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."
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.
Foxboro blog reached out to me this week to do a little AFC East offseason Q&A. You can check out the questions I answered for them regarding the Dolphins' plans this offseason right here. Needless to say, I liked the idea, as I'm awfully intrigued by how the Dolphins' rivals will go about addressing their needs in the draft. Please welcome in Ricky Keeler from Foxboro Blog to answer a few questions about the Pats' offseason.
Phins Phocus: What are the Patriots’ biggest needs this offseason?
FB: The biggest needs for the Patriots are that they need a pass rush and some help on the offensive line. First, on the offensive line, we are unsure about the return of Matt Light and Stephen Neal retiring. New England knows how to scout the offensive line position after they got a steal in the second round two years ago in Sebastian Vollmer. But, the main story is the pass rush. Without a pass rush, this team can not “cover a nosebleed” according to Bart Scott. With a young secondary, Belichick’s defense has to get after the quarterback a whole lot more. It improved as the season progressed, but in the playoff loss, Mark Sanchez has too much time to find Santonio Holmes.
Phins Phocus: With two first round picks to work with, who are some of the prospects that you believe the Patriots will consider in round one?
FB: On Foxboroblog.com, we have done mock draft recaps every two weeks, so you guys can check that out for a more detailed description of who I like New England to pick. But, with the two picks they have in the first round, I see them addressing the DE/OLB position with guys like J.J Watt from Wisconsin, Cameron Jordan from California, or Muhammad Wilkerson from Temple. These guys are players who are multi-technique players who can rush the quarterback and play a key role against the run. Also, I could see them address the offensive line position with players like Danny Watkins from Baylor, Tyron Smith from USC, or Mike Pouncey out of Florida, which is where Belichick gets a lot of his players from. My prediction would be Pouncey at 17 and then Wilkerson at 28, if they keep the picks.
Phins Phocus: Are you fan of the way the Patriots usually trade back in the first and load up on second round picks? Do you feel like they may do some more maneuvering in this year’s draft?
FB: On draft days, I am never usually a fan especially last year at draft time when they took Devin McCourty rather than Dez Bryant. But, in the end, you have to feel that Belichick is making the right moves in terms of preparing this team for the future. With the exception of Jerod Mayo, New England does usually pick toward the beginning of the draft. This draft I think they will do that a lot with the 2nd and 3rd round picks that they have because of this unstable labor situation. That way, New England can prepare for the 2012 Draft with a lot more picks for the future.
Phins Phocus: If you had to be pessimistic for a moment, is there any reason to believe that the Patriots’ run of dominance in the AFC East is anywhere close to being over?
FB: This is the perfect question to ask to somebody like me. I am a Patriots’ fan, but I also live in the heart of Jets’ country in New York City. There is always the thought in the back of New England’s fans minds in terms of how long this team can continue to win and when will the window finally close. The Jets have built up a great team with Mark Sanchez maturing year by year at quarterback and they are buying into Rex’s system. Your Dolphins, in my opinion, are a QB away from going place, and Buffalo could get a franchise changing pick if they get Cam Newton. However, as long as Belichick is here, as we saw in 2008, this team can stay competitive as long as the stability in the organization continues.
Phins Phocus: Where do you place the most blame for the lockout? When do you predict the owners and players will come to a compromise?
FB: The blame has to be put on the owners here or at least the bulk of it. They are running too much of a good thing here asking for the 18 game schedule and then the rookie wage scale. Now, instead of trying to negotiate with the players, you move the kickoffs up, which takes away some of the huge players in the game like a Devin Hester or a Joshua Cribbs. The NFLPA gets the blame for the whole draft chaos in terms of the thought of not allowing rookies to attend the draft. I think we won’t solve this lockout without missing a couple of games. I hope they can put aside their differences for the sake of the sport, but Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith are too stubborn not to do that. So, my guess is we are not playing NFL football till the postseason begins in baseball. NOT GOOD!
Chad Pennington’s body has failed him once again. According to reports, the 34-year old free agent quarterback tore his ACL in a pickup basketball game. That may be all she wrote for Pennington, who’s had an up and down career highlighted by being the NFL’s all time completion percentage leader and a two-time Comeback Player of the Year award winner.
He was already attempting to rehab from his fourth shoulder injury, which would have figured to scare away most possible suitors whenever free agency began. Jeff Ireland was on record saying that the Dolphins would wait until Chad was further along in the rehabilitation process to decide if they would be interested in resigning him. But now that he will likely miss the entire 2011 season, it’s hard to imagine Pennington ever stepping foot onto an NFL field again as a player.
I’m sure the Dolphins would be thrilled if Pennington was willing to join the coaching staff, as a guy who’s always been one of the smartest players in the league, but he’s always said that his heart is in coaching high school football. Wherever his path takes him, one thing is for sure, he’ll always have a home in South Florida. This franchise was truly blessed to have the New York Jets kick Pennington to the curve in 2008. Without him, one of the most memorable seasons in team history never happens.
We took a look at the running backs in last week’s draft board segment, but you could argue that it doesn’t matter who the Dolphins bring in to carry the ball, the running game is going to be just as poor as last season unless the interior offensive line gets upgraded significantly.
I think the Dolphins have already improved the interior O-line this offseason when they resigned Richie Incognito to presumably move to center permanently. Richie was a mediocre left guard for the Dolphins, but showed real promise when he was asked to play center when Joe Berger went down and then continued to struggle.
In moving Richie inside, though, the Dolphins now face the challenge of filling two needs at both right and left guard. Like I’ve said before, I believe Nate Garner, who is without question the most versatile lineman the Dolphins have, has the potential to fill one of those needs after missing the entire 2010 season with a broken foot. I wouldn’t count on it, but John Jerry could also make significant strides in his second season. He was awfully pedestrian as a rookie, but who knows how much he is capable of improving.
Even with possible in house solutions, though, the Dolphins desperately need to add at least one offensive guard. There will likely be some options for them in free agency if they are willing to dish out the cash, but with the uncertainty of having free agency after the draft, the Dolphins may not feel comfortable putting off addressing the need. Here are some prospects from this year’s rookie class that could go a long way in improving the Dolphins’ running game.
1. Mike Pouncey
Size: 6-5, 303
Projected Round: 1-2
Pouncey is the type of versatile lineman the Dolphins love. He can play either guard or center, but many scouts believe his natural position is at guard. He’s got great size, keeps his pad level lower than defensive lineman consistently, and is a pretty fluid athlete for someone his size. Would be effective pulling, something the Dolphins’ interior lineman were horrible at in 2010. Would likely be a reach if the Dolphins were to stay put at 15 and still select him. And you also have to wonder if his stock would be the same if it weren’t for the success of twin brother Maurkice Pouncey with the Steelers.
In light of the NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora’s report earlier today that suggested that the Dolphins don’t have much interest in former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, maybe the prospects of Christian Ponder being a top the team’s wish list are improving.
Although, that report seems pretty ludicrous to me. Not saying the Dolphins are seriously considering Ryan Mallett, maybe they’re not. We are talking about a regime that prefers high character guys and a quarterback who is extremely questionable in the character department, after all.
But there’s no way the Dolphins would let it be known if they really had no intent of drafting Mallett. It’s not the Dolphins’ style, or really any team for that matter, to tip their hand a whole month before the draft. So if the Dolphins really leaked that type of information out to the public, it screams smokescreen.
But enough about Mallett, today’s post is dedicated to Christian Ponder, a guy who I believe the Dolphins are intrigued by to say the least. If you like playing the comparison game, let’s move from focusing on a prospect like Mallett, who has similar attributes to Chad Henne, to a guy who could be the next Chad Pennington, in Christian Ponder.
I believe Ponder will still be on the board when the Dolphins are on the clock with the 15th overall pick, but if they are able to trade down until later in the first, they could still possibly snag him. That may be risky, though, as Ponder is a guy whose stock has been on the rise as of late and could be higher up on draft boards inside NFL war rooms than you would think.
School: Florida St.
Size: 6-3, 227
Projected Round: 1-2
Pros: May be the most NFL ready of any quarterback prospect in this year’s class. May be the most accurate passer as well, as a guy who has the potential to be surgical in between the hashes. He’s also very intelligent, boasting a 3.7 GPA at Florida St. Unlike Mallett, Ponder is a trustworthy kid, with a good head on his shoulders. He would be the type of leader you could build a team around.
Another huge upside to Ponder’s game is his athletic ability. No, he isn’t on the same level as some of the athletes coming out this year like Cameron Newton and Colin Kaepernick, but he has the athleticism and footwork to keep plays alive in the pocket.
If it weren’t for a senior season plagued by injuries, we may be talking about Ponder going in the top ten. He regressed his senior season after a breakout junior campaign, which may be a key reason why he isn’t being thought of as an elite prospect. But during the draft scouting process, it’s been clear that Ponder is back to 100%, and he’s been throwing the football as well as he ever has in pre-draft workouts.
Jake Long, Chad Henne kick off organized workouts
During the lockout, coaches will not be able to conduct offseason conditioning programs like in years past. Instead, the Dolphins are currently relying on Jake Long and Chad Henne to lead players through weight lifting and conditioning. According to reports, about thirty Dolphins were present for day one of the workouts that will run four days a week.
Some of the notables in attendance included Cameron Wake, Randy Starks, Chris Clemons, and Channing Crowder. But no worries, other Dolphins, like receivers Davone Bess and Roberto Wallace, are putting in work as well. The Miami Herald’s Jeff Darlington offers this video as a sneak peek into their routine.
Darlington’s co-worker at the Herald Armando Salguero informs us that Brandon Marshall has been hitting the weights for six weeks now, which could be the most of any Dolphin as he attempts to rebound from what has to be considered a disappointing season for his standards. So rest assured, even though we are in the midst of a lockout, the Dolphins will be ready for the 2011 season whenever it begins.
Dolphins workout Ingram today, Mallett tomorrow
The Dolphins reportedly worked out Mark Ingram today and are scheduled to workout Ryan Mallett tomorrow. Reading much into these pre-draft workouts would be a waste of time. Teams, especially the Dolphins, tend to throw smokescreens out there in the form of workouts/interviews or leaked interest in a prospect in order to conceal which players truly have their consideration.
With these two prospects, though, I believe the Dolphins are just doing as much homework as they can on some possible first-round selections. Both will likely still be on the board when the Dolphins pick at 15th overall, if not still available in the event they are able to find a partner to trade down with later in the first round. Both would also fill huge needs, as Ingram is the consensus highest rated back in this year’s class and Ryan Mallett, the best pure passer.
Mock draft talk
ESPN’s AFC East blog revealed some of the network’s “draft experts” mock drafts today. Of the eight experts, not surprisingly, five have Mark Ingram going to the Dolphins with the 15th overall selection. I’m still not a fan of taking a running back that high unless they are truly a can’t miss prospect. Ingram is going to be a good pro, don’t get me wrong, but I think the Dolphins could easily find a solid starter at the running back position in the second, third, or even fourth round.
The three other picks, though, were quite surprising. NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan slotted Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara to the Dolphins. Personally, although Amukamara has potential to be a lockdown corner in this league, I think the Dolphins are pretty set at cornerback. Vontae Davis had a breakout year in 2010 and he’s only going to continue to get better, and Sean Smith actually graded out as one of the best cover corners in the entire league. The other two mocks had Nolan Nawrocki projecting Jake Locker to the Dolphins and a computer simulation from Draft Tek predicting the Dolphins will select Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo. I have to say, I would be extremely disappointed with either of those selections.
I get the feeling Locker’s stock has been plummeting in the minds of NFL GM’s for awhile now, despite the majority of media outlets still maintaining his first round grade. And as far as Draft Tek’s mock goes, if the Dolphins are going to address the offensive line that high in the draft, it better be a guard or center. Right tackle Vernon Carey is certainly replaceable down the road, but he’s still solid enough to hold down the job for the time being, as the Dolphins rebuild what was a pathetic interior in 2010. Speaking of mock drafts, be on the lookout for my pick in Bloguin’s inaugural mock draft on April 8th. Also, I plan on kicking off Phins Phocus’ 2nd annual mock draft sometime in the next few days.
It’s about this time of year when I start suffering from some serious football withdrawals on Sunday afternoons. Of course, with the lockout jeopardizing the 2011 season, those withdrawals come with the fear that our Sunday afternoons may be as empty in the fall as they are right now. Nonetheless, some visual aids every Sunday would help in holding us over. And in the spirit of the draft season being upon us, let’s start with this year’s top running back prospects.
Personally, I hope the Dolphins hold off on addressing the need until the second or third round because the shelf life of running backs just isn’t worth a first round pick anymore unless we are talking about a truly elite talent. But there isn’t really any arguing that the Dolphins are going to go running back early in the draft. Here are some highlights of the prospects the Dolphins may be strongly considering.
Mark Ingram, Alabama
Mikel Leshoure, Illinois