Let me preface this by saying that my though processes on free agency moves and the draft are a roller coaster of a ride in terms of who I like, who I don't like, what I think we should do, what I think we shouldn't do, etc. Even still, the General Manager in all of us has a more general knowledge of where this team's direction should lie, and we base our specific opinions off that.
Let me also preface this by saying: do not bother reading if you don't like reading in-depth posts.
The 2010 NFL Draft is a month and a week or so away, and rumors have not yet run rampant. While the Rumor Mill does not directly affect who a team will select with any of their picks, it does give a hint as to who they will not be picking. How often was Vontae Davis, or the cornerback position in general, discussed or mulled over publicly by Parcells and co. last season? As I recall, not much. Even before the majority of Pro Days take place, there has been enough time for scouts and fans alike to analyze the play of potential draftees and the general logic that takes place behind the scenes when each front office sets their April draft board.
So, where do we stand half-way through March? Who will be a Miami Dolphin come late April? Who won't?
Call it fact, call it opinion, call it whatever you want. Here's what I've got for the first round:
Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee OR Terrance Cody, DT, Alabama
Omar Kelly sparked this idea by offering a positive and a negative on the situation: in the end, the negative out-weighs and out-lasts.
DT Dan Williams' stock has risen. Word is he's presently a mid-1st round pick that can fit 3-4, and 4-3 teams. Sen. Bowl film boosted him up
I, as well as every expert, fan, enthusiast, whatever, understand the dire need for a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. They eat space, they eat blockers, they force the running back away from the middle. They're a necessity, not a luxury. That's a fact. What is also a fact is that the Dolphins are talking too much about the position. What I mean by that is, Miami does not talk about who they're going to take. Bill Parcells himself was supposedly "on the Warpath" in terms of talking about their plans. A post recently came up detailing Sparano speaking about how Cody needs to lose more weight by the draft. Sure, saying Cody needs to lose some weight doesn't exactly spill the beans, but it does say "look: we're not drafting a NT in the first round."
Sparano compares Cody to Kris Jenkins and Vince Wilfork. What does this tell us? We are not drafting him. I've already explained my reasoning why. Since that's a fairly liquid reason, here's my favorite quote (also from Kelly) that backs up my logic:
Scout brought up a good point about the Dolphins taking a NT in the 1st round. They'd rather use a high draft pick on a THREE DOWN players.
Terrance Cody? Not a three-down player. Dan Williams? Might be a three-down player, but might not even be as good a nose tackle prospect as a Cody. Hear me out: if Cody weren't so lazy, and his ability to put his heart and mind to the game were not in question, he would be a top ten pick this year. His negatives dropped him to the second round before his recent weight increase and the volatility of his stock. In reality, considering only the positives, I think Cody is a better NT than Williams in the NFL. Williams wasn't a mid-first round consideration until the Senior Bowl. Is that really enough to select him 12th overall? No. Why reach on a late-first round talent in such a deep draft solely because the position is a perceived need? I'll get to that in a second. Cody's negatives are enough to pass on him there, as well.
On top of that, there are a few players worth looking at with the second and third round picks: Linval Joseph, Torrell Troup, etc. Cam Thomas is a potential second-round talent. There is no need to select a two-down player with the nose tackle situation the way it is, period.
What do I mean by "perceived need?" Look: the front office re-signed Jason Ferguson. They have Paul Soliai (inconsistency and mediocrity be damned). They have Tony McDaniel. I would be absolutely shocked to see Miami select a NT (at 12, anyway) that early with how much they rotate players and fill needs with stop-gaps until they find the guy and the value that they like. They usually try to do that by filling the need with late-round picks and undrafted free agents. Do not get your hopes up on Dan Williams, and though I originally disliked Cody but like his potential now, do not get your hopes up on him either because of where he'll be taken (late first, early second) and where we draft. The value vs. needs do not balance out for that to be a legitimate pick, to me.
The Dolphins will not draft a NT in the first, money.
Earl Thomas, FS, Texas
So, who do we draft? Notice I did not list Eric Berry above: he won't last here. I'm not holding my breath.
Earl Thomas is a top fifteen (at worst) talent in this draft. Last season, he goes in the top ten, easy. We need that position after cutting Gibril Wilson and attempting to show the world we're going to shore up the position by drafting a veteran presence, over-rated or not (see: Antrel Rolle, Ryan Clark). What did we do last season before drafting Vontae Davis? We took Eric Green and all the flack that came with him. Now, I know little-to-nothing about the technical aspect of a contract, but let me throw up a hypothetical: Antrel Rolle. We knew he had a lot of interest in reurning to Miami to play some professional ball, but did he see Eric Green all over again? He did say he followed our safety situation this year. Why would he care so much if he didn't genuinely want to be here? Did we offer him limited guaranteed money, and he took it as a potential scare due to our desire to get younger in the secondary? That may be far-fetched, don't get me wrong. It's merely something to think about, and perhaps I'm just justifying the idea of drafting Earl Thomas and why we have not addressed the position yet.
Nonetheless, here's what makes the most sense to me having explained my feelings on the nose tackle position: we sign a Sean Jones, ex-Eagle. The good news is, he's a relatively inexpensive yet capable (if not average) starter filling a position as a stop-gap until we find our future guy (ex. Clemons, 2011 draft pick). That way, even if we miss on an Earl Thomas, or, less hopeful but still viable, Nate Allen, we have a veteran who can make a play here and there. A solid if not unspectacular presence. Sounds a lot like what Eric Green was supposed to be, but wasn't.
Earl Thomas is a ball-hawk, a natural free safety. He is the perfect fit to this Mike Nolan defense. He makes plays, he can hold his own against the run, he can pick off the ball and is very athletic. He complements all three of our other secondary players perfectly. And, Jones (etc.) can mentor him. Nolan can mold him. He will make Bell look better. He would make both corners look better. If Clemons can grasp the mental aspect of the strong safety position (which, I believe is his more natural position), we have one of the youngest and most talented safety tandem in the league to back up one of the most talend and young corner tandem in the league (save for the Jets and perhaps the Raiders).
He has become my single favorite pick for our first round selection. And, what's more, we have not said a word about free safeties other than how much we liked Gibril before cutting him. Bringing in Clark and looking at Rolle only validates my feeling that we have to give serious consideration to Thomas and may even end up bringing him here.
Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas OR Brandan Graham, OLB, Michigan OR Derrick Morgan, OLB, Georgia Tech OR Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri
All four of these linebackers are first round talents, that's a fact. The question is, are they WOLBs or SOLBs?
Kindle appears to be a weakside player. The other three seem to fall in between the two if not closer to strongside. The next question is, do we need a weakside linebacker? I don't think so. As many questions as Cameron Wake has as a linebacker in everything but pass-rushing, he has the ability to perform to the level of an Elvis Dumervil in a Nolan offense. He was being groomed for this, and I think he will be ready for it. That's not to say we won't bring in a WOLB to challenge him, but he should be penciled in as the starter on that side for now, and I don't think the need is great enough to go after a Kindle at 12.
Whether Jason Taylor re-signs here or not, we need a SOLB of the future. This draft is chock full of OLB, with Jerry Hughes highlighting those who could be available in the second round. Can he play SOLB? I think he has the ability to drop back into coverage and set the edge. Fortunately, Karlos Dansby brings us flexibility: we don't exactly need our SOLB to be excellent at coverage from the get-go. Hughes, etc. can take some time to learn the system and develop his skills. He is athletic enough to eventually shine at the position. For the value, he's a steal. Ricky Sapp may fit the bill as well. Kindle might be as talented as Joey Porter in his prime (without the diva attitude, even), but a LaMarr Woodley type may be more valuable considering our current talent and system.
Bill Parcells will find his Woodley (or can you say "Lawrence Taylor?") in this draft, preferably in the second round. All of the Weatherspoon, Graham, Kindle, Morgan lovers? Unless we see a draft-day trade, don't look for them to be Miami Dolphins.
- Look for Myron Rolle to reward whomever drafts him. He ran a 4.69s-40 in the Combine, but you know what? He's cerebral, he's talented, he's athletic. He plays faster than that. He was a first or second round pick before going to Oxford. Why has his stock fallen so far? Sure, he may look like he has committment issues. I don't understand why. If you're given the chance to study abroad at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, you don't just say no. The timed speed should not hurt him this badly. Like Ricky, he will move on to a successful career post-football. Until then, he will be a good player in the NFL. A starter. He should not go past the fourth round.
- If Arrelious Benn lasts to our second rounder, expect to see him drafted. Likely, if Demaryius Thomas falls to our third, he will be here. Otherwise, don't expect a wide reciever to be taken before the fourth round.
- Look for Jimmy Graham or Dennis Pitta to be given serious consideration. Anthony Fasano received a second-round tender for a reason. He's no Greg Olsen or Tony Scheffler, so the Dolphins would be thrilled to find a second round pick in exchange for those who want him. Otherwise, they don't want Fasano to be the extent of their talent at tight end.
- Jonathon Dwyer will be a stud in the NFL. It's too bad he won't be up for consideration. If he came out next season, I think you might see his name on the back of a Miami jersey. Not this season.
- I will be buying a Cameron Wake jersey at some point this year, because he will not disappoint under Mike Nolan.
Only thirty-something days until we find out for sure. Who's your man-crush of the year? Earl Thomas.