We all know 1 thing for sure this draft season and that is that we don't know what Jeff Ireland is thinking. Ireland has said he will recoup a 2nd round selection to replace the one we gave Denver for Brandon Marshall, but he has also said Gibril Wilson was a good safety. It's unusually rare for Ireland to ever say what he means in regards to personnel decisions. With that in mind, I'm still going to lay out my idea of what our draft strategy should be based on the current rankings of prospects and our team needs. Sorry about the length but I go for in-depth posts. First things first a summary of our team needs and why we are addressing them where we are. In no particular order:
QB-We have 1 signed QB, 1 that wants to go where he can start, and 1 that just wants another chance to play. Like it or not, Chad Henne is our starter as it now stands. Like it or not, Tyler Thigpen is no better than Henne. Like it or not, Chad Pennington will never have a year even close to what he did in 2008. This will not be addressed in the draft here for two reasons, #1 Getting a 3rd string QB isn't hard and we will re-sign CP10 before or after it becomes obvious that no one else will and #2 The 2011 QB class is one of the weakest classes in years. Technically a third reason is that next year's class is far superior to this years and if a QB is drafted next season (RE: Henne bombs out worse than Matt Leinart) he will need a stacked team to step into to ease the transition.
RB-Ricky is a goner and he will finish his career with the team that he signs with while Ronnie has put up 1 good season since being drafted #2 overall in 2005 so let's go ahead and presume that both our starters from last year are not worthy of starting on a playoff team. The RB class this year is pretty decent so the Dolphins will likely look to the draft for 1 RB since Kory Sheets, Lex Hilliard, and Patrick Cobbs (*Cobbs not being the answer) are available to take up the other position alongside Ronnie if the draft pick doesn't pan out/gets injured.
WR-This is all but set for us since we have a very capable WR corp. The only problem is that all 3 of our big guns operates within 20 yards so it makes it easier on the defense to blanket cover them. Unless Miami adds a speedy WR that can stretch the field (Yes Hartline has potential but if he pans out you would now have 2 vertical threats, OK soak that in) they will likely struggle with big pass plays again in 2011. Fortunately their are several quality guys available in the draft.
TE-Face the facts people! We need a second starting TE alongside Anthony Fasano if we are going to be a true offensive threat. Mainly, we need a more athletic TE that can really make LBs piss themselves at the thought of getting burned. This draft class SUCKS for all-around TE talent so don't bother looking for a great receiver that is a top-tier blocker. Fortunately, a pro football player can be taught to block (Apparently it is easier than teaching Ted Ginn Jr. to catch) so we can find an athletic TE here and let Fasano do most of the front line blocking.
O-Line-We need to draft some guys if for no other reason than to get rid of guys like Procter and McQuistan. If we can put 5 top level guys out there to start and keep 4 average to good backups then we should be okay but right now we have 2-4 top level guys (Counting Garner and Carey as top level) and maybe 1 good backup with a couple of below average guys. Expect OGs and maybe even a OT to get the call before round 7 is over.
ILB-Can we please get an upgrade over Channing Crowder!?!? Please?! Yeah, it really isn't as important as getting a ball hawk in the secondary but can't I dream?
CB-We have a great young tandem at CB but we have got to get an upgrade over Benny Sapp. Will Allen re-signed 2-10 so we already have Sapp's replacement.
Round 1 - Pick # 21-32 : Torrey Smith, WR-Maryland
I have no idea where we will pick but it won't be higher than 21st unless Ireland can't trade down. Now, Smith is one of the fastest WRs in the draft class (Sub 4.4 speed) but unlike Jernigan (5-9) and Young (174 lbs) Smith is 6-1, 205 so he won't have to bulk up (and lose speed) or risk getting ripped in half at the NFL level. There is a faster guy than Smith (Ricardo Lockette-Fort Valley State) that is NFL-sized (Lockette is 6-2, 207) but he has very little experience and can be had much later if the team wants to double down (Lockette received a combine invite so he may actually require a draft pick if he runs a sub-4.35 40) and Smith will be gone by our next pick unless he has a horrendous combine. Jeff, DON'T ask him what his momma does for a living.
Round 2 - Pick # 53-64 : Joseph Barksdale, OT-LSU *Maybe Marcus Cannon but let's see his combine and/or pro-day first.
Again, I have no idea where we are gonna pick in round 2 but I trust Ireland will get us into this round somewhere but it will likely be in the back third of the round. OMG!!! Its' not a QB!!!! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME!!!!! Do you want a QB to replace Henne in 2 years or a RT to replace Carey this year or next? If I have to choose, I will take a guy that is gonna keep Henne (Or whoever) vertical and safe in a comfy pocket over somebody that is gonna get eaten inside because he is ducking the speed rusher off the edge that Carey didn't stop. This guy has steal written all over him. Barksdale is an incredibly underrated talent that has some real potential for greatness and experience at both tackle positions just in case the unmentionable happens on the left side. Barksdale is a 4-yr letterman from an SEC powerhouse and has a sterling history of getting on the field and staying there. With all of the injuries that we have sustained to linemen over the last 2 seasons, I want a solid wall of tanks manning the trenches in 2011. With any luck, more than 2 guys will play every game this coming year.
Round 3 - Pick # 85-96: Rob Housler, TE-Florida Atlantic University
Don't be shocked if Ireland has to do a pick swap somewhere to get the 2nd round pick and I figure it will be here. This could create a big problem because the talent available that addresses our needs is going to start dwindling quickly (Except for RB really). If this pick isn't used to get Rob Housler then Ireland needs to be shot if whoever he picks here isn't 2nd on the depth chart or better by the 3rd preseason game (That would also be opening day if the season goes to 18 games). Housler is a rare breed and I HIGHLY DOUBT he isn't gone in round 2 if he puts together a good combine. He stood 6 ft 6 weighed 245 kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip, and everybody knew you didn't give no lib to big Rob. Okay, that is a parody of a Johnny Cash song but WTH! Housler is 6-6, 249lbs and can run a sub 4.6 40 making him by far the fastest TEs in the draft and faster than some of the WRs!! He has good hands, no ego and has been playing the game for years (IE. he is not a converted basketball player) since being born and raised in Texas. Imagine a set with Housler and Fasano along with Marshall and a speedy WR clearing out the D-backs. There is an OLB that is one play from getting ripped a new A-hole by his defensive coaches. The biggest knocks on Housler are that he played in the Sun Belt Conference and redshirted as a senior (Purportedly at the request of the coaching staff because of the logjam at TE). As far as the conference goes, this front office's worst draft pick ever (Yes, worse than Pat White) was John Nalbone and he was a TE from MONMOUTH! (5th Round #161 Overall when he was ranked as a 7th rounder at best!) so this couldn't be any worse.
Round 4 - Pick # 111: Jamie Harper, RB-Clemson *If Will Rackley, OG-Lehigh is still around, he should be considered here.
I know this is a tough spot here because RB can be so hit and miss but it's likely that the faster backs are gone and Harper does run in the 4.4-4.54 range and can be a 3 down back with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield being very good. I have no reservation about going after somebody else at a different position of need here but either way, Miami needs to snag a RB or 2 in undrafted free agency if they don't make a big splash in free agency. Either way, Miami will have Lex Hilliard and Kory Sheets on the squad and almost certainly will re-sign Cobbs and 1 other RB (Be it Ronnie, Ricky or an outsider).
Round 5 - Pick # 143:
Casey Matthews, ILB-Oregon Marcus Gilbert, OT/G-Florida *Could be Derek Hall, OT-Stanford but Hall didn't receive a combine invite so he will have to shine at the Stanford pro day. MAYBE Cecil Sorts III.
Round 6 - Pick # 165: David Arkin, G-Missouri State *Alex Linnenkohl, C-Oregon State is another prospect here.
O-line depth is essential to fielding a playoff team and we have seen better than most teams just how quickly those backups can become needed to step up. We've also seen our backups fail to pull through when called upon. Arkin has some very fluid movement and is an academic all-American with 44 starts under his belt in 4 seasons as one of the best linemen in FCS.
Round 7 - Pick # 196: Caleb Schlauderaff, G-Utah *Could also be Anthony Sherman, FB-UConn
One of the best interior linemen in the Mountain West Conference. Good size and skills and a 2nd team all-American. Caleb is also a student athlete mentor so he's more than some schlub who goes to practice and games and lives only to play football.
Round 7 - Pick # 197: Zane Taylor, C-Utah
This pick came from Jacksonville for Justin Smiley and a replacement to the O-Line ranks just makes sense here. Zane Taylor was easily the best center in the Mountain West Conference and is one strong bull (41 reps at 225, squats 560+). This pick screams potential for the future since 1) our current center sucks, 2) we have seen injury after injury year after year and 3) Incognito could be moved to center but how long will be able to hold onto him if he excels?
Undrafted Free Agency
Vai Taua, RB-Nevada:
Good, low runner with good vision, quick feet and excellent ball security. Career YPC of 6.45 yds and YPRec of 9.36 yds.
Darius Morris, OT/G-Temple:
Strong Versatile lineman can play either guard position or RT. Wouldn't trust him on the left but depth at guard and RT with one guy is valuable.