Miami Dolphins Rookies in Review: Mike Pouncey

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 27: Center Mike Pouncey #51 of the Miami Dolphins daydreams of Andrew Luck during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 27, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

I've added another story between my Wednesday night posts on prospectivce coaches and my Fantasy Football threads on Friday nights.  The nights are becoming a little busier which is great because it means I can keep the evil one, my wife, at bay.

Every Thursday I am going to take a look at one of the rookies and we can analyze how they are doing.  Maybe this could be the "feel good" moment for Jeff Ireland if they receive solid reviews before Jeffy boy gets canned.  We'll start this off by taking a look at our controversial first round pick, Mike Pouncey.  Many people thought a QB such as Colin Kaepernick or a RB like Mark Ingram would be a better selection in the first and thought Jake Kirkpatrick would be a better selection in the second round.  Kirkpatrick went on to sign with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent and was ultimately released.

I'll preface this by saying the Miami Dolphins offensive line ranks 29th in the NFL in pass protection.  Only the Bears, 49ers, and Cardinals rank worse, which should come as a slight surprise because they don't have someone named Marc Colombo on their rosters.  The Dolphins are graded much better at run blocking, ranking 10th in the NFL.  But this isn't a look at Miami's entire offensive line, this is about Mike Pouncey.  So how does he rate? 

I happened to be pleased with the selection of Pouncey, so I am pleased to pass along his solid ratings.  Pouncey has fared much better than any other offensive lineman on Miami's roster, including Jake Long.  Yes, Long hasn't been himself this year, but he's been climbing back up the OT rataings the past two weeks.  This isn't about Long though.  Pouncey hasn't just been the best offensive lineman for Miami, but he currently ranks 11th in the NFL for centers.  It was only a few weeks ago that Pouncey was actually ranked 2nd in the NFL for centers, but he was very poor in run blocking last week against Denver, dropping him down a bit.  Still, Pouncey has the ability to make a quick rebound and isn't far behind in points from 3rd place, currently occupied by Nick Mangold.

Pouncey struggled to start the season, giving up 3 of his 6 QB pressures to Vince Wilfork and the New England Patriots in his first NFL start.  The following week against Houston, Pouncey has allowed his first NFL sack.  That has been the only sack Pouncey has allowed this year.  In total, he has surrendered 1 sack, 2 QB hits, and 6 pressures.  Half of those numbers came in the first two weeks.  Pouncey has also been very good with discipline and is second in the NFL in fewest penalties, only trailing Colts center Jeff Saturday.  As for Pouncey's run blocking he is currently tied for 11th in the NFL, but that category too took a sharp fall with a subpar game against Denver.  Before then, Pouncey was among the top ten in run blocking.  Finally, Pouncey was ranked as the best center in the NFL for his blocking on screen passes, which is not a surprise given his ability to get to the outside fast to set up blocks.

Overall, Pouncey was rated as having one bad game in pass protection when he started the season against New England and he was rated as having two subpar performances in rush blocking against the New York Jets and Denver Broncos.  It's not only impressive that Pouncey has overcome a slow start in pass protection to become Miami's steadiest protector, but that he has done it with one of the worst OG tandems in the NFL.  Richie Incognito ranks 40th in the NFL out of 70 OGs and Vernon Carey ranks 41st.

Beyond his actualy statistics, Pouncey's job entails him to make the calls for the offensive line, a job that has earned him praise from Long and Tony Sparano.  Most people had concerns about Pouncey's history of poor snaps in college, but that has not been a factor for Miami.  As I've previously said, scouts have long said Pouncey's snapping problems was considered an easy fix and thus far, it has been a nonissue for him.  Pouncey's strength, athleticism, and his ability to pull is a major benefit for Miami.  Having centers that can pull is a very good luxury for teams to have when opening up outside lanes.  Many may say it'd be more beneficial to have Pouncey at LG and Incognito at center, but the truth is that Incognito wasn't exactly a good center.  He was just better than Joe Berger, which doesn't say much.  Incognito still ranked below average for a center and his numbers were actually better when he was playing LG, throwing a wrench in the assumed belief Miami would be better off if Pouncey and Incognito swapped positions.

For those keeping track of Mike Pouncey and Maurkice Pouncey to determine the better brother, Mike Pouncey is ranked much higher than his brother so far.  Maurkice ranks slightly better in pass protection and has only surrendered 1 sack, 1 QB hit, and 4 pressures. On the flip size, Mike ranks much better in rush blocking.  Both of them are very good centers and will be a mainstay for both franchises for the next several years. Even those who didn't like the selection of Pouncey should be satisfied that the two most important positions along the offensive line will be settled for the next decade. Pouncey has lived up to his billing so far and  has greatly exceeded the expectations of some of his harshest critics.

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