Everyone knows there are guys out there (Evan Silva of Rotoworld, MattyI, Bleacher Report Idiots, Walter Football Morons) who will rip the Dolphins for everything they do no matter what. They will use terms like overpay, desperation, one year rental, and they will do this before any results are revealed so as to take a pot shot with no consequence. Unfortunately for smart phins fans I feel this biased, under researched analysis from some "experts" has only lead to perpetual ignorance amongst other sectors of the fan base. I want to try to clear up some common misconceptions about the team right now.
First of all, the POTENTIAL Branden Albert trade. I am mixed on this trade as our many (I hate trading draft picks for players), but I want to try to deal with facts rather than simple minded criticism. First, in terms of scheme fit...Albert is an athletic, top tier pass protector and this team will be throwing the ball A LOT next season. This whole "25th rated tackle" stuff is BS and needs to be stopped. PFF is just a tool, and they wouldn't even agree with someone simply grading a players worth based on their overall rankings in one given season. Anyway...the team threw the ball quite a bit a year ago and this was with a rookie QB and a poor receiving core. Imagine next season with Wallace, Keller and a potential high draft pick added to the mix. Thus, Albert is a fit and a better fit than Jake Long would of been given the struggles Long had with speed rushers last season. The fit is not the issue. It is the compensation...
The contract they will give Albert will be harped on endlessly but I am here to say that this is completely meaningless. Will they need to release a plus starter in order to bring in Albert? Will tickets be more expensive? What is the obsession over the amount of contracts? We should be focused first and foremost on filling holes. I understand fans are concerned about potential cap issues down the road, but please realize this team does not have a TON of big contracts on its payroll. Before this off-season Richard Marshall had the third or fourth highest cap number and Dimitri Patterson, signed off the street last season, was right behind him. This team has money to spend on a tackle of Albert's caliber and will have money to spend i the future to lock up Tannehill, Pouncey, Reshad Jones and anyone else who is deemed worthy.
Now, the potential second round pick that will be traded...I understand that many out there have been critical because the team could have kept Jake Long and used this second rounder on another position. However, at this point lets try to be fair. If the Dolphins wanted Jake Long long term he would be here right now. They clearly have huge concerns over his health long term. It is not Jeff Ireland's fault Jake Long's body appears to be falling apart. He was elite, he no longer is, and name any player who has come through here who has began to decline only to miraculously gain his old form? They needed to let Jake walk...
In terms of the draft pick compensation, I beg for people to look at the options currently available. Clearly, the Dolphins are not enamored with Jonathan Martin playing LT. That is fine. Doesn't mean he can't play RT or LG potentially long term. Also, given how high it appears the top three tackles in the draft are expected to go, the other options appear to be either moving up to draft a tackle by using a second rounder and the 12th overall to move up, or drafting a guy in round 2 who we have no idea whether he will be able to be effective immediately. Can the team do better than filling this need with the 54 overall pick? That is the question that needs to be asked. I have a hard time coming up with a better solution. It is either 12 and 42 or 54, or just 42 or 54 to fill this hole. And if the team is using a second round pick on a LT, are we more comfortable with Branden Albert, Jonathan Martin, or Terron Armstead protecting Ryan Tannehill's blindside?
Listen, I am not saying this is a great situation. Ideally, the team would of re-signed a healthy Jake Long and this draft pick could of been put to better use. But, Jake Long was not deemed worthy of the contract he was offered by the Rams, and now he is no longer here. They have a gaping hole at tackle, and it needs to be filled for this team to reach the playoffs. I simply ask if we can do better than Branden Albert.
There is one caveat however, Albert's health. If he is going to be worth a long term contract he will need to pass a physical with the team. Let's trust the team won't sign Albert and give up a pick even with long term injury concerns after they essentially let the face of the franchise walk because of the same issue. No team is that stupid.
...A few other nuggets
*I like the idea of drafting Tyler Eifert at 12 as much as the next guy because he is a STUD, but I just want to remind people in case the team addresses another need that Dustin Keller is a pretty good player. Last season was the only one in five seasons he ever missed games, the offense was abismal in NY in 2012, and thus he had little momentum entering the free agent market. However, he had 815 yards and 5 tds with Mark Sanchez as his QB in 2011. The team will be more than fine in 2013 if they draft a blocking tight end in the late rounds and roll with Keller as their starter.
*Don't be shocked if the Dolphins move up and don't draft a tackle. I have had a strange vision of the Phins moving up into the top 5 or 6 without yet executing an Albert trade, everyone believing they are going to choose a OT, and them drafting Dion Jordan or Dee Milliner.
*Everything Jeff Ireland has done thus far has indicated an aversion to using a first rounder on a OT (Winston, Albert, reported little interest in Lane Johnson). Thus, either this is all a ridiculously elaborate smoke screen and he wants Fisher or Lane, or Ireland has all along has been targeting a non OT at 12, or in a trade up or down. So...if they do get Albert for 54 we can at least take solace in the fact there is a player Ireland loves enough at WR, TE, DE, or CB (Premium Positions) that he seems to refuse to use 12 on a tackle (Premium, but boring position). Unless he wants G Jonathan Cooper and then I am worried the fan base will lose it even if Cooper and Pouncey next to each other could be a force in run game.
*This team will not be able to do everything in one draft. Things I'm counting on...an answer at LT, a CB in first two rounds, and a mid round guard. Other than that, it is probably up in the air and based on the board whether they bring in a playmaker on offense or a pass rusher. But expect to be less than comfortable with one position going into 2013 training camp. No team is perfect.
Players I believe we could realistically draft i round 1 (assuming Albert trade is completed):
Jordan (trade up)
Milliner (trade up)
Taylor (trade down)