Tuesday, March 24, 2009

If I Ran My Favorite NFL Team

Of course I'm talking about the Miami Dolphins. Yes, those same Miami Dolphins who went from 1-15 two years ago to 11-5 and a 2008 AFC East championship. So how could they be even better this year? This is an important question to me, especially because everywhere you look in the AFC East there seems to be solid improvement.

The Buffalo Bills have made good moves, but essentially got the best wide receiver on the free agent market and probably one of the overall best in the NFL when they signed Terrell Owens. He certainly is a circus and will be taking that show to upstate New York, but he is an instant upgrade and makes the Bills' offense that much more dangerous.

The New York Jets (oh how I love them... not) have also improved immensely on the defensive side of the ball. With new Head Coach Rex Ryan, that shouldn't be any big surprise. Among the big offseason moves for the Jets include signing linebacker Bart Scott and safety Jim Leonhard away from the Baltimore Ravens and, trading for cornerback Lito Sheppard. Now, with the prospect of them trading for Jay Cutler in the air, that could instantly make them a playoff contender for next season.

The New England Patriots aren't known for making huge moves in the offseason, but they somehow always remain in contention for a playoff birth every season. After the trade of quarterback Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs for a draft pick, all eyes will be on Tom Brady to show that he is ready for the start of next season. Look for the Patriots to eye a quarterback sometime in the draft.

Now, for the good stuff. What do I think the Dolphins can do to become even better? They obviously have pressing needs in a few different areas, including the offensive line, linebacker, defensive back and wide receiver. What to do?

I personally believe they should address the need of a playmaker in the first round. (This is all speaking as though they will not trade their 25th pick in the first round to get more draft picks, which is very possible) Due to the Dolphins picking so low in the first round, a dream receiver like Missouri's Jeremy Maclin probably won't be available. Receivers that are likely to be avalaible include Percy Harvin of Florida and Darrius Heyward-Bey of Maryland. Both are blazers who have been clocked at 4.3 at some point in college (Heyward-Bey ran a 4.30 at the NFL Combine).

I personally like Harvin for this draft pick because of the way he was utilized at UF. He was in the slot and on the outside, and I believe Miami Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning would be able to use him the exact same way in the NFL. Imagine the "Wildcat" Formation with Percy Harvin coming in motion, Ronnie Brown taking the snap and Ted Ginn Jr. on the other side. Some people think the "Wildcat" is a fad, but those same critics said it would be stopped eventually during the season. Only one team last season can truly say they stopped it, and the Ravens have lost a few of the weapons that made their defense so dangerous. I can't forget to talk about Heyward-Bey because although he's not as versatile as Harvin in terms of being used in the slot, if you put him opposite Ginn you will have one of the fastest duos of wide receivers in the NFL.

After I take Harvin, I would look at a few different positions in the second round. My darkhorse for this draft would be seeing Miami take West Virginia quarterback/wide receiver Pat White if he is available when their pick comes around in the second round. He, along with Harvin or Heyward-Bey would make this offense one of the best in the AFC in my opinion. There would be so many weapons on one side of the ball that the "Wildcat" would be taken to another level.

In the third round, I believe the Dolphins should address their need at cornerback, and this year there is no shortage of talent. Asher Allen of Georgia, Mike Mickens of Cincinnati, Captain Munnerlyn of South Carolina and Keenan Lewis of Oregon State are good prospects that should be available when Miami is up to pick in the third round. While each have something to work on, they would all be a solid pick and would contribute this season.

This is not just a fantasy that can't happen, I believe this can happen and would my favorite team much better because of it. Will Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano follow my plan? Who knows, but this is just something to think about. But I have a question for all of you "General Managers" to be:

What would you do to improve your favorite NFL team?

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