2011 NFL Draft

Dolphins meeting with five running backs

With both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams set to be come free agents, it’s no surprise that the Miami Dolphins are doing their homework on the running backs in this year’s draft class.

According to various reports, the Dolphins are meeting with (or already have met with) Mario Fanin, Mark Ingram, Mikel Leshoure, Bilal Powell and Ryan Williams.

Ingram has been a popular pick for the Dolphins in mock drafts through the offseason (including my own) but LeShoure could be an option in the 1st round as well.

Personally, I like Leshoure more than Ingram. Leshoure is a better all-around athlete and I think he’s better suited to carry the load in the NFL. Ingram can be successful but he’ll be better off in a two-back system, which the Dolphins may not have in 2011.

The other three running backs getting a look from the Dolphins – Williams, Fanin and Powell – will likely be considered in the later rounds.

The Dolphins don’t own a 2nd-round pick, which means they’ll probably need to trade up to land Williams, who is likely to come off the board within the first 50 picks.

Fanin and Powell, however, should fall to the 3rd round or beyond and could be late-round options. It’s possible that the Dolphins would draft Ingram or Leshoure in the 1st round and still select a player like Fanin or Powell later in the draft.

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

Will Rackley drawing interest from nine teams

Rackley is one of the top small-school prospects

According to Josh Buchanan of JBScouting.com Lehigh offensive lineman Will Rackley is lining up a number of visits and private workouts.

He’ll be one of the busiest prospects over the next month, as he meets with the Browns, Cowboys, Rams, Chiefs, Dolphins, Lions, Jaguars, Patriots and Jets.

Rackley played left tackle in college but is probably best suited for guard at the next level. That said, his potential versatility certainly gives his stock an extra boost.

Based on the amount of interest in Rackley he is starting to look like a pretty safe bet to go in the first three rounds. A team like the Cleveland Browns, who could use help at both right guard and right tackle would be a good fit. The St. Louis Rams, who desperately need to upgrade their interior line would also make sense.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Browns, Chiefs, Cowboys, Dolphins, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Patriots, Rams Comments Off

Draft Needs: Miami Dophins

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

Season Recap –  Bill Parcells took over a team in 2007 that just came off a 1-15 finish. Parcells began bringing his people in and giving the Dolphins a new image. The Dolphins finished the next season ranked 11-5, made the playoffs, and the future began to look as bright as ever, but Miami didn’t live up to the expectations and finished the next two seasons ranked 7-9. Parcells is now gone, and the Dolphins are back to rebuilding. Coach Tony Sparano likely has one season remaining to prove he is capable of the job, so expect the Dolphins to be active this offseason.

Needs:
1. Quarterback
– Chad Henne failed to improve much with two seasons of starting under his belt. Henne’s poor play was a big reason the Dolphins finished the season ranked 31st in points, with just over 17 points a game. Brandon Marshall needs a gunslinger that can get him the ball, and Henne might not be the option. The best option would be to sign a veteran free agent and hope Henne can develop some more under him. Another option would be to bring in a draft pick and create some competition for Henne. Ricky Stanzi, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, and Ryan Mallet are some names that could be in the Aqua and Coral next season. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Dolphins, Draft Needs - 2011 2 Comments

Cam Newton to the Dolphins?

Recently Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reported that the Dolphins have been showing an interest in Cam Newton.

This confirms my belief that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross would continue to be over-involved with personnel decisions and push the team to consider Newton.

It’s really a very predictable formula. Owner gets frustrated with mediocrity, owner decides to step in, owner drafts athletic but ineffective quarterback. Just call it the Al Davis Guide to Running Your Franchise into the Ground. Or maybe it should be named after Bud Adams? Either one works.

For this very reason I’ve had Newton linked to the Dolphins in my mock draft for the past month or so.

Of course, first Newton needs to fall past the four or five other teams potentially interested in a quarterback, but I believe Newton’s character concerns will cause a number of teams to drop him down their draft board. Realistically, the Dolphins are one of only a small handful of teams that will seriously consider him.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Dolphins 1 Comment

10 teams looking for a new starting quarterback

Nearly one-third of the league could have new starting quarterbacks by September. Due to a greater demand than supply, it’s likely that not all of these teams find themselves a new signal caller, but here are the top 10 teams we’ve identified as most likely to have a new quarterback in 2011.

10. Broncos
It sounds as though Josh McDaniels was the lone Tebow support in Denver, and with him gone it seems likely that the Broncos will consider other options. John Fox has indicated that he likes Tim Tebow, but he also isn’t ready to commit to a starting quarterback. They’re unlikely to address this need in the draft, but signing a veteran is a strong possibility.

9. Raiders
Jason Campbell is still under contract but their other four quarterbacks (seriously, they have four other quarterbacks on the roster) are free agents. Keeping Campbell is a definite possibility, but you just never know what Al Davis as in mind. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them trading up into the 1st-round (they already traded their own 1st-round pick) in an effort to land Cam Newton or Jake Locker.

8. Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent and may return, but he doesn’t have much left in the tank. They would certainly love to have Hasselbeck around to groom a young quarterback, but I don’t expect the Seahawks to commit to him as the starter. If he wants a guarantee that he’ll be a starter for the next year or two, he may need to go elsewhere.

7. Dolphins
Owner Stephen Ross has stated that he wants a creative, hurry-up offense in 2011, and that won’t be happening with Chad Henne under center. The Dolphins have grown tired of his slow development and seem ready to move on. Drafting a quarterback (possibly Newton) is a possibility, but they may prefer to bring in a veteran in an effort to turn things around quickly.

6. Bills
With the 3rd pick in the draft the Bills could have their pick of the quarterbacks, and Blaine Gabbert is a definite possibility. But the reason I don’t rank them higher is because I think they’ll strongly consider bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick back for another season. He was one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season. The Bills may even draft Gabbert, or someone in the 2nd or 3rd round, and let them sit for a year behind Fitzpatrick.

5. Titans
Vince Young is as good as gone, and Kerry Collins is a free agent. However, I wouldn’t rule out Collins’ return. The Titans are in position to draft a quarterback (Gabbert, Newton or Mallett) and I suspect Jeff Fisher will prefer to keep Collins around to help groom their future franchise quarterback.

4. Redskins
After getting benched in favor of Rex Grossman, it’s hard to imagine Donovan McNabb returning to Washington. It’s equally difficult to image the Redskins sticking with Grossman for 2011. With the 10th pick in the draft Mike Shanahan is in position to select his quarterback of the future. Ryan Mallett and Newton are both strong possibilities.

3. Vikings
We know Favre won’t be back (and I actually believe him this time) and Tarvaris Jackson is a free agent. Joe Webb performed far better than anyone could have expected of a guy who was drafted as a wide receiver, but I can’t imagine Leslie Frazier sticking with him for 2011. The Vikings will either draft a quarterback (Newton or Mallett) or bring in a veteran (possibly Kevin Kolb).

2. Cardinals
Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t happy with the Cardinals quarterback situation entering last season and I’m guessing he’s even less pleased after seeing how it played out.  Drafting Blaine Gabbert is a possibility, but I suspect Whisenhunt would prefer to bring a veteran aboard, as he did last offseason. Either way, their opening day starter is definitely not on the current roster.

1. 49ers
Alex Smith and Troy Smith are both free agent and I would be very surprised if either returned.  I currently have them selecting Gabbert in my mock draft, but trading for Kevin Kolb is also possibility. Another option is signing a veteran, such as Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace, to keep the seat warm for whoever Jim Harbaugh choses to groom for the position.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Raiders, Redskins, Seahawks, Titans, Vikings Comments Off

Dolphins are early contenders in 2012 Andrew Luck sweepstakes

Stop reading now Dolphins fans. You’re not going to like what I have to say.

The Dolphins are my early favorite to earn the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, thus winning the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

Miami finished 7-9, so I realize that I’m going out on a limb. Right now they have far more talent than the Panthers, Bills or Browns – just to name a few. But they’re quickly headed in the wrong direction.

For starters, just look how they ended the 2010 season. They went 1-4 in December and January, including losses to the Browns, Bills and Lions. With Tony Sparano’s job on the line, the team didn’t exactly step up for their coach.

As bad as the Dolphins were down the stretch, however, their owner is the real reason why I think they’re headed towards a miserable 2011 season.

Shortly after the season ended Stephen Ross interviewed Jim Harbaugh. The only problem with that was he already had a head coach. And he never told Tony Sparano or anyone else that his current head coach’s job was in jeopardy.

After butchering the coaching situation, Ross decided to get involved with the playcalling, asking for a hurry-up offense. More specifically, he wants the offense to become more “aggressive” and “creative.”

So what better way for Ross to ensure that his team’s offense becomes “aggressive” and “creative” than by hiring former Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who was nothing short of an epic failure during his two years in Cleveland.

If you thought the ‘Phins offense was abysmal in 2010 – they finished 30th in the league – just wait until Daboll gets his hands on Brandon Marshall and company. Not only does Daboll have a knack for poor clock management and unimaginative playcalling, but he’ll likely be losing his most productive playmakers.

Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are both free agents, and both are still searching for their first career playoff victory. Williams is 33 and Brown is 29 and neither has much left in the tank, as a result I would be surprised to see either back in South Beach.

And I haven’t even mentioned the quarterback situation. Chad Henne, who was benched in favor of Chad Pennington at one point this season, is still under contract but doesn’t exactly have the confidence of the coaching staff. If Ross continues down this path of over-involvement it’s only a matter of time before he pulls an Al Davis and falls in love with Cam Newton or Jake Locker.

And if the dominoes continue to fall in this order, it won’t be long before Brandon Marshall is pouting and demanding a trade.

It’s getting ugly in Miami, and I’m jumping off the bandwagon early. The only good news  for Dolphins fans is that the best quarterback prospect of the past decade may await them in next April’s draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Dolphins 3 Comments

32 reasons why no one in the NFL should want Moss

Cardinals – Need a lot more than one aging receiver to fix their quarterback situation.

Falcons – Why mess up a good thing between Matt Ryan and Roddy White?

Ravens – No room with Boldin, Mason and Housh. Moss would pout, ruin chemistry.

Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick has been pleasantly surprising. Don’t mess with a good thing.

Panthers – Think Moss will be a good soldier on a team competing for the No. 1 pick?

Bears – Lovie and Martz have their hands full already with Jay Cutler in the locker room.

Bengals – T.O.  and Moss in the same locker room? No thanks.

Browns – If Mangini can’t get along with Braylon Edwards, how would Moss fit in?

Cowboys – The last thing they need is another distraction.

Broncos – Do you really think McDaniels will get along with Moss better than Marshall?

Lions – Can you picture Moss accepting role as a No. 2 receiver on a 2-5 team?

Packers – Chemistry on offense seems to be great. Don’t mess it up.

Texans – See above.

Colts – Manning prefers his no-name receivers. And it works just fine for him.

Jaguars – Last place Jags aren’t going anywhere. Don’t waste the money.

Chiefs – Already hold a big lead in a weak division. Why mess with what’s working?

Dolphins – Marshall and Moss is too much ego for any coaching staff to handle.

Vikings – Been there. Done that.

Patriots – Been there. Done that.

Saints – Brees seems to be doing o.k. for himself without an elite receiver.

Giants – Can you picture Moss backing up Nicks and Smith?

Jets – I think they’ve learned their lesson with Braylon Edwards.

Raiders – Been there. Done that.

Eagles – Been there. Done that.

Steelers – After trading Holmes, adding Moss would be a step backwards.

Chargers – Vincent Jackson is back.

49ers – Can you picture Moss being happy in last place in the worst division?

Seahawks – The last thing Mike Williams needs right now is a bad influence.

Rams – Last thing this young, overachieving team needs is a bad influence like Moss.

Bucs – See above.

Titans – Kenny Britt has enough issues to overcome without Moss influencing him.

Redskins – McNabb and T.O. didn’t work. Why would it work with Moss?

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bears, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, Texans, Titans, Vikings 1 Comment

Do the Dolphins need to make a change at quarterback?

The Dolphins entered the season with high expectations. I even picked them to win the division. But I did so based on the assumption that Chad Henne would continue to develop and would benefit from the addition of Brandon Marshall

It’s not that Henne has been terrible. He ranks 17 out of 35 qualifying quarterbacks in our rating system. He also ranks 15th out of 35 on ProFootballFocus.com. But he Dolphins need more than mediocrity from Henne, especially considering the talent around him.

MIAMI - OCTOBER 4: Chad Henne  of the Miami Dolphins passes against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Field on October 4, 2010 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Henne has work to do if he wants to remain the starter in Miami

The Dolphins have one of the most consistent running games in the league, with both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams averaging over four yards per carry. They have a quality trio of receivers, led by Marshall, and an underrated tight end in Anthony Fasano. And perhaps most importantly, they have an elite offensive line which is ranked 3rd in the league in pass blocking by ProFootballFocus.

All of that needs to add up to more then mediocrity for their quarterback.

When a player like Ryan Fitzpatrick is having a breakout season with minimal talent around him – for a division rival, no less – it only magnifies Henne’s inability to take the next step.

Benching Henne right now is not the solution, even if Chad Pennington or Tyler Thigpen may give them a better chance to win immediately. The Dolphins need to give Henne a full season to see if he develops over the final two months of the year. However, if he doesn’t make significant strides before the end of the season, they may look for a replacement in 2011.

At their current pace, the Dolphins will likely be drafting in the 10-20 range of the 1st round. That’s about the range where I expect Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett and possibly even Christian Ponder to come off the board.

Another reason for Henne to worry about his job security is the fact that Bill Parcells is essentially no longer in the picture in Miami. He has taken on a “consultant” role, which likely means he has little say in whether his hand-picked quarterbacks stays or goes.

My best guess is that Henne’s chances of staying in Miami are 50-50, but he can easily guarantee himself a job for 2011 by making a statement in the second half of the season. He controls his own destiny, but so far he has not made a positive impression.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Dolphins Comments Off

NFL Rookie Rankings – Through Week 6

OFFENSE
1.
Sam Bradford, Rams
Compared to other quarterbacks in the league Bradford’s numbers are mediocre at best. But for a rookie, he has more than lived up to expectations.

2. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
Hernandez was expected to take on a more prominent role in the passing game due to the departure of Moss and he stepped with with six receptions against the Ravens.

3. Jahvid Best, Lions
Best falls down the board as he continues to remain unproductive running the ball. He’s still a weapon as a receiver, but he hasn’t looked like a complete player lately.

4. Mike Williams, Bucs
Williams has clearly stepped up as the Bucs top receiver. He’s been targeted 40 times by Josh Freeman, 16 more than other other wide receiver on the team.

5. Chris Ivory, Saints
He’s only started two games, but it’s impossible to ignore Ivory’s 158-yard breakout performances against the Bucs.

DEFENSE
1.Koa Misi, Dolphins
Misi regains the top spot after record a sack and two pressures for the second straight game. The Dolphins pass rush has noticeably improved since he joined the starting lineup in Week 3.

2. Nate Allen, Eagles
Allen losses his stop atop the rankings after a rough week against the Falcons in which he got burned for a touchdown.

3. Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Thomas played a key role in keeping the Bears passing attack in check. He isn’t as well rounded as Allen, but he’s is emerging as an elite safety in coverage.

4. Ndamukong Suh, Lions
Suh is a one-dimensional player at this point in his career, but he does that one thing very well. He’s arguably the most dominant pass-rushing interior lineman in the league, not just among rookies.

5. Lamarr Houston, Raiders
Houston doesn’t have the sack totals to get much attention, but he’s been quietly consistent and effective as a pass rusher all season.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Buccaneers, Dolphins, Eagles, Lions, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Saints, Seahawks Comments Off

NFL Rookie Rankings – Through Week 5

OFFENSE
1.
Jahvid Best, Lions
Best remains the most effective player in the Lions offense. He’s averaging just 3.5 yards per rush, but is also averaging over 10 yards per reception.

2. Sam Bradford, Rams
Every rookie is bound to have a game like Bradford’s against the Lions at least once. It’s a minor setback, but he’ll learn from it.

3. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
Hernandez ranks second to Best in receiving yards by rookies.

4. Mike Williams, Bucs
Williams has improved throughout the season and has his biggest game yet with seven catches for 99 yards against the Bengals.

5. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Gronkowski has just six catches (two for touchdowns) but he has been as good as advertized in terms of being an elite blocking tight end.

DEFENSE
1. Nate Allen, Eagles
Allen isn’t just the best rookie safety, he looks like one of the best free safeties in football this season.

2. Koa Misi, Dolphins
Misi and Dolphins are coming off a bye week. He’s still tied for 2nd among rookies with two sacks.

3. Tyson Alualu, Jaguars
Alualu has been impressive both against the run and as a pass rusher. He has two sacks, two hits and seven QB pressures.

4. Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Thomas looks like an elite safety in coverage. Teams are avoiding throwing his direction, and he’s made them pay with three picks when they do.

5. Ndamukong Suh, Lions
Suh is a nightmare for interior offensive linemen to block in passing situations (leads rookies with three sacks) but he is still developing against the run. He’s been a liability at times when teams run directly at him.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Dolphins, Eagles, Jaguars, Lions, Patriots, Rams, Seahawks Comments Off