Sunday, January 2, 2011

Miami Dolphins' 2011 Quarterback Prospects

January 2, 2011

After a season that left more questions than answers, the Miami Dolphins can officially look forward to finding solutions to their many personnel problems. Most importantly, the Fins can now focus on addressing arguably the most essential part of their team: the quarterback position. 

Chad Henne, while he has only played two seasons worth of football and has been misguided by a questionable offensive game plan, did not prove that he can be a consistent and resilient leader for the Dolphins. And in an era where young QBs are proving their worth in the league, Henne has been dealt a losing hand in a results-oriented industry.

Thus, we look at Miami's options in the upcoming NFL draft and analyze what other teams ahead of the Fins in the draft order may need QBs too. Beyond that, we also will consider their options in free agency and the trade market. In essence, we are determining what Miami's QB prospects are in 2011. 

Teams Ahead of The Dolphins
First off, Miami will select 15th in the 2011 NFL Draft, leaving 14 teams to worry about before the Dolphins are on the clock. Let's take a look at the likelihood each of those teams have at drafting a QB.

1. Carolina Panthers
  • Even though they drafted Jimmy Clausen in the second round last season, many analysts argue that QB Andrew Luck is too good to pass up on with the #1 overall pick.
  • With that said, there's a 99% chance Carolina goes with Luck.
2. Denver Broncos
  • Highly unlikely to go for a QB in the first with Kyle Orton's proven record and Tim Tebow's emergence. 
3. Buffalo Bills
  • Somewhat unlikely to go for a QB after a better-than-expected season from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
  • It seems that Carson Palmer's time in Cincy is just about up, so a change at QB seems very likely.
5. Arizona Cardinals 
  • Perhaps the team that needs a QB upgrade the most after poor efforts from Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson.
  • The likelihood meter is almost maxed out in Arizona.
6. Cleveland Browns
  • Colt McCoy proved to be a potential starter this season and has probably given the Browns enough confidence to stick with him; low likelihood of drafting a QB here.
7. San Francisco 49ers
  • With no consistent play from the Smiths (Alex and Troy), the Niners are highly likely to make a QB change. 
8. Tennessee Titans
  • Although Vince Young did not impress, the Titans owner seems to like his QB enough to keep him around.
  • Low likelihood for a new rookie QB in Tennessee
9. Dallas Cowboys
  • Tony Romo is still the man in Dallas.  
  • No need for the 'Boys to draft a QB in the first round. 
10. Washington Redskins
  • Donovan McNabb's future is extremely uncertain in DC amidst the ongoing feuds between Mike Shanahan and the QB.
  • That makes the likelihood meter fairly high in the nation's capital.  
11. Houston Texans
  • Matt Schaub is still very solid.
  • Zero chance of Houston going QB in the first round.
12. Minnesota Vikings
  • Brett Favre may finally be retiring (or just setting the media up again) but Joe Webb showed some bright spots in Minny's final few games; bright enough to deserve a shot next season.
  • The Vikings have bigger holes to fill than at QB, so they aren't likely to draft a QB.
13. Detroit Lions 
  • Matthew Stafford is their franchise QB.
  • No chance Detroit wastes the first rounder on a position they have filled pretty well.
14. St. Louis Rams
  • Sam Bradford was the number one overall pick last season and has played up to expectations.
  • No need at all to draft another QB.
Miami's Outlook
Given the brief overview of the teams drafting ahead of Miami, there are about 4-5 teams that will seriously consider selecting a QB with their first round picks. That's not good news for the Fins, given the thin QB market in this year's draft class.

The top QBs include the aforementioned Luck, Ryan Mallet, Jake Locker and Cam Newton. If all of those guys are off the board by the 15th pick, Miami will have less appealing prospects to choose from, such as Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Ricky Stanzi - all of which are probably not worth first round picks.

Other options at QB for the Dolphins include signing a free agent or trading for someone. Names like Matt Hasslebeck have been thrown out there as short-term options in the free agent market. That won't go over well with Dol-Fans as they've seen what worn-out veterans bring to the table - can you say Trent Green and Daunte Culpepper? As for the trade market, players like Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb and Vince Young have emerged as possible replacements to Henne.

In all, there is still plenty of uncertainty in South Florida as to who will be Miami's offensive leader next season. Dol-Fans can only hope the franchise makes some strong offseason moves just as they did in 2010.

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