Last week, I released an article entitled ‘The State of the Miami Dolphins Roster’. This week, with mock drafts in full swing on The Phinsider and across the web, I thought now would be a good time as ever to release my first mock of the season.
Before I start I want to make clear that I don’t want to get into free agency as it’s impossible to predict who we’ll sign. Did anyone correctly guess we’d sign Chad Johnson or Richard Marshall last year? Nah, didn’t think so. What I will do instead is suggest which free agents we should keep on our team. Also, when thinking about the draft, I’m trying to find players that fit with the philosophy of the coaching staff. This coaching staff loves to develop players. It’s part of their DNA. Some of them were teachers, others were in the armed forces. Philbin and co. also love to draft guys that are good character guys and like to work as part of a team. They’re dedicated guys that work hard. It’s why Brandon Marshall was shipped out, for example. With that in mind, lets get down to the business.
Our Free Agents
No one really knows precisely how much cap space we will have in our favour this offseason. It’s all very much guesswork at this point. However, if we want this franchise to move forward, we need to try and keep some of our core players that a free agents. Yes, Jake Long will be expensive. But lets see if we can work out a deal with him. If not, franchise tag the guy. It’ll be expensive, but can we really afford to draft another tackle? Will that improve our team next year? No it won’t. Franchise Long and either trade him, or see what he can do next season. If his play regresses again, then go back into the draft in 2014. 2013 is not the year to get another tackle, period. Then, obviously Randy Starks has to stay; he deserves it. I’m also hoping Brian Hartline stays and doesn’t have unrealistic demands. Chris Clemons will sign on the dotted line too, I think. Not sure on Reggie Bush. We’ll have to see where we are at with him. But at the age of 27, running backs don’t usually get big deals. $3-4 million might not be beyond the realms of possibility. And then we come to Smith. Good player one game, very pedestrian the next. We re-sign him. $5-7 million a year. No way he gets over that.
2013 NFL draft
Round 1: Dee Milliner. Cornerback, Alabama.
Almost every single mock I read has us taking a defensive end. That’s cool. I’m not against that. I understand the value of having pass rushers, and lots of them. But is our pass rushing group really that bad for us to draft one in the first round? If Dee Milliner is there, I’m taking him. He can operate very well in both zone and man coverage. He’s not a guy that goes for a lot of interceptions, but he does an excellent job at breaking up passes. But what impresses me the most are his instincts. Milliner gets top marks for play recognition and anticipating what routes the receivers are going to run. He’s a smart player, and happens to be the top receiver in the draft. If he falls to us, we can’t pass him up.
Round 2a: Zach Ertz. Tight End, Stanford.
We don’t re-sign Anthony Fasano because we don’t have the cap space and he doesn’t fit into our scheme. Instead we look to the future and get an athletic tight end that can stretch the field. Young quarterbacks need safety blankets, and Ertz will provide that to Ryan Tannehill. He’s got the body to shield defenders and the arms to make the tough catch. One of the main criticisms going into this season was that he can’t block. Well, Ertz has proved the doubters wrong this year and moved up draft boards as a result.
Round 2b: Stedman Bailey. Wide Receiver, West Virginia.
This was a toss-up between Stedman Bailey and Quinton Patton (who reminds me a lot of Reggie Wayne, I may add). But Stedman Bailey wins for a number of reasons. He’s not as agile as his teammate, Tavon Austin, but he’s the more reliable and productive of the two. He’s got 1,279 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, despite catching nearly 30 passes less than Austin. He’s also the more accomplished route runner and has HUGE hands. He just reminds me of Greg Jennings. A deep threat that can also operate in multiple formations. Very versatile, and our coaches love that.
Round 3a: Phillip Thomas. Safety, Fresno State.
He’s the most underrated safety in this draft class. Let’s hope it stays that way. If not, trade back into the second to grab him. He’ll compliment Reshad Jones well because he’s faster and more athletic. But it doesn’t stop there. He’s always there to make the play whether it’s a run or pass situation. His ball skills are very good with nice soft hands and leaping ability. Plus, when he gets the interception, he’s very dangerous with the ball in his hands. Excellent prospect.
Round 3b: Omoregie Uzzi. Guard, Georgia Tech.
If Quinton Patton or Ryan Swopes are still here, I’d take them. But sadly, I don’t think they will be here. Instead I’m going for a zone blocking guard that is currently predicted to go in the fourth round. Don’t believe that. Every year we see guards and tackles that move up draft boards, and he’s one of them. He stays very low off the snap and has the mobility to operate in the zone blocking system. Good run blocker and good in pass protection. Good player.
With a draft like this, I really believe we can start moving this franchise forward. This draft is all about playmakers. Sure, it doesn’t have the defensive end draft buffs like me crave, but I’m not sold on the fact that we actually need one. The coaching staff appear to be very high on Olivier Vernon, and I can very easily see him producing more next season. Like I said, they want to develop players. He’s a guy they’ll develop, along with Shelby. Neither do I think we take a tackle. That could be the pick next year when we have less urgent needs. Instead, we get guys that will come to us to make plays and win games.
If there’s anything you take away from this, this is it. Use the first round to draft game changers, then use rounds two to seven to draft the team.
Hope you enjoyed it.