The first football Sunday without a Dolphins game is always rough. If you're like me, you thought back a few times to "what might have been" had the Dolphins had just a few breaks go their way. But it is what it is and we can only look to the future now.
Wildcard Weekend was not as entertaining as I had hoped. But I do think next weekend's games are very intriguing. Regardless, there were still some interesting Dolphin-related nuggets this weekend.
SEAN SMITH AND VONTAE DAVIS: SOME NUMBERS
I said last week that I planned on doing a post about the two rookie cornerbacks to show that Sean Smith wasn't the disappointment that some Dolphin fans seem to think he was. Well ESPN's Tim Graham beat me to it. Using numbers provided by Stats Inc, Graham points out that Sean Smith was actually the more effective cornerback in 2009 - regardless of the lack of interceptions.
Smith was targeted 73 times in 2009, allowing only 35 receptions. That burn percentage of 47.9% ranked 16th in the entire NFL. Meanwhile, fellow rookie Vontae Davis ranked 61st in the league, allowing 46 catches on 76 targets (60.5%). But Vontae got more attention, both from Dolphin fans and nationally from the media, thanks to his team-leading four interceptions - including two while covering Randy Moss. But Vontae while Vontae made more big plays than Sean, he also got burnt more.
Davis is also credited for surrendering six touchdowns while Smith gave up only four. And it's also very interesting to note that Davis saw more pass attempts thrown his way than Smith did despite playing about 200 fewer snaps. And it's not like Smith was never around the ball. He led the team with 12 pass deflections. With his athleticism and hands, he'll make those big plays. Just give him time.
Needless to say, I remain very optimistic about both of these young corners. But those who have discussed moving Smith to safety just need to relax, in my opinion. Right now, it's Smith who is the better cover corner - not Davis. And with a full offseason in Miami's offseason program, he'll add the necessary strength needed to take his game to the next level.
WHERE WILL DOLPHINS GO WITH FIRST ROUND PICK?
If you haven't noticed, I've updated the front-page poll with a new question. I'm now asking you what position you think the Dolphins will address in the first round of April's draft. Personally, I think defense should be the top priority right now. And if this weekend's games proved anything, it's that a great running game and great defensive play can still win in this league - even if the media wants you to think that the only way to win nowadays is through the air.
With that said, it seems like some of the "draft experts" - if there is such a thing - also think that defense is where the Dolphins should look in round one - particularly inside linebacker.
SI.com's Tony Pauline thinks the Dolphins need to hope Rolando McClain falls to them. And I agree 100% with what Pauline says:
"If he does, I'm sure they jump all over on him."
Another guy from Alabama that some fans seem to want is the 360+ pound nose tackle Terrence Cody. But like some have said, I don't think Cody is a guy I want to see in a Dolphins' uniform. His conditioning is questionable. He got blocked by one blocker way too often at the college level despite his massive size. And longtime draft analyst Frank Coyle of DraftInsiders.com sums up Cody very well:
"He's a guy you can fall in love with if you watch a few plays. But if you watch 60 plays, there's some red flags. His weight is scary."
Then there's the wide receiver position. To me right now, there's only one receiver worthy of being drafted 12th overall and that is Dez Bryant. Pauline says of Bryant:
"If Dez Bryant is there at No. 12, it could be enticing for them. Physically he might be better than (2009 rookie) Michael Crabtree. But he has character concerns, like Crabtree did. Put that aside and you saw what Crabtree did once he got on the field."
Right now, I just can't see spending such a high draft pick on a guy like Bryant if a guy like McClain is there. This team needs defensive help far more than they need a receiver, in my opinion. But we'll see what happens between now and April before making any definitive declarations.
DOLPHINS STAFF TO COACH SENIOR BOWL
Incase you missed it, it was announced over the weekend that Tony Sparano and the Dolphins' coaching staff will coach the South squad in the Senior Bowl to be played January 30 at 4 pm eastern. This means we all will be able to watch Miami's staff in action on NFL Network - as they air most of the Senior Bowl practices during the week leading up to the game.
This will give Sparano and company a chance to get long looks at some of the top players in the draft - including Terrence Cody and Tim Tebow.