Yesterday marked the beginning of Spring. And though this Spring is quite different than in years past because of this asinine lockout preventing the start of free agency, one thing remains the same - the NFL Draft is inching closer and closer.
With that said, the Dolphins are in full draft preparation mode - and some of the draft's top talents will be working out for the Dolphins over the coming weeks. That's where we'll begin this week.
Dolphins booking private workouts/visits as they attempt to set their draft board
Perhaps there isn't anyone better in Miami at getting obtaining some Dolphins draft buzz than the Herald's Barry Jackson. This past weekend, Jackson had a ton of nuggets to share with us in his latest column:
- The Dolphins will be conducting a private workout with Colin Kaepernick on Tuesday, marking the third time since the season concluded that they will have met with the Nevada quarterback.
- The Dolphins will fly up to Auburn next weekend for a private workout with - who the team is believed to be very high on. It's believed that Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano will both be in attendance.
- The Dolphins will also be working out Blaine Gabbert this week and have a March 29 workout scheduled with Ryan Mallett. The team will also work out Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton between now and April 1.
If the Dolphins aren't seriously considering spending a high draft pick on a quarterback, then they sure are creating one hell of a smokescreen. But the more likely scenario is that the Dolphins will indeed invest in one of these quarterbacks somewhere in the first two rounds. And it's my understanding that all scenarios are in play - including possibly trading up if one of the top two QBs slip a little.
So the Dolphins are now doing their homework to come to some kind of conclusion about these quarterbacks. All of them have concerns. All of them have are receiving mixed reviews from draft analysts. For example, some think Ryan Mallett is actually the best QB prospect in the draft. Others, meanwhile, want no part of the Arkansas quarterback.
So these private workouts will be invaluable for the Dolphins and they evaluate these kids and formulate their own opinions.
Quarterback, though, isn't the only position the Dolphins will be focusing on with these workouts. Barry Jackson adds that Miami will have private workouts with running backs Mark Ingram, Mikel Leshoure, Ryan Williams, Bilal Powell, and Mario Fannin as well as with tight ends D.J. Williams and Julius Thomas (a kid I've become a big fan of selecting).
Busy days ahead as we are under six weeks until the draft.
Sean Smith grades out among top corners in NFL
If you follow me on Twitter, then you probably saw me mention the recent Football Outsiders study regarding the league's top cornerbacks. If you don't follow me on Twitter - what the hell is wrong with you?
Anyways, I'm referring to the Football Outsiders' cornerback "charting stats" for 2010. In particular, the most important metric for cornerbacks - success rate. FO defines the success rate as the percentage of passes that fail to gain:
- at least 45% of needed yards on first down
- at least 60% of needed yards on second down
- or 100% of needed yards on third down
And look who ranked 6th in the entire NFL in success rate? Why it's our very own Sean Smith. His 63% success rate was just seven percentage points behind the highest rated corner - Darrelle Revis. The fact that Revis, who most agree is the game's top corner, is at the top of this list should give FO's grading system some legitimacy.
Now I'm not simply saying Smith is the sixth best corner in the league. But if you watched every snap of the Dolphins 2010 season, I think you'd have to agree with the idea that he was the team's best cover corner - and is one of the best cover corners in the league. He just didn't get beat for big gains that often in 2010. And had Smith actually caught some of those dropped interceptions, he very well could have been in the Pro Bowl conversation - at least as an alternate.
Smith's biggest knock, as we all know, is his tackling ability. But towards the end of the season, Smith showed improvement. He actually looked like a willing tackler out there - something that has been an issue for him since his college days at Utah. But keep in mind he's only been a cornerback for five years, having been a receiver his freshman year.
All this grading system by the Football Outsiders did for me was support what I have always believed - that Smith has the makings of being an outstanding corner in this league.