We're now less than 20 days away from the NFL Draft. And there's no doubt in my mind that these next 3 weeks are going to go insanely slow. So prepare for that, folks. These next 19 days or so are going to feel like forever as we await April 25.
Anyways, let's get to the weekend roundup.
JOYNER: FINS LEAVING SECONDARY EXPOSED
It's no secret that one of this team's top needs - their #1 need, in many people's minds - is at cornerback. Well ESPN.com's KC Joyner has the same concerns that many Dolphin fans do - Miami's secondary is still a major issue. He writes in his latest article for the NY Times' NFL blog that, though he has nothing but respect for Bill Parcells, he's "perplexed" at how the Dolphins are building their secondary. Says Joyner:
For the free safety spot, Miami signed free-agent safety Gibril Wilson. Wilson has been in the league for five seasons and has manned the strong safety spot in four of those years. In the other year (2007), Wilson played FS for the Giants and posted deep assist metrics that were among the worst in the league (deep assist metrics being the passes in which Wilson was helping someone else with over-the-top coverage). He allowed the third-most deep assist yards and had the 12th-highest YPA on those passes.
For the vacant CB spot, the Dolphins signed former Cardinals starter Eric Green. One of the reasons Green is no longer a starter is that his 9.3 YPA last year ranked 9th worst among qualifying cornerbacks (those with 30+ attempts).
There's been a lot of debate this offseason about how the Dolphins have gone about their free agency moves. And the signing of Eric Green created a very heated conversation about how Miami is addressing their needs in the secondary. Clearly, those metrics from Green's 2008 season are downright ugly. But I kind of figured they would be bad. After all, it's impossible to even find a Cardinals fan with anything good to say about their former cornerback.
However, Gibril Wilson's deep metrics worry me even more. And that's because the Dolphins don't have very good cornerbacks at the moment. Will Allen is a solid starter, but is probably on the wrong side of the hill in terms of where his career is headed. And, as of now, Miami's other starting corner is likely either Jason Allen or Eric Green. That's not going to get it done, especially with Wilson's tendency to get beat deep when playing the free safety spot.
Why do I bring all this up? Simple. It's to reiterate why I feel so strongly that cornerback has to be Miami's #1 priority heading into this draft and explains why I'd be very disappointed if Vontae Davis, Darius Butler, or Sean Smith were on the board at pick #25 and the Dolphins passed - especially in favor of a wide receiver. We have receivers who can, at the very least, get the job done adequately - if not better. But I'm not so confident we have corners who can do at least an adequate job. And like Joyner points out, in this division, it's going to be very important for the Dolphins to defend the pass.
JEFF IRELAND MEETS WITH MEDIA, DOESN'T SAY MUCH
Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland met with the South Florida media on Friday for about 30 minutes. And he really didn't tell us anything we already didn't know. I guess that's what we should expect coming from a guy who is learning under Bill Parcells.
You can read all of Ireland's comments right here. Below are a couple points I thought should be highlighted:
(On if the draft board is set) – "We haven’t even gone into meetings yet (laughing). We start meetings tomorrow. We have a large portion of our meetings concluded before the combine. I have my board and I don’t post it until the scouts get in which is today. We start tinkering the board and we go into some serious draft meetings coming up tomorrow."
(On if the team has a true #1 receiver) – "Right now it does. It is Teddy (Ted Ginn, Jr), it’s (Greg) Camarillo. Those are the receivers that are #1 and #2 or #2 or #1 right now. We obviously need to upgrade a lot of positions and receiver is a position that we need some depth at for sure."
I found it interesting that their draft board isn't even set yet. This weekend began meetings for the front office and the scouts. And how much would you have been willing to pay to have seen Ireland unveil his first draft board?
As far as the receivers go, Ireland made it a point during his press conference to bring up Brandon London - saying that there are some guys who "can ascend" currently on the roster and then talking about Brandon's size and special teams play. But hearing Jeff call either Teddy or Greg the team's #1 receiver might have been the most interesting nugget to come out of his 30 minute chat with the media.
Two reasons I feel that way. One - it's an indication that Camarillo's rehab is probably going relatively well. And two - many people were curious if this regime saw Davone Bess as a starter opposite of Ted Ginn heading into the offseason. Now I think it's clear that they probably see Bess as a solid slot receiver - which I think is the role he's best suited for.
Of course, that all could have been a smokescreen to hide the fact that they are seriously looking at the receiver position early in the draft. At this stage - who really knows?
-The Boston Globe's Mike Reiss believes that there's a strong chance, based on Bill Belichick's activity at UCONN's pro day, that the Patriots will draft Darius Butler.
-The Dolphins have had a private workout with Oregon State cornerback Brandon Hughes. Hughes runs a 4.40 40 yard dash and has a 37" vertical leap. He was a four year starter and is currently projected as a 4th or 5th round pick.
-University of Illinois head coach Ron Zook was pissed about the rumored report of CB Vontae Davis failing his Combine drug test. Zook says that Davis denies the report and claims that neither he nor his agent have received any kind of notice that he did fail. Sports columnist Mark Tupper of the Illinois Herald and Review says that, of all the football players he's ever been around, Davis is one of the most obsessive in terms of monitoring what he puts into his body and that his finisky eating habits are "legendary." Tupper adds that he'd be surprised if this internet rumor of Vontae's failed drug test was true.
-Armando Salguero writes an article that any of us could have written weeks ago - saying how it'll be tougher for the Dolphins to take the next step than it was to take the first one. Seriously - this is old news. And to think....he actually gets paid to write this crap.