Much like the blue bomber’s relentless tenacity, refusal to submit to treacherous hazards, and perseverance in the face of immeasurable odds and verbal barbs; so goes my love affair with The Miami Dolphins. Shout out to Dave and my fellow contributors, only thing I love more than the Fins is a Dolfan. I currently reside in Gainesville, FL, and have lived here for the previous 5 years after growing up in Miami Lakes. I am a Dolfan for life.
This entry will serve as the first in a 3-part series highlighting draft needs by football phase: Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. I will be highlighting our position situation with some players the fins might be looking at.
Offensive Line- It serves us well to look at this unit as a whole rather than by position as a flex G/T that can fill the injury needs or spell the starters if need be are becoming more and more valuable. Philbin has a style of player he is looking for and I think this dolphins coach is among the best at evaluating offensive positions or just positions in general (this is another article but I want to make the point that Philbin knows his O-line particularly well). In any event, the dolphins need depth at this position but primarily at tackle since Jake Long is now a Ram. We are locked up at center but need a long term solution at guard, though I don’t see Ireland drafting one of the elite talents so early at 12. Thankfully this is a deep position in the draft- but the dolphins would probably like to take a safe bet rather than a project.
Johnathan Cooper, G. UNC- Fits the mold of Philbin’s zone blocking scheme, the report is that he has elite quickness out of his stance and a fluid motion.
Chance Warmack G, Alabama- Big physical guard that doesn’t quite fit into the dolphins scheme, the report is that he is a plodder but very strong.
Lane Johnson T, Oklahoma- A fluid tackle, part of the big 3 blue chip tackle prospects along with Joeckel and Fisher. Don’t think the Fins can grab him at 12 but I think it’s worth noting that this would seal one of our remaining holes.
Wide Receiver- This position may look sealed up but the more depth, the better. The dolphins will make sure to have plenty of weapons available to Tannehill at all times, so this is technically a need without being a need. This is a passing league and if the dolphins would like to “keep up with the jones’s”, they know they need a stable of studs, not just also-rans (not a jab at our past receiving corps, but anyone would agree we need to get better separation at this position- hopefully Mike Wallace will change this). Expect later round picks as we will likely pass on Austin. Names like Quinton Patton or Justin Hunter come to mind.
Tavon Austin WR, WVU- Scary fast. If you watch any game film of him, it becomes evident rather quickly: he is an explosion. A reach at 12 but really for this elite speed, you kind of want to grab him before anyone else does. Fins fans may feel like Ted Ginn 2.0 but have no fear, Austin seems leagues tougher and more durable despite getting the “shies away from contact” tag.
Quinton Patton WR, LA tech- Excellent route runner with great shiftiness, hands, and quickness. The competition is a slight concern as he played in the WAC but you need only watch his electric cuts and fantastic grabs to know this is a gamer. Tremendous would-be addition to an already shapely WR corps and future #2 for many years.
Justin Hunter WR Tennessee- Diva tag for a player on an unruly Tennessee team (go gators) has the measurables to be a standout in the right locker room atmosphere with a QB who can get him the ball. Philbin doesn’t usually select players with this baggage.
Running Back- Not quite a position of need but can definitely see the dolphins taking a RB in any round that isn’t 1. Miller is blazing fast and early on last season, routinely outran his blocks as a result. Later on, he gave every indication that he is the dolphins’ zone one-cut runner and a threat on screens. Thomas, the bruising back we expected out of college, has only seemed to be bruised himself most of the time- but when in the game and healthy has proven he can make tough yards. The dolphins should get another big back to supplement their running game and bring the safeties in for #17.
Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama- A stretch at 12 with such a deep draft of running backs, Lacey has proven the consistency of tough, NFL-ready Alabama running backs. If he is there in the second round, would be a steal.
Le’Veon Bell RB MSU- A later round pick, this would certainly bolster the Fins run game. Heavy back with a nose for the endzone and a tough style, Philbin would probably not like the diva tag.
Marcus Lattimore RB USC- Lattimore’s stock fell after his brutal ACL tear last year having only played in 7 games, but there is no question about this players’ football ability. If he were to fall to the dolphins in the later rounds, I think that after some recovery time he can return to being one of the best football players I’ve ever seen.
Quarterback- I am of the Dolphins faithful that believes in Tannehill in spite of his so-so rookie performance STATS-wise due to the fact that he can push the football down field and produce yards from tough throws. I don’t disagree with the pundits who claim he would be taken 1st overall had he come out a year later; Ireland pulled the trigger and took the first step in building a franchise QB… Picking one. Nevertheless, The Fins GM has hinted at taking a QB in the later rounds and QB depth is very important as these bench players often become the centerpieces of some lucrative deals, trades, and buzz. The idea of trade bait is very alluring and to develop a QB ensures that you are always concerned with the future of the team. Consider it a travesty if the dolphins take a first round QB; they have Matt Moore who is among the best non starting QB’s in the league.
Landry Jones QB Oklahoma- I remember plenty of fans clamoring for this QB had he come out last year. Heck, some were willing to wait for this year. Not so. A disappointing final season that showed a lack of polish, he still managed to put up impressive numbers in a Sooner offense designed for it.
Jordan Rodgers QB Vanderbilt- Rodgers is the little brother of Super Bowl winning QB Aaron Rodgers and they differ about an inch in listed height. Like his brother, Jordan is tough, a little bit of a runner, and plays with swagger. Unlike his brother, he doesn’t seem to push the ball deep with enough force. Some development would greatly benefit Rodgers.
Tight End- This is another area of need for the dolphins and a possible selection at 12 would be a stretch but if this fits the dolphins’ plan, I’d say go for it. Look at how influential the tight end has been in recent years, with names like Gronkowski and Graham tearing up opposing defenses. Both of those tight ends are complete players, while recently signed Dustin Keller is primarily viewed as a pass catcher (Do I have to mention Michael Egnew in this part? Michael Egnew.). The drafted Tight End should be able to provide the dolphins with a seam threat as well as help in run blocking since the bulk of the offense is run in single back sets. A very real possibility for the Dolphins as it is very likely both of the highly touted TE talents will still be on the board, Eifert and Ertz. I’m not sure what the dolphins will do at this position in the later rounds as perhaps the sting of Egnew may have Ireland shying away from the lanky split-out types. Tight End is traditionally viewed as a non-glamour spot, so at 12 seems over rated but these prospects are projecting as productive first year tight ends.
Tyler Eifert TE Notre Dame- Looked like a beast for the Irish making great catches and picking up the offense often splitting out wide. Solid blocker.
Zach Ertz TE Stanford- College football’s leading receiver for Tight Ends last year and compares very well to Eifert, they might even be neck and neck in terms of draft stock. Both these Tight Ends have hands, enough speed to turn some hook/underneath routes up field, and blocking skills to build upon at the pro level.
Overall, I have a gut feeling that this GM-coach combo will provide us with fruitful drafts and I have every bit of confidence that the team will not select offense with their first pick- we have a lot of picks and there are better available players on the defensive side at 12. I don’t believe in mock drafts or the million possibility guesswork in predicting a draft slot change. I have seen some film on all of these prospects but thanks to CBSsports.com for name, school, and other helpful information. Hope you enjoyed part one, I'd love to engender some discussion on the topic.