Monday, May 31, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Draft Day 2 Recap

On Day 2 of the Draft, Miami selected two players, OLB Koa Misi (40th overall) and G John Jerry (73rd overall).

Here are some scouting reports on each:

Koa Misi

From Draft Countdown:

A bit of a 'tweener who could project to either defensive end in a 4-3 or outside linebacker in a 3-4 at the next level --- Saw action at both end and tackle in college and was also used standing up at times --- Missed some time with a back injury in 2009 --- Didn't rack up eye-popping statistics or necessarily make a lot of game-changing plays but is a very intriguing prospect due to his impressive physical tools --- Classic Workout Warrior who will likely be selected earlier than he should be by some team that becomes infatuated with his potential.

From SI:

Misi is a solid prospect who's consistently improved his game over the past three seasons. He offers a good amount of upside potential and should eventually develop into starter at the next level.

John Jerry

From Draft Countdown:

Saw action at both right tackle and guard during his college career but will probably fit best inside at the next level --- A prototypical mauler with rare size who should excel in a power offense.
From SI:

Jerry is a powerful offensive lineman whose size and style are best suited to play in a small area. Could eventually develop into a starting guard if he improves and blocks more consistently with sound mechanics.

Here's my take. I like both these picks because Miami didn't have to reach to fill a need. They stayed put and a couple really talented guys fell to them. Misi, in particular, should start from day one opposite Cameron Wake. That would be quite the pass rushing duo. Of course, it will leave lots to be desired when it comes to defending the run (and possibly the pass), but I find it hard to believe that Misi will be as heinous in run defense as Joey Porter was. And here's Parcells' chance to work his magic on a young OLB. If he really is as good at picking these guys out as we are led to believe, then Misi should pan out just fine.

As for Jerry, I don't like the situation that caused Miami to take him, but given that situation, he makes for a good pick. The situation I'm referring to is, of course, the Justin Smiley situation. It baffles me that this front office has told him to stay home from offseason workouts while they attempt to trade him. And barring a trade (which is made all the more unlikely now that other teams know Miami doesn't want him) the Dolphins may very well just cut him. And let's remember that this is a guy who is one of the best guards in the league. Yes, he has significant injury concerns, but if that's the sole reason why Miami is going to cut ties with him, then hell, get rid of Jake Grove's beat up body while you're at it. It's hypocritical and it makes no sense.

But because Smiley will in all likelihood not be returning to the team, along with the fact that Donald Thomas took a step backward this past year, Miami needed to search for another option at guard. The ironic thing is that Jerry seems an awful lot like Donald Thomas only with much more collegiate experience. He's a perfect fit for the power offense that Miami employed last year, but isn't (or shouldn't) this team be transitioning more toward a passing offense? Hopefully this coaching staff will get him to improve in that area because he may also be starting from day one.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dolphins trade down, take DT Jared Odrick

Heading into tonight's action, my ideal draft involved just two actions: 1) trade down and 2) avoid taking a running back and/or Tim Tebow.

Great Success!

Before we get into an analysis of Jared Odrick, let's first take a look at the trade that Miami made with the Chargers to move down in the first round.

Miami gave up the 12th, 110th (4th round), and 173rd (6th round) picks. In return, Miami received the 28th, 40th (2nd round), and 126th (4th round) picks as well as LB Tim Dobbins. Removing Dobbins from the equation for a moment, let's tabulate the values of each set of picks according to Football Outsiders' Actual Draft Value Chart.

The three picks that Miami gave up are worth 3288 points. The three picks they received are worth 4130 points. Now add in Dobbins, and it's quite clear that Miami absolutely hoodwinked the Chargers in this deal, so good work Parcells and Ireland.

Now, onto Odrick.

A lot of Miami fans are already bitching and moaning about this pick because it isn't sexy and it doesn't fill a perceived need. I think a large part of that has to do with fans locking into the mindset that they would be getting a certain type of player at 12 (I'm talking about Derrick Morgan or Earl Thomas) rather than a lower-tier player at 28. And despite the amazing value they received in the trade, when it came time to actually make the pick, fans were not happy with the chosen player because he's not as good as who they could have had at 12. But the fact of the matter is that Miami is still a team with a lot of holes, and they desperately needed a new second round pick after trading theirs away for Brandon Marshall.

Many fans are also supremely hypocritical. They preach "best player available" right up until the moment that Jared Odrick's name is called instead of Jerry Hughes'. BPA is only convenient for these people as long as the best player available happens to also play a position of need.

Well, guess what, the good teams are the ones who don't reach for needs. And quite honestly, when it came time for Miami to pick at 28, there was only one player available who in my estimation is better than Odrick and that's Sergio Kindle. Would I have liked to see Miami take Kindle there? Sure, but the difference between the two is negligible and it's no surprise that Miami would rate Odrick higher on their draft board. And who knows, they may have a crack at Kindle at pick 40.

So, yes, Miami did draft a player at a position of seeming strength, what with Randy Starks, Kendall Langford, and Phillip Merling all on the roster. But it can't hurt to add to your strengths, especially at DE in a 3-4 defense.

Odrick is a strong all-around player. He played defensive tackle in a 4-3 at Penn State, but since Miami plays primarily in a 3-4, he will likely be bumped outside. While he says he can play nose tackle, I don't think Miami wants to go down that road just yet. Although drafting Odrick may be a sign that Miami could begin to move back towards a hybrid style 3-4/4-3 defense with more four man fronts than we've seen in the past few years. When Miami uses a four man front, it would allow them to kick Odrick and Starks inside. (Using more four man fronts would also lessen the blow of being without Jason Ferguson for half the season.)

Odrick's biggest strengths are his motor, his run-stopping ability, and his ability to collapse the pocket. He's not an elite pass rusher and will need to work on shedding blocks. Here's's analysis of him:

Odrick has a good combination of size and strength. He is more of a run-stopper with power to hold the point but needs to utilize his hands more consistently to separate to the ball. Odrick shows power to collapse the pocket as a pass rusher but again needs to expand his pass rush package with more moves and counters to contribute at the next level. He feels pad pressure well and constricts running lanes effectively. He has some limitations (lateral agility and speed) but plays with a good motor and often wins with effort. Odrick could be considered a versatile prospect as an end in a 3-4 front or tackle in 4-3 schemes. Odrick has upside if he can improve his overall technique at the next level.

He seems to have a lot of similarities with Langford and Merling, which makes me wonder if this pick isn't an indictment of Merling's progress. Remember, he was picked at #32 in 2008, so if the coaching staff is already moving on that's not a good sign. Hopefully it just means that the d-line rotation has gotten even stronger and deeper.

In summary, this was not an exciting pick. But not every good pick is exciting. And reaching for needs is rarely a good idea since a need today may not be one tomorrow, and the needs two or three years down the road are even hazier. It's imperative to think long term if you plan to be competitive over the long term, and that is what this pick represents.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How the Dolphins should approach this draft

One of the things I do before every draft is look over the roster and pick out those positions that the team should absolutely stay away from using a draft pick on - or, at the very least, a high draft pick.

Obviously, a middle of the road team like the Dolphins won't have a lot of those positions but they do have some.

In my estimation the positions that Miami should not spend a draft pick on in this year's draft are kicker, punter, quarterback, fullback, and running back.

So what does that mean, specifically as it relates to the first round? STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM C.J. SPILLER, JAVHID BEST, RYAN MATTHEWS, AND TIM TEBOW!!!!

If Miami spends a draft pick on any one of those guys, it will be an absolute waste. This team does not need more running backs. If Ronnie and/or Ricky don't come back next year, so be it. It's damn easy to find replacements in the draft, even late in the draft. And as for Tebow, I just hate most everything about him, including his awful release and his grating religious fanatic personality.

It's really not that hard. Just stay away from those four guys (and, really, any RB before the sixth round) and the chances of having a good draft vastly improve. It would also help if the team was able to unload Tyler Thigpen for any kind of draft considerations.

My ideal draft would see Miami trade down in round one (possibly with the Eagles?) in order to recoup a pick in the second round. Then with their new first pick, select an OLB like Sergio Kindle.

If Miami is stuck at 12, I'd be happy with either Derrick Morgan or Kindle although I don't think either is worth quite that much. Still, it would be better than really reaching for someone like Dan Williams or Earl Thomas. Those guys are good players, but they are huge reaches at 12.

[Note: It should also be mentioned that the draft classes of Parcells/Ireland always have a strong correlation with the list of players that they brought in for visits, worked out, or just interviewed. Not all teams are like this, but in Miami's case, it is rare to see a guy get drafted who did not have some sort of contact with the team in the months leading up to this event. So take a look at this tremendous list of most of the guys who have had such contact with the team. It's likely that a majority of the guys added over the next three days will be on that list.]

Skolnick hits it on the head regarding Jason Taylor

So Jason Taylor chose not to wait until after the Draft to make up his mind concerning his football future. Can you blame him?

The Dolphins royally screwed the pooch on this one. When it comes right down to it, I'm not as ashamed about the ultimate decision the team made to part ways with Jason but rather with the manner in which they went about doing so. It would appear that this new regime simply has no idea how to treat important players. Important both on the field and in a larger sense, to the fan base. You can't go yanking these guys around and expect to come off clean in the eyes of the fans, who quite honestly love the Jason Taylors a lot more than the Jeff Irelands.

Ethan Skolnick made a very nice point:

And if you do blame Taylor, think of it this way….

If you aren’t interested in a girl anymore, and she then starts dating a guy you can’t stand, would you be angry about it?

Or this way….

If your current employer let your contract expire, and the only available job was at the rival company, would you stay unemployed?

No one in their right mind would willfully choose to stay unemployed in that situation simply as a matter of principle. Why would anyone expect Taylor to? If he wants to keep playing, no one can tell him to retire just because the Dolphins have no more use for him; it doesn't work that way.

Hopefully, when the Jets come to Miami this year, the crowd will do what's right and give Jason a thunderous welcome home.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

2010 Schedule Released

The league announced the complete 2010 schedule today.

Here's how Miami's slate of games looks:

1 Sun., Sept. 12 at Buffalo Bills CBS 1:00 p.m.
2 Sun., Sept. 19 at Minnesota Vikings CBS 1:00 p.m.
3 Sun., Sept. 26 NEW YORK JETS NBC 8:20 p.m.
4 Mon., Oct 4 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS ESPN 8:30 p.m.
6 Sun., Oct. 17 at Green Bay Packers CBS 1:00 p.m.
7 Sun., Oct. 24 PITTSBURGH STEELERS CBS 1:00 p.m.
8 Sun., Oct. 31 at Cincinnati Bengals CBS 1:00 p.m.
9 Sun., Nov. 7 at Baltimore Ravens CBS 1:00 p.m.
10 Sun., Nov. 14 TENNESSEE TITANS CBS 1:00 p.m.
11 Thurs., Nov. 18 CHICAGO BEARS NFLN 8:20 p.m.
12 Sun., Nov. 28 at Oakland Raiders CBS 4:05 p.m.
13 Sun., Dec. 5 CLEVELAND BROWNS CBS 1:00 p.m.
14 Sun., Dec. 12 at New York Jets CBS 4:15 p.m.
15 Sun., Dec. 19 BUFFALO BILLS CBS 1:00 p.m.
16 Sun., Dec. 26 DETROIT LIONS FOX 1:00 p.m.
17 Sun., Jan. 2 at New England Patriots CBS 1:00 p.m

A few thoughts:

  • I really don't see how anyone could complain about this schedule. It seems eminently fair to me.
  • Gotta love opening against Buffalo. Never mind that it's on the road. That's a game that, if Miami is to be believed as a legitimate playoff team, they must take.
  • The bye is a bit early, and it's odd that Miami will have already played half of its division games by Week 5.
  • But man oh man are those two early prime time division games tasty or what?! The Jets and Patriots at home in consecutive weeks in front of a national audience! The Dolphins are going to have a prime opportunity to make a statement right out of the gates. (Oh yeah, and Santonio Holmes will be suspended for that first game against Miami.)
  • I doubt he'll get an eight game suspension, but if he does, Miami would miss facing off against Ben Roethlisberger as well.
  • The last two months of the season really seem to have some pretty winnable games. Hopefully they won't have fallen into a hole, but if they have, Miami will have a good opportunity to get back in the thick of things come November.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reader Questions: Jason Taylor, Ronnie Brown, Draft

A lot could, and will, happen this week in Dolphins land, so let's get into some of the biggest issues currently facing the team.

The Jason Taylor saga continues this year. Do you think he will be playing for the hated Jets this year? How likely is it that the Dolphins will actually trade Ronnie Brown? If the Dolphins were able to trade down with their first pick would that be a good thing? If they trade down it is likely Eric Berry and Earl Thomas would be gone if they picked in the 20s.

Let's take these one by one:

Jason Taylor
I get that the Dolphins want to wait until after the Draft before addressing Taylor's future with the team. However, I don't understand their apparent unwillingness to simply reach out to him and let him know where they stand. He's earned more than a cursory "We'll get back to you."

And even though every report has him eventually signing with the Jets, I just can't see it. I believe he genuinely does hate that franchise. All that stuff he's said about them and their fans over the years - I really think that came from the heart and wasn't made up just to get a headline. There's a reason he's not wearing a Jets jersey right now. He's had plenty of time to decide if that's where he'll end up and he's still not there - even after the fancy multiple day free agent visit, even after every insider said a contract was all but finished. Jason knows he wants to play in Miami this year and only in Miami. He's going to wait as long as it takes for them to bring him back even though it erases all his leverage. If they say wait until after the Draft, well then that's what he's going to do.

Of course, what if they don't sign him after the Draft, then what? Even though Miami is the only team he wants to play for this year, that relationship requires the participation of both sides. If Miami doesn't make some kind of commitment to him soon after the Draft, then I would not be shocked to see him in New York. But until that happens, I still see him eventually returning to Miami.

And that's a no-brainer for the Dolphins (or at least it should be). They only need to make a two-year contract offer to him. He won't command a giant salary, and this is an uncapped year anyway, so the salary doesn't matter for the first year. And after getting rid of Joey Porter and Matt Roth, what else does Miami have. Sure, Cameron Wake should probably start this year and they might draft a new OLB in the first round, but the cupboard is still bare behind that. Quentin Moses and Charlie Anderson are not better than Taylor, and they each have pretty much maxed out their potential. Either or both of them might not even make the final roster depending on who Miami drafts. Taylor, on the other hand, is still a weapon, and was probably Miami's most consistent LB last year. If they can transition him to a pass-rushing only role, that would probably keep him fresher throughout the season and let him focus on what he does best.

Ronnie Brown
I don't think it's likely that Miami trades Ronnie Brown only because I doubt any team is willing to pay the price it would be required to get him, which I peg as around a second round draft pick in this year's draft.

The team should definitely be exploring all trade avenues with him though. I love the guy, but he's a 28 year old running back who is hurt all the time. And repeat it with me now: Running backs are so ridiculously interchangeable that if Miami can get good value for Brown, they should jump on it. Miami can survive without Brown, and this front office could really use a second round pick in this draft now that they've traded their away for Brandon Marshall.

And think about it - how many more elite years do you really expect Miami to get out of Brown. Two, three at most? If they keep him with his one-year tender offer this year, that would leave him with one or two good years left. They shouldn't be signing this guy to a long term deal starting in 2011. So why not get something useful for him now before his trade value is all but gone?

The Draft
Before the Marshall trade, I would have been against trading down, provided one thing - that Dez Bryant was still on the board when Miami was picking at #12. I really wanted them to take him. But now they don't need him as much and it became a lot more likely that Denver will take him anyway.

Now, however, I think Miami absolutely has to trade down, except, again, for one exception; if S Eric Berry somehow falls to #12, Miami should take him and smile all the way to podium to hand in that card with his name on it. Berry is a top 3 talent in this draft and if he miraculously falls to Miami's pick, then they have to pounce on it. Otherwise, there will be no player available that fits Miami's specific needs that will also represent good value at that spot.

Rolando McClain would have been worth that pick, but with Karlos Dansby on board (and Crowder) it would be tough to justify that pick, even though McClain will be far better than Crowder. Earl Thomas fills a need at safety, but #12 is way way way too high to be picking him. Ditto for NT Dan Williams. Miami can't afford to reach with this pick. There will also be a bevy of DE/OLBs to choose from (Derrick Morgan, Sergio Kindle, Sean Weatherspoon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Brandon Graham) but I still think the 12th spot is too high for any one of them.

Trading down, even just two or three spots, would be a tremendous help, as it would likely net the Dolphins an additional pick in the second or third round. And the 12th spot is not a bad place to be when it comes to trading down. You avoid paying out a huge contract that goes along with a top 10 pick, and the team trading up will have its pick of an elite talent in a very deep draft. So if Miami wants to trade down, they should have some takers.

Rumors are already making that rounds that the Eagles are one team that wants to trade up into Miami's spot in order to take a safety. The thinking goes that the Eagles would package their first round pick (24th overall) with their first second round pick (37th) to move up to #12. That trade would be an absolute steal for Miami according to Football Outsider's Actual Draft Value Chart. The 12th overall pick is worth 2665 points. The 24th and 37th picks are worth a combined 4020 points. Even if they were to give us their original second round pick (55th overall) that deal would still be well worth it. I really hope that is what transpires on Thursday.