Yesterday, we took at a look at the first three picks from the Miami Dolphins' 2011 draft, trying to predict what they will do this year, in their "Leap Year." Around the NFL, a player's second year is often called his "leap year." After being in the league for a full year, complete with playing as a rookie, a full training camp complete, and knowing his team's playbook, a sophomore player is expected to make a leap forward in their performance.
For last year's rookie class, that leap forward could be even more dramatic than any other year. With the lockout messing up the offseason last year, this rookie class did not get the conditioning program, the OTAs, or any of the developmental process most rookies get before their first time on the field as an NFL player. Now, with the NFL back into its traditional offseason schedule, the sophomores are getting their chance to go through a full program for the first time. Below, we'll assess the potential leaps each of the Miami Dolphins' 2011 draft picks could make in 2012.
Now, on to the second half of the Miami 2011 draft:
Charles Clay - Fullback/Tight End - Clay was the first fullback selected in the 2011 draft, with the Dolphins moving up five spots in the sixth round to grab him. The team, from the moment they drafted him, have advertised Clay as an "H-back," wanting to use him as a cross between fullback and tight end. In 2011, Clay had some nice moments, catching passes down the seam, and helping the Dolphins pick up some key first downs. But, with only 16 receptions for 233 yards, Clay didn't live up to the expectations of most fans, and probably not to the expectations of Tony Sparano and the former Miami coaching staff. Now, with a year of experience, a full offseason program, and an offense built to throw the ball and look for tight ends, Clay really could have a break out year in 2012.
Frank Kearse - Defensive Tackle - We won't spend a lot of time on Kearse, given that he is with the Carolina Panthers after being snatched off the Miami practice squad. Kearse did appear in six games for the Panthers, starting four, and recorded half-a-sack and nine tackles.
Jimmy Wilson - Safety - Wilson will have a much different 2012 from the 2011 season. Wilson, a seventh round pick, appeared in 15 games for the Dolphins, starting one in relief of an injured Vontae Davis. He only tallied one interception on the season, along with five passes defensed and 10 tackles, but he did demonstrate a good understanding of the game, and the physical tools to succeed - mixed with the expected rookie mistakes a seventh round pick will make. In 2012, Wilson will be moving from cornerback to safety, battling for one of the two starters roles. He has the potential to do well in the back of the Dolphins defense, and could actually find his way into that starting position with a good offseason and preseason.
That covers all six of the Dolphins' 2011 season. With dropping Kearse from consideration, which two of the Miami late round picks do you think will take the biggest leap forward in their second year?