Our look at the Miami Dolphins draft picks using the Kansas City Chiefs front office's six questions for prospects continues this morning with a look at Olivier Vernon. Vernon comes to Miami with expectations that he can be the pass rush threat opposite Cameron Wake that the team desperately needs.
The questions we will be using to take a look at Vernon come from Michael Holley's book "War Room," which followed three NFL executives, the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick, Atlanta Falcons' Thomas Dimitroff, and the Chiefs' Scott Pioli, as they prepared for the draft several years ago. We are using those six questions to look at the Dolphins' draft picks.
The questions are:
What will this player's role be as a Chief? | Will the role change from year one to year two? | How many downs can he be expected to play? | Which current player on the roster will he beat out? | What's his value on special teams? | Does he have positional
Let's take a look at Vernon using these questions:
1 . What will this player's role be as a Dolphin? - As I stated above, Vernon is expected to generate a pass rush opposite Cameron Wake. The Dolphins have been searching for some way to alleviate the double- and triple-teams that have been used to block Wake over the last season-and-a-half or so. Jason Taylor was the best answer the team has had in that time, but Taylor was not the Jason Taylor of his prime, and has since retired. Now, the Dolphins are looking at Vernon, who only tallied 82 career tackles and 9 sacks at the University of Miami (his 2011 Junior season was shortened due to a suspension to start the year), to fill that need.
2. Will the role change from year one to year two? - Note likely, as long as Vernon fills his role as the pass rusher. If the Dolphins sign someone before the 2012 season starts, theoretically, Vernon's role could change, but he's going to be given every opportunity to start this year, and keep that role next year.
3. How many downs can he be expected to play? - Most likely, every down on the defensive side of the ball. If he proves he can't handle that role, he could be used as just a pass rush specialist, similar to the role that Taylor had last year, but that would mean the coaches had not seen much from a third round pick they need to see succeed.
4. Which current player on the roster will be beat out? - This one is hard to pick, simply because the Dolphins' defensive line is completely in flux. The team was a 3-4 scheme, with Wake flexing back and forth between an outside linebacker position in the 3-4, or putting his hand in the dirt as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, last year. While the coaches have stated the defense will continue to be a hybrid, it's believed the team will rely more on a 4-3 system next year. Depending on who the Dolphins ultimately use at defensive end, and don't list as defensive tackles, Vernon will be competing with Jared Odrick, Jonathan Freeny, Jamaal Westerman, and possibly Randy Starks - although Starks should move back inside as a starting defensive tackle in the 4-3.
5. What's his value on special teams? - Vernon could have a lot of value on special teams. He can be on punt coverage and field goal block units, plus he could show up on kick return and kick coverage units, depending on where he ultimately lands on the defensive end depth chart.
6. Does he have positional versatility? - He does not have the positional versatility to move along the defensive line to become a run-stopping, hole plugging, defensive tackle, but, if he proves to not be the pass rush threat as expected, he could possibly find some use as a linebacker as a last resort.