Draft Grades: Miami Dolphins

When you draft a quarterback in the 1st round, you’re staking your entire reputation on that one player, which is exactly what Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland did with Ryan Tannehill. No matter what happens with the rest of this draft class, only Tannehill’s performance will be remembered.

I’ve been saying all year that Ryan Tannehill is not a 1st-round talent. I gave him a 3rd-round grade based on the fact that he has the raw skills to start in the NFL, but needs a considerable amount of development before he’s ready. And based on that assessment, I don’t like his chances to succeed in Miami. He’s the type of quarterback that needs to sit and learn, and he won’t have that luxury. The Dolphins are probably going to throw him into the fire, and that rarely works out well for developmental prospects.

Jonathan Martin was extremely overrated throughout the draft process, but he’s a solid 2nd-round pick for the Dolphins. He’ll be plugged in a right tackle where he should be an adequate starter.

Olivier Vernon is a run-stuffing lineman and I’m not sure how he fits in Miami’s 3-4 defense. He may be too small to play end but isn’t athletic enough to play linebacker.

Michael Egnew was a nice pickup in the 3rd round. He’s essentially an oversized receiver, and won’t be a three-down tight end. But they needed to add a pass-catching tight end, and he’ll be a nice compliment to Anthony Fasano, who’s more of a traditional tight end.

Lamar Miller could prove to be a steal in the 4th round, but the running back depth chart in Miami is crowded. He’ll have to fight for playing time behind Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas.

Josh Kaddu adds depth at linebacker and should contribute on special teams. He’ll likely play inside linebacker in their 3-4 defense.

B.J. Cunningham is a solid possession receiver who could be a late-round steal. He’s a strong route runner with good hands and has the skills to play immediately. However, he’s similar to some other receivers on the Dolphins roster, such as Davone Bess, which may hurt his chances of seeing any significant playing time as a rookie.

Kheeston Randall is a steal in the 7th round. He’s a tough, hard-working player who fits perfectly at end in the Dolphins 3-4 defense. He may only be a career backup, but in the 7th round he’s well worth the selection.

Richard Matthews will have a tough time making the Dolphins final roster cuts. He’ll find a job somewhere, but the depth chart is crowded at receiver in Miami.

The Dolphins made some nice picks in this draft, but it’s impossible to overlook the gamble on Tannehill. This franchise is headed in the wrong direction, and they don’t appear to have the decision makers in place to turn things around.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Dolphins, Draft Grades - 2012 Comments Off

Miami Dolphins select Jonathan Martin, Grade A

The Miami Dolphins filled a glaring hole at right tackle with the selection of Jonathan Martin, and it’s a great fit for both player and team.

I was concerned that someone would try to force Martin into a starting role at left tackle, which would have been detrimental to his development. But the Dolphins have Jake Long entrenched on the lefet side, which means Martin will remain on he right side and should immediately be a quality starter. His upside is limited by very average athleticism, but he has the tools to be a solid starter, which is all you can ask for in the 2nd round.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Dolphins 1 Comment

Miami Dolphins select Ryan Tannehill, Grade F

Well, after handing out seven A’s I can finally rip on a team.

The Miami Dolphins are simply headed in the wrong direction and this is a desperation move. Ryan Tannehill is a nice developmental prospect, and there’s a lot to like about his potential. But he has significant flaws (albeit, fixable ones) in his game than need work before he’s ready to play in the NFL. In Miami, he’ll probably be thrust into a starting role too early which could be detrimental to his development.

I certainly won’t guarantee Tannehill turning into a bust, because I do like aspects of his game. But if I’m drafting a quarterback in the top 10, I want to be extremely confident in his ability to lead my franchise for the next decade, and I simply don’t feel that way about Tannehill.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Dolphins Comments Off

Draft Needs: Miami Dolphins

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Miami Dolphins [full archive here].

Season Recap: The Miami Dolphins ended the season on a high note, finishing 6-3 after a 0-7 start. A new coach was brought in and star WR Brandon Marshall was sent away for two 3rd round picks. It will be interesting to see what Miami does to improve their roster come draft night.

Team Needs:
1. Quarterback:
After missing out on Peyton Manning and the rights to draft Robert Griffin III, the Dolphins need to do whatever it takes to acquire their guy on April 26th. Offensive Coordinator, Mike Sherman coached Ryan Tannehill at Texas A&M and could be pressing hard for the Dolphins to either trade up or stay at #8 and draft him. If the Dolphins decide to pass on Tannehill, the next best option would be Brandon Weeden, but they may have to trade back into the late first round in order to be sure of getting him.

2. Wide Receiver: This wasn’t as pressing a need until Owner Stephen Ross decided to ship away Pro-Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall. Now, the Dolphins are left with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess as the starters. Bess is best served in the slot; meaning Miami needs a new starter. Michael Floyd or Justin Blackmon would be the next options in round one, after Tannehill.

3. Right Tackle: Jake Long is one of the top left tackles in the league, but there is nothing across from him on the right side. Whichever quarterback is under center in 2012 is going to need protection. Mike Adams and Jonathon Martin are possible selections that may slip into the second round.

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Dolphins, Draft Needs - 2012 Comments Off

5 teams that will draft a quarterback

1. Indianapolis Colts/Washington Redskins
This is a done deal, so I’ll group these teams together.  We know that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin are headed to Indy and Washington, respectively. But I will add this, don’t be surprised if Colts draft another quarterback to compete for the backup job with Drew Stanton. They own six picks in the final three rounds of the draft, and could add a guy like Russell Wilson or B.J. Coleman late in the draft.

2. Miami Dolphins
I’m not convinced the Dolphins will take Ryan Tannehill, but they will draft someone to compete with Matt Moore for the starting job. If they pass on Tannehill, Brandon Weeden or Kirk Cousins could be options on Day Two.

3. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are another candidate to land Tannehill. But even if they miss out on the Texas A&M signal caller, they’re likely to bring in someone to groom as Matt Cassel’s replacement in the 2nd or 3rd round.

4. Cleveland Browns
The Browns will have the first crack at Tannehill, but they’re unlikely to pull the trigger at No. 4. In fact, the Browns may simply chose to stick with McCoy and pass on most of the top signal callers in this draft. But that doesn’t mean they won’t find someone. Mike Holmgren is a quarterback guru, and is likely to pick out someone in the 3rd round or later that he would like to develop.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers
Obviously the Steelers aren’t in the Tannehill sweepstakes, but they’re also unlikely to enter the 2012 season with Jerrod Johnson and Troy Smith as Roethlisberger’s backups. Look for them to add a quarterback at some point, potentially as a early as the 3rd round.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Browns, Chiefs, Colts, Dolphins, Redskins, Steelers Comments Off

Is Ryan Tannehill a good fit for Dolphins?

The Miami Dolphins are a longshot in the RGIII sweepstakes, which has led to speculation that they could reach for Ryan Tannehill with the 8th overall pick. Adding further fuel to the fire is the fact that Tannehill was coached by current Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman at Texas A&M.

But is Tannehill really a good fit for the Dolphins?

Obviously Tannehill will be familiar with parts of Sherman’s offense, but coach runs the exact same system in college and in the pros. While parts of the playbook will certainly be similar, Tannehill will be asked to do far more at the next level.

Much of Sherman’s offense at Texas A&M, at least during Tannehill’s one-and-a-half years as the starter, focused on taking advantage of Jeff Fuller’s ability as a possession receiver. Tannehill primarily threw a variety of outs and comeback routes to Fuller and Ryan Swopes, which are more difficult at the next level due to the smaller hash marks which essentially widen the field.

While these routes will be a part of the Dolphins offense in 2012, Sherman will need to expand the playbook, and Tannehill has yet to demonstrate the ability to throw to a full complement of NFL routes.

Additionally, it should be noted that Tannehill wasn’t exactly Mike Sherman’s hand-picked protégé. It was Sherman who initially moved Tannehill from quarterback to receiver, and then only turned to him as his starting quarterback once Jerrod Johnson began to struggle during his senior year. Obviously Sherman saw some flaws, and it’s entirely possible that his familiarity with Tannehill will actually make him less likely to want him as his quarterback at the next level.

Sherman has praised Tannehill publicly, but those comments should be taken with a grain of salt. Very few coaches (especially ones who may be interested in returning to the college ranks at some point) would ever speak ill of their former players for fear of the impact it could have on recruiting.

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Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Dolphins Comments Off

NFL Draft Trade Scenarios: Minnesota Vikings

There’s been a lot of early focus on the St. Louis Rams potentially parting with the No. 2 overall pick, but perhaps the rumors should be focused on the Minnesota Vikings.

For starters, the Rams and Vikings are likely interested in the same players (Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon) and if the Rams trade down to No. 4 or No. 6, there’s no guarantee they’ll get the guy they covet. The Rams most glaring hole is at left tackle, and Kalil is the only true franchise left tackle available in this draft class. If the Rams were to drop to No. 4, and especially if they fell to No. 6, Kalil would likely be off the board.

On the flip side, there’s also no guarantee that the guy the Vikings want at No. 3 will be there if the Rams stay put. If the Rams select Kalil second overall, the Vikings may feel No. 3 is too early for a cornerback or receiver, and would be willing to trade down.

The Vikings also have more holes to fill overall than the Rams, who are just one year removed from nearly making the playoffs. One could argue that the Vikings simply need the extra picks more than the Rams.

Here are some potential trade scenarios:

Browns get: No. 3 pick
Vikings get: No. 4 pick, Browns 2nd-round pick

Redskins get: No. 3 pick
Vikings get: No. 6, Redskins 1st-round pick in 2013

Dolphins get: No. 3 pick
Vikings get: No. 9 pick, Dolphins 2nd-round pick, Dolphins 1st-round pick in 2013, Dolphins 3rd-round pick in 2013

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Browns, Dolphins, Rams, Redskins, Vikings Comments Off

How Dolphins defensive switch impacts draft

The Miami Dolphins announced today that they will be switching from the 3-4 defense which Bill Parcells’ staff instituted, back to a 4-3 system.

It’s a surprising move considering GM Jeff Ireland has spent a significant portion of his career working under Parcells, and has been with a team running a 3-4 base defense since he and Parcells first teamed up in Dallas in 2003.

The switch indicates that the Dolphins are prepared to enter into full rebuilding mode, a process which could take up to three years. Transitioning from one defensive scheme to another is a difficult process, and it takes time to acquire the right personnel.

The one asset the Dolphins do have is depth in the front seven. They’ll need to reshuffle the lineup, but should be able to piece together a decent defensive line. The issue will be at linebacker. Karlos Dansby will return (at inside linebacker most likely), and Kevin Burnett may land in the starting lineup again by default (probably strong-side linebacker). However, the Dolphins will need to add another starter, preferably someone who is strong in coverage.

Depending on their confidence in Cameron Wake and Koa Misi’s ability to transition to defensive end, the Dolphins could target a pass rusher with their 1st-round pick. Nick Perry and Quinton Coples would be the most likely targets.

There is also an outside shot that the Dolphins could target Luke Kuechly with the 9th pick. The move would necessitate moving Dansby to outside linebacker, where he played early in his career with the Cardinals.

Ultimately it’s too early to tell which direction the Dolphins will go, but this shift in schemes could definitely shake up the draft. It will be worth keeping an eye on their transactions in the coming months to get a better idea of who has a future with the team, and who is being phased out.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Dolphins 3 Comments

2011 Draft Grade: Dolphins

The Dolphins were in a difficult position in this year’s draft. They desperately needed a quarterback, were stuck in no mans land in the 1st round and didn’t own a 2nd round pick. And their strongest positions on the roster – defensive end and linebacker – were the two deepest positions in the draft. As a result, they were forced to reach to fill needs early in the draft.

The first reach was for Mike Pouncey. I am confident that without his last name, Mike Pouncey would have not have been a 1st round pick. There simply isn’t a significant difference between and him and other interior linemen in this class such as Ben Ijalana and Will Rackley. That said, I do think Pouncey is a good fit in Miami. He’ll start immediately, but don’t expect him to live up to the expectations set by his brother in Pittsburgh.

In the 2nd round the Dolphins traded up to land Daniel Thomas. This was another pick that filled a need, but was definitely a reach. Thomas has potential, but there are clear flaws in his game which will limit his ability to be an instant-impact player. Thomas is tall for a running back and, as  a result, has runs very high. He isn’t an elusive runner and frequently takes a pounding over the course of a game. As a powerful north/south runner he fits what the Dolphins are looking for, but hopefully they aren’t going to rely on him for 20+ carries per game as a rookie.

I love their selection of Edmond Gates in the 4th round. He is the missing piece of the Dolphins receiving corps. They already had the No. 1 guy (Marshall) and two solid slot/possession receivers (Harline and Bess). Now Gates gives them the vertical threat they were missing. He has the potential to be a Mike Wallace/DeSean Jackson type receiver in Miami.

It will be interesting to see how they use Charles Clay. He’s sort of a fullback/tight end ‘tweener that doesn’t have a true position. The Dolphins may have to get creative to incorporate him into the offensive scheme.

Frank Kearse was drafted for his size, and his size alone. The Dolphins were looking to add competition for Chris Baker for the backup nose tackle job and Kearse will be given the opportunity to win that battle. He’s a low risk/potentially high reward option in the 7th round.

Jimmy Wilson‘s story was well documented during the draft. His football career was sidetracked by a murder trial, but after being acquitted (after spending two years in jail) he got back on the field and had solid year for Montana. He has limited playing experience, but has spent time at both corner and safety and may have some upside. There were better players on the board, but there’s little risk involved in the 7th round.

Overall I’m not too excited about this draft class for the Dolphins. They reached to fill some needs and seemed to approach the draft from the mindset of a team needing just a couple of pieces to compete for a Super Bowl title. In reality, the Dolphins are far from being competitors - especially with the Patriots and Jets clearly ahead of them in their own division. They got a few nice contributors here, but this isn’t the type of draft that turns around a franchise.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Dolphins, Draft Grades - 2011 Comments Off

5 early bold predictions for the NFL Draft

5. A trade occurs within the first five picks
The Panthers would love to trade down. The Broncos probably feel the same way. With two quarterbacks possibly coming off the board within the first five picks, someone is going to trade up to ensure they get their guy. My money’s on the Cardinals moving up for Gabbert, possibly to No. 1.

4. The Patriots actually use both 1st-round picks
No one loves trading picks more than Bill Belichick, but this year the Patriots actually need their picks. There is enough talent at positions of need (defensive line, offensive line) that the Patriots will stay put and fill some holes. In the 2nd round is where we’ll see the Pats start making moves. 

The best player in the draft isn't falling as far as you may think

3. Patrick Peterson is off the board within the first six picks
Nearly every mock draft has Peterson falling to the 49ers.  Sorry to ruin your fun 49ers fans, but the best player in the draft isn’t getting past six different teams. If he falls to No. 6 the Browns will gladly end his fall, even if he doesn’t fill a glaring hole.

2. A.J. Green falls to the Washington Redskins
There are multiple scenarios in which this could happen, and I truly believe one of them will come true. In my most recent mock draft I have the Bengals selecting Julio Jones, which allows Green to fall to No. 10.

1. At least three quarterbacks will go in the 1st round
Newton and Gabbert are 1st-round locks. After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to who many come off the board next. However, I am confident that someone will reach for another quarterback in the 1st round. Maybe the Dolphins reach for Mallett or Locker. Maybe the Seahawks do the same. Maybe someone falls in love with Dalton or Ponder. Whatever happens, one of those guys is going in the 1st round, and possibly more.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Browns, Dolphins, Patriots, Redskins, Seahawks Comments Off