Friday, May 12, 2017

Dolphins Draft Reveals Win Later Attitude

    This blog's other writers seem very high on our draft, and I respect the hard work they put into their excellent columns last week.  I am, however, not feeling as giddy- which may be a good thing.        This organization seems to finally understand that a win now attitude can translate to win never.  That is, that panic drafting/buying to catch the Patriots, who are in the last few years of what may be the NFL's last true dynasty, can be a mistake.  The organization made a concerted effort to establish a realistic timeline for long-term success.  This will be frustrating this year, and bear fruit thereafter.
    Consider linebacker.  The Dolphins need an OLB as they have picked up a one-to-two year lease on a run stuffing tough guy from Pittsburgh- a signing I love.  Win now would say draft Cunningham from Vandy- strangely, we picked a run-stuffing tough guy from the midwest.  Our DC was left to muse that perhaps this year no linebacker would have a "natural" position but they would be shuffled week to week, depending on match-ups.  This sounds to me like a good organization man making lemonade.
     What that draft move meant is "we are willing to develop a long-term solution behind our rental." McMillan will be the man for a while, if we are lucky.  The vet will teach him.  And the Dolphins will mature without being bad in the short term.  A philosophy emerges?
     Consider DE.  Wake can give us a season or two more of excellence, we hope.  Branch is serviceable and solid.  Did we need rotational depth?  You bet.  Did we need it in round one?  Not if we want to compete for a super bowl now.  But perhaps, if we want to be well positioned in three year's time.  Wake will be gone by then.  His time to win is now- but perhaps the franchise realizes that its time to win won't coincide with Cam's?  That's possibly good thinking, probably good leadership. Draft the kid- who will be a one trick pony for now, but who can develop.  A rotational player for a 10-6 playoff team with glaring needs in round one?  Makes sense, if you know that 10-6 was a mild overreach and you are trying to one day be better than 10-6.
      Consider safety.  Yes, I know, we didn't.  Which means we are trusting an 8 game suspension, our stable of never-was, and a journeyman from Oakland to hold down the fort opposite our best defensive player.  All this, when we struggle to cover and can't stuff the run?  All this when the best safety in the draft was falling like a stone due to a minor injury?  Win now says trade up and grab Malik Hooker.  Have the best safety tandem in the NFL immediately.  Win later says hang on to depth, keep that pick to draft a roster builder, and let the steal of the draft fall to another squad (in this way, I think Caroo last year cost us Hooker, but that's another story.)
      In round three, elite safeties still abounded; we went corner.  I like the pick- long term.  This allows us to cut Maxwell and return to cap sanity.  Long term, this was the right thing to do.
       The Asiata pick was a concession to now- and a smart one.  Which completes the picture.  This organization wants to be decent now, and be excellent tomorrow.  We can have a far worse philosophy.  It just might be a bit frustrating for the coming year- and not being aggressive where Hooker was concerned, may haunt us for a decade.  This was the year of the safety, which is a position that will become more and more valuable as teams adopt a New England style approach to offense.  I think we missed, but we missed the way responsible grown-ups do, not the way we used to.

Jay Lopez