Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Here are some scouting reports on each:
From Draft Countdown:
A bit of a 'tweener who could project to either defensive end in a 4-3 or outside linebacker in a 3-4 at the next level --- Saw action at both end and tackle in college and was also used standing up at times --- Missed some time with a back injury in 2009 --- Didn't rack up eye-popping statistics or necessarily make a lot of game-changing plays but is a very intriguing prospect due to his impressive physical tools --- Classic Workout Warrior who will likely be selected earlier than he should be by some team that becomes infatuated with his potential.
Misi is a solid prospect who's consistently improved his game over the past three seasons. He offers a good amount of upside potential and should eventually develop into starter at the next level.
From Draft Countdown:
Saw action at both right tackle and guard during his college career but will probably fit best inside at the next level --- A prototypical mauler with rare size who should excel in a power offense.From SI:
Jerry is a powerful offensive lineman whose size and style are best suited to play in a small area. Could eventually develop into a starting guard if he improves and blocks more consistently with sound mechanics.
Here's my take. I like both these picks because Miami didn't have to reach to fill a need. They stayed put and a couple really talented guys fell to them. Misi, in particular, should start from day one opposite Cameron Wake. That would be quite the pass rushing duo. Of course, it will leave lots to be desired when it comes to defending the run (and possibly the pass), but I find it hard to believe that Misi will be as heinous in run defense as Joey Porter was. And here's Parcells' chance to work his magic on a young OLB. If he really is as good at picking these guys out as we are led to believe, then Misi should pan out just fine.
As for Jerry, I don't like the situation that caused Miami to take him, but given that situation, he makes for a good pick. The situation I'm referring to is, of course, the Justin Smiley situation. It baffles me that this front office has told him to stay home from offseason workouts while they attempt to trade him. And barring a trade (which is made all the more unlikely now that other teams know Miami doesn't want him) the Dolphins may very well just cut him. And let's remember that this is a guy who is one of the best guards in the league. Yes, he has significant injury concerns, but if that's the sole reason why Miami is going to cut ties with him, then hell, get rid of Jake Grove's beat up body while you're at it. It's hypocritical and it makes no sense.
But because Smiley will in all likelihood not be returning to the team, along with the fact that Donald Thomas took a step backward this past year, Miami needed to search for another option at guard. The ironic thing is that Jerry seems an awful lot like Donald Thomas only with much more collegiate experience. He's a perfect fit for the power offense that Miami employed last year, but isn't (or shouldn't) this team be transitioning more toward a passing offense? Hopefully this coaching staff will get him to improve in that area because he may also be starting from day one.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Heading into tonight's action, my ideal draft involved just two actions: 1) trade down and 2) avoid taking a running back and/or Tim Tebow.
Before we get into an analysis of Jared Odrick, let's first take a look at the trade that Miami made with the Chargers to move down in the first round.
Miami gave up the 12th, 110th (4th round), and 173rd (6th round) picks. In return, Miami received the 28th, 40th (2nd round), and 126th (4th round) picks as well as LB Tim Dobbins. Removing Dobbins from the equation for a moment, let's tabulate the values of each set of picks according to Football Outsiders' Actual Draft Value Chart.
The three picks that Miami gave up are worth 3288 points. The three picks they received are worth 4130 points. Now add in Dobbins, and it's quite clear that Miami absolutely hoodwinked the Chargers in this deal, so good work Parcells and Ireland.
Now, onto Odrick.
A lot of Miami fans are already bitching and moaning about this pick because it isn't sexy and it doesn't fill a perceived need. I think a large part of that has to do with fans locking into the mindset that they would be getting a certain type of player at 12 (I'm talking about Derrick Morgan or Earl Thomas) rather than a lower-tier player at 28. And despite the amazing value they received in the trade, when it came time to actually make the pick, fans were not happy with the chosen player because he's not as good as who they could have had at 12. But the fact of the matter is that Miami is still a team with a lot of holes, and they desperately needed a new second round pick after trading theirs away for Brandon Marshall.
Many fans are also supremely hypocritical. They preach "best player available" right up until the moment that Jared Odrick's name is called instead of Jerry Hughes'. BPA is only convenient for these people as long as the best player available happens to also play a position of need.
Well, guess what, the good teams are the ones who don't reach for needs. And quite honestly, when it came time for Miami to pick at 28, there was only one player available who in my estimation is better than Odrick and that's Sergio Kindle. Would I have liked to see Miami take Kindle there? Sure, but the difference between the two is negligible and it's no surprise that Miami would rate Odrick higher on their draft board. And who knows, they may have a crack at Kindle at pick 40.
So, yes, Miami did draft a player at a position of seeming strength, what with Randy Starks, Kendall Langford, and Phillip Merling all on the roster. But it can't hurt to add to your strengths, especially at DE in a 3-4 defense.
Odrick is a strong all-around player. He played defensive tackle in a 4-3 at Penn State, but since Miami plays primarily in a 3-4, he will likely be bumped outside. While he says he can play nose tackle, I don't think Miami wants to go down that road just yet. Although drafting Odrick may be a sign that Miami could begin to move back towards a hybrid style 3-4/4-3 defense with more four man fronts than we've seen in the past few years. When Miami uses a four man front, it would allow them to kick Odrick and Starks inside. (Using more four man fronts would also lessen the blow of being without Jason Ferguson for half the season.)
Odrick's biggest strengths are his motor, his run-stopping ability, and his ability to collapse the pocket. He's not an elite pass rusher and will need to work on shedding blocks. Here's NFL.com's analysis of him:
Odrick has a good combination of size and strength. He is more of a run-stopper with power to hold the point but needs to utilize his hands more consistently to separate to the ball. Odrick shows power to collapse the pocket as a pass rusher but again needs to expand his pass rush package with more moves and counters to contribute at the next level. He feels pad pressure well and constricts running lanes effectively. He has some limitations (lateral agility and speed) but plays with a good motor and often wins with effort. Odrick could be considered a versatile prospect as an end in a 3-4 front or tackle in 4-3 schemes. Odrick has upside if he can improve his overall technique at the next level.
He seems to have a lot of similarities with Langford and Merling, which makes me wonder if this pick isn't an indictment of Merling's progress. Remember, he was picked at #32 in 2008, so if the coaching staff is already moving on that's not a good sign. Hopefully it just means that the d-line rotation has gotten even stronger and deeper.
In summary, this was not an exciting pick. But not every good pick is exciting. And reaching for needs is rarely a good idea since a need today may not be one tomorrow, and the needs two or three years down the road are even hazier. It's imperative to think long term if you plan to be competitive over the long term, and that is what this pick represents.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Obviously, a middle of the road team like the Dolphins won't have a lot of those positions but they do have some.
In my estimation the positions that Miami should not spend a draft pick on in this year's draft are kicker, punter, quarterback, fullback, and running back.
So what does that mean, specifically as it relates to the first round? STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM C.J. SPILLER, JAVHID BEST, RYAN MATTHEWS, AND TIM TEBOW!!!!
If Miami spends a draft pick on any one of those guys, it will be an absolute waste. This team does not need more running backs. If Ronnie and/or Ricky don't come back next year, so be it. It's damn easy to find replacements in the draft, even late in the draft. And as for Tebow, I just hate most everything about him, including his awful release and his grating religious fanatic personality.
It's really not that hard. Just stay away from those four guys (and, really, any RB before the sixth round) and the chances of having a good draft vastly improve. It would also help if the team was able to unload Tyler Thigpen for any kind of draft considerations.
My ideal draft would see Miami trade down in round one (possibly with the Eagles?) in order to recoup a pick in the second round. Then with their new first pick, select an OLB like Sergio Kindle.
If Miami is stuck at 12, I'd be happy with either Derrick Morgan or Kindle although I don't think either is worth quite that much. Still, it would be better than really reaching for someone like Dan Williams or Earl Thomas. Those guys are good players, but they are huge reaches at 12.
[Note: It should also be mentioned that the draft classes of Parcells/Ireland always have a strong correlation with the list of players that they brought in for visits, worked out, or just interviewed. Not all teams are like this, but in Miami's case, it is rare to see a guy get drafted who did not have some sort of contact with the team in the months leading up to this event. So take a look at this tremendous list of most of the guys who have had such contact with the team. It's likely that a majority of the guys added over the next three days will be on that list.]
So Jason Taylor chose not to wait until after the Draft to make up his mind concerning his football future. Can you blame him?
The Dolphins royally screwed the pooch on this one. When it comes right down to it, I'm not as ashamed about the ultimate decision the team made to part ways with Jason but rather with the manner in which they went about doing so. It would appear that this new regime simply has no idea how to treat important players. Important both on the field and in a larger sense, to the fan base. You can't go yanking these guys around and expect to come off clean in the eyes of the fans, who quite honestly love the Jason Taylors a lot more than the Jeff Irelands.
Ethan Skolnick made a very nice point:
No one in their right mind would willfully choose to stay unemployed in that situation simply as a matter of principle. Why would anyone expect Taylor to? If he wants to keep playing, no one can tell him to retire just because the Dolphins have no more use for him; it doesn't work that way.
And if you do blame Taylor, think of it this way….
If you aren’t interested in a girl anymore, and she then starts dating a guy you can’t stand, would you be angry about it?
Or this way….
If your current employer let your contract expire, and the only available job was at the rival company, would you stay unemployed?
Hopefully, when the Jets come to Miami this year, the crowd will do what's right and give Jason a thunderous welcome home.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Here's how Miami's slate of games looks:
|1||Sun., Sept. 12||at Buffalo Bills||CBS||1:00 p.m.|
|2||Sun., Sept. 19||at||CBS||1:00 p.m.|
|3||Sun., Sept. 26||NEW YORK JETS||NBC||8:20 p.m.|
|4||Mon., Oct 4||NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS||ESPN||8:30 p.m.|
|6||Sun., Oct. 17||at||CBS||1:00 p.m.|
|7||Sun., Oct. 24||PITTSBURGH STEELERS||CBS||1:00 p.m.|
|8||Sun., Oct. 31||at||CBS||1:00 p.m.|
|9||Sun., Nov. 7||at Baltimore||CBS||1:00 p.m.|
|10||Sun., Nov. 14||TENNESSEE TITANS||CBS||1:00 p.m.|
|11||Thurs., Nov. 18||CHICAGO BEARS||NFLN||8:20 p.m.|
|12||Sun., Nov. 28||at||CBS||4:05 p.m.|
|13||Sun., Dec. 5||CLEVELAND BROWNS||CBS||1:00 p.m.|
|14||Sun., Dec. 12||at||CBS||4:15 p.m.|
|15||Sun., Dec. 19||BUFFALO BILLS||CBS||1:00 p.m.|
|16||Sun., Dec. 26||DETROIT LIONS||FOX||1:00 p.m.|
|17||Sun., Jan. 2||at||CBS||1:00 p.m|
A few thoughts:
- I really don't see how anyone could complain about this schedule. It seems eminently fair to me.
- Gotta love opening against Buffalo. Never mind that it's on the road. That's a game that, if Miami is to be believed as a legitimate playoff team, they must take.
- The bye is a bit early, and it's odd that Miami will have already played half of its division games by Week 5.
- But man oh man are those two early prime time division games tasty or what?! The Jets and Patriots at home in consecutive weeks in front of a national audience! The Dolphins are going to have a prime opportunity to make a statement right out of the gates. (Oh yeah, and Santonio Holmes will be suspended for that first game against Miami.)
- I doubt he'll get an eight game suspension, but if he does, Miami would miss facing off against Ben Roethlisberger as well.
- The last two months of the season really seem to have some pretty winnable games. Hopefully they won't have fallen into a hole, but if they have, Miami will have a good opportunity to get back in the thick of things come November.
Monday, April 19, 2010
The Jason Taylor saga continues this year. Do you think he will be playing for the hated Jets this year? How likely is it that the Dolphins will actually trade Ronnie Brown? If the Dolphins were able to trade down with their first pick would that be a good thing? If they trade down it is likely Eric Berry and Earl Thomas would be gone if they picked in the 20s.
Let's take these one by one:
I get that the Dolphins want to wait until after the Draft before addressing Taylor's future with the team. However, I don't understand their apparent unwillingness to simply reach out to him and let him know where they stand. He's earned more than a cursory "We'll get back to you."
And even though every report has him eventually signing with the Jets, I just can't see it. I believe he genuinely does hate that franchise. All that stuff he's said about them and their fans over the years - I really think that came from the heart and wasn't made up just to get a headline. There's a reason he's not wearing a Jets jersey right now. He's had plenty of time to decide if that's where he'll end up and he's still not there - even after the fancy multiple day free agent visit, even after every insider said a contract was all but finished. Jason knows he wants to play in Miami this year and only in Miami. He's going to wait as long as it takes for them to bring him back even though it erases all his leverage. If they say wait until after the Draft, well then that's what he's going to do.
Of course, what if they don't sign him after the Draft, then what? Even though Miami is the only team he wants to play for this year, that relationship requires the participation of both sides. If Miami doesn't make some kind of commitment to him soon after the Draft, then I would not be shocked to see him in New York. But until that happens, I still see him eventually returning to Miami.
And that's a no-brainer for the Dolphins (or at least it should be). They only need to make a two-year contract offer to him. He won't command a giant salary, and this is an uncapped year anyway, so the salary doesn't matter for the first year. And after getting rid of Joey Porter and Matt Roth, what else does Miami have. Sure, Cameron Wake should probably start this year and they might draft a new OLB in the first round, but the cupboard is still bare behind that. Quentin Moses and Charlie Anderson are not better than Taylor, and they each have pretty much maxed out their potential. Either or both of them might not even make the final roster depending on who Miami drafts. Taylor, on the other hand, is still a weapon, and was probably Miami's most consistent LB last year. If they can transition him to a pass-rushing only role, that would probably keep him fresher throughout the season and let him focus on what he does best.
I don't think it's likely that Miami trades Ronnie Brown only because I doubt any team is willing to pay the price it would be required to get him, which I peg as around a second round draft pick in this year's draft.
The team should definitely be exploring all trade avenues with him though. I love the guy, but he's a 28 year old running back who is hurt all the time. And repeat it with me now: Running backs are so ridiculously interchangeable that if Miami can get good value for Brown, they should jump on it. Miami can survive without Brown, and this front office could really use a second round pick in this draft now that they've traded their away for Brandon Marshall.
And think about it - how many more elite years do you really expect Miami to get out of Brown. Two, three at most? If they keep him with his one-year tender offer this year, that would leave him with one or two good years left. They shouldn't be signing this guy to a long term deal starting in 2011. So why not get something useful for him now before his trade value is all but gone?
Before the Marshall trade, I would have been against trading down, provided one thing - that Dez Bryant was still on the board when Miami was picking at #12. I really wanted them to take him. But now they don't need him as much and it became a lot more likely that Denver will take him anyway.
Now, however, I think Miami absolutely has to trade down, except, again, for one exception; if S Eric Berry somehow falls to #12, Miami should take him and smile all the way to podium to hand in that card with his name on it. Berry is a top 3 talent in this draft and if he miraculously falls to Miami's pick, then they have to pounce on it. Otherwise, there will be no player available that fits Miami's specific needs that will also represent good value at that spot.
Rolando McClain would have been worth that pick, but with Karlos Dansby on board (and Crowder) it would be tough to justify that pick, even though McClain will be far better than Crowder. Earl Thomas fills a need at safety, but #12 is way way way too high to be picking him. Ditto for NT Dan Williams. Miami can't afford to reach with this pick. There will also be a bevy of DE/OLBs to choose from (Derrick Morgan, Sergio Kindle, Sean Weatherspoon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Brandon Graham) but I still think the 12th spot is too high for any one of them.
Trading down, even just two or three spots, would be a tremendous help, as it would likely net the Dolphins an additional pick in the second or third round. And the 12th spot is not a bad place to be when it comes to trading down. You avoid paying out a huge contract that goes along with a top 10 pick, and the team trading up will have its pick of an elite talent in a very deep draft. So if Miami wants to trade down, they should have some takers.
Rumors are already making that rounds that the Eagles are one team that wants to trade up into Miami's spot in order to take a safety. The thinking goes that the Eagles would package their first round pick (24th overall) with their first second round pick (37th) to move up to #12. That trade would be an absolute steal for Miami according to Football Outsider's Actual Draft Value Chart. The 12th overall pick is worth 2665 points. The 24th and 37th picks are worth a combined 4020 points. Even if they were to give us their original second round pick (55th overall) that deal would still be well worth it. I really hope that is what transpires on Thursday.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Anyways, Miami traded Ted Ginn to the 49ers for a fifth-round draft pick in this year's draft (#145 overall).
It's actually not bad value for him when you consider the type of player he's turned out to be. I would have liked to see Miami keep him around for him return abilities, but it still would have been hard to keep him active on game days so at least they were able to get something for him.
It's funny, looking back now on the post I wrote in the aftermath of the 2007 draft. Here's a quote:
Drafting Ted Ginn was the best move this team could have made - and that's not just spin.
Of course, I was operating under the flawed assumption that the ultimate decision came down to only two players - Ginn and Brady Quinn. If that actually were the case, then yes, Miami made the right decision. But we know that's not the case and that Patrick Willis was there for the taking. So....yeah.
At least I was rational enough about the situation to realize after Ginn's first two seasons that he was never going to be an elite receiver. Just read the comments to the article I wrote for The Phinsider talking about readjusting our expectations for Ginn. Almost no one was willing to take off their blinders and give up the notion of Ginn becoming a No.1 WR.
Of course, once he actually proved that this season, everyone was suddenly fine with trading him. It's amazing how many people have to be led, step by step, to these conclusions that should be obvious with any kind of critical foresight. It seems like the vast majority of Dolphins fans simply will not accept negative outcomes as possible until after they've already manifested themselves.
Anyways, with the trade for Brandon Marshall and the trading of Ginn, here's an updated look at Miami's stock of draft picks:
Round 1, (12th overall)
Round 3, (73)
Round 4, (110)
Round 5, (145, from San Fransisco)
Round 6, (173, from Kansas City)
Round 6, (174, from Washington)
Round 6, (179)
Round 7, (212, from Kansas City)
Round 7, (219)
Round 7, (252, compensatory)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
So Miami decided to get its No.1 WR through trade, ponying up two second round draft picks (one this year, one next year) to get Brandon Marshall from the Broncos. This came after Marshall signed his one-year tender offer with the Broncos. He will make $2.5 million in 2010. Miami signed him to a four-year extension worth $47.5 million, with $24 million of that guaranteed. All in all, Marshall's new deal with Miami works out to a five year $50 million contract.
So here are my thoughts on this trade:
- I hate the timing of this deal. Let me start off by saying that I really, really, really wanted Miami to draft Dez Bryant with their first round pick. I think he will be every bit as good as Marshall and probably better. I think he will be less of a headcase than Marshall has already proven to be. I know he's younger. And I know he's cheaper. So knowing all that, why wouldn't the Dolphins wait until the first night of the draft, see if Bryant was available at #12, draft him if he was, and if not, that would be the appropriate time to make this deal.
- This deal only solidifies my thoughts that Bill Parcells has absolutely no confidence in his own ability to properly assess a first-round WR talent. Picking wide receivers in the first couple rounds of the draft has been anathema to Parcells throughout his career. He either can't or stubbornly won't do it, and that is a detriment to every team for which he presides over the draft. He is fabulous at identifying college linemen and linebacker prospects. When it comes to skill positions, it appears he is clueless. No team can take the next step without being able to groom their own skill position players. And if the cost of not being able to do just that was ever in doubt, look no further than the $5o million/two second round pick price tag that Miami just forked over for Marshall.
- I do like the fact that this acquisition finally allows Miami's other receivers to be slotted correctly on the depth chart. Brian Hartline should take over as the starting wideout opposite Marshall and Davone Bess will be able to work as just the slot receiver. Greg Camarillo will be able to slide down to the fourth spot where he will make an excellent possession receiver.
- Can there be any doubt now that the coaching staff has lost hope for Patrick Turner? What a waste of a third round pick. Another example of Parcells blowing it with an early WR pick.
- I'd rather see the team get rid of Turner than trade Ted Ginn. Ginn at least could still have value to this squad. Now that Miami finally has a dominant force at WR, Ginn's downfield skills can be fully unleashed. At the very least, Ginn would be the fourth or fifth WR, he'd see about 10-15 snaps a game solely as a downfield burner, and the team would retain his tremendous kick return abilities.
- In case you're wondering, the two second round picks (assuming that next year's pick falls in the middle of the round) are worth approximately the 20th or 21st pick in the first round of this year's draft, according to Football Outsider's adjusted draft value chart. That, in addition to his enormous contract, is a tremendously steep price to pay for a player who is one incident away from being suspended for a very long time.
Marshall led the league in dropped passes in 2007, tied for fourth most in 2008, and tied for third most last season. AKA, he drops a lot of balls.
Take a look at his yards per reception over the last three seasons: 13.0 in 2007, 12.2 in 2008, 11.0 in 2009. His yards have similarly declined: 1325, 1266, 1127.
Take a look at his last three seasons' DVOA numbers: -1.6% in 2007, -6.7% in 2008, 2.3% in 2009. He coupled that with DYARs of 148, 85, and 179. Decent enough, but hardly superstar level numbers. Then consider the fact that Marshall posted a -25.1% DVOA in the red zone last year and scored in only two of the final 12 games of the season (against Kansas City and Cleveland no less).
Basically, the metrics and his extremely troubled history leave me seriously questioning this move. I love the fact that Miami finally has a legitimate No.1 option, which helps the other WRs and Chad Henne, but it comes with the highest risk possible and a huge investment of both picks and money. I don't see how Dez Bryant wasn't the better option.
Oh yeah, just watch this video. I took pride in the fact that before this offseason, Miami pretty much had a bunch of guys you could feel good rooting for. Well, with Richie Incognito and Brandon Marshall now in the fold, that's no longer the case.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Miami now has 10 draft picks.
Here is the team's full allotment of picks:
Round 1, (12th overall)
Round 2, (43)
Round 3, (73)
Round 4, (110)
Round 6, (173, from Kansas City)
Round 6, (174, from Washington)
Round 6, (179)
Round 7, (212, from Kansas City)
Round 7, (219)
Round 7, (252, compensatory)
Miami's fifth round pick was traded to Kansas City for Tyler Thigpen.
Ronnie Brown was charged with driving under the influence this weekend in his hometown of Cartersville, Georgia.
Apparently, he was pulled over for failing to signal when changing lanes. He then performed poorly on a field sobriety test.
He is scheduled to appear in court on May 13.
Since this is Brown's first run-in with the law, I doubt he'll face any kind of suspension. Still, it was an incredibly stupid thing to do.
So it's no surprise that Miami's three ERFAs - Davone Bess, Dan Carpenter, and Joey Haynos - all re-signed with the Dolphins on one-year contracts.
Bess and Carpenter are pretty much locks to make the roster this season. Haynos will have to battle for his spot in training camp.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Miami pursued him since they put a waiver claim in for him last season when he was released midseason by the Rams. But the Bills had a worse record so their waiver claim won out.
Incognito is well known for his oftentimes idiotic play, marked by numerous personal foul penalties. As Football Outsiders Almanac so eloquently put it, his "existence seems dedicated to defying his last name through acts of embarrassing petulance."
There's no doubt this move carries with it some level of risk. Until he proves otherwise, Incognito is always a threat to destroy a drive with a flagrant penalty, and he's been known to yell at his coaches.
Still, the Dolphins only gave him a one-year contract at a paltry salary of just over $1 million. Even if he meets all the incentives in his deal, the value would still only top out at $1.3 million. If things don't work out, he can very easily get cut.
He does have some level of talent and he doesn't turn 27 until July, so he should be peaking. The coaches will probably have him compete with Donald Thomas and Nate Garner for the starting right guard spot. Incognito also has experience playing center and tackle. My question, though, is what does this say about the coaches' belief in the ability of Thomas and/or Garner? Does this signing mean they aren't progressing as the coaches would like? We'll have to wait until training camp to find out about that.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Last year's list was Tyrone Culver, Andy Alleman, Brandon London, Cameron Wake, and Donald Thomas. London is really the only guy on there that I missed on (and, truthfully, I was basing my selection of him on his ability to put on and maintain weight). Alleman was good enough to net the team a not-insignificant fifth-round draft pick in this year's draft.
To be considered for this list, a player must meet the following criteria (borrowed from Football Outsiders Almanac definition of a prospect):
- Drafted or signed in 2007 or later
- Drafted no earlier than round three
- Less than five career games started
- Still on a free agent contract or their original contract
5. RB Lex Hilliard
Running back is the most fungible position in football, and Miami had to call on its deep reserves in 2009, after injuries to Ronnie Brown and Patrick Cobbs. That left Hilliard, a sixth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2008, to assume the primary backup duties behind Ricky Williams. Miami was able to call on Lex because they opted to keep a fourth RB on the roster to start the season. With Brown and Cobbs returning from injury this offseason, Hilliard may once again get shoved down the depth chart, but the RB situation for 2011 is completely up in the air at the moment since Brown's contract ends after this year and Ricky very well may retire. If Hilliard can stick on the roster for another year, his opportunities might explode in 2011. He impressed with the limited number of opportunities he had (169 offensive snaps). He hit the hole with authority and gained yards after contact at a rate better than Ricky and on par with Ronnie. He particularly impressed me with his receiving output (93.7% DVOA!), which I had believed to be a weakness of his coming out of college. He was also a key contributor on special teams, finishing with 14 tackles, third most on the team. With Lex on the team, there's absolutely no reason to draft a RB this year and it's very easy to envision him splitting the load with another runner come 2011.
4. S Chris Clemons
With the release of Gibril Wilson and the inability to sign either Antrel Rolle or Ryan Clark, Miami's free safety position would currently be filled by Chris Clemons or Tyrone Culver. And honestly, I'm fine with that. Sure, I'd like to see the team draft another safety to compete for the spot, but probably not in one of the first two rounds of the draft. I don't get why so many people are so worried about possibly starting Clemons this year. This is what happens on good teams! They draft guys who go on to start for them within a few years time. You have to put your faith in prospect development sometimes. Not every hole is always going to be filled by a first-rounder or a big free agent. When Miami drafted Clemons in the fifth round last year, I thought it was a great pick because he represented good value in that spot and showed future starting potential. It's not like he's completely raw either; he started for three years in college, playing 51 games (so he's very durable) and he was already called on to start for Miami twice in his rookie year. Now obviously, he didn't wow anyone in his limited chances, but the coaches must have seen something in him they trusted and liked. Another offseason should sharpen up some of his coverage skills and we all know about his blazing speed. Development also takes more than just years of waiting; it takes actual game experience. If you want a long-term starting free safety you've got to give young guys like Clemons real game opportunities to sink or swim. Personally, I think Clemons could handle the job this year.
3. TE John Nalbone
After a year in which the tight ends played magnificently (2008), they came crashing down to earth in a fiery wreck last year. Anthony Fasano seems like the only TE lock to make the team right now, so John Nalbone, a fifth round pick last year, will have every opportunity to make the team in a significant role this season. Nalbone is a complete tight end, meaning that he can both catch and block well. Those kind of TEs are tough to find and are very valuable. I wasn't too shocked that he spent most of last season on Miami's practice squad. After all, he was entering the NFL out of Monmouth, a small school, and that jump to the NFL level is huge and would take some time. He should be well acclimated entering this offseason, and I see no reason why he can't challenge Joey Haynos and Kory Sperry to be Miami's second string TE. Nalbone has future starting potential, and depending on how he performs this season, could be setting himself up to start in 2011 if the team decides to move on from Fasano.
2. WR Brian Hartline
Hartline was the second of two WRs drafted by Miami last year, but he ended up far outplaying Patrick Turner who was taken a round ahead of him. Hartline was very likely the best WR on the Dolphins last year. He is a stat-geeks' dream, too. In the past I've talked a lot about WR body types and how certain Body Mass Index/height relationships indicate whether a WR has a chance to be elite or not. Hartline's body type happens to fall into the "Slight" elite category. The one thing everyone noticed about Turner was his size, but that doesn't mean he has an elite body. Hartline's got one, and it showed up in his rookie season. He saw only 407 offensive snaps, but led the team with three TDs, showed an immediate chemistry with Chad Henne, and posted a fantastic 16.3 yards per catch average. His advanced stats were also off the charts; he had 156 DYAR (30th in NFL) and a 21.8% DVOA (10th in NFL). No one expects Hartline to be anything more than a solid number three WR but I think that's severely selling him short. This guy could be a true surprise player. I'm not saying I would be comfortable with him as the team's long-term No. 1 wideout, but if the season started today, he would be my top WR.
1. OLB Cameron Wake
Two years in a row on this list, whoo! Wake qualifies for the list because he was signed by Miami after 2007, even though he came out for the draft in 2006. Actually, I wish Wake weren't on this list because it would've meant the coaches finally gave him more playing time (and more starts). I realize that he still needs a lot of work setting the edge and stopping the run as well as working in coverage. But I guarantee he would do those two things just as well as Joey Porter supposedly did them last season. And at this stage of their careers, Wake is probably the better pass rusher. So why can't he start for this defense? The bottom line is that Wake was an absolute monster in his limited playing time this past season. According to ProFootballFocus, if Wake had played even 25% of Miami's defensive snaps, he would have been the third best 3-4 OLB in the NFL. Obviously, we're talking a small sample size here (just 167 defensive snaps), but that mistake falls on the coaching staff. Wake should have been playing a hell of a lot more last season. He finished fourth on the team in sacks and third in QB hits in just a fraction of the snaps. He also had 20 QB pressures - as many as Jason Taylor. Even if he's not a complete player at this point, he needs to be starting, or at least heavily rotating. He's already 28 years old, so the team doesn't have forever to coach him up. We all saw how disruptive he can be; now it's time to unleash that to its full potential.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Ferguson hopes to be healthy by training camp, and despite the suspension, he will still be allowed to take place in all offseason activities including training camp and preseason games.
While I can't condone breaking the performance enhancing substances policies, I don't see a problem with bringing Jason back after he's served his suspension. Although not having him for the first half of the season will definitely alter Miami's approach to the draft. Had Ferguson been available from the start of the season, the team may have tried to push off drafting a new nose tackle until next year. Now, with only Paul Soliai left as a true NT, Miami will have to address that need in the draft.
And should Miami be in contention after 8 weeks, getting Jason back will really bolster the defensive line depth.
Monday, March 8, 2010
This is his second violation of the program. He was suspended for four games back in 1999.
Ferguson had said that he would either retire this offseason or play for the Dolphins. And Miami certainly could use him for another year. But this suspension could affect either his decision to retire or Miami's decision to bring him back.
Regardless of what Miami does in the draft, it will probably still be wise to re-sign Ferguson. Even though he'll only be available for the second half of the season, his presence should be a boost. Miami could also choose to pursue a different free agent instead, like Jamal Williams.
Friday, March 5, 2010
They are expected to finish signing LB Karlos Dansby to a five year deal worth roughly $43 million by tomorrow. The deal will likely include $22 million in guaranteed money. That may be a lot of money, but it's a fair market deal. I don't think the team is really overpaying him, especially since this year is uncapped so it really doesn't matter how much he's paid this season.
The Dolphins were also able to re-sign Chad Pennington on a one year, $2.5 million deal. He will get an additional $1.515 million if he's traded.
To clear room for Dansby and Pennington and their contracts, the team cut LB Joey Porter, S Gibril Wilson, and LB Akin Ayodele.
Dansby should slide right into Channing Crowder's role on the defense, while Crowder should assume Ayodele's duties.
Miami is now going to have to find some way to trade Tyler Thigpen because the team can't keep four QBs on the roster. It was idiotic to give away a fifth round pick for him last season and re-signing Pennington is just further proof of that. Hopefully the team can at least recoup some of its losses in this one.
Gibril Wilson's agent, Alvin Keels, announced on Twitter today that the Dolphins will be releasing Wilson today.
Miami currently has Chris Clemons and Tyrone Culver on the roster as possible replacements, but his release probably means that the team is trying hard to land Antrel Rolle. But is that really a good thing? Rolle isn't that good of a cover safety and that's what this team needs at the free safety spot.
Sure, he may make a good number of big plays, but he's going to be giving up plenty of them as well. And isn't that what angered all of us so much about Wilson? Is paying a huge contract to another free safety who can't cover a smart idea?
I'd rather see Culver/Clemons/a rookie battle for the job.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
But I nailed the other two RFAs on the head.
The Dolphins tendered both TE Anthony Fasano and OLB Quentin Moses at original round levels, meaning they will both earn $1.18 million in 2010. If Fasano is traded, Miami will be compensated with a second round draft pick. If Moses is traded, Miami will get a third round draft pick.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Here's what I would do:
First off are the Exclusive-rights free agents - guys with 2 or fewer years whose contracts have expired. They don't really have a choice in accepting their tender since they can't negotiate with any other teams. Miami's ERFAs are Dan Carpenter, Davone Bess, and Joey Haynos. They should all be tendered and brought back.
Next up are the restricted free agents:
- TE Anthony Fasano - Fasano had a horrible year in 2009, but he's still the best tight end on the team. He has to be brought back, but I don't think the team needs to tender him at the highest level. I think the first-round tender (as opposed to the first and third round tender) will be fine. And if any team really wants to part with a first round pick for him, then all the better. Of course, the team could also tender him at original pick compensation, which would only require a $1.176 million salary in 2010 and the team would get a second round pick if any other team signed him.
- OLB Quentin Moses - Moses may not even make the team this year, but it won't hurt to slap the original pick tender on him and have him compete for a spot in camp. And remember, Moses was actually drafted in the third round, so if any team wants him that's the pick they'd have to give up.
- QB Chad Pennington - I'm still hoping that Buffalo will trade for Tyler Thigpen, allowing Miami to bring back Pennington, but that's a long shot to ever happen. As it is, there's simply no room on the roster for Pennington, backup or not. Letting him go makes the most sense for Miami's young QBs to get more work. And it's important to remember that the more free agents Miami loses, the more likely they are to be awarded compensatory draft picks. Losing a player of Pennington's caliber will likely carry some weight in those decisions.
- OLB Jason Taylor - He recently had shoulder surgery so Taylor may not be signed by anyone right away as teams wait to see how he recovers. But he played well last year and Miami really doesn't have much depth at OLB, so he really should be brought back on a two-year deal.
- NT Jason Ferguson - Big Ferg's also recovering from an injury. He's likely to be healthy in time for the season and he said that if he decides to return to play in 2010 he only wants to play for Miami. And Miami needs him, whether they draft a top NT prospect or not. No rookie NT is going to come in and take over the nose position on a full-time basis right off the bat. Having Ferguson around for another year will really help out the D-line's depth.
- CB Nathan Jones - This is a tricky one because Jones is still young, he was a decent nickel CB and he became the team's best special teams player this year after Patrick Cobbs went down with an injury. But now the team is stacked at CB with Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, and Will Allen. Will Allen will likely take over Jones' nickel role. And Jason Allen is capable enough to handle the fourth CB duties. So there's not really a role for him anymore. And with Cobbs returning, it's not as dire a need to keep him solely for special teams. The word is that Miami isn't planning on re-signing Jones and that's perfectly fine. He's been a solid player for the Dolphins but now the team can bring in another young defensive back to groom.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
With the return of Ronnie and Ricky questionable for the 2011 season, are Patrick Cobbs and Lex Hilliard capable replacements? How do you rate each player's ability?
That's a really interesting question for a lot of reasons.
First off, I should state right off the bat that I put very little stock in running backs in general. It is proven time and again how fungible they are and how easily a replacement can be found later on in the draft (this is why I am absolutely against drafting C.J. Spiller with the 12th pick). The important part is the offensive line and Miami already has that pretty well covered.
The areas where running backs can truly differentiate themselves from one another are in how well they run routes and catch the ball as well as how well they pass protect. Other important attributes that set guys apart are the ability to break tackles as well their health and durability.
So let's for a minute assume that neither Ronnie Brown nor Ricky Williams are with the Dolphins in 2011 (let's also assume that there is a season in 2011). There are four remaining RBs on Miami's current roster: Patrick Cobbs, Lex Hilliard, Kory Sheets, and Tristan Davis.
Cobbs is the most experienced of the bunch, but he's coming off a torn knee ligament, so it remains to be seen how that affects him when he gets back on the field. He never was the fastest guy so losing another step due to the injury could hurt. Even if he is back at 100% in 2011 though, Cobbs doesn't strike me as an every-down back. He's more of a third-down, jack-of-all trades type player - and he's been excellent in that role.
Lex Hilliard, on the other hand, has the build of an every-down back. He was expectedly average in his limited rushing opportunities this past year, but he impressed me with his receiving skills, which I wasn't sure he possessed. With another season of development under his belt, it's entirely possible that Hilliard could be in the mix for a much larger role in 2011. Granted, he would most likely be part of a committee, but that's a good thing.
Kory Sheets and Tristan Davis are both long shots to make the team this year, never mind in 2011, but with the positional uncertainty arising from Ronnie's contract situation and Ricky's pending retirement, anything is possible. Kory Sheets profiles as a third-down back, but I suppose it's possible he could be in line for a promotion if he manages to stick around. The same could be said for Davis. Both are finesse runners who excel at catching the football.
Of course, the most likely scenario in the event of losing both Brown and Williams would be to draft a running back (not in the first few rounds!) after next season and pair him with whoever is still on the roster.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
It's always interesting to see how the system fares.
Today, I'll be looking at how they did with the running backs. With Ronnie Brown going down with an injury once again, the numbers will have to be scaled to reflect that.
But first, here are the original KUBIAK projections:
Patrick Cobbs only played in 5 games so his numbers can be thrown out.
Ronnie only played in 9 games, so let's scale his projected numbers to fit a 9 game season:
And here are his actual numbers (along with Ricky's):
For Ronnie, whose role was known heading into the season, KUBIAK predicted his usage in the running game almost perfectly. However, it expected a better yards per carry average and fewer TDs. It also expected a much lower DVOA, which means Ronnie outplayed his prediction when it comes to rushing.
On the receiving end, however, Ronnie underperformed. He was thrown to less than expected, and he had a negative DVOA, when the system thought he would be pretty good in the receiving game. It did get his yards per catch right though.
So for a guy who missed almost half the season, I'd say KUBIAK did a pretty good job of predicting how Ronnie would be used in this offense.
Ricky, on the other hand, really couldn't be accurately predicted since he started (and received a majority of the carries) for all seven of the games that Ronnie missed. The KUBIAK projections were done with the assumption that both backs would play a full season together.
So his counting stats were way off. He more than doubled his projected yardage, almost doubled his projected carries, and scored five times as many projected TDs. But he also had much better rate stats (4.7 Y/C compared to 4.2 and 9.0% DVOA compared to 2.1%). He also caught the ball much more than expected, although he performed much worse catching the ball than predicted, finishing with a -10.3%.
Essentially, Ricky greatly outperformed his rushing projection but underperformed his receiving projection.
But apparently you'd be wrong.
In a strange move, the team re-signed T SirVincent Rogers.
Who knows what his reasons were for leaving or for coming back, but since he is back in the fold, let's hope he's serious about the commitment this time. And let's see how far he makes it in training camp.
First, Tony McDaniel was arrested for misdemeanor battery, after his girlfriend accused him of pushing her to the pavement where she injured her head.
Now, CB Will Allen has been arrested on a DUI charge. Reports say that Allen was driving at 3:35 AM yesterday morning when he approached a police roadblock and detour. Instead of taking the detour, Allen drove right toward the roadblock and then stopped and revved his engine.
When the police made him roll down his window to talk to him, they smelled alcohol. Subsequent blood alcohol tests revealed that he had a BAC of .152 and .167, which is twice the legal limit.
If Allen is found guilty, he could face punishment under the league's substance abuse program.
Monday, February 15, 2010
What are your thoughts on the Dolphins' QB situation? I read on your site that the Bills might have an interest in acquiring Tyler Thigpen. Do you think that is a possibility? It looks like the Dolphins want Henne to be the starter for the 2010 season. What QB that is currently on the Dolphins would be the best backup for Henne? Why did the Dolphins draft Pat White last year?
I really hope that the Bills do have an interest in trading for Thigpen because that would solve a lot of problems for Miami.
I was never really on board with the trade for Thigpen to begin with. I still cannot wrap my head around the logic of trading away a valuable fifth round pick in a very deep draft for a guy who is coming in to be the third QB for half a season. The front office had to know that Chad Pennington would be ready to play by the time 2010 rolled around and that he could probably be persuaded into re-signing as the backup.
But now there's a logjam at the QB position and the team has to decide if it can squeeze Pennington back onto the roster or let him go in favor of the clearly inferior Thigpen and Pat White.
So, yes, it would be a great help if the Bills made a run for Thigpen. I think it's certainly a possibility since their QB situation is such a mess. Miami could also facilitate things by essentially giving him away for a seventh-round pick. Also, I don't really think Thigpen is all that good, so if the Bills were to choose to place their future hopes in his hands, well that's all the better for Miami, right?
The best backup on the team for Henne right now is unquestionably Pennington. And I stress "right now" because Pennington might not be on the team in a month, so we can't count on having him as that option. I'd say the next best option is a toss-up. White and Thigpen can both run the change-up spread option packages that have been installed. If it comes down to those two though, I'd like to see White as the backup simply because he has a higher upside and the team needs to keep him active on game days to try to get him involved in other ways. He really needs to learn some receiver routes so that he can stay in games for entire drives and switch to QB from the field rather than coming in from the sideline.
I didn't like the choice of Pat White in last year's draft and it still looks pretty bad. The way the team is going about his development isn't helping things. Henne is the current and presumably future starter at QB so they shouldn't try to force White into becoming the same kind of player. That's not what he is. He is a backup who has the versatility to be involved in a lot of aspects of the offense. Use him in spread packages. Use him as a receiver. Use him in conventional packages. But don't continue with this pattern of shoehorning him into games just to hand the ball off. At least let him throw the ball.
Overall, Miami's QB situation at this moment is solely defined by Chad Henne. I was pleased with his production this year, but there are clear areas of his game that must get better if he is to become the kind of QB that this team will need if they are serious about making a legitimate run for a championship. He must improve his accuracy on all passes, he must improve his situational passing (aka not gunning it at a running back who is three yards away), he must improve his ability to read a defense, and the team must open up the playbook more and let him throw downfield.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Maybe the real reason is because you're losing a step or two.
In fact, ProFootballFocus ranked Joey 22nd out of the 28 3-4 OLBs who played at least 25% of their team's snaps. He was statistically the worst OLB on the Dolphins, finishing behind luminaries like Charlie Anderson and Quentin Moses.
Well, the Dolphins clearly had had enough, so they decided to release Porter.
Good idea...except that they don't have the cap space right now to absorb his cap acceleration, so the NFL had to step in and reverse the move, calling it an invalid termination. So now Porter is back on the team, until March 5 at least, which is the beginning of the new league year.
This is embarrassing. How the hell did this front office not realize the cap ramifications of cutting Porter right now? That seems like something basic - if you are going to conduct a transaction, you should know the consequences. Now it looks like the guys running the team are clueless or ignorant.
And maybe they are, since cutting Matt Roth midway through this past season has never looked like a more buffoonish decision. I was strongly against the move at the time, and now even more so.
Even in his limited time with Cleveland, Roth played 371 snaps and finished 7th on that list of 3-4 OLBs, one in front of Jason Taylor. Porter played 755 snaps, almost exactly twice as many as Roth, yet Porter only recorded a combined 16 QB hits and pressures. Roth had 17...in half as many plays. Oh, and as usual Roth was an absolute beast stopping the run.
Even Cameron Wake wiped the floor with Porter (and every other pass rusher on the Dolphins). Wake played a mere 167 snaps, but tallied an incredible 26 QB hits and pressures. 26! In one fourth the snaps! And it's not like Porter was getting the Jason Taylor treatment and being taken off the field in passing situations or asked to cover backs and tight ends. Just like Wake, he was pretty much just rushing the passer, play after play.
So good riddance Joey. You're not a complete player, you never were, and the one part of the game you are good at is slipping more and more all the time.
Now, if only we still had Roth. Oh well, hopefully Porter's eventual release means that Jason Taylor is more likely to stick around for another year.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
It's always interesting to see how the system fares.
For the QBs, it's tough, because the system projects them (Pennington and Henne) as if they each played all 16 games. Of course, neither did, so we will have to approach them accordingly.
Here are the preseason KUBIAK projections:
| Att || Comp || C% || Yds || TD || INT || FUM || NY/P || DVOA || Runs || Yds || TD |
|Pennington || 492 || 321 || 65.2% || 3576 || 22 || 14 || 7 || 6.6 || 15.3% || 29 || 105 || 1 |
| Henne || 455 || 280 || 61.5% || 3360 || 17 || 13 || 8 || 6.2 || 5.5% || 15 || 61 || 0 |
| White || 25 || 17 || 69.5% || 212 || 1 || 1 || 2 || 7.5 || 4.9% || 40 || 208 ||3|
Pennington's numbers can pretty much be thrown out since he played less than three games. And let's scale Henne's numbers to fit a 14 game season since that's about what he ended up playing (he got significant action against the Chargers after Pennington went down).
Using that scale, Henne's projection would have looked like this:
| Att || Comp || C% || Yds || TD || INT || FUM || NY/P || DVOA || Runs || Yds || TD |
| Henne || 398 || 245 || 61.5% || 2940 || 15 || 11 || 7 || 6.2 || 5.5% || 13 || 53 || 0 |
And here are his actual numbers:
| Att || Comp || C% || Yds || TD || INT || FUM || NY/P || DVOA || Runs || Yds || TD |
| Henne || 451 || 274 || 60.8% || 2878 || 12 || 14 || 4 || 5.7 || 7.8% || 16 || 32 || 1 |
The KUBIAK system has the most trouble projecting young players who have yet to really play yet, but it did a pretty good job with Henne.
While the system thought that Henne would throw the ball a lot less than he did, it actually projected him to accrue more yardage. That's mainly because it projected him to have a slightly higher completion percentage to go along with a much higher net yards per pass number. And that NY/P number is key. He has to get that up from a disappointing 5.7.
KUBIAK also thought that Henne would have a positive TD/INT ratio which he did not. But the system was still only three off his actual number of TDs and INTs. Perhaps most impressively, the system pretty much nailed his DVOA.
I'd chalk this one up as another success for the KUBIAK system and statistical projections in general.
Of course, Pat White is a whole other story. It's clear KUBIAK (like the rest of us) had no idea what role White was going to have. It saw him attempting 25 passes and instead he threw a mere 5, completing none. It also saw him getting 40 rushing attempts when he really only got 21. Interestingly, the projection system also had White seeing time at receiver, with 17 catches, but he obviously was not used in that manner.