Monday, May 01, 2017

Draft Pick Expectations

After mock drafting for 2 months, you get a good feel for the draft and where players usually get picked. Granted some GMs place different values on different players. And in some years, the prospects are deeper at some positions than other positions.

Last year we focused our draft on the offensive side of the ball for two reasons: 1) The draft favored offensive players and 2) Our head coach, a former OC, knew what he needed to get his offense off the ground.

This year, the draft was very deep with NFL caliber players at DE, CB and DT. And we knew that last year.

So how will our picks fair this year?

I like the Harris pick. I don't believe he will start. At least not until he proves he can set an edge against the run. Let's face it, opponents had a field day running against our right end. Hopefully, Hayes will help stop that shit.

 Harris will be a situational player coming in on passing situations and spelling the starters here and there.

I see Harris making an impact late in the half during the opponents 2 minute offense. Take the Seattle game last year. Before the half, they drove 70+ yards taking over with just under 2 minutes and kicked a FG. Then with 4 minutes left in the game, down by 4, they drove 75 yards and scored a TD with 30 seconds left. They also converted two 4th downs on that drive.

We could use Harris there. We gave up 9 points late in the halves. Lost 12-10 and yes Stills should've caught the ball and I still believe Gase should've took the FG on the road early rather than get stuffed on 4-1. But a Harris with fresh legs could get a drive killing sack or at least hurry some throws. That's the value in Harris.

Could we have traded down and still got him? I don't know the trade offers but I thought 22 was a bit early.

Can he replace Wake? That's some big shoes plus Harris works the right side and Wake the left. So he will have to work on that.

Speaking of 4-1s, if Asiata doesn't earn a starting position, he certainly will come in as a 6th lineman and help move the pile. He does have a chance to start but he will have to beat out a couple vets for either spot.

You have to love Asiata's attitude and toughness. I think he was a great value late in the 5th round.

I think Tankersley will play at some point this season. You never have enough good CBs in this league. At the end of last year we had so many injuries, that having quality depth is essential. Plus some teams go 5 wide to take advantage of that lack of depth. Tankersley may help out more than any other pick. He is a tremendous value in the 3rd round.

McMillan is interesting. We need to stop the run. I doubt we are going to a 3-4, so somebody has to play outside with Timmons at ILB. But what if McMillan beats out Timmons. Or Timmons, who is long in the tooth gets banged up. Then of course we need McMillan.

I believe the board dictated the pick and so we got the young run stuffing ILB we lacked and will actually have for at least 4 years at street value. Timmons is a stop gap solution.

Godchaux and Taylor are confusing to me. Neither has a reputation for being proficient against the run, which we needed to address. Now I am not saying they cannot make a tackle against the run. They will have to learn their roles in the defensive scheme but I see the former on the bench for a couple years and Taylor getting some looks on ST.

Ford may earn the 5th WR spot or on the practice squad. But he will be in the building. He had good numbers for two years so he can obviously play.

I think we will be looking for a vet OLB and DT who gets cut later.

Did we miss out on drafting any other players? Yes. That will occur every year.

Did we whiff on any? Time will tell.

Let us keep some perspective in that you shouldn't expect starters when you draft 22nd. You should hope for quality depth with solid players so if someone gets hurt, we don't miss too much of a beat.

As the draft unfolded, I was not happy until we picked Asiata. Then I looked at our 4 picks and was happy.

For me, that's enough.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Why I Believe it Was Our Best Draft (and FA) in Years.

First I'm going to rant about some of our fan base. If you don't want to read it, skip down below. But I think MOST on here will agree with me, especially if you follow the Dolphins on social media.

I have seen a lot of complaining from Dolphins fans on social media because they passed over Rueben Foster, Forest Lamp, and Zach Cunningham. I'm going to get into why I'm glad they passed on Foster most of all in a minute, but first I'd like to say that it doesn't matter who we draft. There are just some Dolphins fans who don't even watch the games, don't keep up with college, and if we drafted Hercules, these fans would just say "well....he's only a HALF god so....that's a stupid pick." I even saw some fans complaining that we didn't draft enough offensive players and saying we needed receivers. I'm going to say that again in case you mistook it for a typo. THEY THOUGHT WE SHOULD HAVE DRAFTED MORE RECEIVERS.

To fans like this, I ask: Did you watch a single Mizzou, OSU, Did you watch any Dolphins games last year? Do I REALLY need to explain why we didn't need to go offensive (other than guard) in the draft?

I swear, I hate the "casual football" culture. Yes, you have a right to your opinion, but we ACTUAL football fans have a right to blast you for your opinion when it's a stupid one.

                                                                   *Sigh of relief*

                                                      END USELESS RANT HERE
The Dolphins are known for making a big splash and winning "offseason championships" pretty much since Dan Marino retired, but very rarely has it ever paid off. Then they make a splash in the draft...and that doesn't pay off either. The Dolphins have had a terrible habit of overlooking character flaws and injury history and only looking at on-field talent. That has resulted in a lot of players getting paid A LOT of money to sit on the bench, or worse, at home. They are one of those teams who just never learned how to adjust to a league with a salary cap.

Well, it appears Miami has finally learned how to manage a roster in the salary cap era. It appears Miami has finally learned how to evaluate draft prospects with a "whole person" approach. You know who else does this? The Green Bay Packers.

The Packers have always been about building their team in the draft, and you really can't argue with the results. Lets look at the similarities between the off-season approach of both teams.

-Both teams were relatively quiet in the FA leading up to the draft, with the Packers' signing of Martellus Bennett being, arguably, the biggest splash between the two teams.
-Both teams passed on a very talented player in a position of need due character flaws and/or injuries. For Miami, it was Rueben Foster. For Green Bay, Joe Mixon.
-Both teams drafted players based on a mix of talent, character, toughness, positional need, and how well they fit the team.
-Both teams picked players who are passionate about the game, not overly flashy, and just happy to get the opportunity.
-Both teams stayed patient, let the board come to them, and had minimal trades.
-Both teams addressed nearly every need and received high draft grades from most media sources, yet neither team is making headlines.

You know who IS making headlines. The Bears....and not for the reasons you would want. Boy did they make a splash or what?

So, both the Packers and Dolphins had quiet, successful off-seasons. I'd say the Dolphins are in good company.

For more evidence that this way of thinking works, just look at some of our top players:

Cam Wake. Undrafted. Came from the CFL. If you judge him by the "whole person" concept, best DE in the league in my opinion.
Jay Ajayi. 5th round pick. Supposedly injury-prone? Doesn't seem like it. So far, so good.
Jarvis Landry. 2nd round pick. Totally over-shadowed by OBJ, but Landry has been more consistent than OBJ.

Why I like EVERY pick this year:

1. Charles Harris, Edge-rusher, Mizzou - He continues to be listed as an OLB, but he's a true DE. Anyway... I love this pick. I honestly never even considered him because I didn't think he'd be available. I thought Rueben Foster was a more realistic option because I thought he'd slip. Well, thank you very much, foolish, desperate, QB-needy teams. They were both available. But Foster has injury concerns and I'm sick of seeing talented players assuming the role of "cheerleader" for the Dolphins because they spend half the season or more on the bench. Charles Harris is tough. He will actually play. He's fast as hell. He's a true edge rusher. Best of all, he's win-win. He could possibly be tried out at OLB, but if that doesn't work out, he's still in line to be Cam Wake's successor, and I can't think of ANYONE better to be Harris' mentor. He's going to be a beast. Maybe right away, maybe not. But he'll be nasty. To people that are mad because he doesn't stop the run well, that's not what he's there for. Wake isn't there to stop the run. He's there to give the opposing QB nightmares. But Harris is young and can still get better at run defense. AND he's not injury-prone. Possible future star.

2. Raekwon McMillan, ILB, OSU - Another player I did not think would be on the board when Miami's 2nd round pick came up. To be fair, I didn't think Cunningham would be either. Cunningham is more athletic and I would've been thrilled to have him too, however, McMillan is a much better tackler...and I mean MUCH better. The last thing we need is another LB who misses tackles. That's been an issue for Cunningham, but not for McMillan. McMillan will be able to stuff the gaps and set the edge. He doesn't cover well, but that's something he can improve on. Right now, our top concern needs to be stopping the run. You can't fix everything in one offseason. McMillan is a better fit for us than Cunningham. He could be our stud MLB after Timmons leaves the team. AND he's not injury-prone. Possible future star.

That's two players who should become future stars at their natural positions on DE and ILB, respectively, but in the meantime, it's TWO possible solutions to our OLB problems.

3. Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson - In a division where your biggest rival loves to dink and dunk you to death, you can't have too many press CBs. Guys who can sitck to opposing receivers. Tankersley is one of those CBs. For now, he'll be good insurance for Howard and Maxwell and could see a lot of time in the nickel. He could also develop into a starter in a couple of years. Can't ask for much more at the end of the 3rd round. Possible future starter.

4. Isaac Asiata, G/C, UT - I live in SLC, so I watched him play...and he is one mean, tough, nasty mauler. The first thing they need to do in training is put him head to head with Suh...over....and over....and over. He can start immediately at G and I think he will. He can also be a good insurance policy for Pouncey. He's not injury-prone. He just had one ankle injury at the wrong time (or right time?) but it's not a pattern. He is humble and just ecstatic to be playing for Miami. If you haven't seen it, go to the Dolphins' FB page and watch the video of his reaction to getting the phone call. This guy has a ton of heart. He should've gone before our 3rd round pick even came up, and we got him at the 20th pick of the 5th?? That's value. That was well worth the trade up. Possible future star.

5. Davon Dochaux, DT, LSU - Very sold pick for the 5th round. I think he could have gone early in the 4th in your average draft, but in such a deep defensive draft, defense-needy teams got a lot of late-round value. He also does have some character issues, but I think they are minimal and Miami was careful about that this year. He was worth the risk late in the 5th round. He could push Jordan Phillips. Maybe it lights a fire under Phillips' ass and he becomes a good, consistent starter. Maybe he straight up beats Phillips out and becomes an upgrade at DT... mentored by Suh. Win-win. Possible future starter.

6. Vincent Taylor, DT, OK State - This was a 6th round pick, so we should curb our expectations. However, we need quality backups on the D-line. Also, he has a very good shot at making the 53-man roster as a ST player, as he blocked a lot of kicks during his college career. Solid ST player and future backup.

7. Isaiah Ford, WR, VT - Not too shabby for our version of "Mr. Irrelevant." He had a great college career for two 1,000 yard seasons. He has a great vertical. He could potentially beat out Jakeem Grant for a roster spot if Grant can't stop muffing punts. Otherwise, he may be the only draft pick that doesn't make the team. Even if that happens, I bet he'll be on the practice squad. Possible future backup.

So out of 7 draftees, that's 3 possible stars in the making, 2 solid potential starters, and 2 solid potential backups/ST players. I'll admit that last season, I didn't expect Grant, Duarte, or Doughty to stay on the team for long, if they even made the team at all. But this year is the first time I can remember that I truly believe every draftee will be on the 53-man roster when the regular season kicks off. And at least 3 of them (Harris, McMillan, and Asiata) will be contributing to wins for a long time.

The whole culture from top to bottom has changed in Miami and I couldn't be happier about it.