Monday, April 30, 2007

It was the heat of the moment...

The Dolphins were on the clock at No. 9, and it was as sure a thing as there ever could be. Miami was about to get its long-awaited quarterback of the future - the successor to Dan Marino. But for some reason Brady Quinn wasn't smiling wide while talking on his cell phone. He was sitting quietly and anxiously at his table. Surely Miami would be calling him real soon to let him know the good news. And then things started to look really fishy when, with only three minutes left for Miami to make their pick, Suzy Kolber sat down to ask Brady some questions about how he was feeling. Obviously he wouldn't be answering questions if he had a team on the line. What was going on? Randy Mueller just had to be exhausting all the time alloted to him to be absolutely sure about the choice. And he did use all of the time. As the fifteen minutes expired, Commissioner Goodell strode to the podium, and I was still certain Brady Quinn would be the next person to walk out on that stage.

"With the ninth pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select wide receiver Ted Ginn, Ohio State."

Bombs went off. I stared helplessly at the television for only a split second before loudly proclaiming what a mistake the team just made. I was vehement. I was angry. I was upset. And I was wrong. Drafting Ted Ginn was the best move this team could have made - and that's not just spin.

If anyone is as big a fan of South Park as I am, they will recall the season five episode "Kenny Dies" in which Cartman goes before the United States Congress in an attempt to get the ban on stem cell research lifted. Standing in front of a packed house, he softly starts singing the song "Heat of the Moment" by Asia. Members of Congress slowly join in until the entire assembly is swaying in motion and singing the words "It was the heat of the moment." Well, fellow Dolphins fans, I think after the name "Ted Ginn" slipped past the lips of Roger Goodell, our hasty and vicious reactions were done in the heat of the moment and not based on the sound judgment that this front office displayed. I pride myself on being grounded and rational, so I am embarrassed that I let what should have been a moment of elation become clouded over by one of disgust and anger.

Cam Cameron got the guy he wanted. If anyone knows quarterbacks, Cam does. That is what he has made his name with. Brady Quinn was not his guy. Looking back after being removed from all the pomp and circumstance of draft day, it's much easier to see why. Brady Quinn is a very average passer. Don't get me wrong. I think he will be productive in the NFL, but he is not special. But with a name like Brady, handsome good looks, a coach descending from the Belichick tree, and a starting gig in the spotlight of Notre Dame, he was elevated to become something he's not. And he is not a QB worth the No. 9 pick in the draft. I asked myself where he would have been selected if he came out for the draft last season, and it was crystal clear. He wouldn't even have been considered until Vince Young, Matt Leinart, and Jay Cutler were all off the board and probably would have been drafted in the late first round or even early second. That is what he is worth, and Miami wasn't going to sacrifice money and value for someone who wasn't worth it. But a much weaker draft class this year vaulted him into the limelight and his value skyrocketed as a result.

Cameron values accuracy above all things when it comes to evaluating a quarterback. I previously wrote that Quinn's often severe lack of accuracy was something that could be coached up. I was wrong. In an interview, Cameron had this to say about quarterbacks who lack accuracy: "You kind of teach guys that are accurate to be even more accurate. Can you teach someone that isn't accurate to be accurate? I haven't had any luck doing that." Thankfully, he and Terry Shea won't have to since the QB they drafted in the second round, BYU's John Beck, is about as accurate as they come. If it's true that Beck was rated as high, if not higher, than Quinn on several teams' draft boards including Miami's then the front office should be doubly commended not only for passing on Quinn at No. 9 but also for resisting the urge to sacrifice valuable picks to trade back up into the first round to pick him as the Browns did. The fact that Beck was sitting there for the taking at #40 validates the composure and foresight of the Miami brass.

I'll be honest, I hadn't seen much of Beck before the draft - just some highlight tape clips here and there. His accuracy is well-known, but for some reason he is criticized for his arm strength. While he may not have the arm of JaMarcus Russell or Michael Vick, he's certainly no slouch, and his arm is definitely stronger than Quinn's. To top it off, Beck has shown tremendous toughness and he's just as much a natural leader as Quinn - the general populace just never got a chance to see it. I have great confidence in Beck becoming a very good quarterback for a long time in Miami.

A bigger source of dismay for Miami fans, however, was not the QB they chose, but the player who took the spotlight from the guy everyone wanted Miami to choose. Ted Ginn has received a lot of flack. I for one didn't think he was worth the No. 9 pick. It would have been nice if Miami could have traded down to the 13-17 range to pick him, but there was talk that Houston was prepared to take him should Miami pass. Ginn was Miami's guy and they could not let that happen. Perhaps he came off the board a bit early, but it's nothing drastic.

Ginn is a spectacular talent, pure and simple. Never mind his foot injury; he'll be healed up in time for training camp and he has said that if the team played today he would be able to go. Do yourself a favor and go watch this video of Ginn highlights. I've stared incredulously at those clips over and over with a gaping mouth. Miami hasn't seen this kind of speed in a long time - probably not since the days of Mark Duper. Every time Ginn steps onto the field there is a great chance that he is going to be far and away the fastest guy on it. That in and of itself is a serious weapon. We all know what he is going to bring to the team in the return game. Granted, he's not yet polished as a receiver, but just lining up in three receiver sets is going to open up this offense. Few teams are going to risk covering Ginn with just a cornerback. That means a safety is always going to have to shade over on him, likely taking a man out of the box. Running lanes will open easier, and if a safety bites on a play-action fake, there's no chance that he catches up to Ginn. No rookie receiver can step in and dominate immediately. Ginn shouldn't be expected to either. Given the time and coaching, he will be able to develop into as big a pure receiving threat as he is in the return game.

And boy is this kid coachable. He already knows several members of the team and he isn't a flashy player. He's the kind of quiet guy who gets the job done and then hands the ball to the referee. You have to love that. In fact, I find very little about Ginn not to love, and Miami fans should be ecstatic about his selection. I know I am.

Randy Mueller and Cam Cameron, you are to be commended. It was not fair for us fans to praise your abilities prior to the draft only to curse you for not making the pick we wanted. That's not how it works, and of course, you were right. Please forgive our misguided rage - it was the heat of the moment.


LDaniel7 said...

Thanks for having the integrity to recognize you were wrong and say so!

Kudos to a great article...


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Anonymous said...

You make good points and I'm not a Quinn fan, but how do you counter the argument that they reached when they could have gotten more talent and production from someone like Patrick Willis.