Every year it never fails. Just a day or two following the completion of the NFL Draft, all of the "talking heads" and writers in the mainstream media want to declare who were the draft's winners and losers. They feel the need to grade each team's draft before these kids ever even try on the jersey of their new team. And even though we know that it's far too premature to really grade a team's draft, fans everywhere read these "grades" and use them as evidence that their favorite team either drafted well or drafted poorly.
So then why am I taking time to "grade" the Dolphins' draft just days after it was completed? Because I'm not going to grade this draft in the same way that those "know-it-alls" in the media will. That's pointless. We all know that we can't really judge how successful a draft was for at least a year or two - and even then it might be too soon. What I want to do in "grade" this draft a little bit differently. I'll explain as we go along.
We'll look at rounds one through three today and then finish with the conclusion on Tuesday.
In the first round, I believe you have to find a player who will come in and start for you by his second season at the latest (quarterbacks excluded). That's why the Dolphins did well to trade down and reacquire a second round pick while also finding a player who will come in and start as a rookie. And make no mistake about it, Odrick is going to win a starting job. He's that good.
We as fans may not know as much as we should about the kid from Penn State. But he was the top "five technique" defensive lineman available in the draft and the Dolphins got in late in round one. Scout.com's Ed Thompson lists Odrick as one of eight first rounders who will have "high-impact success" quickly in the NFL, saying he "has pro-level technique as a pass rusher, along with a professional demeanor that will serve him well." He added that Odrick will quickly help Dolphin fans forget about Jason Taylor.
Whether that's true or not, the Dolphins filled two starting spots in round one. Odrick will win a starting job at defensive end. And his selection allows the Dolphins to move Randy Starks to nose tackle, where he is already penciled in as a starter. If you ask me, that's solid drafting.
Round Two: Koa Mis, OLB, Utah
In the second round, I believe you have to find a player who fills a need but who will also be a starter within a year or two and (hopefully) be effective enough to remain a starter for years to come. But as you saw with our pre-draft "Building Through The Draft" series, less than half of the players selected in round two usually become long-term NFL starters. So it's obviously hard to predict right now if this pick is a "hit" or a "swing and a miss."
But what I can tell you is that Misi fills a need - a big need - and will have every opportunity to win a starting job. Like I've been saying all offseason, if Charlie Anderson is one of your starting outside linebackers, you are in trouble. While Misi will be transitioning to a new position, I don't see any reason why Misi won't eventually take the starting job from Anderson sometime during the season once he becomes comfortable in his new role. Misi's versatility to rush the passer, stop the run, and drop into coverage should make the transition to OLB relatively smooth.
Considering Bill Parcells has a history of being better than the league average at finding long-term starters in round two, I don't see any reason to think Misi will not succeed. And since he fills a need and should be starting by the end of the year, I'd consider this pick a success...for now.
Round Three: John Jerry, OG, Mississippi
In the third round, I usually look for a team to find a player who will eventually become a solid NFL starter. That's the goal, in my opinion. I don't think you necessarily have to address a need. I have no problem with a team sticking to their draft board and taking who they believe is the top guy remaining. The important thing is that the guy should come in and compete to become a top backup right away, with the long-term plan being for him to start within a couple of years.
That's why I like the selection of John Jerry. I think Jerry has the size, strength, and attitude that Tony Sparano will love to coach. I believe that this coaching staff will enjoy working with Jerry and will do just what we all hope they will do - transform Jerry into a starter. Will it happen immediately? I don't know. It could.
But the important thing here is that he strengthens the depth along the interior line and should eventually become a starter. That's all you can ask for in a third round pick.
The Dolphins found what will likely be two rookie starters and a third who should start sooner rather than later. What more can you ask for?
Koa Misi. I think Odrick is a pretty safe bet to become at least a good player in this league. If Misi can do the same and become a long-term solution for this team, then the first half of the 2010 draft will be considered a success.
I'm hopeful. But get back to me in three years.