Thursday, April 30, 2009

Miami Dolphins Draft Grades

Hey there everybody, I know you guys and gals have been missing my writing but the last few weeks of school consumed me with projects, papers, and finals. I'm back though, ready to let you all know my opinion on the latest news.

Today, I want to rant about how I feel the Miami Dolphins did in the draft last weekend. To speak generally, they had a few needs going into the draft and for the most part were able to address those needs. They were also able to generate some buzz and controversy with draft experts with their second round pick. All in all, I believed that the trifecta (Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano) had an effective draft filled with players who should make an immediate impact.

The first pick made by the Dolphins at #25 went to get Vontae Davis, cornerback out of Illinois. Davis is everything the Dolphins need at corner, at least physically. At 5'11" 200 pounds with a 4.4 forty and a reputation for being physical, Miami filled a big need in the secondary with this pick. He easily could be the most talented cornerback in the draft. The biggest knock on Davis is his work ethic and consistency. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't an issue but you have to look at who drafted him. Parcells has a great reputation when it comes to the defensive side of the ball, and I see Sparano is cut from the same cloth as "The Tuna". I truly believe they will get Davis to realize his potential both physically and mentally to become a great player worthy of the 25th pick in the draft. Lord knows we don't want to see a reincarnation of his older brother Vernon Davis, the underachieving tight end out in San Francisco. All in all I believe that this was a very good and much needed pick in a division that includes Randy Moss, Wes Welker Terrell Owens, and Lee Evans.
Draft pick grade for Vontae Davis: A-

The Dolphins surprised a few people with their second round pick, but if you read my blog from a few weeks ago you know I was not one of those that was surprised. They picked Pat White, quarterback out of West Virginia. I don't know if there are many people on the earth as excited about this pick as I am. He will be able to take the "Wildcat (newly named WildPat)" offense to a completely new level. What was missing from the "Wildcat" last year was the limited ability to throw. White brings a threat to pass and-with a 4.5 forty- just as potent of a threat to run the ball. Defensive coordinators will be pulling their hairs out trying to stop the Dolphins offense next year. Another positive about White is the fact that he can serve as a wide receiver for a good chunk of snaps in every game once. He will be the ultimate "slash" for Miami. He should also serve as the emergency quarterback and could very well develop into a solid quarterback in the NFL.
Draft pick grade for Pat White: A

The Dolphins decided to continue upgrading the secondary when they picked up Sean Smith, a cornerback out of Utah. Folks, this is a big guy they got to put at cornerback. At 6'3" 214 pounds, he also possesses good speed as he runs a 4.55 in 40 yard dash. There were immediate questions as to whether Smith would be moved to safety given his size, but the front office but a quick end to any questions by insisting that he will stay at corner. His size is similar to Antonio Cromartie out in San Diego, and DolFans can only hope that he will be half as productive. He is still fairly raw as a corner, only playing about a season at the position after switching from wide receiver. He brings some really good size to a position that doesn't see it at this level too much in the NFL. If he develops and fulfills the potential that the Dolphins saw when they picked him, this could make for one of the more dangerous secondaries in the AFC this year. The one thing that concerned me about this pick is that I feel Miami could have went in another direction with the pick, such as picking a linebacker or wide receiver because those are also areas of need. Other than that, no complaints.
Draft pick grade for Sean Smith: B-

Miami started the second day by addressing another of their pressing needs, this time on the offensive side of the ball. Their fourth pick of this draft went to Patrick Turner, wide receiver out of USC. The hope in picking this 6'5" 223 pound target is that he will be able to do what Ernest Wilford could not do last year. Well, the first thing would be to play, but the second and more important thing would be to turn into a solid redzone threat for the Dolphins. He should provide a pretty nice compliment to the speedy and developing Ted Ginn Jr., the emerging slot receiver in Davone Bess, and a recovering Greg Camarillo. There are still questions about his ability to get separation, but he has good hands and if he can put that large frame to good use he will be extremely dangerous inside the opponents 20-yard line.
Draft pick grade for Patrick Turner: B

With their next pick, Miami took wide receiver Brian Hartline out of Ohio State. This pick is similar to the pick of Smith in my opinion because the Dolphins already addressed the position with a previous pick but still added to the depth at the position. I feel like the Dolphins could have picked up a linebacker who was still on the board, because that is still a pressing need. I don't necessarily hate this pick, but I'm not thrilled with it either. His production was not the greatest when making the jump from his junior to senior seasons, although some of that should be attributed to Terrelle Pryor starting most of last season. However, he was still outshadowed in the receiving corps by fellow 2009 draft pick Brian Robiskie. He put up pretty good numbers at the combine and has good size for a wide receiver (6'2"213 lbs), but it will remain to be seen how it will translate when he gets out there on the field. One of the big positives for this pick is that he could prove to be very valuable on special teams, both in the return game and convering kicks.
Draft pick grade for Brian Hartline: C+

The next pick was a bit of a mystery to me. John Nalbone, a tight end out of Monmouth, could prove to be a valuable late round pick. I feel like I should know a bit more about him seeing as how I mainly cover this level of college football (Football Championship Subdivision), but I shall move on. Nalbone will have to get over the clear concerns over his competition on the lower of the FCS scale, but he was a producer regardless. He is yet another Dolphins draft pick with solid size for his position, and he is a solid balance of pass-catcher and run-blocker from the tight end position. He looks to be another special teams product for the time being, and if he can find his way onto the field this season, everybody knows that Chad Pennington loves going to his tight ends. That could mean some surprising production from Nalbone. Not a bad pick.
Draft pick grade for John Nalbone: C+

With their second pick in the fifth round, Miami went back to the secondary to solidify even more depth, this time at the safety position. Chris Clemons, safety out of Clemson, is an extremely talented athlete physically. No one can argue against his 4.41 40 yard dash, 19 reps of 225 on the bench press, and 37.5 foot vertical jump. He is a bit undersized for a safety however, which is a bit of a worry to draft analysts. Here is yet another special teams product for this season whose best chance of seeing the field will more than likely be in obvious passing situations. He has the chance to develop into a solid safety at this level, but he will have to bulk up before that can happen. Good pick at this point in the draft, however.
Draft pick grade for Chris Clemons: B-

The sixth round saw the Dolphins take their lone lineman of the draft as they selected offensive tackle Andrew Gardener out of Georgia Tech. This is one of those that fits the "Parcells" mold. He is a big and fairly athletic tackle that is a solid in both run and pass blocking. His lack of elite athleticism for an NFL left tackle, along with Jake Long holding down that side of the line for what should be years to come means Gardener could find a better chance at playing at right tackle. A nice pick that will definitely compete for a spot at backup initially.
Draft pick grade for Andrew Gardener: B

I can't lie, I know even less about Miami's last pick of the draft than I did about about Nalbone. J.D. Folson, the linebacker out of Weber State seems destined to a special teams role if he makes the roster. Could there have been better talents on the board at this point? Possibly, but at this point you put that trust in your scouts to make the best decision. Folsom actually planned on going to vet school before he got selected in the seventh round. Could he be another Larry Izzo? The Dolphins only hope so.
Draft pick grade for J.D. Folsom: C

Overall, I think the Dolphins draft grade comes out to about a B. They did not address every need as early as I thought they should have, but they were able to get most of what they needed as far as positions go. Most of the draft picks have the potential to make an impact this season. Although you really can't judge a draft for two or three years, it should be very exciting to see what this class can do for Miami.

Stay tuned folks, my next few blogs will be coming from Athens, Greece. Pictures will accompany the blog. Stay tuned!

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