Draft week is finally here! If you are like me, you're probably getting pretty excited with anticipation for the events of this Saturday and Sunday. I absolutely love the NFL Draft. I soak up every minute of it like a sponge - yes, even the seventh-round excites me. These guys are the future backbone of this team. They will play by far the largest part in deciding Miami's fortunes in the coming years. Having a GM like Randy Mueller fully in charge for once only adds to the promise, although to be fair, I was very impressed with Nick Saban's first draft, which netted the team RB Ronnie Brown, DE Matt Roth, LB Channing Crowder, and CB Travis Daniels. Getting four players of that caliber who can contribute immediately is every team's goal, and hopefully Miami can find even more of those guys this year with their abundance of selections. For the first time since 2003, the Dolphins have more than the alloted 7 picks to use. This means Mueller has plenty of ammunition and options to move up and down throughout the draft if he deems it necessary.
Of course, the spotlight for the Dolphins will be on their first-round pick which stands at the No. 9 spot right now. The team has a bevy of needs, most notably QB and OL. Other areas that will most likely be addressed in the draft include WR, DL youth, and the secondary.
Mueller has made it clear that he will adhere to a best-player-available strategy throughout the first day of the draft and then fill in some need areas with later round picks. This is a logical approach to the draft, as the team cannot afford to reach with its selections in the top rounds. As far as those who say that the team should pass over the BPA in favor of someone who fills a need, that approach is just plain wrong. It makes little to no sense to give up both present and future value in a player in order to fill a need. With the amount of turnover and injuries that teams sustain, there's no way of predicting what a team's needs will be. What seems like a strength can turn into a weakness with one unfortunate break or tear. I've used this example before, and it serves this point well. The Chiefs drafted RB Larry Johnson at a time when RB Priest Holmes was playing magnificently and unanimously considered one of the best running-backs in the league. At the time RB wasn't considered a need, and many Chiefs fans lamented the selection of Johnson. Well, looking back on that selection, I'd say the Chiefs made a pretty good pick. You can also look at our very own GM Randy Mueller, who, when he was with the New Orleans Saints, drafted RB Deuce McAllister when they already had RB Ricky Williams. The Saints then shipped Ricky to Miami for two first-round picks. Every player has value, and to sacrifice the total value of a team simply to fill a perceived need is harmful to the long-term success of that team.
Most Dolphins fans are well versed in the disaster that has been the QB position since Marino's retirement. Much of the misfortune is a direct result of the team's lack of QBs selected in the draft and its recent propensity to simply sign free-agent QBs or trade for other team's QBs. The only problem is that teams will never let top signal-callers escape - they are too scarce a commodity. If Miami is lucky, it will finally be able to remedy this situation with an elite draft prospect who the team can then groom for a year before taking over the starting gig. That elite prospect that I am talking about is Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn. Although JaMarcus Russell is the better prospect, Quinn is the guy who has a real chance of falling to No. 9 or at least to the vicinity where Mueller would be willing to pull the trigger and trade up to grab him. To be honest, I wasn't a big fan of Quinn during his time at Notre Dame. There was such immense media hype surrounding him that he never lived up to my expectations or impressed me that much. Having said that, if Quinn is available at No. 9, there is no way Miami can pass him up. Unless RB Adrian Peterson is still somehow on the board at that time, Quinn has to be considered the BPA. I'm really pulling for Miami to land Quinn as its first-round selection. Let's take a look at his strengths and weaknesses:
* Standing around 6'4" and weighing in around 230 pounds, Quinn has tremendous size. He's tall enough to see clearly over the offensive line and to avoid having his passes batted down at the LOS. He's also sturdy enough to take hits, and he is not injury-prone. The best part of his size and strength is the ability it provides him to sit in the pocket and shrug off arm tackles, much like Daunte Culpepper could do.
* He has the footwork necessary to move around the pocket and avoid the rush.
* He's definitely the smartest QB prospect in this year's draft. That will help him quickly adjust to the NFL and to absorb a new playbook.
* Has incredible accuracy and good velocity on throws 20 yards and shorter.
* Mechanically sound; he won't have to relearn the basics of throwing the ball.
* While he has good pocket footwork, he has very little downfield rushing ability.
* His accuracy and overall effectiveness drops off sharply on long throws downfield. This will make it harder for the team to stretch the field with any consistency.
* Has shown a tendency to fumble
* Sometimes holds onto the ball too long as he tries to read the defense, this often results in sacks
Quinn isn't the can't miss prospect that a lot of people have him pegged as. However, he certainly has a much better chance to succeed than fail. I don't think he's a product of Charlie Weiss' system, and he'd be able to fit in with Cameron's offense rather easily, particularly if he can learn on the bench for a year behind Trent Green. His inability to throw a good deep ball is of some concern, and while his range downfield probably won't improve much, with some extra coaching, he should be able to improve his accuracy on deep throws. Also, it's great that he is such a receptive student of the game, but he will need to transfer that knowledge better in the pro-game, especially when it comes to reading NFL defenses. Overall, this guy would finally give Miami a long-term solution at QB. He would face the intense pressure of South Florida, but being in the limelight clearly hasn't fazed him so far in his career, and that's due to his intangibles. This guy is a team leader, pure and simple - and that is more important than any physical skills a QB can have (which he has plenty of).
Here's hoping that luck will fall Miami's way, and Quinn will be wearing the aqua and orange for years to come.