With the lockout preventing free agency, most of the talk surrounding how the Dolphins will fill the likely voids of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have centered around the draft and in particular, Mark Ingram. Let’s not forget, though, that whenever a new CBA is agreed upon, free agent options like DeAngelo Williams will hit the open market.
At the beginning of the offseason, a few rumors swirled around suggesting that the Dolphins have interest in Williams. But with no end in sight to the lockout, most of the speculation involving free agency has died down. Even though the draft is a mere 19 days away, let’s reopen the discussion on Williams to the Dolphins now that we know the soon to be free agent has interest in making Miami home.
DeAngelo Williams told the Sun Sentinel’s Omar Kelly on 560 WQAM radio that Miami is a place he would love to live, but admitted his choice will boil down to the quarterback situation.
There is no questioning that Williams has been one of the truly elite backs in the league when healthy. He’ll be 28 on April 25th, which is approaching the dreaded age of 30 for a running back, but because he’s been able to share the rock with Jonathan Stewart in Carolina, he still could have a solid four or five years left in the tank as a back that has only amassed 200 carries twice in his career.
Running back is a position that has lost a quite a bit of value in recent years, and the Dolphins could easily find themselves one or two potential quality starters in the middle rounds of the draft. But DeAngelo Williams is an extreme case. He’s one of the few backs in the league that force opposing defensive coordinators to adjust their game plans. He’s truly a game changer and would instantly provide the Dolphins more offensive firepower.
The question is, though, will the front office be willing to open up the checkbook when they are well aware that this year’s draft class is fairly deep at the running back position? If the Dolphins are planning on making a strong push for Williams, or any free agent running back for that matter, it would give them more flexibility in the draft however.
Instead of feeling obligated to take a back in the first few rounds, or possibly even double up on the position like they’ve done with other needs in the past, they may allow themselves to focus more on their other pressing needs early on. Signing Williams would be no sure thing, though, so not addressing running back for the sake of holding out for him in free agency would be risky to say the least.
His interest in coming to Miami seemed genuine, however. And if that interest is indeed mutual as speculated, it will be interesting to see how that influences the Dolphins’ draft plans.
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
The Dolphins have several pressing needs on offense. They are expected to lose Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to free agency, the interior offensive line needs rebuilt, the receiving core could use a speedster to stretch the field, and a receiving tight end needs to be added. The Dolphins could fill all of these needs this offseason, but until they find a franchise quarterback, they will never be a legitimate title contender.
There’s still an outside chance Chad Henne could be the guy in Miami, as there have been late bloomers at the quarterback position before, like Drew Brees for example. But Henne hasn’t shown enough progress to keep investing in him as the long-term solution.
Ryan Mallet is the best pure passer in the draft. People want to rant and rave about the athletic ability of some of the quarterbacks in this year’s class, but the top two signal callers in the game, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, are average Joes athletically. I’ll take the guy with the best arm.
Some may consider this a bit of a reach here at fifteen. Ideally, the Dolphins would trade down and still snag Mallett later in the first, but if they are as convicted as I am that he can be a franchise quarterback it may be worth staying put to make sure they get their man.
Bloguin’s inaugural mock draft has made its way through the first 14 picks, and now the Miami Dolphins are finally on the clock. Let’s take a look at how the draft has played out thus far:
1. Carolina Panthers: Nick Fairly, DT, Auburn
2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
3. Buffalo Bills: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
6. Cleveland Browns: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
7. San Francisco 49ers: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
8. Tennessee Titans: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
10. Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
12. Minnesota Vikings: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
13. Detroit Lions: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
14. St. Louis Rams: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
As expected, all of the prospects that are considered to be on the Dolphins’ radar are still available. In the real draft, I think we all know what Jeff Ireland will do here, or at least attempt to do. The Dolphins likely desperately want to trade down to acquire a second round pick after trading theirs away to Denver last offseason for Brandon Marshall. Not only because the Dolphins front office typically takes a quantity over quality approach in the draft, but because the players they will most likely be considering project to still be available later in the first.
Unfortunately, though, no trades are allowed in Bloguin’s mock draft. Hopefully, Jeff Ireland is able to trade down, get the player the Dolphins covet later in the first, and fill a pressing need with a solid starter in the second-round. I, on the other hand, will have to make a pick here at 15 and may arguably be forced to take the biggest reach of the mock draft so far if I want to address a need for the Dolphins. Let’s take a look at the top three players that I will be considering.
On Sunday we took a look at a few highlight videos of some of the fastest receivers in this year’s class. Like I said on Sunday, I’m not as high as some on the Dolphins drafting a speed receiver.
I think having an explosive playmaker at receiver would go a long way for this offense, but at this point, I would consider having one a luxury, not a necessity. Getting some consistency out of the quarterback position would mask the lack of speed of the current group.
The way I see it is, picking up a speedy receiver isn’t going to make Chad Henne a franchise quarterback, but finding a franchise quarterback would turn the Dolphins’ receiving core into one of the league’s best.
There is already so much talent there. Brandon Marshall is arguably a top five receiver. If not, he certainly has the talent to be. Davone Bess has quickly emerged as one of the league’s most productive slot receivers. Brian Hartline was quietly in the midst of a breakout season before he was lost to injury.
I would even argue that Hartline could be a legitimate deep threat for the Dolphins’ offense. He will never be an electrifying home run threat on the level of a Desean Jackson or a Mike Wallace, but he flashed good separation last season on deep routes. If only Chad Henne would have been a little more accurate on some of those deep bombs.
Having endorsed Hartline, though, there’s no denying the Dolphins could upgrade here. I’m not sure it would be worth the sacrifice of putting off a more pressing need by using a high draft choice on a speed receiver, but if Jeff Ireland’s priority this offseason is to make the Dolphins’ offense more explosive, here are a few prospects that could potentially do the trick.
1. Titus Young
School: Boise St.
Size: 5-11, 175
Projected Round: 2
Disappointed many scouts by running a 4.53 at the combine and consequently has been jumped by Torrey Smith on many of the experts’ draft boards. But when you turn on the film, Young is one of the most explosive playmakers in this year’s class. I don’t want to totally discount the slower than expected forty, as that could very well mean that some of those big plays against WAC competition won’t translate to the NFL. But I still believe Titus Young has outstanding football speed, no matter what the stop watch says. For that reason, I have him ranked above Torrey Smith. If I’m the Dolphins, though, I’m not considering using a second of third round pick on Young, who could be a slower Ted Ginn as an undersized prospect.
2. Torrey Smith
Size: 6-1, 205
Projected Round: 2
It’s easy to see why Torrey Smith’s stock was on the rise after the combine. Smith has a great combination of size and speed. But unlike Titus Young, when you turn on the film, you just don’t see the same type of separation from Smith. He does have quality straight line speed, not elite, just very good, but he doesn’t possess the quickness to be an ideal playmaker. There have also been knocks on Smith’s route running ability. All in all, I find it a little off the wall that a few mock drafts, including Omar Kelly’s first mock, have the Dolphins selecting Smith 15th overall. If the Dolphins are able to trade down and recover a 2nd round pick, maybe Smith becomes a possibility in round two.
Since the beginning of the offseason, when countless mock drafts around the net first began to pencil in Mark Ingram for the Dolphins’ selection with the 15th overall pick, I have been opposed to the idea. Like I’ve said all along, I just haven’t felt that Mark Ingram would give the Dolphins great value that high.
Most experts don’t consider him an elite running back prospect and there are plenty of mid-round options that would give the Dolphins considerably more bang for their buck. But the more and more I have looked at the situation, and the closer and closer we get to the Dolphins being on the clock in Bloguin’s inaugural mock draft (I will be selecting for the Dolphins on Friday), Ingram just seems like he may be the pick by default if the front office isn’t able to trade down.
Now, whether or not the Dolphins are able to trade down is a topic for another day, as I firmly believe that is their number one priority in the first-round. But if they can’t find a partner, Ingram would be the best player available that would fill a pressing need.
Maybe the Dolphins are convinced that they need to find a new potential franchise quarterback. Newton and Gabbert will be gone, though, so will they really be willing to reach for late first-round/second-round options like Mallett, Locker, or Ponder?
They could always go the route of addressing the interior offensive line. But only one offensive guard appears to be a fathomable candidate to be selected in the middle of the first, and that is Florida’s Mike Pouncey. I’m not opposed to the Dolphins drafting Pouncey in the first-round, but you have to wonder how the front office feels about a player whose stock is arguably significantly elevated by the success of a sibling.
Just when I begin to warm up to the idea of the Dolphins taking Ingram with the 15th overall pick in the event they aren’t able to trade down, outsiders, who were once so confident in Ingram to Miami, are starting to second guess themselves.
I’m not as high on the Dolphins drafting a speed receiver as most. I believe the current group of Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline is sufficient enough to get the job done with more consistent quarterback play. In fact, you could argue that the Dolphins’ receivers were the only bright spot on offense in 2010, as Henne was erratic, the offensive line was miserable, and Ronnie and Ricky appeared to have lost a step.
Taking a glance at some of the receiving corps around the league, though, it’s easy to see how burners like Desean Jackson, Mike Wallace, Santonio Holmes, and Percy Harvin make offenses more dangerous and explosive. And a deep threat that could consistently stretch the field would go a long way in opening things up for Brandon Marshall to completely take over games. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the speed receivers in this year’s class.
Torrey Smith, Maryland
All of this is day old news, but I didn’t have time to get around to it yesterday. Nonetheless, some interesting material to discuss.
Marino wants Dolphins to trade 3rd-round pick for Palmer
The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported on Thursday that Dan Marino offered his two cents into the Dolphins’ quarterback search. Marino was supportive of Chad Henne, saying “he has what it takes to be a starter. He had an off year last year. I’m pulling for the kid.” However, Marino would like to see the Dolphins trade for disgruntled Cincinnati Bengal Carson Palmer, rather than go the route of using a high draft choice on a rookie. “I’ve always liked Carson,” Marino said. “For a third-rounder, I would do it.”
Even if the Dolphins would prefer adding a proven veteran like Palmer, acquiring him wouldn’t be as easy. First off, the Bengals have gone on record saying they aren’t trading Palmer, leading many to believe he will be forced to retire. Now, it does make sense to play hard ball. That will only force teams who are interested in trading for him to pony up more compensation to get the Bengals to give in. And the Dolphins are probably going to have to give up more than a third-round pick. The Bengals will probably ask for a first as negotiations begin, but I’m sure the Dolphins could eventually land him for a second.
But not so fast. The Dolphins don’t currently own a second-round pick and we must remember that trading players for draft picks won’t be allowed until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place. Nobody expects a new deal to be reached in time for the draft. So if the Dolphins want Palmer, they are going to have to wait until the lockout is over and they are more than likely going to have to trade away one of their 2012 draft selections. If they convicted that’s the direction they want to go, though, they must pass on the opportunity to bring in a promising rookie for the possibility of bringing in Palmer.
Dolphins featured on ESPN’s “On the Clock”
The Dolphins were under the spotlight on Sports Center’s “On the Clock” series, which previews the draft team by team. Although, Mel Kiper was in favor of the Dolphins addressing the running back position with Mark Ingram and even threw guard/center Mike Pouncey’s name out there as a possible solution to the Dolphins’ interior O-line woes, a lot of the talk was about the quarterback situation.
"Chad Henne was wildly inconsistent at Michigan," Mel Kiper said. "That's why I had some questions about him, coming out. We see that in Miami. There are games where he looks like he could be the guy and other games you scratch your head, saying 'Why did that throw go where it did?’ The inaccuracy of Chad Henne and the inconsistency of Chad Henne is the reason right now they don't know where they're going at quarterback."
Trent Dilfer, on the other hand, wasn’t as critical of Henne. "When I study him on tape, there is improvement," Dilfer said. "You see improvement in his ability to change speeds on the ball, make some throws he hasn't been able to make earlier in his career. "And I think after 27 starts, it's not a big enough body of work to come up with a definitive judgment on Chad Henne. I think the franchise would take a giant step backwards if they started over and went and got another rookie. Unless it's an established, veteran, free-agent quarterback, I think Chad Henne is the answer for the Dolphins this year."