In what will be the first of hopefully a couple of posts, it's time to go inside the Miami Dolphins 2011 draft class and get a different kind of perspective on the players selected by GM Jeff Ireland and company. Today's edition focuses in on Miami's first round pick, Florida's Mike Pouncey.
On Monday, the Miami Herald cited an unnamed college source who is is obviously a fan of Pouncey and who believes his troubles snapping the football last year as Florida's starting center were way overblown by the media leading up to the draft.
"It was his first season starting at center, they probably didn't work on it live in practice as much as they should have, and once they identified it as a problem, it took him just a couple of weeks to resolve it," said this source. "Pouncey will be a center, and a good one. Don't get caught up in the comparisons with his brother. He'll be good in his own right."
But the point of this series is to get a different kind of perspective on the players drafted by the Dolphins. For that, I reached out to SBN's fine Florida Gators blog - Alligator Army. And courtesy of Joel - a writer over at Alligator Army who is more affectionately known as The Bull Gator - here's a terrific in-depth look at the Dolphins new starting center:
When Matt reached out to Alligator Army, he asked one of us to provide a scouting report on Dolphins draft pick Mike Pouncey. He said the great thing out of getting analysis from those in the SB Nation community is that we see each and every snap of our team. He had no ill intent whatsoever, but when it comes to Pouncey, seeing every snap was something many Gator fans wish they could forget.
That is probably not the way you would like me to start a scouting report on a player your favorite team just used a fairly high first-round draft choice on, but Pouncey struggled at center. There is no way around it, so we should just get it out of the way first.
To be fair, Pouncey did not struggle at every aspect of the position – one of the vital parts, but not every part. He struggled to snap the ball efficiently in the shotgun. There are a number of reasons for this. But at first it was a lack of experience and as the season went on, it became mental. Much like a kicker can get inside his own head, that is exactly what happened to Pouncey. It does not mean he cannot become a serviceable center, but it does mean he has plenty of work to do. What is good for the Dolphins is that he has the overall football talent and intelligence to fix it and if Miami chooses to use him at center, he will. Something like that needs time. It is not necessarily an in-season fix. He never got a break in 2010. If he were returning for another season, I would imagine we would all see extreme improvement in that area. Pouncey, like his twin brother Maurkice, is a workhorse. He would be sure to do whatever it took to turn that weakness into a strength.
The good thing is that the shotgun snap is his only real weakness. As for every other aspect of being an offensive lineman, Pouncey has it figured out. In that respect, you definitely drafted the right player.
The first things that come to mind when discussing Pouncey’s strengths are his tenacity and mean streak. What you will get is a player who above all else wants to win, but not just win in the normal sense. He wants to beat the opposition doing it. Sure that sounds odd, but Pouncey’s mentality is to run you into the ground while he beats you on every play. And his team is his family. He will be the one at the bottom of every pile, the one helping up every other player, and the one protecting his players at every opportunity.
There were rumors about certain Florida seniors and their relationships with Gator freshmen this past season. Pouncey was one of the names consistently brought up. At times it even put a bad taste in the mouths of fans (me included), but if you take a step back and think about the situation, it was because Pouncey wanted to win more than anything else. He hated every second of 2010 after playing for teams that finished 13-1 in 2008 and 2009. That is what you are going to get. Not just a guy who likes to play the game, but a guy who has to win.
In blocking terms, Pouncey is an elite talent. He finishes blocks and never gives up on plays. That was part of the mentality instilled in the offensive line during his time playing for Urban Meyer. While it was not pretty in 2010 for other reasons, the lack of consistent blocking was hardly due to Pouncey’s efforts. Pouncey was still the best player across the line despite continuing to play at a position he should have been moved out of. And that is probably the most important thing to realize about him.
Under normal circumstances, Pouncey would have not stayed at center. If he had struggled in a few games and the coaching staff decided to move him back to guard (where he played during Florida’s better seasons), we would not even be questioning his ability. The problem with that is that he could not move back. There was no other option at center. The player who many thought was the next great player at the position – Sam Robey – never lived up to his potential. Pouncey was stuck. Sure he wanted to play center initially, but once a change was probably needed, it could not be made. So we were all witness to a player attempting to fix something during a particularly rocky season. Not the ideal situation at all.
So what it really comes down to with Pouncey is what position he ends up at. Center will still take some work and plenty of it, but Pouncey has the work ethic to get it done. At guard, you have someone you should not have to worry about…ever. Either way, you have a player that should be a mainstay along your offensive line for years to come.
I want to sincerely thank Joel and Alligator Army for this outstanding look at Mike Pouncey. There's really nothing else for me to add here. So I'll open the floor to all of you. Thoughts?