We find ourselves less than two weeks away from the draft and thank God! For many Dolfans out there, this is the time that we dread the most. At least last year many of us were confident the Front Office would snag Pouncey, and from where I'm sitting right now, that was a pretty good pick. But this year I have to admit, I have absolutely no idea who the pick will be. Do we trade down; do we trade up? Who knows? As amateurs we do our best to assess the talent and post mocks, but ultimately we are no closer to predicting who the Dolphins will select come draft day. At the end of the day, we are amateurs. Nothing more, nothing less. But that doesn't mean we can't break down where the Dolphins find themselves at the moment.
So where do we find ourselves at the moment?
Right now, we have a new coaching staff, and with that comes a new philosophy. We've already seen this team will no longer carry any divas; Brandon Marshall found himself shown the door straight away. Cameron Wake isn't really helping himself at the moment, either. Can't imagine his decision to miss voluntary practices has gone down too well with Coach Philbin. Instead focus will be on teamwork, dedication and hard work. Sherman recalled when he taught Coach Philbin creative writing at school that he was a very hardworking individual. He wasn't an A+ student; more of a B+ student. But there's nothing wrong with that. You can have all the talent in the world and still end up being a complete bust because you didn't put in the work. The point being, teamwork, dedication and hard work can go a long way. You can have a team full of B+ players and still be successful if they all work together.
Which brings me onto my next point. Ross, Ireland and Philbin have made it loud and clear that this football team still has a win-now mentality. Take this quote from Philbin himself:
“But from a philosophy standpoint, I’ve always felt like the teams that I’ve been a part of have had a chance to win every game we’ve played. I know that’s the way we’re going to approach it here.”
We have coaches here that are winners. Losing isn't something that is in their make-up. Failure isn't in their DNA. These guys aren't going to throw the season. Both the coaches and the General Manager need to show the owner that they are making progress. And it's also very clear that Philbin and Ireland share the same view on draft strategy. They say the relationship between the coach and the GM is a marriage. They have to share the same Philosophy. This is what Philbin said about his draft philosophy:
“The best team in the NFL if you study their draft history they taken the best players that are available.”
Does Ryan Tannehill represent the best value at the number 8 pick? There is the argument he might. He could be one hell of a quarterback. But that will be in two to three years time. If we sign a guy like Tannehill, we are not going to be as competitive as Philbin would like to be next year. Tannehill isn't even as talented as Rodgers was when he came out of College. Rodgers had far superior accuracy.
Instead we have holes. Big holes. It is critical we pick up pass rushers and wide receivers. Philbin did after all name those as his biggest priorities. And that will be the priority. Without them, Philbin won't be able to implement his vision. Our quarterback won't be able to throw a ball to anyone if we don't add receivers. Tom Brady will have a field day if we don't have another guy that can get to him.
We also need a guard and an offensive tackle. Our right side of the line sucked last year. If they suck again this year, Philbin will be labelled as the next Tony Sparano. He will not want that. A nice and athletic tight end would also do nicely. Tight ends have formed a big part of Green Bay's offence. My point being is that if we draft Tannehill, we won't be able to fill these needs. And if we don't fill those needs, Philbin won't be able to embark upon his vision.
So what is my take on all this?
It's very difficult to know what Philbin and Ireland are thinking. But judging from what they are saying and how they have operated in the past, they may want to use this draft to build the foundations of the team, specifically the offence. In free agency, they didn't sign any big impact players. They signed Marshall, and he's a very good pickup. But he's not a pro bowler. Most of the players they signed were guys that have something to prove, are high character guys and they only signed one year contracts. Think about it like this. When you build a house, you don't start installing a kitchen before the roof is put over the house. If you install that kitchen before the roof is put over the house, that kitchen will become damaged goods. It won't be able to perform. We sign Tannehill, this team won't be able to perform. We will have too many holes.
Both Philbin and Ireland know that to win, you have to play to the strengths of the draft. In terms of depth, the year of the quarterback may be next year. There are some very good prospects coming out next year. But this year there are some outstanding candidates in the first round to be our pass rusher. The talent does drop off at this position from the first round and onwards. In contrast, there's not a huge drop off between mid to late first round receivers and second round receivers. Even the third round receivers would be given second round consideration in any other draft. There are also some very athletic offensive lineman. Tight end is weak, but maybe Philbin sees something in one of them?Jeremiah Finley wasn't highly sought after when he entered the draft.
The blueprint is there. We won't reach for players. We will take the player that gives us the best chance of winning next year. We have to lay the foundations for the team. When those foundations have been laid, then we can start thinking about getting a quarterback. And, as I've said, we have Barkley, Wilson, Jones, Murray and possibly Tyler Bray as first round picks at the position next year. Wilson would be worth trading up for; he's far more accurate than Tannehill and his leadership qualities are off the charts. He elevates the play of those around him. And he will be more pro-ready. That is the type of guy we should aim for at quarterback.
And as for who we will draft this year? Lets leave that for draft day.