Welcome to another edition of Miami Dolphins Stock Watch! This is the time where we show you who's stock is rising and who's is falling as of late. Except, I'm going to do things a bit differently by taking advantage of the added resource we have to our arsenal: the behind scenes look at our team by HBO's Hard Knocks.
Below we're going to get 4 players rising: the first (2) will be based upon recent practice and preseason performances and the last (2) will be based upon their portrayal during last week's episode of Hard Knocks. The same will be done for the unfortunate souls that have their stock ticker pointing DOWN.
#79 Derrick Shelby, DE- Let's be honest... who had heard of the undrafted free agent out of Utah more than 2 weeks ago? My guess is that a show of hands would yield nothing but crickets. Once in awhile you seem to find a player who is supposed to be nothing but a camp body but amounts to so much more. We saw it with Davone Bess, and it looks like we might have similar success with Shelby. After tearing up practices, Shelby still entered the game as a "nobody" vs. Carolina. I bet they knew his name after the game, when Shelby racked up a sack, forced fumble, two tackles for a loss, and four total tackles (three solo). Shelby came in as a longshot; right now he's listed as second team LE right behind Jared Odrick.. and he's just getting started.
#86 Rishard Mathews, WR- After the departure of Chad Johnson, we all were looking for a guy to step up. Number 86 seemed to do "one better"; he has been turning heads in practice and was one of the top performers vs. Carolina, catching 4 balls for 39 yards.One of those catches was a great TD where he fought the defensive back at the 2-yard line before barreling him over and into the goal line. Mathews provides help at special teams as well, and even though he was selected AFTER fellow rookie WR, B.J. Cunningham, Mathews seems to be the one making the splash. If he keeps it up, one might think it will be worthy of a roster spot.
#17 Ryan Tannehill, QB- OK, so this one was a softball pitch over center plate... but I'd be crazy NOT to include the first rookie QB to start Week 1 in franchise history. Tannehill did come down to Earth a bit in the Carolina game after a VERY impressive first game against Tampa Bay, however to leapfrog 2 veteran QB's in mere days is worthy of some praise. Sure, he got some help from a David Garrard injury, but Ryan has still performed well and it is apparent on Hard Knocks that the players can buy into the idea that the kid can be their lead signal caller. Now that the job is his, let's see how he responds against Atlanta, which should be the best overall defense that our team has played thus far.
#24 Sean Smith, CB- While our backfield has been shaky at best, Sean has been the guy to step up and make the biggest strides to be the closest thing we have to a leader in the secondary. Although the departure of Yaremiah Bell might not be a huge liability ON the field, you have to remember that he was the captain of our secondary for a long time. Now our unit is one of the league's youngest and looking for a veteran player to step up as a leader. Do you remember when Sean was benched two years back for violating team rules? It seems oddly familiar considering Vontae's demotion to #3 CB a month ago after his poor work ethic and conditioning rubbed some coaches the wrong way, does it not? Well, since that day in 2010, Sean has vastly improved.. Hard Knocks has showcased him as our lock-down corner and his tackling seems to be getting better after every game.
#71 Jonathan Martin, RT- It might be unfair to call a lineman out based on one poor performance against an elite defensive end, but that's just the harsh reality of life as a rookie. After a great week in practice, Martin was completely abused by DE Charles Johnson and was a major liability in pass protection. Overall, Martin had a rough outing against the Panthers, but ups and downs are expected of a rookie, ESPECIALLY one changing positions and going against a TOP player like Johnson. I fully expect Martin to bounce back and be a solid contributor to our line this year; his technique is solid, his main area for improvement is to work on his strength, and that will only come with time.
#74 John Jerry, G- John Jerry showed up to camp overweight at 360 pounds. Although he is currently down to 345, he is the only player currently on roster that is still overweight. Jerry has the potential to be an "all-pro" according to coach Jim Turner, but instead has been nothing short of unreliable and out of shape. Jerry received an abundance of reps in practice, and responded by vomiting, as picked up by Hard Knocks. Big John may have an opportunity to turn his image around and contribute this year in a big way, especially now that fellow guard Eric Steinbach has announced his retirement. However, if Jerry doesn't start conditioning, losing weight, and playing like he wants to be a Miami Dolphin, then I think the coaches make an easy decision when it is time to announce the final 53, and one that Jerry won't be particularly fond of.
#9 David Garrard, QB- It has been a tough couple of days for David Garrard, who's freak injury moved him from starting quarterback to dead last on the depth chart. Every day that Garrard sits out has to be worse and worse for the veteran QB. Based on Garrard's age, injury concerns and most importantly price tag, it is looking less and less like he 'fits' on our roster, despite when healthy, he is probably the best option to win NOW under center. Miami can save some cap space if they release Garrard before Week 1, and judging by the last episode of Hard Knocks, he may not even be fully healed by then. Time is running out for Garrard, and unfortunately for him, he has the disadvantage of not being able to change minds by performing during preseason.
#84 Michael Egnew, TE- Poor Michael Egnew has become the battering ram of coaches as apparent by Hard Knocks. Coach Jim Turner continues to try and light a fire under Egnew (mostly by verbal abuse) and OC Mike Sherman has admitted "I would cut you [Egnew] right now" if it were up to him. Simply put, the rookie needs to get better in a big way. Miami took a leap by drafting the big, quick TE from Missouri, but he has been plagued by a ton of drops and not being physical enough as a blocker. Yes he rebounded with a nice crackback against Carolina, and yes, the elite TE's sometimes take a year or two but develop... but Egnew is currently 4th on the depth chart; if he doesn't start playing well soon he may not have that opportunity to "develop" here in Miami.