The Miami Dolphins are in an unenviable position as they enter the 2011 NFL Draft. Why? For starters, they don’t have a 2nd round pick because they traded it last year to the Broncos for Brandon Marshall (which is STILL a good move). Secondly, the Dolphins front office comes into 2011 wreaking of desperation. We say that because another season without the playoffs will likely mean that Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland will be looking for somewhere else to work next offseason. Third, the Dolphins finished 7-9 last year netting them the #15 pick in the first round. The #15 pick isn’t terrible, but it’s not good either. Fourth, the Dolphins drafted a QB a few years ago (Henne) and still aren’t sure if he can be ‘the guy’. Complicating things more is the Lockout which might or might not be lifted this afternoon, allowing for player trades and free agent signings.
So what does all of this mean to the Dolphins pursuit of a QB to challenge Chad Henne? Well, an extension to the Lockout means that the Dolphins will only be able to acquire a QB via the draft and that player won’t be able to speak with his coached until the Lockout is over (which could be June). Given how rookie QB’s usually struggle anyway, it’s hard to imagine one coming in and succeeding in his first year, without a full offseason of work with his new coaches/team. Strike 1 against drafting a QB.
It’s possible that the Dolphins have identified a quarterback that is on the trading block or is a free agent, that they believe can help the team win in 2011. That player could be Vince Young, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton, etc. If the Dolphins brass wants to roll the dice and wait out the Lockout, they can do so, if they think a veteran gives them a better chance of saving their jobs. Strike 2 against drafting a QB.
This year’s draft class of quarterbacks is considered by experts to be a sub-par class. Most agree that Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are the best of the bunch, but both still have big question marks. The chance of either Newton or Gabbert being available at #15 are slim anyway. Most NFL people think the next level of QBs (Mallett, Locker, Ponder, Dalton) are rated as second round talents, so picking them at #15 would be a reach. Strike 3 against drafting a QB. With the effect of the Lockout, the Dolphins draft position, and the need to win now, we don’t expect the Dolphins to select a quarterback on Thursday night.
HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that we don’t think they should draft a QB. We believe that the Dolphins are trying desperately to trade back in the first round to pick up a 2nd or 3rd round pick. If they can, we expect them to select a QB (Mallett/Kaepernick) with their first rounder then address other needs as the draft continues (RB, G/C, TE). If they are forced to pick at #15 we think they should draft the best player available. There is a chance (a CHANCE) that Blaine Gabbert slips a bit. If he falls to the #9-#12 range, we could see the Dolphins making a play to get him. It’s doubtful, but it’s a possibility. Llyodd Christmas (Dumb and Dumber) – “So you’re saying there’s a chance”
The Bottom Line: The Dolphins have seen Chad Henne progress in 2009 and regress in 2010. Ireland and Sparano’s jobs are on the line this year, so they’re probably in survival mode and won’t risk taking a player that can’t help them immediately. We don’t think Henne gives the Dolphins the best chance to be a perennial contender in the NFL, so we think for the long term good of the franchise, they SHOULD draft a QB if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, what we think they should do, and what they actually do, are two completely different things.