The NFL Draft will finally arrive at the end of this week, with the first round taking place on Thursday, the second and third rounds on Friday, and rounds four through seven on Saturday. That means, the 2014 NFL Mock Draft season will finally come to a close, and we can start talking about the players the Miami Dolphins, and the other 31 franchises, actually have - well, that and have way too early projections of the 2015 NFL Draft.
The end of mock draft season may be coming, but it is clearly not here yet. We have several more days of mocks, just to make sur eyou get your fill of projections, rumors, speculation, and flat out guesses.
The Los Angeles Times yesterday posted the NFL beat writers' mock draft, featuring a reporter who covers each of the NFL clubs on a daily basis (reposted here by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel). As the LA Times' Sam Farmer writes in his introduction to the mock:
Few people know the 32 NFL teams better than the writers who cover those teams on a day-to-day basis. Those beat writers made the selections for this mock draft, and explained the picks in their words, choosing the players as if Thursday night were to unfold this way.
The mock makes a lot of sense, and these are some of the people who really do see the team each-and-every day, knowing the tendencies of each club and having sources to help guide them. Most of the picks make a lot of sense, like the Houston Chronicle's John McClain selecting South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for the Houston Texans with the first overall pick. After that, the St. Louis Rams selected offensive tackle Jake Matthews from Texas A&M (Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch), the Jacksonville Jaguars took Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins (Vito Stellino, Florida Times-Union), the Cleveland Browns added quarterback Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M (Tony Grossi, ESPNCleveland.com), and the Oakland Raiders picked Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack (Steve Corkran, Bay Area News Group).
For the Dolphins, the pick was made by the Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly. He of the take your eye off the ball preaching, and the refusal of all quarterback talk. With the Dolphins clearly in need of offensive line help this year, the draft should fall exactly as Kelly would want; however, Greg Robinson, Taylor Lewan, and Zack Martin complete the top four offensive tackles, along with Matthews, and all come off the board before the Dolphins selection.
Where does Kelly turn his focus with no offensive linemen on the board? He's going to have to address safety, linebacker, or possibly even pass rush, given what the board is giving him. Let's see exactly who he adds.
With the 19th overall pick, Omar Kelly selected for the Miami Dolphins.....quarterback Blake Bortles, UCF.
What just happened? No quarterback talk led to the Dolphins selecting a quarterback? The team that did not select a first round quarterback between 1983 and 2012 pick their second first round signal caller in three years? Huh?
Let's see how Kelly explains the pick:
"If you don't get the quarterback right, you'll eventually be fired. Ryan Tannehill has been decent, but isn't worth the $14.6-million fifth-year option in 2015."
Oh, okay, now I...no...wait...yeah, I'm still confused. Did Kelly really just okey-doke everyone by selecting a quarterback? And did he explain it because the team may not want to pay Tannehill $14.6 million in 2015?
I'm a firm believer in the concept of drafting a quarterback every year. At some point, a sixth-round selection becomes Tom Brady, and your team is set for multiple Super Bowl runs. I'm not against adding pressure to Tannehill, who is entering his pivotal third year. Adding another first round quarterback seems a waste of a pick when the team has other needs that have to be addressed if Tannehill, Bortles, Matt Moore, or anyone is to have success in the Miami offense.
Tannehill was sacked 58 times last year. A rookie quarterback will not change that fact. The Dolphins were 24th against the run last year on defense. A rookie quarterback will not change that fact. The Dolphins were 17th in rushing yards per attempt last year, and 29th in rushing attempts, as they tried to find a way to run behind an offensive line that couldn't stop anyone. A rookie quarterback will not change that fact.
Rather than try to make the team better, and find out exactly what you have in Tannehill, Kelly has the Dolphins blowing it all up again, taking a first round quarterback after two seasons. Rather than trying to see if your quarterback can grow into the player you anticipated he would become when he was selected with the eighth overall pick, rather than giving him the weapons - and protection - he needs to have a chance to complete that growth, it's time to select the next quarterback because in two years, you may have to pay the quarterback $14.6 million.
Not that you can't decline the option and negotiate a lesser salary cap number. Not that you can't select a quarterback next year if you get the pieces put in place for your quarterback this year, and he still doesn't take that step forward. Not that you can't take a quarterback later in this year's draft if you are that worried about your current quarterback, given that Bortles would not be playing - and likely wouldn't even be the team's second string quarterback - this year, since you have to know what you have in Tannehill.
To be fair, other potential Dolphins targets, like linebacker C.J. Mosley, tight end Eric Ebron, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald are all off the board well before the team's 19th overall pick, but there should be other considerations rather than adding Bortles to the roster. Linebacker Ryan Shazier, defensive tackles Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III, safety Calvin Pryor, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks are the next five picks after the Dolphins - all of whom could be Miami selections.
I know Kelly is around the team every day, but I just cannot see the Dolphins' draft going the way he is projecting. It simply does not make sense, and does nothing to help the Dolphins for the 2014 season. Not getting the quarterback right may eventually get you fired - but another year of losing in 2014 will get people fired too. I'll take the "may eventually" option over "will."