Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who Should the Dolphins Draft? An Outsider's Perspective

February 18, 2010

 When it comes to draft time, local media members and fans alike begin to speculate on which collegiate prodigies are best for their team. Despite mostly good intentions, we find draft suggestions that are often biased and blurred by individuals that are too close to the team. That is why we are traveling outside the box to find the perspective of someone with no relation to the Miami Dolphins, but considerable experience covering college and professional football. His name, Mike Kranzler. All the way from the west coast - San Diego, California to be exact - he's covered the San Diego Chargers through Scout.com, the San Diego Union-Tribune and is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist. Let's get his take on who would best fit the Dolphins in the 2010 NFL draft:

Miami Sports Generation: Based on your perceived strengths and weaknesses of the Dolphins, what positions should they address in the opening rounds?

Mike Kranzler: The Dolphins are interesting because they are a very strong team relative to where they are picking in the first round as a function of injuries and an extremely difficult schedule in 2009. The Dolphins' two biggest needs are definitely wide receiver and inside linebacker, and they are in the perfect spot to get the top prospect at one of those positions.

If Chad Henne is going to be successful, they will need to give him some talent at wide receiver, and the Dolphins are sorely lacking in that department. I have been a huge fan of Greg Camarillo since he was on the Chargers' practice squad a few years ago, but he is not a top receiver. At linebacker, they could stand to upgrade over Channing Crowder, who may be the league leader in the obscure statistic of trash talk-to-actual talent ratio, and his late interception of Tom Brady at home will only further fuel his ego.

The Dolphins could also use some help at safety, but WR and ILB are definitely the first priorities.

MSG: Much hype has been placed on the WR position, which receivers do you think are within reach of the Dolphins including sleeper picks?

MK: Depending on what happens with Brandon Marshall in Denver, Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant could be there for the picking at No. 12. He is the consensus top WR in the draft despite sitting out most of last year after lying to the NCAA about his interactions with Deion Sanders. But scouts don't see him as a character concern, and he is head and shoulders above everyone else in this draft class. If the Broncos part ways with Marshall, I don't see them passing on Bryant at No. 11, but they look to be the only threat at this point to pick him before the Dolphins. Later on, I really like Eric Decker of Minnesota, who I see as a combination of Ted Ginn, Jr. and Greg Camarillo in that he is a quick guy who is a polished route-runner and catches everything in sight. A player in that similar mold is Jordan Shipley out of Texas. He won't wow anyone at the Combine, but he is the kind of guy who will just do his job every day, and is also a weapon in the return game.

In terms of sleepers, you can't find a deeper sleeper than Terrence Jeffers-Harris of Vanderbilt. He originally went to UConn, where he transferred after a sophomore season in which he was their leading receiver. After sitting out for a year, he was unable to become eligible for the Commodores, and has since decided to forgo the junior college route and jump straight into the draft. Normally, I wouldn't advocate a player who hasn't seen the field in two years, but Jeffers-Harris is a special athlete. He was so dominant on the practice field that he was selected to several preseason All-SEC squads by the coaches and media despite having never played a snap in the conference. He also has the seal of approval from Jesse Johnson of the Rivals Network, who I trust more than almost anyone when it comes to this kind of analysis. Jeffers-Harris will likely fall to the end of the draft or possibly go undrafted, but I promise you that whoever takes a chance on him will be extremely pleased with what he brings to the table.

MSG: Miami has the 12th overall (first round), 43rd overall (second round) and 74th overall (third round) picks to open up their draft selections, who would you pick in those spots? Why?

MK: In the first round, there are really only two players they should consider in Bryant and Alabama ILB Rolando McClain. I could see McClain having the same kind of impact as a rookie as players like DeMeco Ryans and Patrick Willis (especially with the addition of Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan), and he would fill a major need with the Dolphins. If both are available it is probably a toss-up (at least until the Combine), but the Dolphins can't go wrong with either of them.

Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody is as much as a "boom or bust" pick as you'll find in this draft, as he is a dominating talent who struggles to maintain his weight and also doesn't play hard on every snap. I'm not completely sold on him, but if there is anyone in the NFL who can whip this guy into shape both physically and psychologically, it is Bill Parcells. Whoever drafts him will be getting a first-round talent at a reduced price, but he is definitely a "buyer-beware" pick. Additionally, there is enough talent in this draft at defensive tackle that the Dolphins could grab a player like Penn State's Jared Odrick or Tennessee's Dan Williams if they fall out of the first frame.

Depending on how the Combine and his Pro Day go, an intriguing prospect could be Florida State safety Myron Rolle. He graduated early and spent last year as a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford, but his performance at the Senior Bowl showed that he is still a legitimate prospect and can really play the game. His ball skills aren't ideal, but he is an extremely smart centerfielder who takes good angles and is a sure tackler. Basically, he is everything that Gibril Wilson isn't. The biggest issue with Rolle will be how committed he is to a career in football, because his goal is to become a neurosurgeon and NFL teams will want to find out if they will only be renting him for a few years before he decides to move on with his goals. Because of these questions, he grades out as a second or third rounder right now.

MSG: With three sixth round picks and two seventh round picks, who would you suggest the Dolphins pursue late in the draft?

MK: The Dolphins should look to fortify the trenches in the later rounds (you can never have too many linemen), and possibly pick up an outside linebacker to replace Joey Porter after he gets his $1 million to leave the team. If the Dolphins are willing to be patient, Wisconsin pass rusher O'Brien Schofield is expected to fall significantly in the draft after suffering a knee injury during Senior Bowl practices. But given a year or two to recover, he could be a steal after a strong final campaign with the Badgers. Another position they could seek to fortify is running back due to Ronnie Brown's health and Ricky Williams' impending retirement. A player like USC's Stafon Johnson (now that he looks to be fully recovered from his horrific weight room injury) would be a good fit on the Dolphins, and could use a year behind Brown and Williams to learn and prepare for an expanded role in 2011.

However, another angle would be for them to use those picks as ammunition to trade up in the earlier frames to get their biggest targets. The Patriots did this to perfection last year and are set up for a huge draft this year because of it, and the Dolphins would do well to follow that model.

MSG: Do you have any bold predictions to make about the opening round as a whole?

MK: Right now, I don't anticipate any major surprises in the first round other than the Raiders possibly drafting a punter in case Shane Lechler gets hurt (hey, you never know with Al Davis), but I do think that Tim Tebow will eventually be a decent quarterback in the NFL for whoever picks him. He is nowhere near ready to play right now and should not be picked before the third or fourth round, although I guarantee someone will reach for him. But if he takes the Tony Romo route and spends a several years learning the position as a reserve, I think he can make an impact if called upon. He has a lot of things that need fixing, but his attitude and athleticism lead me to believe that he will do whatever it takes to make himself a better player. Everything I've seen on film tells me he won't be successful, but there's just something about him that makes me believe that he will not allow himself to fail.

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To read some of Mike Kranzler's editorials, check out his Bleacher Report site here.

1 comment:

Trent said...

Terence Jeffers-Harris will be in the 2011 draft. After playing a season in the Canadian Football League it has become a surprise that he in fact is eligible for this year's draft. As mentioned previously he would be a deep sleeper, but after a great season in Canada, all 32 teams should be awake. Whoever should pick him up in this year's draft will be lucky.

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