Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Attention all shoppers, clearance on aisle 3

It's no surprise that John Beck is on the trading block. He's been there pretty much since the new regime arrived.

It is a bit surprising, however, to learn that the team is pretty much resigned to simply giving him away for whoever offers us the lint in their pockets.

According to John Clayton of ESPN, "any team 'need only make an offer' to get Beck."

I understand we have little to no use for him anymore, but is simply giving him away the best option? This feels like the Samson Satele trade all over again. Will Ireland and Parcells be content to simply move up a couple spots in the seventh round as compensation for Beck? There must be some bottom line here that we will hold out for.

If nothing else, Miami should seek to come out of a trade of Beck with an extra draft pick, not just switching picks to move up.

2009 Preseason Schedule Announced

The league has announced the preseason schedules, and here is what Miami's four-game slate looks like:

August 14-18, v. Jacksonville Jaguars

August 22-23, v. Carolina Panthers

August 27, @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:00 PM on FOX

September 3-4, @ New Orleans Saints

The Thursday night game against the Buccaneers will be nationally televised.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Updated draft pick stock

The compensatory draft picks were awarded recently at the owners' meetings, and the full 2009 Draft order is now set.

Miami did not receive any compensatory picks.

It was revealed that they traded the 232nd pick to Jacksonville for DT Tony McDaniel.

Here is the list of Miami's current draft picks (9 total):

DAY ONE (Rounds 1 and 2)

Round 1 (25th overall)
Round 2 (44, from Washington)
Round 2 (56)

DAY TWO (Rounds 3-7)

Round 3 (87)
Round 4 (108, from Oakland)
Round 5 (161)
Round 6 (181)
Round 7 (214, from Cleveland)
Round 7 (237, from Carolina)

Drafting an elite WR

It's well-known that Miami lacks a true No. 1 receiver.

They will likely try to address that issue in this year's Draft. My latest article at The Phinsider talks about a factor the team should take into account when deciding who to pick.

Check it out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Satele traded to Oakland

The Dolphins completed what has become a swap of starting centers with the Raiders by trading Samson Satele to Oakland for the Raiders' sixth-round pick and a swap of fourth-round picks.

Miami now has the 8th pick in round 4. They previously held the 26th pick in that round.

I recently wrote that I didn't think Miami could recoup the second round pick they initially invested in Satele, and that a fourth-round pick would probably be the best they could expect, but also a realistic goal.

But a swap of fourth-round picks and sixth-round pick? Seriously?

According to Pro Football Prospectus' new Actual Draft Value Chart, which has greatly improved upon the conventional draft value chart, Miami received 653 points of value from Oakland while sending them 365 points of value. That results in a net gain of 288 points of value - or about the 8 or 9th pick in the fifth round.

To me, it seems like Miami really jumped the gun with this deal. Not only did they lose the only viable insurance they have at the center position (which is now manned by the almost comically fragile Jake Grove) but they got mere pennies on the dollar in return.

I realize Satele doesn't have the greatest value, but Miami could have waited until the Draft to work out this deal and perhaps get other teams involved in the bidding. At this point, it just seems like they took whatever they could get, and that isn't always the best way to go about your business in the NFL.

As it is, here is a list of Miami's current draft picks (9 total, Note: one of the three 7th round picks has been traded to Jacksonville, but it is still unknown which one):

DAY ONE (Rounds 1 and 2)

Round 1 (25th overall)
Round 2 (44, from Washington)
Round 2 (56)

DAY TWO (Rounds 3-7)

Round 3 (87)
Round 4 (8th pick in round, from Oakland)
Round 5 (25th pick in round)
Round 6 (8th pick in round)
Round 7 (5th pick in round, from Cleveland)
Round 7 (23rd pick in round)
Round 7 (28th pick in round, from Carolina)

Thoughts on Eric Green signing

In case you missed it, my latest column for The Phinsider dealt with the team's acquisition of CB Eric Green.

Let's just say, it's another move I have serious questions about.

For more, check out the article.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Talking Ron Brace

Here's a question I got from a reader:

With the moves the Dolphins have made in FA it looks like the most need positions are OLB, CB and NT. Should the Dolphins use either their first or second overall pick on Ron Brace?

You're absolutely right about those three areas being positions of critical need, and I'd throw WR in there as well.

As for Ron Brace, I'm a big fan of his and I'd love to see Miami take him in the Draft.

I think the first round, at 25, is reaching for him, so I think Miami would be wise to go in a different direction at that point, but he would be a great pick with either of the second round picks we have this year.

As a 3-4 nose tackle, I think Brace has the potential to be every bit as good as his teammate B.J. Raji.

Quality nose tackle prospects are hard to come by, and after Brace, the pickings are mighty slim in this draft. Jason Ferguson is on his last legs, and he already needs to be subbed out for a lot of plays. I'd like to see the team continue to develop Paul Soliai, but I think his ceiling is limited at this point. Brace has the potential to become a true force as a NT.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jaguars trade DT McDaniel to Miami

Today, the Dolphins traded one of their three 7th round draft picks (the specific pick is not yet known) to the Jaguars in return for DT Tony McDaniel.

Tony McDaniel (6'7, 310 lbs.) was originally an undrafted rookie out of Tennessee. He has three seasons of NFL experience under his belt and is still only 24 years old.

In those three seasons, he has appeared in 25 games with 3 starts. Last season, he started three games and recorded 16 tackles, 1/2 sack, and 2 pass defenses.

Injury issues are a huge concern with McDaniel as he has already missed 23 games in his career due to various wrist, hip, and knee injuries.

He's probably too tall to play NT, so he should compete for a spot on the depth chart at DE with Rodrique Wright and Lionel Dotson.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reader Mailbag: Trading Satele?

Here's an email I got in response to my article on Jake Grove:

Would they try and trade Satele for a 2nd round pick then try to draft a center? It seems that the front office just wants to get rid of those players that they didn't pick themselves.

While I'm certain the front office would listen to any offers coming from other teams for Samson Satele, I don't get the sense that they are actively trying to trade him at this point. Of course, that doesn't mean they won't start actively shopping him in the future, perhaps when the Draft arrives.

I can't see them recouping the second-round pick they originally invested in him if they do ever trade him. Jake Grove's contract is a clear sign that the team doesn't value Satele highly, so no team will likely give up a first day draft pick for him. I'd say Miami would be lucky to get a fourth-round pick in return for him.

As far as drafting a center, I'd say that's likely. I don't anticipate them using a first day pick on one, but that position is a definite possibility in the later rounds.

2009 preliminary Draft order released

It's been a while since my last post, primarily since news has been pretty slow and I have had several other obligations to deal with.

But things will probably start picking up a bit as the Draft is growing ever near.

Speaking of which, the NFL recently released the full preliminary draft pick order for all seven rounds. Compensatory picks are not included since they haven't been announced yet, so the actual pick number for selections after round 3 are not known.

Here is a list of Miami's current draft picks (9 total):

DAY ONE (Rounds 1 and 2)

Round 1 (25th overall)
Round 2 (44, from Washington)
Round 2 (56)

DAY TWO (Rounds 3-7)

Round 3 (87)
Round 4 (26th pick in round)
Round 5 (25th pick in round)
Round 7 (5th pick in round, from Cleveland)
Round 7 (23rd pick in round)
Round 7 (28th pick in round, from Carolina)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Follow-up to Jake Grove signing

I got a few questions asking why the team would sign Jake Grove rather than stick with Satele for another year and/or draft a center.

And I said after the signing that I hated the move and that I would flesh out my reasoning for that later.

Well, that argument makes up my lateset column at The Phinsider.

Check it out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jake Grove signs 5-year deal...ugh

In my opinion, Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells made their first truly questionable personnel decision today by signing C Jake Grove to a whopping 5-year $29.5 million contract. He is now the presumed starting center, taking over for Samson Satele.

Grove's deal includes $14 million in guaranteed money.

I really don't agree with this move, and I'll get something up later this week explaining my reasoning.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Vonnie Holliday released; What is leadership?

The Dolphins are continuing the team-wide youth movement, this time by releasing DE Vonnie Holliday.

By releasing the 33 year old, Miami saves $3.25 million.

Holliday has been a pretty good player during his tenure in Miami, but it's time to move on. Sure, he was a great class act, but if we learned anything from the Jason Taylor situation from a year ago, it's that good teams know to get rid of players before they start their precipitous late-career declines rather than waiting one year too long and regretting the decision.

Miami drafted Kendall Langford and Phillip Merling for the express purpose of usurping Holliday. Keeping him for any more time would cut into their development curve. And it's not like Miami doesn't have any depth at the DE position. Langford established himself as a suitable starter last season, and Merling and Randy Starks should compete for the other starting spot with the loser playing a crucial role as the rotation guy. Miami also has youngster Lionel Dotson who could stick for another year, or they may draft another guy to add to the rotation.

If fans are honest with themselves, Holliday was very expendable.

And furthermore, as a general aside, I think "leadership" is one of the most misunderstood and/or overrated aspects of a fan's judgment of a player.

Far too often, players are turned into leaders by the local media, who constantly pump up those guys who are media friendly and are always reliable for a quote. And for the fans, who can't see the inner workings of a locker room, they have little choice other than to accept the picture painted for them by the local columnists.

Now, in no way is this an indictment of Vonnie. It's obviously preferable to have a nice guy on your team than some miscreant, and Vonnie gave Miami fans no reasons not to be proud of him and the team.

During the Pro Bowl, Football Outsiders held a live chat, and there was a really good discussion about the merits of "leaders".

Here are some choice nuggets to think about:

Leadership is real, but it is not something you can count upon, because a guy goes from leader to "mercenary who just talked a good game" pretty fast.

And in the NFL, great leaders lead in April, and in July. They lead during practice sessions and film sessions. They don't do it by jumping around and yelling before games and after a TD. Leaders keep the guys focused when focus is hard: there is no opponent, no game tomorrow, and you still have to worry about where your hands are and how deeply you bend your waist.

-They'll follow your "humble" lead if you enforce it a bit, but impressionable players (rookies, freshman, etc.) will follow the guy who is vocal about it. You lead by not just going to film sessions but grabbing the rookies and telling them this is how your going to have a career in this league.
-Yes, but we don't really know about the guys who take rookies aside in May Minicamp. We only know the guys who shout "What Time is It!" before games, the guys who are good copy so they get extra articles about them.

I don't doubt Peyton. Ray Lewis is certainly a leader in Ballimore. Let's look at LaDainian Tomlinson. He was everything a team could ask for in a player as of 2 years ago. Now, not only is he allegedly washed up, but there is talk that he is a malingerer.

Look at Marvin Harrison.

There are real leaders. There are guys they say are "leaders" where it is all PR. There are great leaders who get no ink. And it is rare that we can tell who is who from our perspective.

Team leader to the press is any guy who has played for a long time and isn't obviously an asshole.

That's a thing we get in Philly: There's the official party line, the Talk Radio Rumor line, and the real player who lies somewhere in between. I love FO because we evaluate what happened on the field as 98% and the manufactured "what kind of guy is he" persona 2%.

But we don't know. He can lead a bunch of ways, but we don't know. We can't tell on TV. We can't tell from newspaper articles. We can't tell from the out-of-context quote that the talk show picked up and harped on for 4 days. We can't even tell when a player says "He's a Leader" because they say that to make reporters go away. With the exception of Peyton Manning Good and TO Bad, we just don't know. There's no stat. There's no scouting tape. Theres just smoke mirrors and hype.
The point is, we as fans have a pretty good idea of who the good guys are, but we tend to project leadership qualities on to them. It's rare that you actually see with your own eyes a player leading other players on game day. Unless you are an idiot like Ray Lewis jumping and shouting like an asshole, the cameras aren't going to show you (see: Thomas, Zach).

Most of the real leadership takes place where we, and reporters, can never see it. So to rely on quotes to label people leaders is a little ridiculous.

The most important leadership on a team comes from the coaching staff. Just look at Miami. It lost the two biggest leaders on the team in Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor, and brought in Tony Sparano and Bill Parcells who instantly changed the culture and rocketed the team forward. A team's culture is much more important than any one player's perceived ability as a leader.

Bottom line, don't worry about losing Vonnie Holliday. The defense isn't going to suddenly collapse without his leadership.