Talking Jake Grove

As we now know, the Dolphins are on the verge of adding their 2nd former Oakland Raider this offseason with the expected signing of center Jake Grove.  And any time you add players who were part of that inept organization in Oakland, you worry a little bit.  But looking beyond that, I just can't help but feel very excited about one signing - Gibril Wilson - and a little nervous about the other - Jake Grove.

Quite frankly, this moves really perplexes me.  From an outsider's persepctive, what you see is the signing of a 29 year old center who is undersized and injury prone.  Does that sound like a typical signing by the "trifecta"?

Here's what we know.  We know Grove has missed 19 games over the past 4 seasons.  We know that the Raiders ground game hasn't performed particularly well when rushing up the middle behind Grove.  Football Outsiders ranks the Raiders 30th in "Adjusted Line Yards" when running up the middle in 2008 and 28th in the same category in 2006 (Grove played in all 16 games in '06 and in all but 4 in '08).  And we know that Jake comes from a team that has most recently used a "zone blocking scheme" - which doesn't necessarily translate well to the kind of offense the Dolphins want to run.

We know that the Dolphins were hoping to get bigger at the center position.  But at 6'4, 300, Grove is the same weight as Samson Satele.

So I decided to go back and read his scouting report when he was coming out of Virginia Tech.  Here's what this one report says about Grove:

Grove is arguably the best center in this year's draft. He set a school record for the power clean lift when he lifted 360 pounds. He also has a team high in bench press at 490 pounds. At times he has been compared to Chicago Bears center Olin Kreutz. He has a mean streak that is evident in the running game. Grove also shows a knack for leading, which is extremely important at the center position. For such a big man, Grove has enough athletic ability to play guard as well. He is also an extremely smart person who can learn new schemes quickly. Grove has a good combination of strength and explosiveness. He does need to work on perfecting his pass blocking skills, but he should be the first center chosen.

That description of Grove - especially about how strong he is - might be part of the reason why Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano like this guy so much.  But then I went over to Silver and Black Pride - SBN's Raiders blog - to get their fans perspective on the player they've seen play for the past five seasons.  Here are some of their responses:

He's just an average center.
Really injury prone.
I really think that he is a solid player - needs some work on pass protecting but good on running downs.
Slightly above average. I’m not sure if the Dolphins run a zone blocking scheme, but Jake is pretty light on his feet for being close to 300 pounds. Jake does struggle against larger NTs in 3-4 schemes, which may be a bit of a negative in a division with the Jets and Patriots. Still, he seemed to hold his own against Kris Jenkins last season in our win over the Jets.

Nothing to really get excited about right there.

But the worst part of this - the part that really gives me an uneasy feeling - is this nugget from the Herald about what it might have cost to sign Grove:

Although Grove and Samson Satele would be competing for the starting job, once you see the numbers on the Grove contract, you will understand Miami expects him to be the starter...

...The Grove signing will not come cheaply which is the reason the Dolphins needed to save every penny of the $3.25 million they added in cap space with the termination of Vonnie Holliday's contract.

I'll reserve complete judgment on this move until we actually see the final numbers, but if it's anything that resembles a large deal, I'll be disappointed.  And whatever the deal is, I hope it includes some serious injury clause that reduces the money owed to him if he can't stay on the field.

Maybe I'm just being a pessimist, but this might be the first move by this regime that I rather strongly disapprove of.  But I guess that's why those guys get paid to make the decisions and I just sit here and discuss them.

What do you guys think?  Good move?  Bad move?  An upgrade of Samson Satele?

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