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
If you’re not following Brandon Marshall on twitter yet, you’re missing out. Not only because he’s the Dolphins’ biggest star, but because a personality like his is sure to use twitter as an avenue to post all sorts of interesting comments, albeit let’s just hope none of the controversial variety. So far, Marshall has used twitter as a campaign ad for the Dolphins to sign Mike Sims-Walker, Brandon’s former teammate at Central Florida and a impending free agent. A sample of Marshall’s tweets that lobby for Mike Sims-Walker to bring his talents to South Beach are below:
@Mattst99 if we had @MikeSimsWalker it'll be a show every Sunday.
@MikeSimsWalker where r u taking ur talents?
RT @Str8_Joker: imagine IF @MikeSimsWalker takes his talents to South Beach, he'd reunite with @BMarshall19 , talk about a top 5 WR duo in the NFL
RETWEET MikeSimsWalker RT @ProFootballTalk: Mike Sims-Walker would like to follow in LeBron's footsteps http://wp.me/p14QSB-v4J... http://tmi.me/85zri
I'm D-Wade and @MikeSimsWalker is Lebron.
While this may all appear like Marshall is just trying to reunite with a buddy, the Dolphins signing Sims-Walker would actually make a lot of sense. Jeff Ireland admitted himself that the Dolphins need to add more speed. Sims-Walker would be a useful asset for the Dolphins as a target that could help stretch the field. Looking at the Dolphins’ offense, there isn’t one player that makes defenses wary of the home-run.
Sims-Walker ran in the mid 4.3’s in his pre-draft workouts back in 2007. That’s the type of speed this offense could use if they want to be more explosive and produce more big-gainers in 2011. The move makes perfect sense on paper, but whether or not the Dolphins will be willing to dish out a lucrative contract to a receiver, a position that could use some more speed but doesn’t necessarily have to have it, in an offseason where offensive guard, running back, quarterback, and tight end are more pressing needs, is up for debate.
It would probably all depend on whether or not Sims-Walker is willing to give the Dolphins a bit of a discount to stay in his home state and play with his old college teammate. Based on these tweets, though, I’m sure Marshall has been in his ear, trying to convince him to do just that. With no end in sight to the lockout, however, Marshall and Sims-Walker are going to have to be patient to hear the Dolphins answer to all of this.
Dolphins awarded 7th-round compensatory draft pick
It probably won’t amount to anything, but the Dolphins were awarded the 234th overall selection of the 2011 NFL Draft today for the departures of Jason Taylor and nickel back Nate Jones in free agency last offseason. It’s not likely, but who knows, that pick could be used to find a real late-round gem.
Bill Parcells now officially has no ties to the Dolphins. The Big Tuna stepped down from his role as a consultant with the team to take a draft analyst position with ESPN today.
Under Parcells’ watch as vice president of football operations, the Dolphins rebounded from their worse season in franchise history by pulling off one of the most improbable playoff berths in league history in 2008. After a mediocre 2009 season, though, that saw the Dolphins finish 7-9, Parcells relinquished full control of player personnel to Jeff Ireland before the 2010 season.
So, really, today’s news means nothing at all. Parcells was basically just getting paid top dollar to poke his head in the door every now and then. Still though, now that Parcells officially has no title with the team, it’s as good of a time as ever to reflect on the few years he spent in Miami.
As a coach and football mind, Parcells’ legacy is as intact as any NFL legend. But here in South Beach, how exactly will Dolphins fans recall Parcells’ impact on this franchise? Back in 2007, the Dolphins were the laughing stock of the entire league. They were a fluke 64-yard Cleo Lemon hookup with Greg Camarillo away from completing the first 0-16 season in NFL history. They were in the lowest of lows. They were in a place one of the most storied franchises in the league should never be. They needed an icon to restore respectability, to restore hope.
Bill Parcells was just what the Dolphins needed. From the moment he stepped in the door, a culture change was almost simultaneous. But just because the man was respected and could instantly change the perception of an entire franchise, was he really the reason the Dolphins were able to pull off such a drastic turnaround? no comments
Despite Tony Sparano saying that Chad Henne “absolutely deserves another chance” to be the starter in Miami, the Dolphins, at the very least, are strongly considering taking a quarterback in the first few rounds of next month’s draft.
We’ve already taken a look at the top three quarterbacks in this year’s class, but now we get to some of the prospects that I am personally more intrigued by. They also happen to be much more realistic options for the Dolphins, as Gabbert and Newton are projected by many to come off the board in the first five picks and Jake Locker certainly should be considered one of the more risky prospects in the entire draft.
Ryan Mallett is on today’s slate. Heading into this offseason, I actually considered Mallett second only to Blaine Gabbert in my quarterback rankings. His stock took a bit of a tumble, though, when rumors about his character surfaced. But after a very impressive combine and a pro day workout some scouts labeled “spectacular,” Mallett has resurfaced as a legitimate first round possibility.
He undoubtedly will still be available when the Dolphins are on the clock at pick number 15, but trading down to later in the first round and snagging Mallett if he’s still on the board could be the best case scenario for a team looking to retrieve a second round pick as well as pick up a new potential franchise quarterback.
Size: 6-7, 247
Projected Round: 1-2
Pros: People want to rant and rave about how much athletic ability this year’s quarterback class brings to the table. That’s all well and good, but at the end of the day, I want to know who throws the football better. Ryan Mallett arguably has the most gifted arm in this year’s draft. From the moment he steps on an NFL field, he’s going to have one of the strongest arms in the entire league. He’ll be able to make any throw in football and will force defenses to cover the entire field.
Some experts knocked his accuracy when the offseason evaluation process was kicking off, but Mallett was on the money consistently at the combine and at his pro day. Combine his size (6’7) with his high, quick release, and Mallett should never have any trouble with seeing over the line or getting his passes tipped or batted down. He was solid at reading defenses and going through his progressions in college, which gives him the potential to pick defenses apart with his laser-rocket arm. Overall, just one of the most natural quarterbacks in this year’s class.
It’s no secret that the Dolphins will likely be drafting a quarterback at some point in next month’s draft. They’ve been doing their due diligence by scheduling workouts with some of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s class in the same manner they conducted a similar search before taking Chad Henne in 2008.
Through this whole process, though, it’s important to maintain that Chad Henne could very well be the starter again in 2011, if not the more likely option to start the season over whichever rookie the Dolphins draft. Tony Sparano echoed that line of thinking today to the Palm Beach Post.
GM Jeff Ireland and owner Stephen Ross haven’t exactly been the most endorsing of Henne to the media this offseason, but Sparano gave him a firm vote of confidence. "(Henne) absolutely deserves a chance. No question about it," Sparano said. "There's other players that are pretty good quarterbacks in this league, that if I remember correctly, like their first year in the league were 3-13 (Peyton Manning). "All you have to do is go back through the 900-and-something snaps that this guy has played and say, 'Did he show progress, did he get better in different areas?' And yes, he did."
Now, of course, we have to remember to take everything we hear from this regime with a grain of salt due to the fact that they tend to say one thing and do another in the offseason. And even though the Dolphins likely will, and should, find a new potential answer to the long term solution at quarterback, Chad Henne should at least be given the chance to compete for the job. It’s not too late for the light bulb to finally turn on in Henne’s head.
I still don’t think it’s likely, but like I’ve said before, Drew Brees had similar struggles to Henne in his first two years as the starter in San Diego. Competition needs to be brought in this offseason, there’s no denying that, but until someone else seizes the job, it’s still too early to write Henne off.
If you’ve been looking for more lockout talk or finger pointing as to whose fault it is that the 2011 NFL season is in jeopardy, you’re not going to find it here. The major news outlets do an adequate enough job at detailing how the talks, or lack thereof, between the players and owners are coming along.
Here at Phins Phocus, I’m going to keep things relevant to the Dolphins, and in particular their player personnel. And since this whole lockout mess has prevented free agency from taking place this March, posting has been rather slow around these parts.
But fear not, with spring now officially here, it’s time to jumpstart our 2011 NFL Draft coverage. We’ve already delved into quarterback prospects like Cam Newton and Jake Locker, with other options like Mallet, Ponder, and Kaepernick on the way, but now it’s time to unveil our first Dolphins’ draft board.
I will compose an overall big board as draft time gets a little closer, but until then, I will be looking at each position that could be considered a need for the Dolphins this offseason. Let’s start with running back, a position that is virtually guaranteed to be addressed in the draft next month, with Ronnie and Ricky likely to sign elsewhere and the uncertainty of having free agency after the draft looming.
1. Mark Ingram
Size: 5-10, 215
Projected Round: 1
It seems as though everyone and their mothers have Mark Ingram going to the Dolphins in their mock drafts. It just appears to be the perfect match. The Dolphins, with the contracts of Ronnie and Ricky expiring, are in desperate need of a running back or two. And Ingram is the consensus highest rated back in the draft. However, when you talk to Dolphins fans, most would prefer the front office to select a quarterback or even an interior lineman, than to use a first round pick on Ingram. Reason being, taking a running back that high just isn’t a great value pick anymore with the position’s shelf life dwindling. It’s also fairly easy to find a quality starter later in the draft, as long as you have a quality O-line in front of him.
Having said that, though, if the Dolphins are able to trade down like many expect them to, Ingram would be very tempting if he’s still on the board later in the 1st round. Some were disappointed with Ingram’s 40 time at the combine, but more importantly, he has a fairly quick first step and doesn’t take long to hit top speed. He obviously fits the mold for the type of runner Sparano has liked to employ in the past, as a big, thick, low pad level runner who has great balance and lower body strength. He’s one of the few backs in this year’s class that could carry the load all by himself, but would especially be effective paired with a scat back like a Darren Sproles in free agency or a Noel Devine late in the draft.