Likely Draft Strategy for Dolphins

Miami is in a bind when it comes to the draft. They have too many key positions of need and not enough draft picks. An interesting interview recently with Jeff Ireland illustrated this point. He mentioned how there are not just needs and wants, there are also MUSTS. My analysis of what the dolphins see as these categories and how many of each player they need is:

    • QB - 1 : Franchise QB
    • WR - 1 : Lost Marshall
    • OLB - 1 : Lost Jason Taylor. And lack of depth after Wake and Misi.
    • G / T - 1 : Murtha and Jerry could replace Columbo, but who will replace Carey? Murtha and Long are both injury risks. Need one solid starter.
  • Needs
    • TE - 1 : WCO TE to develop behind Fasano. The offense cannot function well without 2 possible threats at TE.
    • G / T - 1 : Development Player
    • CB - 1 : If Richard Marshall or Jimmy Wilson become the FS, who becomes the nickel corner or competition for Smith? Need another CB anyway, especially with the value at the position through the 4th round.
    • WR - 1 : Lack Impact #2 WR
    • OLB - 1 : Developmental from losing Akaika Alama-Francis
  • Wants
    • DE - 1 : Need a pass rusher rotational player.
    • RB - 1 : read analysis below
    • TE - 1 : Depth
    • S - 1 : Depth

Here are some interesting takes on our current draft situation:
  • It is very clear from the above chart that the Dolphins don’t have enough draft picks. They need at least two more to fill their holes.
  • If the organization is so sold on Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas the RBs, why sign Medlin, Messam, and two other RBs this offseason? Why meet, scout or setup visits with more than a dozen college RBs including Travaris Cadet and Edwin Baker? This screams more than just due diligence. I get the Steve Slaton thing, he is a great scheme fit. To me this strategy has only two possible answers, one of which is provocative:
    • The Miami Dolphins are not sold on Daniel Thomas - He is not a fit for the WCO and they will either try to trade him or cut him.
    • Or, possibly the reason they are trying to find another great RB to pair with Bush and Slaton is because they will primarily play Reggie Bush as a WR, not a RB in their WCO scheme. This is intriguing, and makes a lot of sense. He played the same role in New Orleans. Imagine that Reggie Bush lines up with Steve Slaton or Charles Clay in the backfield. Both RBs shift to the outside as 3rd/4th WRs. Are they going to reverse it? Is it a spread or a quick screen to the flat? If Reggie Bush primarily plays as a WR it could be a huge threat and expose the scheme weaknesses of other teams. If you consider Bush, Bess, and Hartline as our primary WRs then the loss of Marshall doesn’t seem so bad.
  • Safety is not listed as a need because Miami essentially has 3 signed CBs who really are safeties. Jimmy Wilson and Richard Marshall would be ideal Free Safeties, while Sean Smith would be a great Strong Safety. Combine those with the others on the rost and the team has more of a need at CB than Safety, especially considering the poor safety class in this draft.
  • The Dolphins don’t need a new RT unless they plan on letting Long go at the end of the year. Instead the weakness is at RG. They do need a RT, don’t get me wrong, but they need a developmental one like Matt McCants, not Riley Reiff or Mike Adams. The perfect candidate would be a player who could do both, such as Kenechi Usumele in the second round or Cordy glenn in the first. If all goes well he plays RG. If Murtha or Long get hurt, he shifts to RT and Hicks or Jerry switch to RG.
  • The Green Bay Packers have drafted a particular way for a reason over the years. It is the recognition of position priority. The first three rounds is where you get impact players at positions of importance, namely: LT, WR, CB, QB, OLB, RT, TE, and DE. G, MLB, S, and RB are not a value in the first three rounds. There is a caveat to this. You never draft a WR in the first round unless he is a great value. Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, etc.? All second or third round picks. The first round is for QB, LT/RT, starting CBs, or pass rushing DE/OLB. 2nd/3rd rounds are where you find playmakers at WR, TE, DE, and DT. The fourth through seventh rounds is where you draft guys to develop at the other positions.
  • The Dolphins should sign Jake Scott. The reason for this is because Guard is not a value in the second round or third round, but there are no guaranteed starters in the 4th or 5th round. Why would you force yourself to draft a G or backup T in the second round due to need when Andre Branch, Nick Perry, Chandler Jones, Cam Johnson, or another top OLB could be there?
  • Draft picks in the 3rd/4th round are worth much more this year. The value of players are so fuzzy and the amount of underclassmen coming out that 2nd round values in other years will be able to found in the middle of the 4th, especially for CBs and WRs. Teams will be much less willing to trade picks in the middle rounds this year because of that. For example, if Miami were to go by the draft position value chart they should be able to go from pick #8 to pick #17 and also pickup a 2nd and 3rd round pick. This year, I would be surprised if they were able to get more than a 1st, 2nd, and 5th, or possibly a 1st and 2nd for 2012, and a 3rd in 2013.
  • Miami’s philosophy is all about increasing the talent level and maximizing value of the picks. I believe Ireland and Philbin would prefer to risk losing Tannehill but gain a 2nd and/or 3rd round pick to move down 5-10 spots. Why? If Miami doesn’t trade down but instead takes Tannehill at 8, they then have 4 more impact players to pick before the top value is gone, but have, arguably, 5-7 positions of need: RT/RG, 2 WR, TE, OLB, CB / S, and possibly a developmental pass rushing DE. So they have a choice: either address the pure MUST positions and address the others with undrafted free agents, or add a couple picks in the 3-4 rounds by trading back with one of your first two picks? Why not trade down to 17-21 and take Tannehill or Weeden (One should be there), but also pick up Cam Johnson or Shea McLellin in the 2nd and Asa Jackson or Joe Adams in the 3rd/4th? If both QBs are gone, then fine, you see what Matt Moore has for the year and can pickup some more draft chips next year to position yourself for a top QB. It remains to be seen if there is a willing partner to move up though. The best option I see is Cincinnatti moving up for Quinton Coples. What other DE has his ceiling? However, he is not a fit for Joe Philbin’s philosophy of hard-working, team captain, high motor, and intelligent players.
  • This draft only, 2nd round value WRs and CBs could be found in the early to mid 4th round because of its depth. For Miami not to take advantage of this by adding an additional 3rd/4th round pick somehow would be to lose value in this draft.
  • Tannehill is a great fit for Miami, but a poor fit for Cleveland. In Cleveland he would be ruined by being forced to compete for the job the first year, as Gabbert was. Weeden, on the other hand, is a perfect fit for Cleveland as he can compete right away and possibly take the job away from McCoy. Tannehill can sit for at least a year, and possibly more, in Miami, same as Rodgers did for Green Bay.
  • One of the reasons Ireland and Philbin would be willing to take the risk of losing Tannehill is that they have drunk the Matt Moore kool-aid. Philbin was recently quoted as saying how QB play is in large part representative of the play of the OL, and how the OL play was poor last year. If Moore led them to end the season with a 6-3 record and a QB rating of almost 90 with a porous OL, then how do they think he would do with a better OL and scheme? The only question in their minds is likely how good of a fit he is with the West Coast Offense, which is why they hedge their bets with one of the top 5 draft QBs
  • Great fits for Miami at WR in the 2nd/3rd/4th: Nick Toon, Mohamed Sanu, Joe Adams, Chris Givens, Devier Posey, Juron Criner, Reuben Randle, Devon Wylie, Brian Quick, AJ Jenkins, B.J. Cunningham, and Jeff Fuller. Late round options at WR: Thomas Mayo, T.Y. Hilton and Greg Childs. They all have above average YAC, great hands, and great route running skills. My personal favorites are (In Order):Sanu, Toon, Adams, Randle, Criner, Givens, Quick, Jenkins, and Cunningham. Forget Streeter or McNutt. Streeter is too raw for the WCO and McNutt is just slightly above average at everything but gets little separation.
  • Miami will put off selecting a TE until at least the 4th round unless one drops into their laps at great value. Options for that round: Michael Egnew, Orson Charles, and Adrien Robinson. It is a need, but the value isn’t there for the position.
  • If Miami trades down to pick up another 2nd and 4th, imagine this draft: Nick Perry (DE) or Michael Brockers (DE) at 17-20, Cam Johnson, Shea McLellin or Chandler Jones (OLB) at 42, Brandon Boykin (CB), Kenechi Usumele (G/T) or Muhammed Sanu (WR) at pick # 50, Asa Jackson (CB), Trumaine Johnson (S), or Jamell Flemming (CB) or Senio Kelemete (G) at 71, Joe Adams (WR) or Brian Quick (WR) at 72, Orson Charles, Michael Egnew, or Adrien Robinson (TEs) at 105, Matt McCants (RT) or Jake Bequette/Olivier Vernon (DE) at 119, and Chris Rainey (RB) in the 5th round. You have fixed every position except for developmental QB and possibly a 3rd TE (Maybe Chase Ford or Kyle Fiedorowicz in the 6th). Maybe Lindley in the 6th, or trade the 3rd from next year in the Marshall trade for a 4th this year and take him. Miami could replace Perry / Fleener in that draft with Tannehill or Weeden, but imagine losing two of those picks and picking Tannehill at 8? No way you could fill all of the holes effectively. It is worth it to risk losing out on him, even if it means you end up with Weeden at 17-20 instead of Tannehill. This assumes it will be possible to trade down.
  • My gut feeling is that if Miami is set on Tannehill in the first, they realize the need for more high/mid round picks and try to trade back 5-15 spots in the second round to gain an additional 3rd or 4th round pick.
  • From a philosophy standpoint, Miami has no real need of defensively this draft except for developmental players. What I mean is, it is Philbin’s philosophy to develop players through the draft. Jason Taylor and Kendall Langford are gone? No problem, throw in Jared Odric and Koa Misi as starters and see what they have, but draft players to develop behind them. Will Allen gone? Let the logjam sort itself out with the young potential of Clemons, Jones, and Culver (Or Sean Smith, Jimmy Wilson, or Richard Marshall could switch positions, if necessary) stepping in as starters with a player to develop behind them.
  • On the offensive side of things you already have 5 pretty good offensive weapons as options every play: Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Reggie Bush, Anthony Fasano, and Charles Clay. While Miami needs another top WR, I don’t think they will overdraft for the position.
  • The draft will swing on the hinges of what players are around at our picks. Here’s who I see the Dolphins targeting round by round (Depending on where they pick):
    • 1st: Ryan Tannehill, Melvin Ingram, Nick Perry, Coby Fleener, Brandon Weeden, Kendall Wright, David DeCastro, Michael Brockers, Andre Branch
    • 2nd: Chandler Jones (OLB), Kendall Reyes (DE), Kenechi Usumele (G/T), Cam Johnson (OLB), Bobbie Massey (RT), Shea McLellin (OLB), Brandon Boykin (CB), Mohamed Sanu (WR), Nick Toon (WR), Vinny Curry (OLB), Joe Adams (WR)
    • 3rd: Kevin Zeitler (G), Zebrie Sanders (RT), Amini Silatolu (G), Brandon Brooks (G), Brian Quick (WR), AJ Jenkins (WR), Jamell Flemming (CB), Ladarius Green (TE), Jayron Hosely (CB)
    • 4th : Asa Jackson (CB), Matt McCants (RT), Brandon Washington (G), Orson Charles (TE), Chris Givens (WR), LaMichael James (RB), Tyrone Crawford (DE), Nigel Bradham (OLB), Lucas Nix (G), Senio Kelemete (G),
    • 5th : Chris Rainey (RB), Adrien Robinson (TE), Olivier Vernon (DE), Jake Bequette (DE), Derek Wolfe (DE), James Hanna (TE), Rishaw Johnson (G), Matt Reynolds (OT), Mark Zuzevics (OT), Coty Sensabaugh (CB)
    • 6th : Chase Ford (TE), Lavon Brazil (WR), Thomas Mayo (WR), Greg Childs (WR), Kyle Wilbur (DE), Bobby Rainey (RB), Justin Bethel (CB), Josh Kaddu (OLB), Akiem Hicks (DE), Taylor Thompson (DE)
    • 7th: Travaris Cadet (RB), Edwin Baker (RB), Kyle Fiedorowicz (TE), Chris Owusu (WR)
  • My best guess for the Dolphins draft (Assuming they target a Guard in the cuts after the draft):
    • 1st: Ryan Tannehill (QB) MUST
    • 2nd: Shea McLellin (OLB) MUST
    • 3rd: Brian Quick (WR) MUST
    • 3rd: Jayron Hosely (CB) NEED
    • 4th: Zebrie Sanders (RT) MUST
    • 5th: Adrien Robinson (TE) NEED
    • 6th: Lavon Brazil (WR) NEED
    • 7th: Akiem Hicks (DE) WANT
    • Playmakers and MUST/NEED positions first 3 rounds, other holes after.
    • Imagine if the 8th pick is traded for Clevelands 22nd pick + 2nd rounder + 4th rounder + 3rd rounder next year.
      • Swap 1st of Tannehill for either Weeden (QB) or Michael Brockers (DE) at 22
      • Additional 2nd Round pick: Trumaine Johnson (S)
      • Additional 4th Round Pick: Brandon Washington (G)
      • You can see the amazing value returned through the 4th round. Johnson and Washington are considered solid starters.
  • You may argue a lot of these players wouldn’t be available at the rounds I have them, but consider this, such a massive number of underclassmen have come out this year that a lot of these players will drop. There are about 135 picks before the 5th round. It is likely there are 18 CBs taken, 12 OLB, 12 DT, 12 DE, 6 QB, 8 RB, 8 S, 18 WR, 8 ILB, 12 G, 14 T, and 6 TE. It is likely from the depth of this draft to get solid starters as late as the early 5th round, which is not normal. This is a unique year, especially at WR and CB. The level of value at WR goes 25-30 deep. Similarly for CB.
  • Miami’s first 5 picks off the board will be some combination of QB, G/T, WR, TE, and OLB. After that we should see a combination of CB, DE, WR depth, TE depth, OL depth, and possibly a RB. That is 10-11 picks and we only have 8. This is why we must obtain at least two additional picks.

One interesting last note. Haven’t heard anybody mention this yet, but although Long, Smith, and Starks are FAs next year, with the money coming off the books for Marshall and Carey the Miami Dolphins will have over 50 million in cap space next off season, could already have a roster with star potential and depth, and possibly have gained another 2nd/3rd round pick as ammunition to move up for one of the 5 more certain franchise QBs next year. Personally, I like Tannehill, and think the Dolphins should pursue him, but only at the right price.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.

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