As we look forward to the 2015 season, we are all excited about who we need to sign in Free Agency. It got me to thinking that as a GM the man must look at the draft first then look at needs he must fill (if he doesn't like what he sees in the draft). With that being said here are my thoughts about the talent pool in 2015.
This is my overview of the 2015 draft. I love speculating about players and who Miami has ended up with. Last year I was beating the drum for us to take Jordan Matthews in the 2nd round (we got Jarvis Landry so I wasn’t to upset). I was also a huge fan of Mike Evans at WR (although I knew we wouldn’t have a chance at him). I loved Zach Martin and feel we would have picked him if he had been there. My lower round man-crushes were: Donte Moncrief (WR), Bruce Ellington (WR), Andre Williams (RB), Avery Williamson (LB), Alfred Blue (RB), Jordan Zumwalt (LB), Storm Johnson (RB), Sentreal Henderson (OL). I hit on more than missed (which may just be luck).
Before I begin my very amateurish evaluation of the draft here is the criteria I look at with players:
1) 1) PLAY ON THE FIELD. I absolutely hate the term "measurable" when picking a player. I understand there is value in developing guys, but I am looking for a guy who played at a high level wherever he was. I almost hate the combine. It makes great players fall and not so great ones rise up (Jarvis Landry anyone ?). I feel this is where NFL teams make giant mistakes in taking guys that can run a cone drill or 40 in great times, but never had production (Clyde Gates).
2) 2) Leadership skills. I love guys that were emotional leaders and captains on teams. I think it brings something we need at Miami. While this can be over-rated, I do think if all things are equal, then I look at if a guy was a captain for his team.
3) 3) Speed and size. While I am not a fan of the combine, there is a reason it is used. To me it ranks way below the first two, but it must be taken into account (especially with late round picks). This is where you see if a small-school guy has what it takes to play at the next level.
A few other things I like to look at with guys coming out of schools:
1) 1) Schools that traditionally don’t maximize talent: I am looking at you LSU, Miami, Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma are just a few schools on this list for me. These are schools with tons of talent that for whatever reason cannot make it happen on Saturdays. Generally you can get steals late in the draft with these types of athletes.
2) 2) SEC and larger conferences. I know that there are other conferences, but this one generally has the best athletes in the country. I am not opposed to looking elsewhere, but if all things are equal, I go with the speed of the SEC or the size of the Big 10/12. If you take a small school guy, he better be a stud and have great measureables.
That being said here is my overview of the draft by position:
QB’s: While Miami is probably not looking this direction (and that is a great thing), this is the weakest QB class I have seen in a draft. The top 2 have potential, but everyone after them has serious question marks. While there is some potential, most of these guys should be day 3 picks (if at all).
My assessment: Not an area to draft unless you can get one of top 2 guys. Not an area for Miami.
RB’s: I think seriously undervalued area. One of the strongest drafts I have seen for RBs (especially 2-5 round picks). I love Gurley from UGA. While many on here love Duke Johnson, I think Abdullah will be even better in the NFL. I also really like the kid from Minnesota (David Cobb). I am not a huge fan of Gordon, but he is a great back if you could get him in the 2nd round. I also think there are some late round gems: Davis (South Carolina), Jones (UF), LSU has 2 backs that could be a good fit with the right role. All that said my favorite back is Boise State runner. He is being mocked anywhere from late 2nd round to 4th round and is a big, strong and fast back that could be a steal.
My assessment: Strong area. Could be a target area for Miami. If it was me I’d start looking in the 2nd round if a guy slips and be open to picking if BPA comes out in rounds 3-7. Could get a great back to go with Miller.
WR’s: While not as strong as 2014 draft (that may not happen again for a long, long time), this year’s crop is not bad. I would say buyer beware on some of these guys though. To me it is very top heavy and drops drastically after the top 4 guys. I love Cooper, Parker and White (although I feel he may be the bust of the 3). I also think the most talent is Dorial Green-Beckham, he has great tape, but has serious question marks in the character areas. I like Miami WR (but only round 3 or later). I like Coates (but only round 3 or later), Greene (round 3 or later), Lockett (round 3 or later). The problem is all these guys are serious question marks in different areas, and I am not sure you couldn’t poach a guy from a small school (Central Arkansas, Harding University which is my alma-mater or another guy) that wouldn’t be close to that talent level.
My assessment: Draft one in round 1 or wait to see who slips to 3-4 round. If they go earlier, poach one round 7. I do think Miami needs to draft a WR and if any of the top 3 fall to pick 14, they would be foolish not to at least think about taking them. I also think we could take a shot at Green-Beckham if he is there in 2nd round or any of the other guys listed (I prefer Dorsett) in round 3. Otherwise we take maybe a 6th and 7th round pick at WR.
OL: My weakest area of knowledge. I will simply say we have a need at interior OL. I like the kid from Iowa if he were to fall to #14. Other than that, I like FSU center in the 2nd round. There are probably other kids that would be good fits (I like Oregon center in mid rounds), but I don’t know enough to say much on this area.
My assessment: I think we could end up with an OL in rounds 1-3, but I would only take if the BPA on my list fell here. I don’t see any guys to jump up and take earlier than what they are projected.
CB: I see some good choices here. I like the MSU corner early (Waynes 6’1 and can move). Also like the Oregon kid (if we are ok with red-shirting a guy) if he falls to round 2. I think LSU corner is way over-rated and don’t like him. I also see plenty of bust potential taking a guy rounds 2-3. I’d avoid this position until later in the draft to take a flyer on a kid if I don’t get my top option or two at the top. Not much depth in my opinion and not much difference between round 2 and round 6 guys.
My assessment: If all my top guys go early in round 1 and I cannot trade back, I am ok with MSU corner. Other than that I see us addressing this position in rounds 4-7. There may be some hidden gems, but I don’t just see anyone jumping off the page for me.
Safety: I am not a huge fan of Collins, so I don’t see any guys in round 1. I do like MSU safety (Prewitt) in round 2 or 3 if he is still on the board. I like a few other later round guys (TCU has 2 that I think can be had in rounds 5-7 that are at worse special team players). Not a great position to be looking for a starter.
My assessment: We can look at Prewitt if he falls to round 2, maybe he falls to round 3 (but I doubt it). Other than that I’d say look at guys rounds 5-7.
Inside Linebacker: Very weak class. Not good for the Dolphins. I like (but don’t love): Mckinnley (MSU) in the first round (if all top WR’s and no OL slides). He would fit a need and be solid, but I don’t see star in the NFL. I like Perriman in the 2nd round, but am not as in love with him as many on this site. I see him as a good NFL starter, but not worth trading up for. I am not a fan of Kendricks of UCLA. Not much in rounds 2-4. I do see tons of potential in the following guys: Hull (Penn State) who is a tackling machine, Jones (MSU), Spaight (Arkansas). They can all be had rounds 4-7 in my opinion and have the potential to start.
My assessment: We will almost need to reach for either McKinnley or Perriman if we don’t sign someone in free agency. While both can start for us, I don’t see star in either.
Outside Linebacker: I love Shaq Thompson. I see star in the NFL with this guy. If he was available at 14, I’d have a very hard time passing him up. I like Beasley also, but don’t know if he will fit in our scheme. After those two….it will be a guessing game. Good luck finding someone we think can play as a rookie.
My assessment: If Thompson is there I jump. I think he is a star in the NFL. If he isn’t there, I pass on this position till late if I like some kid.
DT: I think these kids are over-valued and will be a reach at 14. Other than the top DT (Williams), I think Shelton is a guy we have heard a lot about on this site. I like the kid (if my top 5-6 options are not there at 14) and would be ok with him if we had to pick him. I don’t see him as a game changer. I think there are some other later guys that can play that would be close to him (Brown from Texas, Goldman from FSU, Bennett from OSU, Davis from Iowa are all my favorites).
My assessment: One of the top DT’s will fall to round 2. I jump at the chance to get one early in round 2 (even if we have to trade up or down to get to around 33-43 range). I hope we address this in free agency, but if we don’t I see us using a round 1 or 2 pick on this spot.
I did not even rank the DE or edge rusher position, since I feel Miami has very little need in this area and would be wasting a draft pick if we choose a guy here.
After looking at the draft here are areas I feel we need to solidify before getting to the draft as I don’t see immediate impact guys in these spots and we have some immediate needs:
Corner: I don’t see any "can’t miss" guys here. That being said I look to get a veteran in for Finnegan (unless we feel comfortable with Taylor/Davis starting in 2015).
Safety: While I like Prewitt, I don’t know if he lasts to where we pick in round 2. That being said I think we look for a short-term fix and maybe develop Aikens more.
DL: I think we’d have a better shot at bringing Odrick back or signing a guy to replace him and grooming our younger DT’s.
ILB: I see 2 and possibly 3 guys that can come in and start for Misi: Mckinnley, Perriman and Kendricks. And you may have to grab all of those before our 2nd round pick. While I think it is realistic to take Perriman/Mckinnley early in round 2 (would require some trading), I am not sure you want to be forced to pick an ILB in this draft. I see great potential in Hull and Spaight as late round picks, but not sure if they would be ready right away.
TE: I like some guys at TE, but am not sold on any. I think UM guy may be a steal in 3-4 round, but even then he would not be a guy I’d want to bank on. To me we need to either re-sign Clay or get a guy who can replace him.
Here are areas I see we could fix through the draft:
Interior OL: I think a good OL will slide to #14 if we want to go that route. I also think there will be plenty of good options in round 2 (FSU has 2 that I really like). There may even be a realistic starter in round 3 (Oregon Center). If we are comfortable with Billy Thomas I think we can solidify the other starter through the draft if we choose to.
WR: Any of the top 4 come in and start for us. I love the idea of pairing them with Wallace and Landry (with Matthews being my #4 WR).
OLB: Not sure what are plans are as of now, but there are plenty of options at OLB. I love Shaq Thompson. There are several other guys that can come in and play also. Not sure we "need" this position, but sometimes you pick BPA if they are much better than filling a need.
I am also a HUGE fan of the fanspeak.com site. I have run at least 100 simulations to see what looks like a realistic draft for Miami. With that being said, if I were GM here is a draft I’d love to have fall my way:
Round 1: My personal list of realistic choices would be the following: Parker (WR), Thompson (LB), White (WR), Waynes (CB), Shelton (DT). If all of them are off the board then I look to trade back. If I cannot move back I look at my top ILB choice.
Round 2: If I haven’t got a WR, I do whatever is needed to move up for Green-Beckham. If I solved my WR issue I look at Perriman/Mckinney at ILB. There are a few OL I look at here also: FSU center and guard, or if a guy falls in my lap that I had ranked higher. If I am unable to get any of those choices I look at my top picks at FS (Prewitt), corner (Oregon kid may fall due to injury) or RB (Gurley/Abdullah/Ayajah).
Round 3: By now I have solved WR and hopefully LB. I am now looking strictly BPA. I love the following in this range: Oregon center, Dorsett, any falling RB, UM tight end. There will also be some solid DT’s and Corner’s in this range that I would target.
Round 4: I look to fill OL here if I haven’t hit any of my targeted guys in rounds 1-3. If I have hit OL, I move to WR and double dip on my favorite guy.
Round 5: ILB’s in this round: Mike Hull (Penn State) is my favorite. He will fall during the combine since he is more of an instinct player. Also like Spaight from Arkansas. Both would be steals here.
Round 6-7: I like the late round WR’s. Also think TCU has some defensive kids (DB’s) that will fall here. They were overlooked bad this year and these kids can fly.
I know this was a very long post, thanks for those that have made it this far. Let me know what you think in the comments.