Alright Dol-Fans, it's that time again! Procrastination Time....Dolphin style!
So once again, I'm in the middle of writing another Law School brief, this time, an appellate brief to the 7th Circuit Court. Oh yes, it is as much fun as it sounds.....FML...and the Jets of course. As we delve further into this seemingly uneventful offseason, many of us continue to play out certain scenarios involving the draft, free agency, and trades, that ultimately will culminate into the Dolphin's collective off-season. Like all of you, I have been toying with different scenarios that will allow this team to maximize its offseason success.
Sometimes, I find myself conjuring up practical (feasible) scenarios and other times, I feel like I'm flat out dreaming. Below, I lay out some scenarios and I want you loyal Dolphin fans to tell me if it is conceivable or plausible. Am I dreaming, or could this happen? (although I concede anything I say is unlikely to happen in its entirety).
I am not going to go into to much detail or debate about the Dolphin's NEEDs and priorities this offseason, most of us by now have a general consensus. Rather, my aim is to figure out the best way to create the MEANS in which this franchise can address its priorities (whatever the powers that be decide they are). Furthermore, I am presuming there will eventually be a true Free Agency period and Trading amongst teams. So....
1. How to Maximize the Draft?
Obviously, in order to get the most out of the draft, whether you have 20 picks or 2, its vital to draft players who don't turn out to be busts, this goes without saying. When you have a limited amount of picks it is a MUST that the players turn out to be solid contributors at the very least. On the other hand, you can acquire 20 picks and miss on each and every one of them. Naturally, with all else even, the more picks you have, the more opportunity the team creates to select good or great players, although, practically speaking, it's certainly not a guarantee.
With that being said, on the surface, there appears to be a consensus that this is a Defensive heavy draft, which is unfortunate for Miami. However, it is still possible to address many priorities. But, it is very important to create and maximize opportunities in this draft.
I will assume that what Ireland has said regarding his quest to obtain a 2nd round pick is his true intent. Well, there are really only two or three legitimate ways this can be done. Either we (1) trade down to the bottom of the first round or (2) we trade a player for a 2nd rounder or (3) we bundle up mid-late round picks in exchange for a 2nd.
Addressing the first issue, assuming there are trade partners available (big assumption), the simplest and most painless way is to trade down. From what I see, there is no one around the 15th pick that Miami cannot live without. Many will argue that if Cam Newton, Gabbert, or maybe even another QB is available, that we should take him at 15th instead of trading down. I personally do not see anyone of these QB's as being considered "locks" in the same manner that Bradford or Matt Ryan were coming out of college. That is not to say they are not capable and by no means am I saying that anyone at all, especially QB's are guaranteed "locks" as franchise QB's , but in my opinion, viewing the top QB's in this draft in the most favorable light possible, ALL of these QB's are riddled with question marks, baggage, and flaws. Again, to reiterate, every QB in this draft has very serious, and very practical concerns. For example, assuming that the two top QB's in this draft (Newton and Gabbert) are in fact worthy of their title, they are at best project's and far from NFL ready.
So what does this mean? Well, for one, not a whole lot because there are always teams who need a QB and are willing to look past certain flaws to draft a guy with a lot of upside. This is good for us. Everyone in the league knows or believes that Miami is looking to the future (again) to find a franchise QB. Therefore, if a team wants QB "X" and he is still on the board at 15, and this team believes there is a high probability that Miami or another team will draft this guy, they are going to want to trade up for him. This is why it is so important that leading up to the draft, that Ireland and Sparano make it really appear the Dolphins are seriously considering a QB. This is a simple, yet brilliant strategy and Ireland appears to be doing this by openly stating interest in Newton and Colin K. (In my opinion, I do not think they want either one in the first round, and as history has shown, when it comes to Ireland and Co. I believe none of what I hear and half of what I see. In fact, when Ireland says something so clear and straightforward, he actually means the opposite...**see comments made prior to drafting Jake Long when Ireland said "..the #1 pick must be staple of our defense.")
So trading down....Conceivable? Plausible? Or a Dream?
2. Trading Current Players for a 2nd Rounder?
Before we get into this, I am assuming the NFL and Players Union gets their sh*t together in time. Next we must look at who on this team is worthy of a 2nd round pick or even a 3rd.
Obviously we can name off which Dolphins are worthy of 2nd Round: Long, Marshall, Carey, Dansby, Davis, Starks, etc.
The next step is to then decide out which of the possible 2nd round worthy players, we can afford to part with. A few factors to consider would be the quality of depth at the position, whether or not the player is in his prime or yet to be, and of course the financial consequences.
In terms of players who are not expendable, I would say Long, Marshall (can be argued, but I like what he brings, and we know what we are getting out of him and he is still young), Dansby, again, is too valuable to our defense and we know what to expect from him. Therefore, I think one of the strongest, most talented, and deepest part of this team is our D-Line, specifically D-End. We have Odrick, Merling, Starks, Langford, McDaniels (FA) who are or can be starting calibur linemen.
Odrick was a 1st rounder last year and showed great potential but only played like one half. However, when you draft a guy in the first round, you are saying that he better be a starter. Also, it goes without saying that his trade value is minimal anyways. McDaniel brings versatility, which is key. I think he has a significant role on this team and can should be re-signed at a fair price. Merling is definitely not capable of being traded for a 2nd rounder, but can be a starter or a good backup at worst. That would leave us with Langford and Starks. The fact of the matter is there are two D-end positions and 3 or 4 players that are capable of being starters. This is a good problem to have. Langford has been solid from day 1. He is young and has played above expectations. Could he be traded for a 2nd rounder? maybe, maybe not. I certainly think he could be. I mean, he has the potential of being a Pro-Bowler in time and should be a solid starter for a long time to come at worst. Is a long term starter worthy of a 2nd round pick? I think so. OR Starks, who is coming off a pro-bowl year. I really appreciate what he has done for this team. He is been self-less and has became a fantastic player at DE while giving us serious versatility by being able to play NT. I mean, this quality versatility cannot be under estimated, it is huge. At the same time, his trade value is at a premium right now. Look at what the patriots do, they trade players based on their market value, regardless of who the player is or what position they play...*see Phillip Seymour.
A lot of this depends on what Miami does with Soliai, I understand.
But, on its surface, Starks or Langford trade for a 2nd Rounder....Conceivable? Plausible? or a Dream?
3. Bundling up Mid-Late Round Picks for a 2nd Rounder?
I will not spend too much energy on this scenario. It basically boils down to whether or not a person wants to have "many" picks collectively, or a "few" picks of quality, i.e. a three or four picks altogether, but in the first 3 rounds.
I will Conclude by giving my dream scenario for this particular draft.....you tell me whether it is Conceivable? Plausible? or am I completely dreaming?
1. Trade Down to a QB desperate team (more so than us and less patient). Yes we need a QB, RB, C, etc., But since we ultimately need those positions collecively, what is the difference between getting a QB this year or next year, or a C this year or next year, or a RB this year or next year. What I'm saying is that if we NEED to fill positions X, Y, and Z, etc. why do we NEED to fill it in a particular order instead of letting the draft and available personnel dictate who we draft. In order to get to the Superbowl, we more than likely need to address quite a few positions, some more than others, and it is SERIOUSLY unlikely to get all of those positions filled in one offseason. And because it is unlikely to fill them all in one offseason, this means we need two or three off-seasons anyways.
I'm not saying that we should or shouldn't draft a particular player, and if the Dolphin brass does there due diligence and determines a player to be worthy of a pick, then go for it. But one thing I notice, for example, when people talk about drafting Mark Ingram, there are people who immediately say that "No, don't draft a RB because he has no line to run behind, but instead, draft linemen instead because drafting a RB with no O Line is a wasted pick. But why is this so? Again I'm not saying that we should draft Ingram, but if he turns out to be determined as a special player, why not draft him when we can, and then draft linemen when we can. I certainly understand the importance of the O-Line, but skill positions are what separate the great from the good teams. If we drafted a guy like Ingram and he rushed for 500 yds this year behind an average O-Line, but then we solidify our O-line next season, we then have a solid O-Line with an elite RB capable of 1200 yards for years to come. (I am using Ingram as an example and not saying he is a stud or a dud, just an example).
Similarly, yes we need a QB, but its not the only thing we need to get to the next level. So if we draft a QB this year because we need one, and he turns out to be average, how much will that help us? As opposed to having a better chance of getting a better QB next draft.
So, trade down, get a 2nd.
2. Trade Starks or Langford for a 2nd rounder. I think one of the biggest obstacles regarding this scenario, outside the CBA issue, is the fact there are a lot of good DE's in this draft. But at the same time, with young veteran players, it is less of a risk and possibly cheaper as well.
3. Sign quality two or three quality players though FA....A guard, or maybe even Bob Sanders for a cheap one year deal and see if he can stay healthy. If he cannot, we have capable players. Low risk - High Reward. Same for the now jobless Shockey.
This would leave us with a first round pick, two second round picks, and a third, hell, maybe trade Y. Bell for another third rounder and replace him with Jones or Culver. I really like Bell, but again, its about getting the best bang for your buck, like trading stock, buy low sell high. Are Bell's best days not behind him? If we can get a 3rd for him why not?
If this scenario above pans out, you can draft the best player available in the first, maybe another OLB (think about it what if Wake goes down??). If we get another OLB that can pass rush, we can move Misi inside, let Channing Crowder go or be traded and still have Dobbins to give us depth.
Then, in the 2nd round, we could draft two RB's that compliment each other, or a RB and WR with some wheels, and another RB in the 3rd, a guard and a RB in the second round and then another RB and WR with two third rounders, etc. The possibilities are endless!!!
The Question for you is Conceivable? Plausible? or is The Scarecrow living in the Land of Oz?