Monday, April 27, 2009

2009 Dolphins Draft Picks & Thoughts

1st Round, #25 Overall: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
As the first couple hours of the draft went on, I was really liking how things were shaping up. A couple teams made some reaches and when it was the Dolphins turn to pick, there was plenty of great options. I personally thought LB Rey Maualuga would be the pick because it just seemed a perfect fit for Parcells, but the brain trust decided to take someone who some considered a top ten talent and fit our greatest need. I have absolutely no problem with that. I thought Vontae Davis would be gone before #25 and because of that, hadn't thought much about him or if he would be a good fit. Most believe he is. He is a bigger corner who is physical, which not only fits the Parcells philosophy, but is needed in our division with so many great big physical receivers to tame.

The only concern that is popping up is character. I would understand why fans would be worried and confused as to why Parcells, who stresses character so much, would draft someone of even remotely questionable character. Well, this reminds me a bit about what the 'Canes used to do and what the Patriots still do. Once you create a good locker room filled with great character guys, you can take a chance on one or two questionable players because most likely, the good people will keep them in line. We also have hard ass coaches and Parcells himself to make sure he isn't too full of himself.

2nd Round, #44 Overall: Pat White, QB, West Virginia
Leading up to this pick, the name I was really hoping to keep falling was Everette Brown. He is a great pass rusher who I saw a lot as he is from Florida St. But, the Panthers snatched him up. Just before the selection was made, on the bottom of ESPN's screen was Mel Kiper's best available and I saw Pat White's name at six or eight and I thought, "Hmm, that'd be an interesting pick." And sure enough, it happened. I can't tell you how unexpectedly excited I was when I saw his name as the current selection. I did think some in the lead up to the draft about the possibility of having Pat and what he can bring to the wildcat, but once it was announced, the joy of imagining the possibilities multiplied by a factor of at least three.

It shows the team is committed to the wildcat formation. It shows they will stay creative in trying to move the ball and score points. The fact that the pick was high also suggests they were very intent on getting him, not just hoping it would work out. David Lee and Dan Henning have the best new toy they could have hoped for on draft day. On wildcat plays he can either receive the snap and be a true run-pass threat, or he can replace Pennington as the wideout and have to be accounted for as a run-receiving threat. And that's just scratching the surface. Remember last year the wildcat was built in a week and kept expanding. Now the coaching staff has an entire offseason and training camp to come up with stuff that can work and keep defenses on it's heels. Last year, wildcat plays were runs about 90% of the time. A big battle in improving the formation so it sticks around, is balancing the run-pass ratio. Pat White does that.

Also, don't put it past Pat White to be a starting quarterback at some point. He is the prototypical, won't take no for an answer, hard working winner. Mike Mayock (who is the best draft expert I'd say) loves him and was surprised by his arm strength and his accuracy.

2nd Round, #61 Overall: Sean Smith, CB, Utah
Miami traded down five spots here at the end of day one and ended up with it's best pick. Sean Smith is physical and even bigger than Vontae Davis at the cornerback spot. I heard multiple places before the draft saying we might take him with our first pick. Instead he's there in round two, and the trade with Indy netted us another fifth round choice of this year. I love the decision to take two corners in day one. Even the best of organizations don't hit on all their picks and this gives us a better chance at finding one great corner. If they both stick, then great, we have a corner tandem that may rival the Surtain-Madison duo we once had. Personally, I think Smith might wind up as the best pro from this draft class for us. I only saw him play a handful of times but was always impressed, especially in his final collegiate game, shutting down Julio Jones of Alabama (who could play in the NFL right now). He, like Davis, gives us a guy who when the ball is in the air, regardless of how good the coverage was, you feel will win the battle for the ball against the receiver. This was our biggest problem in the secondary. We could actually cover well, but that doesn't mean a damn thing if you let a receiver fight and win the ball anyways.

3rd Round, #87 Overall: Patrick Turner, WR, USC
This pick elicited many "WTF?!?" comments on Twitter and the message boards. Going receiver wasn't the issue, it was the certain receiver who was picked. Turner underachieved at USC, before turning in a good final year. Still he was a bit of a disappointment there as he was the top rated WR in the country coming out of high school. A peek at the experts big boards and position rankings says that there were better receivers out there and this was a reach. That's probably all true, but perhaps Patrick is the best fit for us. Again, it's a big physical player (notice a theme) and he provides a different skill set then our current corps of pass catchers. Our roster is loaded with smaller guys who do well in the slot and running short routes. Patrick Turner is probably going to attempt to be everything that Ernest Wilford wasn't. Sure he doesn't have great speed, but if he can run crisp routes and get a little bit of separation, you'll like his chances in an airial battle. Particularly, the Dolphins desparately need someone who is competent in the fade route. It takes more the height. It's about positioning and is a lot like grabbing a rebound in basketball. Hopefully he can provide this and other aspects at the the receiver position.

4th Round, #108 Overall: Brian Hartline, WR, Ohio St.
Again, this had many scratching their heads. I had a feeling they would double up on a position again, like they did with corners, but I didn't expect Hartline. He seems like one of those guys. He will never wow you or put up big numbers but he seems to always remind you that he's there. I know Michigan fans can attest to that. Plus, I know as much as I hate Ohio St., they have put plenty of receivers into the NFL and they have a good success rate. His calling card may be special teams as he apparently loves cracking guys on coverage units. To me this just seems very Parcells-like.

5th Round, #161 Overall: John Nalbone, TE, Monmouth
I was like 99% of the world, I have not heard of this guy. I know nothing about him. Picking a tight end though is probably smart because Anthony Fasano and David Martin are in the last year of their contract. It might also help if he can work in the H-back role and perhaps even fullback too. We'll see, this is a project.

5th Round, #165 Overall: Chris Clemons, FS, Clemson
More secondary help. He stands a good shot at making it because we don't have much depth at safety. He won't beat out the starters but as a late round pick if you can show promise and contribute on special teams then you will stick around.

6th Round, #181 Overall: Andrew Gardner, OT, Georgia Tech
Finally, a position in the trenches, a Parcells favorite has been taken. You can never have too much depth at offensive line. He was a great value as a shoulder injury probably cause his stock to fall.

7th Round, #214 Overall: J.D. Folsom, LB, Weber St.
Another small schools guy, another project, wait and see.

Things This Draft Has Taught Me

  • The team likes it's pass rushing situation. There were plenty of good prospects for edge rushers in the 3-4 and the fact we didn't take one shows good faith in CFL import Cameron Wake or perhaps also an imminent signing of Jason Taylor. I've been a bit reserved about bringing JT back, but for a small money deal and him not being an every down player, it may be a good fit.
  • Once again, Parcells and Co. have opted for off the radar receivers and hope they have something to prove, rather than using high draft picks or trades to acquire big name prima donnas who act bigger than the team. There were big names to get via trade or the first two rounds, but the team waited and hopefully these guys prove something because they certainly have a good shot.
  • Fans are tough. Around the Web 2.0 I saw some harsh critics of the Dolphins' draft calling it horrible and predicting the team will be right back to it's losing ways. I'm not saying you have to love our draft, but doesn't a front office who instantly turns the 1-15 laughing stock into an 11-5 playoff team deserve a benefit of the doubt?
  • John Beck is done as a Dolphin. I had high promise for Beck and I think he can still find his ways, but change of scenery is needed and soon will be granted. Good luck John, sorry you had to be drafted by Cam Cameron.


David said...

Great recap. Now that the draft is over, what positions do you expect the front office to target in free agency? Anyone in particular?

Ted said...

I think JT will be here when all is said and done. As for undrafted free agents there has already been several signed. Who knows if any of them can be a gem like Davone Bess. I think most of the free agency is complete now after resigning Crowder, Bell, Carey and also grabbing Gibril Wilson.

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