks.

1st Round Pick # 14: Accepted a trade from KC for their 1st Round 18th Pick and their 2nd Round 17th Pick.  The following players of need were still available and any of them would have been a good choice 4 picks later: DT Eddie Goldman, OLB Shaq Thompson, SS Landin Collins, OT TJ Clemmings, CB Trae Waynes and OLB Vic Beasley.

1st Round Pick #18: The player not only filling a need but also ranked 18 in the Draft by CBS Sports was still available so this became a no brainer as I selected Shaq Thompson OLB from Washington.  Only a Junior, Thompson stands 6-2, 231 lbs and will help immediately as a 3 down linebacker. He has the speed and agility to drop back in coverage and the quickness to rush the passer. Plus he could run the ball in short yardage situations.

2nd Round Pick # 15: As all the top DT are gone with a run that started at pick 20 in the first round and only one top ILB left as well, I didn't want to risk losing the ILB as the drop off is very significant in the depth of ILBs this year. So at Pick # 37, I reached somewhat for the 57th ranked player in Benardrick McKinney ILB from Mississippi State.  At 6-4, 249 lbs, this Junior will step right into the MLB spot and show off his athleticism as he runs a 40 in the 4.5s and posts a 34 inch vertical leap.  He can rush the passer but we will need to find a DT who can tie up 2 blockers to fully take advantage of these first 2 picks.

2nd Round Pick # 17 (from KC): Cincinnati called and offered me their 21st picks in Rounds 2, 4 and 5.  With plenty of talent to chose from, I figured we could use the 2 extra picks by falling back only 4 picks.

2nd Round Pick # 21 (from Cincinnati): Was I shocked to see the 25th ranked player still sitting there at pick # 53.  Since the value was too great to pass up, I pulled the trigger and filled another need to find another offensive play maker by choosing Dorial Green-Beckham from Oklahoma.
A third Junior now in our draft class, Beckham stands 6-5 and carries 225 lbs of red zone talent and is also a beast to bring down after the catch. He displays freakish athleticism and can be a vertical threat.  However, he dropped this far for a good reason.  He was dismissed from Missouri after multiple marijuana issues.  He may need a strong willed roommate and an accountant who only allows him to carry a $50 limit debit card to keep him out of future trouble but those can be arranged.

3rd Round Pick # 14: KC gets back on the phone and offers their 3rd round # 16 and 4th round # 19. I was a little nervous here because I needed a run stuffing DT to tie up 2 blockers and there was one good one left.  Would he still be there 2 picks later?  What the heck, lets do it. I made the trade.

3rd Round Pick # 16 (from KC): Where's the beef? Right here in 6-3, 315 lbs, DT Joey Mbu from Houston.  Our first true Senior boasts the big body shoulders, long arms and tree trunk thighs one looks for in a DT/NT.  His stats are low because they don't reflect the fact that he was continually double teamed which what we need him to do to free up those two studs at the top of our draft to make most of the tackles. He is the 94th rated player that I chose with the 80th pick but I didn't want to chance it.

4th Round Pick # 15: Why shy away from the D side of the ball at this point.  Lets bring some thump into the system and so I grabbed SS Ibraheim Campbell from Northwestern.  This Senior brings 6-0, 210 lbs of force into every hit and can cover adequately.  He can separate the ball from the runner and with our safeties aging he can spend time on special teams until he steps into the starting line up. Campbell is the 124th ranked player that I used the 111th pick on.

4th Round Pick # 19: Even though I reached slightly above for Campbell there was still plenty of depth at CB so I waited for the 115th pick to grab the 95th ranked player in CB Steve Nelson from Oregon State.  At 5-10, 199 lbs, Nelson may not have the ideal size for a corner but he has a strong build and plays aggressive at the line and is a tackling machine.  He can be a gunner on special teams and develop into a physical threat at CB.  He isn't afraid to hit anyone and can separate the ball from WRs. Can play nickel in a zone and come up and stick people.  We wound up with a very good value here. Thank you KC.

4th Round Pick # 21 (from Cincinnati): Boy I feel like I want to add a physical presence to our team and now moved over to the offensive side of the ball by drafting the 88th ranked player with the 117th overall pick by choosing this 5-9. 229 lbs RB out of Minnesota, David Cobb. Without much help from his O Line, Cobb rushed for 1200 yards mainly by busting through small creases and being just elusive enough to change direction.  The Big 10 is no slouch of a conference so he has fought off quality competition.

5th Round Pick # 14: Time to help out the O Line now.  Unless we are willing to spend a second round pick on an OG, which I could have done, I decided to wait until late in this draft and grabbed 142nd ranked player with, guess what, the 142nd pick.  Welcome OG Jamil Douglas from Arizona State.  At 6-4, 307 lbs, he has played all exterior line positions but has played best at the LG position over the past 3 years.  He needs to get a bit more aggressive in his run blocking but that can be fixed with a pay check or get cut attitude from his coaches.  He is agile enough for pass protection and pulling down the line.

5th Round Pick # 21 (from Cincinnati): I know we will resign Charles Clay and Dion Sims has played well, but a 6-5, 267 lbs player who moves very well for his size is worth the chance to make our roster.  So with the 149th pick I grabbed the 145th ranked player in TE Nick Boyle out of FCS University of Delaware.  This Senior is only the 4th Blue Hen to be invited to the Senior Bowl so he has scouts interested in him. He doesn't block very well but he can be a great player in the passing game.

6th Round Pick # 15: Back to the O Line Dolfans and even though we may actually have to address the OT position much quicker as Brandon Albert may not be able to start the season on time, I waited until the 175th pick to reach a little for the 190th ranked player in OT Sean Hickey out of Syracuse.  At 6-6, 308 lbs, he is a developmental player at best and headed for the practice squad.  He may actually wind up playing Guard or not at all unless he gets in the weight room and the coaches get him to play nastier.

7th Round Pick # 14: At this point in the draft, you are looking for a diamond in the rough.  Someone to develop or just push those already on the team into making them better.  So with pick # 206, I was happy to invest in the 181st ranked player in Penn State's FS Adrian Amos. Now this 6-1, 214 lbs Senior has had quite an amazing year at Penn State.  He finished with 42 tackles of which 30 were solo, 3 INTs and 17 passes defended.  He has lined up at CB and returned kicks as well.  He was named Honorable Mention to the last 3 Big 10 Defensive Teams, played in the Senior Bowl and is invited to the scouting combine.  OK, what gives? How is he still here? He missed plenty of tackles. He is very athletic so there is some very good upside and could make the team with some good coaching.

7th Round Pick # 15 (from 49ers): Throw enough mud at the wall and maybe something will stick.  That's the plan here by selecting the 201st ranked player with the 207th pick.  Maybe, just maybe, we could find a gem here. Maybe not? Without further delay, I finish our 2015 draft by choosing the OT out of Oklahoma Tyrus Thompson.  At 6-5, 336 lbs, he is quite a big dude with the massive tree trunks and long arms that you might look to have at tackle.  But he lacks technique to play LT and will probably wind up playing RT if he can muscle up to the challenge.

Defense early and offense later in this 2015 Mock Draft. What do you think?

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

My Way Or The Highway

 Many articles are being written about Dolphins WR Mike Wallace. The theme is, will he stay or will he go?

His history is too well documented to rehash it here. What concerns me is what the Dolphins will do. Philbin is famous for throwing talent overboard, regardless of cost. However, it would be a mistake to do so with Wallace.

The simple problem is that Dolphins OC Bill Lazor doesn't know how to maximize Wallace's talents.

Arizona Head Coach Bruce Arians on Wallace when he was the Steelers offensive coordinator, "He is fun to coach," Arians explained. "He brings a lot of energy, a great smile to work every day. Great in the locker room, great practice habits and obviously he can bust it open on game day at any given moment. It was fun. We changed our game a little bit about routes because of his speed. Instead of running vertical routes, we ran a lot of diagonals from one corner to the other corner because he could get there. It was fun putting pressure on defenses with his speed. He didn't have to go deep to catch it. He could take the short ball and got so much better at taking the screens or the quick passes and taking them to the house."

Lazor is great with Tannehill as he was great with Foles in Philadelphia. Where he comes up short is using Wallace's talents. Not surprisingly, the bulk of Lazor's background is mainly with quarterbacks:

- played quarterback at Cornell
- qb coach,  Redskins
- qb coach, Seahawks
- qb coach, Eagles

I'm a fan of Lazor! He just hasn't developed a place for Wallace in his offense. Consequently, a frustrated Wallace has fallen into Philbin's doghouse. We all know what that means.

The bigger problem, Philbin is a systems coach. He's uncomfortable with innovation and prefers to shape talent to fit a philosophy. Square peg in a round hole, if it doesn't fit, toss it out.

As fans, we are left to ponder what 2015 will bring, or take away!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Off topic: the preposterous punt

Here's a classic example of what not to on 4th down inside the 50. 

And more info about why should almost never punt on 4th and short here:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bill Nye tests whether temperature change affects a football

Bill Nye does a nice job of taking on what Bellicheat had to say. And then some.