It’s about that time of year for NFL fans everywhere to start thinking about the future of their respective teams. While some teams are gearing up for the playoffs, most are thinking about how to improve so they can make the playoffs next year. First there will be the frenzy to find a new coach for some teams and then all teams will enter into the melee that is free agency. But everything always comes back to the all important NFL Draft.
As college bowl games finish up and prospects make decisions about their future, every NFL fan starts an evaluation of their favorite team and then thinks of how they would address team needs if they were able to; hence the mock draft. Mock drafts being out the general manager in all of us as we decide what we think is best for the team.
I decided to come up with the mock draft that best reflects how I think the Dolphins should address team needs through the draft. But there is one exception… no quarterbacks.
Wait, what? I know what some of you might be thinking: "You mean to tell me that you, who have been more than vocal about the Dolphins drafting a quarterback, are saying we shouldn’t draft one now???" Well before you go thinking I’m being hypocritical, let me explain my reasoning. If there is one thing that Dolphins fans know how to do more than anything else, it’s argue about quarterbacks; it’s what we do. One can only guess what we’ll do when we actually have a franchise quarterback. At any rate, every fan knows that we need a quarterback. It’s our greatest need and very few, if any, will deny that. But we have discussed quarterbacks since last off-season. We are discussing it now. We will discuss it until we finally get that seemingly elusive franchise signal caller. So I wanted to try something new.
Let’s play the what-if game. What if we peer into the Pilantir and see that the quarterback position gets taken care of another way? What if we see Matt Moore developing into a franchise guy under the expert tutelage of Rob Chudzinski or Pete Carmichael Jr.? What if a healthy Peyton Manning gets cut and decides to enhance his legacy by leading the Dolphins to the Super Bowl (distinct possibility)? What if we sign Matt Flynn and this time, it actually works out? What if???
I’m not saying that I actually buy any of that. But just about every mock draft you see from here to April is going to have us take a quarterback at some point. But with Matt Barkley’s decision to return to school and Landry Jones’ draft stock taking a nose dive, this once heralded draft class has become a two horse race between Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. So it’s those two, and a bunch of other guys that we probably don’t want anyway and shouldn’t talk ourselves into drafting. And unless we trade up, then we are stuck drafting an inferior prospect in a later round, drafting an inferior prospect in the first round (even worse), or not taking one at all. When you look at the possibility that the 2013 class could be incredibly loaded at quarterback, the last option might be the best.
So in the spirit of fun and for the sake of discussion, I wanted to post a mock draft in which we don’t have to worry about the quarterback position. Please don’t reply with comments saying that we will have to trade up or we will draft a quarterback or otherwise address the quarterback situation; I know this. Let’s pretend that for once, we don’t have to deal with a quarterback and we can draft to fill other needs. So here goes…
Trade Down with Chicago for the 19th overall pick, 83rd overall pick (3rd round), and a 2013 first rounder.
First, let me discuss the trade. It might be a reach with the 2013 first rounder, but Chicago might be tempted to move up and get a top tier left tackle, which they desperately need. We could get a second rounder in 2012, but I would rather stockpile picks for the next draft, just in case we need to go after Barkley. And if not, we have two first rounders in 2013. With a healthy Jay Cutler and a pair of bookend tackles, the Bears could make a serious playoff run and they might be willing to trade away a future pick.
Now… the pick. I’m sure that some of you will cry foul that we didn’t get a right tackle or some other offensive lineman. But this comes down to two things: need and positional value. We need a right tackle, but we also need a pass rusher. Pass rushers have a much higher positional value than right tackles or interior offensive linemen. If you need an example, think of it like this: If the best right tackle and the best pass rusher were to hit free agency, who would get paid the most money? (Answer: the pass rusher, every time). And pass rusher is a HUGE need for us anyway. For example: if our shiny new right tackle gets injured, we can slide Jerry or someone over to cover for him. Is it ideal? No, but it would work. If Cameron Wake gets injured, who replaces him? Misi and Trusnik. I rest my case.
Whitney Mercilus would be a great fit for this team. He can at the very least, give us a rotational pass rusher in a nickel set until he becomes more comfortable in coverage. He has the size to play as an end in a four man front, which gives Nolan, or our new defensive coordinator plenty of versatility. He has great speed of the edge, power to handle the run game, and a relentless motor. Given Wake’s affinity for lining up on the defensive left side, Mercilus gives us a premier talent at RE or ROLB.
With the 40th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select Vinny Curry DE/OLB Marshall
Doubling down on pass rushers? Absolutely! And there are three good reasons why. First of all, it is almost a certainty that most draft picks fail. In a good draft, you get two long term starters and the rest is roster filler. It just never happens that any team hits on all of its draft picks. So while it seems like a good idea to try and fill every need in one draft, it just ain’t happenin’. Doubling down here gives us some insurance in case one of the picks doesn’t work out. The second reason is that Wake will turn 30 years old this month. It may be likely that he plays well into his thirties, but it’s more likely that he’ll start to drop off within a year or two. Drafting two pass rushers, if they pan out, gives us a future at the position. And the third reason… well you can just ever have enough pass rushers.
Curry, like Mercilus, is a good edge rusher with speed and power. He has good size and can be versatile in any front. He can work in a rotation with Mercilus and can line up as a blitzer if we wanted three pass rushers on the field. If both Mercilus and Curry pan out, we have our pass rushing duo for the next decade or so.
With the 72nd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
This pick is based purely on the speculation that we keep Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator. If Nolan stays, we will stay in a 3-4 base defense. If we stay in a 3-4 defense, we need a nose tackle. Whether or not, Soliai stays is irrelevant as we need a backup nose tackle anyway. If Soliai costs too much, then we may address the need earlier in the draft. However, at this point, Ta’amu gives us good value. He’s a two-down run stuffing defensive tackle that fits perfectly into the 3-4 at nose. He can also play a 4-3 tackle, but will not offer too much in terms of pass rush. He was a borderline first round prospect, but recent games, including the bowl game against Baylor, has allowed his stock to drop. If he’s here in the 3rd round, we are taking him to be starting or backup nose tackle.
With the 83rd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select, Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU
And there you get your right tackle folks. He’s not an elite prospect at tackle, but you don’t need that for a right tackle. He’s got the footwork and size to be a solid anchor on the right side. He’s really good in pass protection, but needs to get a bit better in run blocking. I personally think John Jerry has a chance to win the right tackle spot and I also wouldn’t count out Lydon Murtha. I also think we will address this position in free agency. However, if we can draft Reynolds here, we can keep Jerry at right guard and our line should be set. Two good tackles, a good center, decent guards, and depth.
With the 104th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select, Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
I don’t think Quick falls this far, but this is my mock, and I’m allowing it. I have watched this kid play for his entire college career and I truly believe he has Alpha Receiver potential. He was a touted high school basketball prospect that took up football in his senior year, and that’s why he ended up at AppState and not a bigger football program. He’s comes in at 6’5" 220. He’s got good hands, but they can stand to get a bit better. He is not a speed threat (more of a 4.5 guy), but has deceptive down field speed that allowed him to be a deep threat in college. He has got great vertical leaping ability and will win a ton of jump balls down field and in the red zone. He’s a physical presence that fights for extra yards and is a willing blocker. He has a strong work ethic and wants to perfect his craft. For a receiver of his size, he moves well in and out of breaks, making him a potentially dangerous weapon in the slot as well as outside. I think he’s got potential to be a #1 wideout, but at worst, he would us another big red zone target, and would help our weak red zone passing offense.
With the 136th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette
I’m sure this will be an area of contention with some, but I don’t see the tight end position as being a huge need. Yes, I know that Anthony Fasano is never going to be Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, but I think he would flourish with good quarterback play. And you won’t find many tight ends that block as well as he does. The truth is that while you can upgrade from Fasano, you can still win with Fasano. So I decided to draft other options first. Ladarius Green is not a widely known name, but fans will become familiar with him before the draft. He’s a tall tight end (6’6") who is a little on the light side (236) for a tight end. However, with pro conditioning, he can add some weight and be an effective receiving threat. He has great hands and will be a mismatch against linebackers. He can be the type of tight end that teams looks for now as a receiving mismatch. Add him in with Fasano and Clay as the H-back, and you have a potentially potent set of weapons for any quarterback.
With the 200th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select Terence Ganaway, RB, Baylor
This guy will probably move up from this spot, but for right now, he’s rated about this spot, so I’m drafting him. We have a pretty nice two-headed beast at running back with Bush and Thomas. While Bush played better than anyone expected this season, he is still an injury concern. Thomas showed flashes of potential early, but slowed down as the season went on. No one is going to give up on him yet, but getting a similar back would be a prudent move. Ganaway has size and speed and could be a steal this late in the draft.
So there you have it. If we didn’t have quarterback issues, this is the draft I would love to see. We bolster the defense with some top prospects and get some other developmental type players that can contribute and that might become steals. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this mock draft and I hope it stirred up some discussion about other needs and other prospects. I know the order probably isn't completely correct, but it's what we got right now.