With the end of the Super Bowl, and the advent of the offseason, I thought I'd share my 10 talking points heading into the offseason. Some are bordering on plain ridiculous, while others are absolute necessities. I'm not going to pretend that this is an article of great statistical analysis. It's not. This is a no-frills article from an average football fan sitting on his couch drinking a nice bottle of dogfish beer. With that out of the way, let's begin with the 10 talking points, from the not-so-outrageous to the darn right brave.
10. Jake Long is NOT coming back to Miami.
Let's get this one out of the way. I don't see any way that Jake Long is coming back to Miami. It's come out in the media that he wants $10 million a season. With injuries and a decline in play, he simply does not deserve a contract of that magnitude. Moreover, Joe Philbin has moved us to a zone-blocking scheme. We no longer need a mauler at left tackle, but rather a more athletic guy at left tackle. In fact, Ireland drafted one in the second round last year.
9. Jeff Ireland is NOT drafting a wide receiver in the first round.
So many mock drafts have us taking Patterson or Allen in the first round. I cannot see this happening. In fact, I'd wager my apartment on it. Maybe not that far, but it's NOT happening. Throughout Philbin's tenure at Green Bay, not a single wide receiver was selected in the first round. The same could be said for Jeff Ireland's time as GM.
8. The Dolphins with either select a corner or safety in the first round.
A couple of months ago the cornerback position was deemed to be a weak one in the draft. Now it is considered a pretty strong group. One guy who has skyrocketed up draft boards is Desmond Trufant. His athleticism, ball-hawking skills, speed, football smarts (both his brothers are in the NFL) and scheme friendly fit are big plus's for this franchise. For example, he can jam the receiver at the line, while also being effective in zone coverage. We know Coyle likes to use both. On the other hand, the safety position has long been considered a strong point in the draft. We absolutely need a guy that can cover New England's tight ends. One guy is Kenny Vaccaro. The guy can do everything. He has hands like a wide receiver, he can cover tight ends, he can blitz and he is good at run support. In fact, if you look at his tape, the hits this guy makes is impressive. And we know Coyle likes his safeties to be versatile. Personally, I'd rather go for Trufant and lock up the cornerback position. Then come back in the second round a take a true ball-hawking safety in Phillip Thomas.
7. I am 99% sure Greg Jennings IS coming to Miami.
To remedy the lack of pro-ready wide receivers, Miami will take Greg Jennings in free agency. His sister has come out to say he's coming to Miami. Hell, Greg Jennings practically told Joe Philbin to take him himself. But when you dig a little deeper, you can really see why he will be such an asset to this organisation. He has great hands, consistently gains separation, is a great locker room presence and has great familiarity with Philbin and the offense. Moreover, he likely won't cost the earth. Expect a contract in the 3 year, $24 million ball-park range, at the most.
6. One of either Stedman Bailey, Quinton Patton or Robert Woods will be coming to Miami.
All three of these guys epitomize what Jeff Ireland should be looking for. Great hands, good route running, excellent character, speed and YAC. For me, it's a close one between Quinton Patton and Stedman Bailey to be selected by Miami with their second, second round pick. Patton reminds me of Reggie Wayne, while Stedman reminds me of Greg Jennings. Assuming we do get Jennings, one of these guys will have the luxury of being eased into the starting line up, just like Green Bay did wit Randall Cobbs. I'm very excited by all three of these guys, and wouldn't hesitate in drafting two of them if I could.
5. Ireland's draft strategy in rounds three to seven?
In Jeff Ireland's past drafts, I've found a pattern. In rounds three to seven, some of his picks are usually spent on positions where the current Miami Dolphins players are coming to their last year of their contract. With me yet? So last year - Fasano's contract year; they drafted Egnew. McDaniel's contract year; they draft Randall. Reggie Bush's contract year; they draft Lamar Miller. This even works with our second round pick - Jake Long's contract year, they draft Jonathan Martin. I've found it in past drafts too. Jeff Ireland likes to groom players before contract years are up. This gives him more flexibility in free agency and ensures we have players in place that we can develop to be eventual starters/ contributors. That's the idea anyway.
4. We will take a pass rusher in rounds two to three.
Jeff Ireland has never taken a pass rusher in the first round. Jared Odrick doesn't count because he was drafted as a 3-4 DE. Ireland likes to take pass rushers that are incredibly athletic, weight in excess of 260 pounds, can run block and have the moves to rush the passer. He likes guys that maybe haven't produced at college level, despite their skill-set. Look at Olivier Vernon. He ticks all those above boxes. Sure, Cameron Wake wasn't drafted, but he ticks those boxes. I really believe Miami will keep Odrick at DE, and maybe rotate him in and out of the DT position with Starks and Solai. We'll see more production from Vernon too. My main worry is if something happens to Wake, plus he's getting no younger. Let's get a DE in rounds two three, with three being more likely. Guys like Corey Lemonier, Malliciah Goodman and Lavar Edwards should interest Miami.
3. Miami will take a tight end in free agency.
I'm ramping this up a bit. Fasano could be out of here, and Miami will take a tight end in free agency. We want a receiving tight end that can block, not a blocking tight end that can receive. If we can afford Fasano too, I'm all for it as I do like the guy. But if it comes down to it, Ireland needs to put sentiment aside and draft a proven tight end who can make an immediate impact. New England can't defend tight ends very well right now. Lets finally follow the trend of getting an athletic tight end to slice through their defense like a Swiss army knife. Jared Cook springs to mind.
2. Miami CAN afford Jennings and Wallace.
I'm all for Jennings coming here. I'm just not too sure on both coming here. But many people have mentioned this, and I'm willing to discuss it. It is theoretically possible to grab BOTH Jennings and Wallace. How? Ditch Hartline and Bush. They will both command around $5 million each, each year. Why not use that spare $10 million to grab a real difference maker. A guy who will scare the living crap out of defenses. We also have a running back who this FO are really high about. And getting a guy like Wallace will only free up Greg Jennings. I mean, imagine Tannehill lining up with Cook at tight end, Jennings on the left, Wallace on the right and Stedman Bailey in the slot. How will the defense cope with that? If this happens, maybe the fans will finally come back. It happened with the Miami Heat, right?
Finally, we come to the most far-fetched. Having said that, it's possible. In fact, if we do all the above, it could happen. WE MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. Dare to dream?
Oh, and just to end this article I've got a clip of Greg Jennings, courtesy of Sport Science. If you haven't seen it, it is a must.
Sport Science: Greg Jennings (via ESPNplayer)
Hope you enjoyed the article and I look forward to your thoughts.