Thursday, April 30, 2009

UDFA class shaping up

[Updated 4/30]

Word is slowly trickling in about all the undrafted free agents the Dolphins have signed.

Here is a list of the players that they've signed so far. (I'll update this list as/if it grows)

Reader Question: No NT in Draft?

I'll be breaking down the Draft in smaller chunks over the next week or so, but here's a question I received to start things off:

That was a strange draft, especially at the end. I thought they would have picked up a RB with their last pick. What are your thoughts on the draft in general. With regards to the third and fourth rounds, I am surprised that they did not take a NT. Do you think that is a concern? It looks like they have solved the problems with the secondary.

I share your thoughts that this was a very strange draft. It started off perfectly, in my opinion, with the selection of Vontae Davis, but then it just got downright puzzling after that.

I also thought they would have taken a running back in the seventh round, but apparently they had exhausted their draft board and just traded the pick away to the Chiefs, for what may only be a seventh-rounder next year. That's not a good trade-off in my opinion.

Once Ron Brace was gone, I could understand why they held off on taking a NT in the second or third round. At that point they probably would have been reaching. But not taking anyone at all? That could mean that the front office has faith in Paul Soliai, which, to his credit, is not wholly undeserved judging by his play late last season. But do we really want to put all our bets on him and Joe Cohen? Even if Soliai turns out to be an answer, it's still wise to get someone in the system and begin training him, considering Soliai has proven to be unreliable at times. There has been some whispers about possibly moving Phillip Merling to nose, but I don't see that happening, especially since no defensive ends were drafted either.

As for the secondary, anything that makes it harder for Eric Green to get on the field is a good thing, and I feel much better about the corners now than I did before the draft. If there's a decision about who to keep on the team between Jason Allen and Eric Green, I hope the coaching staff gives Allen another year, even if it's just to be the fourth or fifth guy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

John Beck released

Unable to get anything at all in return for QB John Beck, the Dolphins chose to release him today.

He was the 40th overall pick in the 2007 Draft.

I really liked Beck and I was really hoping to see him find some success here in Miami. He was, without a doubt, one of the smartest and genuinely high-character guys to come through this organization. It's a shame his situation and performance didn't lead to a better outcome.

Draft Quick Hits

Here's a few quick thoughts on the implications of this draft. I'll have more in-depth discussion later on.

  1. Like I said earlier, do not be surprised if Jason Taylor is once again a Dolphin since the team drafted exactly zero pass-rushers. That's just speculation of course, but you have to believe the chances of that happening shot up after this draft. Remember, the team talked with Jason before the draft and they told him, "We'll talk again after the Draft."
  2. Jason Allen, you sir have quite the fight ahead of you now. On a brighter side, getting Vontae Davis and Sean Smith pushes Eric Green further down the depth chart, and that's always a good thing.
  3. In regards to Pat White, why am I not hearing this point anywhere else? If he is only coming into the game on Wildcat plays, his substitution allows the defense an opportunity to make a matching substitution. We all saw what happened last year when that happens against the Ravens - it makes success a lot harder. If this team can't find a way to keep White on the field on regular plays too, the Wildcat loses most of its efficacy. I thought one way to do that would be to train White as a WR who could play whole series, allowing the offense to switch uninhibited from normal sets to Wildcat sets without the need for substitutions, but apparently he will not be working out as a WR.
  4. The front office must have regained some confidence in Paul Soliai since no effort was made to find a young nose tackle to groom.
  5. In my opinion, the Dolphins reached far too often in this draft.
  6. The problem with such a small draft board is that you run the risk of running out of players to draft by the end, and that is what happened with Miami's last pick in the seventh round. So they traded the pick to the Chiefs for "considerations in next year's draft." Those considerations had better turn out to be a sixth-round draft pick.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Just throwing this out there...

The longer this draft goes on without the Dolphins taking a pass rusher, the more likely it would seem that they are leaning towards bringing back Jason Taylor.

We shall see...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Draft Overview: Day 1

Here's what Miami's stockpile of draft picks looks like (I'll keep this updated as the picks come in):

DAY ONE (Rounds 1 and 2)

Round 1 (25th overall) CB Vontae Davis, Illinois
Round 2 (44, from Washington) QB Pat White, West Virginia
Round 2 (61, from Indianapolis) CB Sean Smith, Utah

DAY TWO (Rounds 3-7)

Round 3 (87) WR Patrick Turner, USC
Round 4 (108, from Oakland) WR Brian Hartline, Ohio State
Round 5 (161) TE John Nalbone, Monmouth
Round 5 (165, from Indianapolis) FS Chris Clemons, Clemson
Round 6 (181) T Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech
Round 7 (214, from Cleveland) OLB J.D. Folsom, Weber State

Vontae Davis is the pick

Well, it actually went down exactly like I hoped it might when I discussed the possibility of Rey Maualuga dropping to pick 25 this morning.

I said Rey would have to be the pick at that spot unless one other guy was also available. That guy? CB Vontae Davis.

Davis was available and Miami pounced. This is great value.

I've been talking up Davis as the right choice for this pick for some time, so I have no problems with it.

I'll have more analysis about him, and all of Miami's other draft picks later on.

Reader Question: What if Maualuga drops?

Here's a quick question to answer before the draft today:

There is some speculation that Rey Maualuga may drop. If he does drop where the Dolphins could draft him with the 25th pick, would he be worth taking over a CB or WR?

Good question.

I've seen the talk that he may drop as well, primarily since some people don't think he has the pass coverage skills to be a three-down linebacker.

If he somehow drops to #25, I think Miami has to take him, because it's hard to believe there would be a better player still on the board, and it's always a good idea to draft based on value, not on need. Plus, ILB is a big need for the Dolphins anyway as Akin Ayodele isn't going to cut it long term.

However, that being said, there is one other player who, if available at 25, I would consider to be a better option than Maualuga and that is CB Vontae Davis, but it's a tight margin.

As far as WR, unless Jeremy Maclin falls to 25, no WR on the board would be a better choice than Maualuga so you'd have to think we'd take him over a pass-catcher if the option existed.

Aussie punter signed

In a move most likely made in preparation for camp, the Dolphins signed Australian punter Jy Bond.

Bond, 30, has a 4.9 second hang time on his punts, and is being brought in to compete with Brandon Fields, although most likely he'll just serve to lessen his workload during camp practices.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Linkage: Great story on Zach Thomas

Zach Thomas is now a Kansas City Chief, but the Miami Herald is still keeping tabs on him. They wrote a real good story about his decision to keep playing and why he chose KC.

Check it out.

I also have to wonder if his decision to join the Chiefs was made that much easier by the fact that they don't have the Dolphins on their schedule this season. The same scenario happened last year with the Cowboys.

That is loyalty to one's team right there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2009 Schedule Released

While the TV stations do make this event into too much of a spectacle, something about the full release of the upcoming year's schedule brings the new campaign into focus and finally makes it seem real, if you will.

So, without further ado, here is Miami's full 2009 schedule, courtesy of

Miami Dolphins 2009 Schedule
1Sun, Sept. 13at Atlanta Falcons
CBS1 p.m.
2Mon, Sept. 21vs.Indianapolis Colts
ESPN8:30 p.m.
3Sun, Sept. 27at San Diego Chargers
CBS4:15 p.m.
4Sun, Oct. 4vs.Buffalo Bills
CBS4:05 p.m.
5Mon, Oct. 12vs.New York Jets
ESPN8:30 p.m.
7Sun, Oct. 25vs.New Orleans Saints
FOX4:15 p.m.
8Sun, Nov. 1at New England Patriots
CBS1 p.m.
9Sun, Nov. 8at New York Jets
CBS1 p.m.
10Sun, Nov. 15vs.Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FOX1 p.m.
11Thu, Nov. 19at Carolina Panthers
NFLN8:20 p.m.
12Sun, Nov. 29at Buffalo Bills
CBS1 p.m.
13Sun, Dec. 6vs. New England Patriots
NBC8:20 p.m.
14Sun, Dec. 13at Jacksonville Jaguars
CBS1 p.m.
15Sun, Dec. 20at Tennessee Titans
CBS1 p.m.
16Sun, Dec. 27vs. Houston Texans
CBS1 p.m.
17Sun, Jan. 3vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
CBS1 p.m.

Obviously, we already knew how difficult this schedule was going to look.

That being said, the four prime time games definitely makes it an exciting schedule. From the looks of it, there won't be any cupcake games this year - with the possible exception of the Jets in the case they don't find a better QB than currently resides on their roster.

As far as weather goes Miami has a healthy dose of home games to begin the year in the hot Miami sun, and luckily avoids too many harsh weather games later in the season.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Reader Mailbag: Wilford's worth

Since I've been saying that wide receiver is pretty much tied with cornerback as the Dolphins' biggest area of need in this coming draft, a reader sent me the following question:

I take it that you think Ernest Wilford will not do that well again this year? With Wilford would it make any difference if Henne was the QB since he has better arm strength than Pennington?

At this point, it's hardly a certainty that Wilford will even be on the team when the season begins. Sure, he'll stick around for training camp, but that's only because his contract has made it prohibitively expensive to cut him. That's right, we are still going to have to pay for this free agent mistake whether we keep him or not.

That being said, it's possible that he could turn things around and actually prove that he deserves a spot on the roster, but that just seems so far-fetched to me right now given what he did last year.

I can't think of any other WR who had the type of consistent career that Wilford was having, only to completely fall off the face of the earth after signing with a new team while still under 30 years old. It doesn't make much sense, but I don't think last year can just be written off as a fluke. It's quite possible Wilford just hit his career wall much quicker and much harder than most guys who saw as much playing time as he did before the drop-off.

As for a future quarterback switch, I don't think that would make any difference in Wilford's case. Arm strength is definitely not the problem for his game. Wilford was never fast to begin with and he looked incredibly slow last year. He's never going to stretch the field deep, that's just not his game. But with his size, he makes an attractive target on intermediate routes and especially going over the middle. And those are exactly the routes that Pennington is so good at.

So while Henne may markedly improve Ted Ginn's game, he's not going to change Wilford's. The problem with Ernest as I saw it last year (aside from losing a step or ten) was that he became completely unable to create any separation from his defender. This sounds like a joke, but I honestly think most linebackers could have lined up across from him one-on-one and defended him without much problem. Without the ability to separate, he's a lost-cause.

I'm glad that the team is giving him another opportunity to prove himself. I think he deserves that much, and besides, cut him or keep him the team is going to have to pay either way. Still, after such a colossal failure, it's hard to be optimistic about any future returns on this investment.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Reader Mailbag: CB at 25?

Here's a good question I received from a reader:

With the acquisitions the Dolphins have made in free agency it seems probable that the greatest need is cornerback. If they do pick a corner at #25, which player would best suit the Dolphins? Do you think that the competition (Randy Moss and Terrell Owens) has any effect on who the Dolphins may select with the 25th pick?

I agree that CB is this team's biggest need at the moment, although I'd put it in a tie with wide receiver as well.

Will Allen is the only proven starter this team has, and while he's been very good, he's going to be 31 when this season starts and no one can be sure when his production will start to slip. He's also only under contract for one more year, meaning he could be gone after 2009. Thus, even if you feel okay about the CB situation as it stands right now, you have to be concerned about what it will look like next year at this time. It is absolutely imperative that this team bring in at least one young CB prospect with a high ceiling in this year's draft, but preferably at least two.

And Miami's first round pick (#25) is probably going to be an ideal spot to take a player who fits that description.

By my estimation, there are five CBs who could go in round 1 - Malcolm Jenkins, Vontae Davis, Alphonso Smith, Darius Butler, and Sean Smith. The first three are probably locks to go in round 1 while the latter two have a decent chance to still be on the board in the second round.

Malcom Jenkins is the most highly touted of the bunch, and he should be gone when Miami picks. But that's fine because I don't get the sense that the Dolphins are that interested in him anyway. A lot of experts are saying that he may not cut it as a CB and may have to switch to safety, much like Antrel Rolle. Miami definitely needs a pure CB, not a safety hyrbid.

Vontae Davis probably deserves to be picked before #25, but he is a player who could fall based on character concerns. He's a lot like his brother Vernon who plays TE for the 49ers in that he's an absolute physical beast, but his mental approach may prevent him from ever making anything of all that potential. He's certainly a risk, but at 25, it wouldn't be a reach at all. His potential is bigger than any other CB in this draft. He's my pick for who the team should take with its pick.

Alphonso Smith is also an interesting option because there's a good chance he will be on the board at 25. The problem is that he lacks the size that Ireland and Parcells want (he's only 5'9). That being said, he might make more plays than any other CB in this draft. So if they can look past his size, he should be an option, if Davis is already off the board.

As far as Darius Butler, Sean Smith, and D.J. Moore go, I think 25 is a bit of a reach for them. Of course, they might not all last until 44, but I think at least one of them will.

As far as your question about competition within the division goes, I'm sure it's a factor. Of course, even if Moss and Owens weren't in the division it would be unwise to think that CB is any less of a need. Even without Moss, the Patriots can still tear this secondary apart as presently constructed. Any team that has enough competent WRs to spread Miami out can make them pay dearly. The Dolphins simply don't have enough talented depth to deal with spread packages. Having to face big imposing guys like Moss and Owens only adds to the immediacy with which this team needs to address this glaring problem.