Sunday, March 26, 2017

7 Round Miami Dolphins Mock Draft 1st Edition

The purpose of this mock draft is to get a feel for whom may be available when we pick. I am utilizing a computer app to draft for the other teams. I will not utilize any trades in this edition.

We should be looking to draft a OLB, DE, OG, CB and possibly an ILB, FS, TE and QB. The first four positions are a priority to address, however sometimes the best player available will prevail over a glaring need.

As of today, we have the following 7 picks:
Round 1 Pick 22
Round 2 Pick 22
Round 3 Pick 33 (compensatory)
Round 5 Pick 22
Round 5 Pick 34 (compensatory)
Round 5 Pick 40 (compensatory)
Round 7 Pick 5

Round 1 Pick 22: We have 4 trade opportunities but as mentioned above, this edition will be straight up. The following players are still available DE/OLB Carl Lawson, DE/OLB Charles Harris, TE David Njoko, OG/OT Forrest Lamp, CB Gareon Conley, DT/DE Malik McDowell, DE/OLB Taco Charlton, OLB/DE Takkarist McKinley, CBs Teez Tabor and TreDavious White.  This draft is very deep in DE and CBs so I will pass on any of them with this first pick.  That leaves OLB and OG as our best bet and still get a good DE and CB later.  Charlton and McKinley would be better served on the edge or a 3-4 OLB not a 4-3 OLB. I like Charlton a lot to play on the edge and if I was accepting trades, I would move back 4-5 picks still possibly get him as well as pick up an additional Second Round pick. OGs are deeper in the second and third rounds with only Lamp showing 1st Round potential.
I could still grab a good CB in the Third Round so I won't draft one here. Since I am not accepting a trade, this pick has to produce a starter and of all the guys mentioned above, my pick can and will start immediately and also has some flexibility as to positioning. He doesn't grade out as high as most of the above but he can play 2 different positions.  The safe pick for an immediate starter is Forrest Lamp out of Western Kentucky who can start at LG. Lamp played LT in all but his first three games as a redshirt freshman when he played guard in 2013. He was an all conference (USA) selection the past two seasons and a third team AP All American in 2016. His tape against Alabama's defensive front has many sold that he can play well in the NFL as an interior lineman for a decade. He reminds many of Dallas' Zack Martin. Lamp has a good frame and moves well but he has short arms which will move him to LG in the NFL. Guess what??? That's exactly what we need. Problem solved.

Round 2 Pick 22:  4 more trade opportunities, how about that? So we need either a DE or a OLB here. All the top DEs are gone leaving DeMarcus Walker and Ryan Anderson who would be reaches at this point. At OLB, we can choose between Tyrus Bowser, Vince Biegel and Derek Rivers. Biegel is under sized and will be a special teamer. Rivers would be a good edge rusher on passing downs. Bowser can play in the NFL and had I accepted a trade in Round 1, we could've solved both needs in Round 2.  I love FSs Budda Baker and Marcus Williams, who would be great choices here. But as it is, the best DE or LB still available is our pick. He played ILB in college and loves to thump but due to his athleticism, he will be better served to play OLB in the NFL.  Grading just a bit higher than the FSs is LB Jared Davis out of Florida. This kid is simply a very good football player who has absolutely no character issues. He can start at OLB if he can simply be trained to avoid blockers rather than attempting to run threw everyone while on his way to crushing the ball carrier. LBs are getting lighter and quicker and this kid fits the mold for a good OLB in a 4-3 system that keeps blockers off the LBs.

Round 3 Pick 33:  The phones are ringing again, 4 times. I feel like the only kid with money for the ice cream truck. Of course the computer doesn't recognize that you cannot trade compensatory picks. We have a choice, a tough choice here between CB Ahkello Witherspoon, CB Kevin King and DE Trey Hendrickson. Witherspoon is the better choice for CB. Both are 6-3 but Witherspoon has quicker feet from his younger days playing soccer so he can adjust better with any change of direction than King.  Hendrickson would be good against the run as a 4-3 DE but his sacks come more as a second effort rushing and not from any stellar quickness. Imagine if you would, that Tony Lippet had 4 years of experience playing CB in college and then brought his ball skills and size to our defense. That's what Witherspoon brings. He is the 2018 version of Lippet. I know we are pretty deep at CB. I know we need a DE to get ready to replace Wake but Hendrickson will never be quick enough to rush from the left side, he will never be able to replace Wake. He could give Branch some breathers so if I am drafting a DE, he has to have potential to replace Wake in another year or two. You guessed it, I like Witherspoon here. Had I traded down in Round 1, I would absolutely love Witherspoon here near the end of the 3rd Round after grabbing a DE, OLB and OG. He is not known for his tackling. Its not great but he is a pass defense specialist with his gangly frame of all arms and legs. He possesses a rare combination of speed and size for a CB. He is one of 3 Colorado DBs to be named to the 2nd Team All-Pac-12.  He tied teammate Tedric Thompsn with a nation leading 23 passes defensed.  So he has been well coached.

Round 5 Pick 22: Slim pickings are left for a DE. So we might as well grab a guy who has experience in a tough league and has produced. I grabbed Garrett Sickels out of Penn St who lead the Big10 in QB hurries while collecting 6 sacks. He played his absolute best against Ohio State's talented OL with 2.5 sacks. He plays with the same intensity throughout the game. Typical for a fellow guy from Jersey.

Round 5 Pick 34: When in doubt double down. If you cannot find a good DE, maybe we can grab a quicker OLB who has a frame to put on some muscle and grow into a DE on the practice squad. Enter South Carolina's Darius English. At 6'6" and only 245 LBS he has some room and time to muscle up a bit and train under Cam Wake.  Can he put on 30 LBS and learn to be a DE? Worth a shot.

Round 5 Pick 40: Time for some depth at the back end of our Defense so enter Jadar Johnson of Clemson. As an All-ACC Safety, he led national champs with 5 INTs. At 6'0", 206 LBS, he possesses explosive speed and terrific ball skills. Why did he fall so far? Not that great in run support so keep him out of the box and let him play some FS on passing downs while we work on his tackling.

Round 7 Pick 5 You gotta love this guy's name for the Dolphins, Kansas Safety Fish Smithson He is a bit undersized at 5'11", 190 LBS but he makes up for it with his instincts and field awareness. He can cover in the slot and loves to stick his nose in and tackle. He would be a decent backup and could play special teams.

All in all, I am not in love with this draft. Grabbing the sure starter at OG in the 1st Round really limited our opportunities later at DE. I believe we will trade back and pick up an additional 2nd Round pick. I would even trade back again. I think we could wind up with 3 solid 2nd Round Picks and 2 Good 3rd Round Picks by trading back twice in the 1st Round. Look for that in my next edition.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dolphins Set to Draft Malik Hooker

      The signing of Nate Allen positions Miami perfectly to draft the best safety in the draft, Malik Hooker.  Although most scouts think Hooker a top ten prospect, he is likely to fall in the draft due to off-season surgery.  Walterfootball reports that Allen will sit for 4-6 months, meaning that any team that takes him must be prepared to be without him at the start of season.  Teams with immediate needs might therefore pass on Hooker in order to get a healthy player on the field, unless, of course, they had just signed a journeyman, stop-gap free agent.
        Enter Allen, who is exactly such a player.  A natural SS, Allen could be asked to cover at FS while Hooker mends, and then leave the starting lineup to back-up Jones at SS.  These moves make sense, and thankfully the Dolphins front office seems to make sensible moves these days.  Hooker might be a once in a decade player.  If Miami can sign him, it would be a coup of similar proportion to what happened with Tunsil.
       Hooker also fits our scheme; he is a classic deep safety, with ball skills and closing speed, which means he can cover for the talented gambler who would start next to him.
        Should the Dolphins miss on Hooker, they might get a shot at Jamal Adams (an excellent fit for Miami) or Obi Melinfonwu, who are both good fits for our scheme (though Melifonwu is more raw and less proven, having played at UCONN.)
         What the Dolphins must not do is draft the overrated Jabril Peppers.  A dumpster fire of a pick for our needs, since he is a 'tweener LB/S with no real coverage skills, Peppers would only remind us of a certain LB/DE "athletic freak" who shall henceforth remain nameless in these pages.
          This is a deep draft at safety- if the players who warrant a first round pick are gone, simply move on to another position of need (linebacker or Defensive Line seems logical) and circle back at a later round.
      But if we get Hooker, man does that Allen signing make sense!

Jay Lopez

Thursday, March 02, 2017

News with a smirk: the combine

Maybe it's just me, but I watched a video of the combine and I simply didn't see the allure...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Free Agency & The Draft

Hello all! 

It's been a while since I have written on here but I have been keeping up with some of the NFL transactions, especially the ones the Phins have been making.

First and foremost, I want to give major props to Jay for calling Julius Thomas to Miami this offseason FIRST on this little ol' fan only blog! Honestly, when I read what you wrote Jay, I loved the idea but didn't see how the hell it would ever come to fruition, I thought it was a pipe dream. In the end we pretty much picked him up for a seventh round pick, we gave up a 2017 Seventh rounder and got a 2018 seventh rounder for Brandon Albert. Think about that, a TE that proved he can be elite in a Gase offense for a seventh rounder? Absolute no brainer for me. So it's like we gave up nothing as did Jacksonville for B.A. The kicker is going to be in the deal Thomas gets, he has agreed to restructure his contract so we shall see what comes of that. The word in Jacksonville is that he couldn't stay healthy and couldn't block for crap which is why they wanted to unload him. The Miami staff will have to work on his blocking if that is true or maybe the scheme change will help? Denver had a decent running game with the offense they ran that Thomas was in so who knows. What gets me excited about Thomas is if we resign Dion Sims. We will have 2 really good TEs. I personally believe Dion Sims is a better receiver than most people give him credit for. Our offense with 2 capable receiving TEs and one that that can mow over MLBs in the run game?! Vicious...

I said it all of last year and I'll say it again one more time! A winning season last year was a great accomplishment. Making the playoffs, win or lose, had me ecstatic! There were games that they could have played better and won but who the hell would have guessed a 10 win season and a playoff berth for a rookie head coach with a rookie DC? Not to mention all the damn holes we HAD on the roster. LBER, which is still somewhat of a hole. CB, which was a hole early on but turned out to be a strength late in the year. Maxwell played great, Xavien Howard has me excited as hell if he can stay healthy and Tony Lippett came straight out of nowhere to be a pretty good CB, that is a huge credit to the coaching staff for developing players. 

We have to resign as many of our own FAs as we can without being stupid as well as extend a few. Kiko and Reshad Jones are deserving of an extension. I would love to resign Stills but if he wants 12 Million per year, I say let him walk. We have to sign Jarvis Landry, if he wants 12 Mill a year, I say we have no choice, sign him. It didn't help that Antonio Brown just got 17 mill a year either. We also have to find at least one free agent guard and draft one. 

As for Tannehill, there are reports that he will have a full offseason program and that his knee is "as healthy as it's gonna get". If he would have had surgery, he would still be rehabbing for most of the offseason and training camp. He has said he will be playing next season with a knee brace as a precaution, not a necessity and that his mobility will be the same as it was without it. That's a win in my book. He was told when he sprained it that the best course of action would be to pretty much let it naturally heal with some sort of strengthening regimen, it seems to have worked out great. He was also told that having surgery would not guarantee he could not tear or sprain it again which I believe had a lot to do with the decision. 

Going into this offseason is a great feeling. We filled a giant hole in TE with Julius Thomas and that move just makes sense but we can go into free agency and the draft with the least amount if holes to fill that I can remember. Most of our needs are on defense and this draft just so happens to be a DEEP defensive draft. And I mean wwwwwaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy freakin' deep! Only 7/32 projected "Top Prospects" are on offense! Which is great news for us because that means defensive talent GALORE!

Phins Up!

Sent from my iPad

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sources Confirm Julius Thomas to Dolphins for Late Round Pick

    In confirmation of a story I wrote here three weeks ago, James Walker just wrote that sources report that the Dolphins will acquire Julius Thomas from the Jacksonville Jaguars.  I had expected Jacksonville to cut the out of favor Thomas, leading to the Dolphins signing him.  However, Jacksonville kept Thomas in order to gain some value for him in the move to Miami.

    This move makes almost too much sense.  Thomas reunites with the coach who made him great.  Gase fills a major hole without having to burn a high draft pick on a developmental player.  And the Dolphins offense picks up another potential probowler, albeit one who has had trouble staying healthy.

    If Thomas can return to something like the form he last experienced under Gase (65, 788, 12) the Dolphins will have significantly upgraded their offense for years to come.  Lets hope our coach knows what he's about- there is no reason to suspect otherwise.

    Finally, the Dolphins front office seems to be making sensible, timely choices that adhere to plain common sense.  And it pleases me to say, you heard it here first.

Jay Lopez

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Clickbait: 8 Offseason Moves and Changes the Dolphins Should Make.

Some shameless fodder for the offseason, brought to you by a football starved correspondent.  Enjoy!

1) Sign Julius Thomas.  See an earlier article to this effect, but Thomas will be cut by the Jaguars and will move into the free agent market this spring. When that happens, a reunion with Adam Gase and an upgrade from Blake Bortles to Ryan Tannehill will resurrect Thomas's career...  And save the Dolphins an early pick at a position of need.

2) Lock up Kenny Stills.  I'm still angry about the drop in Seattle, but I am also fully aware of what Stills does to coverage schemes.  Tannehill's above-average deep ball and scrambling ability make Stills a unique threat on our roster.  We need him to ensure that we don't waste any picks at WR again this season.  Our budget for receiver projects (Caroo, Parker) is already spent.  This must be a defensive draft.

3) Draft linebackers early and often.  We need mobility and toughness in the middle.  Until Atlanta imploded, they showed what a pursuit defense can do to New England and its crew of small but agile skill players.  Draft two or three LB's and get with the speed on defense movement.

4) Draft a physical corner who can jam at the line.  Our D line needs cover to earn its (inflated) pay, and physical, big DB's are at a premium in the wide nine system.

5) Anticipate expiring contracts and get extensions for key players (Landry, Jones) done right.  Send a message to the NFL that the new regime in Miami rewards gifted contributors with sound deals.  We need to reverse the perception that we are a tight-fisted, exploitative franchise that would rather bargain shop than protect its own.  I still miss Charles Clay- let's not do that again.

6) Move on from BA and let Tunsil move to guard.  I like Albert- when this line was healthy, we were terrific.  However, we need to get younger and healthier.  It may be time to free up some cap room on the offensive line so we can attract some free agent guards and a higher quality backup center.  Doing so would also allow us to distribute more money to skill positions and the defensive secondary.  The Dolphins have more money caught up in their O-line than most other teams in football.

 7)  Overhaul our scouting department.  We over draft players that can be had in later rounds and whiff too much with high picks.  We need depth; teams with no depth generally can't scout.

8) Maintain draft day discipline.  No more trading up for non-impact players (Caroo.) Lost picks hurt so much in the depth department and lead to a roster stocked with linebackers no one else was willing to draft.  Trade down, not up.  Know your targets and stop chasing the draft.

Share your thoughts- and let's hope some intern somewhere is reading and taking a note here or there.

Jay Lopez

Monday, February 13, 2017

Hard Rock Stadium nominated to become Stadium of the Year

From the site hosting the award...
Miami Dolphins’ reconstructed stadium is one of the candidates from 21 countries to become the next Stadium of the Year. 29 nominees are competing in the world’s largest vote.NFL’s Hard Rock Stadium is one of two American stadiums nominated to become Stadium of the Year 2016, along with U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Having been thoroughly reconstructed, the stadium was considered almost brand new and worthy of being listed among the best modern stadiums around the world, each of which was either opened or reopened in 2016.Now Hard Rock Stadium faces competition from 28 other sports venues from 20 countries, primarily in Europe. Majority of them are soccer-specific, representing some of the biggest teams worldwide, including England’s West Ham United or France’s Olympique Lyonnais. But, with over $500 million spent on redevelopment, Dolphins have one of the most impressive stadiums nominated for the title. So far the world’s largest stadium vote hasn’t been lucky for NFL stadia, MetLife Stadium finished 7th and Levi’s Stadium in distant 27th spot. However, NCAA’s Husky Stadium (3rd) and Kyle Field (5th) showed in previous editions that USA may eventually see its first Stadium of the Year. Maybe in the current, 7th edition?There are two ways of winning Stadium of the Year 2016. One is the Public Vote, in which everyone around the world can cast one vote. This means one vote from one device: mobile, laptop, PC, etc. In this vote victory depends on how excited fans are about their stadium, it’s simply a popularity contest and in the current edition already over 20,000 people have voted and the voting platform is open until March 4.The second way of winning the title is the Jury Vote, with a team of experienced stadium architects grading each nominee. Five specialists from different countries use their expertise to judge the 29 modern stadiums opened in 2016. This year’s Jurors are: Peters Bordas (BORD, Hungary), Przemek Kaczkowski (STOPROCENT Architekci, Poland), Mårten Leringe (C.F. Møller, Sweden), Robert Mankin (NBBJ, USA) and Andy Simons (KSS, England). Each vote will result in a separate Stadium of the Year title. Winners will be announced on March 6 (Jury Vote) and March 7 (Public Vote). Stadium of the Year is a non-commercial competition launched 7 years ago by and, two websites specialized in football stadiums. It grew to become the largest open vote of its kind, in which everyone can take part.Vote here: