As much as they disagree with even the mention of it, the Miami Dolphins are rebuilding. Okay, maybe not full blown rebuild-mode, but at least on offense, they’re starting almost from scratch. And I know, they’ve been rebuilding since Marino left. TRUST me, I know and I feel your pain. We’ve watched the Dolphins plan play out this offseason. The Dolphins have tried retooling the defense, adding a veteran piece here or there and even adding a piece or two via the draft. The offense, on the other hand, is being rebuilt before our very eyes. The selections the Dolphins made in the 3 days of the draft fit the Dolphins new philosophies and that is why they were selected.
Let’s start with the defense, which should be as good, if not better than the unit that ranked 6th in the NFL in points against in 2011. The Dolphins resigned Paul Soliai to anchor the 3-4 and play inside in the 4-3. They also signed Richard Marshall to be their 2nd/3rd cornerback. His signed went under the radar, but could work out well, giving the Dolphins 3 solid CBs. The Dolphins also signed OLB Westerman and S Tyrell Johnson for depth at both positions and to create competition. Then, in the draft, the Dolphins selected DE Olivier Vernon. Vernon impressed the Dolphins during personal workouts and the Dolphins see him as a situational pass rusher who can compliment Cameron Wake. The Dolphins also selected Josh Kaddu, a linebacker who will add depth and will likely contribute on special teams. Kheeston Randal, the Dolphins 7th round pick is a 6’5″, 307 lbs defense tackle who could be used in the D-line rotation if he makes the team. If not, he could be stashed on the practice squad for development.
Last night, the Miami Dolphins took a step we’ve been waiting 29 years for. Last night, the Dolphins selected a quarterback in the first round of the draft for the first time since 1983 when they drafted Dan Marino. The Dolphins clearly believe that Ryan Tannehill has all of the tools to be a franchise quarterback. I’ve never seen Jeff Ireland as giddy as he was last night after drafting Tannehill, whom Ireland said is rated as one of the top 5 QBs to come out of the draft in the last 5 years.
Ireland made no promises on when Tannehill will play. However, he did say that he didn’t use the #8 pick on Tannehill to be a backup quarterback. For Ireland’s full comments on Tannehill last night, check out the Miami Herald’s article here. Ireland said that he and the Dolphins scouts have had their eye on Tannehill for some time. In fact, they even had a first round grade on Tannehill during his junior season of 2010. So, in the Dolphins minds, picking Tannehill at #8 was certainly not a reach.
Let’s get this out of the way: The Miami Dolphins are going to draft a player in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft that they believe is the best asset to their organization. I didn’t say it would be the right choice. I didn’t even say it would be at the number 8 pick. BUT, after months of scouting and months of strategizing, the Dolphins will come out of the draft with a player they want in the 2012 draft.
The person that will make the call on the Dolphins draft choice is Jeff Ireland. Yes, he’s lucky to still have a job. BUT, he is the one with the most information on all of the players. Stephen Ross wants to sell tickets, of course. However, if he’s learned anything in his brief time as an NFL owner, it’s that winning is the only thing that will put butts in the seats. This is why I have to call into question the belief by Mike Florio and Peter King about Ross pressuring Ireland to draft Tannehill. I am not questioning 2 of the better insiders of the NFL. I’m questioning their sources that fed them the information.
The Miami Dolphins now know the gauntlet that lies before them. Prior to yesterday, they knew what teams stood in their way of the playoffs. Now they know the dates, times, and order that those games will be played in. Seems somewhat boring, huh? Well, the NFL Network and ESPN both televised ‘Schedule Release’ shows and Twitter blew up right around 7pm last night. Everyone had an opinion on their favorite NFL team’s schedule and of course, the Dolphins schedule.
I saw predictions for the Dolphins ranging anywhere from 3 wins to 11 wins. Like every other fan, I looked at the schedule and tried to figure out what record the Dolphins might finish with. The problem with doing this, of course, is that the Dolphins roster isn’t set. And neither are the rosters for the other 31 NFL teams. The draft hasn’t happened yet (rookies)….The second half of free agency hasn’t happened yet (veteran cuts)…Training camp and the preseason haven’t happened yet (injuries). Think about it- Last season, many people saw the Colts schedule and penciled them in as AFC South Champions. Then we learned that Peyton Manning wouldn’t play and they ended up with the worst record in all the NFL. Having said all that, it’s still fun to analyze the schedule and look at how things might turn out, right now. Here’s a look at the Dolphins schedule:
The Miami Dolphins are expected to fill the wide receiver hole(s) created by trading Brandon Marshall, via the draft….or so we thought. This morning, David Canter (NFL Agent), tweeted that his client Legedu Naanee has signed a 1 year contract with the Dolphins. Naanee has been in the NFL for for 5 years and has 107 catches for 1,213 yards and 4 touchdowns in limited roles with the Chargers and Panthers. Last season in Carolina, Naanee caught 44 balls for 467 yards and 1 TD.
Naanee is a bigger receiver, checking in at 6’2″, 220 lbs. While he may be similar in size to Brandon Marshall, he is certainly not the player that Marshall is. His addition creates competition for the Dolphins at the wide receiver position. Although, the Dolphins will almost certainly draft 1 or 2 wide receivers next weekend. No one can really know what to expect from Naanee next season. Heck, there’s a chance he won’t even make the team.
Naanee will likely compete directly with Roberto Wallace (who is freakishly similar to Brandon Marshall from a physical standpoint). If he can come in and contribute, he could be a weapon for the Dolphins in the red zone. This isn’t a flashy signing, but it adds depth and competition to the Dolphins roster.
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Yesterday, we mentioned the Miami Dolphins possibly having their sites set on a surprise QB (well, one not named Ryan Tannehill). We’ve spent a lot of time this offseason telling you about Brandon Weeden and how he could be a special player for the Dolphins. The other possible surprise QB we mentioned yesterday is Kirk Cousins from Michigan State. Cousins has been a bit of an afterthought for the Dolphins because most of the attention of the media and fans has been on Tannehill. Even Brock Osweiler (who I’m personally not that interested in), has gotten more attention that Cousins. Truthfully, I like Cousins more than Osweiler, but it is debatable.
Cousins had a solid senior year for the Spartans, completing 63.4% of his passes for 3,300 yards, 25 TDs and 10 INTs. He’s a senior and checks in at 6′ 2-5/8″ and 215 lbs. Below is a brief video of Cousins’ highlights from his college career. You’ll notice that he is often running around to make plays. Remember that Michigan State was a run first team, so he didn’t put up gaudy numbers like some of the other QBs in the draft.
The Miami Dolphins are making their final preparations for the NFL draft next week. Jeff Ireland and scouting his team are putting together their draft board….probably to take another lineman with their first round pick! While the Dolphins are focused on the draft, they’ve also signed a couple of free agents, adding more depth to the roster.
Guyton is a 6’4″, 245 lb linebacker who most recently played for the Patriots. Last year he started 6 games for the Pats, played in 13 games and registered 47 tackles and 1 interception. Guyton is a 4-3 outside linebacker who will add depth to the Dolphins linebacking corps. Signing Guyton takes one more need (depth at LB) off the table for the draft. On a side note, the Dolphins have said that they’ll decide after the draft if they will sign offensive guard, Jake Scott. Scott came to Miami for a visit last month, but left unsigned. He also met with a few other teams, but remains a free agent. Perhaps there is an injury concern we don’t know about? Or perhaps teams want to see how the draft plays out before making a commitment to Scott.
I promise Dolphins fans, we only have 2 weeks left to speculate on which quarterback (if any) the Dolphins will come away from the 2012 Draft with. We’ve endorsed Brandon Weeden and many Mock Drafts have the Dolphins selecting Ryan Tannehill. Like I said before, I wouldn’t be opposed to Tannehill at #8, IF Sherman and Joe Philbin think he can develop into an elite NFL QB. If they believe enough in him to stake their jobs on it (and they would be by picking him at 8), I trust their judgement. Throw draft value out the window if you have the opportunity to grab what you think will become a franchise quarterback. So what if he’s valued later in the first round? Draft him if you think he can be ‘the guy’.
Having said all of that, the ‘experts’ out there have been pointing out a lot of Tannehill’s weaknesses. They’ve said (see: Brian Billick) that he may have potential, but he also comes with a big risk because he’s not ready to play now. Tannehill will need a year or two on the bench to learn the ways of the NFL. Remember, he only played QB in college for 19 games. His critics also point out his inefficiency in big games, going just 1-5 against ranked teams. How much of that was his team’s fault vs. his? That’s for Mike Sherman and Joe Philbin to decide. They’ll be the ones making the important decision on April 26th. If you’re worried about another team jumping in front of the Dolphins on draft night, you should be. The Chiefs, Bills, Browns, and Seahawks have all expressed a lot of interest in Tannehill (i.e. private workouts, meetings, etc)
If the Miami Dolphins are trying to hide the fact that they’re interested in Ryan Tannehill, they’re doing a terrible job of it. The Dolphins have been linked more with Ryan Tannehill than any other player and team not named Luck or Griffin III. Are the Dolphins simply posturing in hopes of drafting someone else? Or do they actually love Ryan Tannehill as much as is being reported? We may know in 2 weeks…or we may never know.
Brian Billick, the Super Bowl winning coach of the Ravens, cautioned the Dolphins about Tannehill. Billick said on Mike and Mike (ESPN Radio) this morning that he is ‘concerned a great deal’ with how quickly Tannehill has risen on draft boards. Billick went on to compare Tannehill to former #1 overall pick, JaMarcus Russell, in terms of their physical ability (strong arm/mechanics) and their lack of college playing experience. Billick went on “Here is Ryan Tannehill, who was not thought of this highly at the end of the season after you looked at the film, but has shot up the ranks because what we’ve seen of him in shorts. All of a sudden now we’re talking about him being a top 3 pick? That’s a dangerous area.”
As much as the Miami Dolphins don’t want to admit it, they are in rebuilding mode. And they should be. Why? Because the team has gone 7-9, 7-9, and 6-10 over the last 3 seasons and the roster needs more talent. The Dolphins don’t want to tell us that they’re rebuilding because rebuilding means patience….and patience isn’t exactly something us Dolphins fans have much more of at this point in time. We’ve suffered over the last decade without so much as 1 playoff win. All the while, we’ve seen the Patriots make it to (and win), multiple Super Bowls. We’ve seen the Jets go to 2 AFC Championship games, winning 4 road playoff games along the way. And yet the Dolphins have 1 AFC East Championship to show for their efforts over the last handful of seasons. Even that Division Title is somewhat flawed because the Dolphins won the division in a year that Tom Brady was out for the year and the Dolphins had the easiest schedule in the NFL in 2008. Oh yeah, and Chad Pennington fell from the heavens right before the season started.
What’s more frustrating is that teams that are better than the Dolphins have A LOT more cap space. The Bengals have about $20 million. The Titans have over $18 million. The Broncos have over $13 million. The Eagles have over $16 million. Even the Patriots have over $9 million. And those numbers take into account what the teams did in free agency….You know, free agency, where the Dolphins resigned Paul Soliai and brought in Richard Marshall as their 2 big moves? It’s frustrating, I know.
So the question of the day is: If the Dolphins are a mediocre team, at best, why do they have no cap space? Simply put, it’s because their experiments in free agency have failed AND they have not build the team properly, through the draft. Remember in the early days of the Ireland/Parcells era when they brought in the Gebril Wilson’s, Jake Grove’s, and Ernest Wilford’s of the world? They stunk and yet they were paid good money, thus taking up valuable cap space. They were not long term solutions.