First off, understand
that I am not a mock draft aficionado. There are too many variables, too many
ways to be wrong. This is especially true for the Dolphins in 2009, having
returned to their usual bottom third drafting position…the place reserved for
the better teams in the NFL.
In 2008, Bill
Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano brought this franchise along faster
than anyone could have dreamed. The goal now is to win a playoff game…one like
the Dolphins were in versus the Ravens this past January.
Sparano and Ireland
believe this will be a tough next step.
To achieve this goal,
they know the team must be improved on both sides of the ball, most urgently at
cornerback. In fact, defensive depth overall is probably the higher priority. Another
playmaker at wide receiver, to complement the existing corps of players, would
My approach to previewing
the draft is to give you the lay of the land as I see it, not some mock draft
that could be obsolete within the hour. So here are some things to keep in mind
as the Miami Dolphins continue their preparations for the 2009 NFL Draft (April
25-26, Radio City Music Hall, New
1) Think horizontal, not vertical.
Phins.com sat in on an interview with Ireland. He explained how the
Dolphins will set their draft board up, and how they will break down their high
“We don’t stack the
board with 257 players. We stack the board with less than 150 players”, said Ireland. We
actually draft horizontally, by position. So you might have a tackle with the
same grade as a receiver, with the same grade as a safety, with the same grade
as a quarterback. So if they’re all a similar player (grade-wise), you can
bypass certain players because of need.”
2) A trade up is unlikely
Through the first two
rounds, the Dolphins know that good players will fall to them at some area of
need. This is why I believe that they will not look to burn picks in an effort
to trade up on Day One.
“You’ve got to let
the chips fall where they are”, Ireland
explained. “We didn’t go into the (2008) draft saying we were going to draft
three defensive linemen and two offensive linemen. That’s the way the board was
stacked, that’s what the strengths were in the draft. You draft the best
players on the board that fit. Every draft is different.”
3) Good cornerbacks should be available
Randy Moss, Wes
Welker, Terrell Owens, Lee Evans…these monster WRs play in the AFC East and will
face the Dolphin defense in at least 25% of the games they will play. If there
was a game today, the Dolphins would be shorthanded as they lost starting CB
Andre Goodman to free agency (Broncos).
So keep careful watch
on the top CBs in this draft: Ohio State’s Malcolm Jenkins, Illinois’
Vontae Davis, Connecticut’s
Darrius Butler, and Utah’s
Sean Smith. Among this group, the consensus is that Jenkins is the only one certain
to be off the board when Dolphins go on the clock in Round 1.
It would be a monumental
shock if Day One ends without the Dolphins taking at least one CB.
4) Current circumstances favor defense with the first pick
Even if the top rated corners are off the board, it appears probable that
the Dolphins will go defense in Round 1. I say this because the needs of the
teams currently drafting ahead of the Dolphins, when compared to a consensus
Top 50 list of prospects, seems likely to result in highly rated defensive
players being among the best available. This will present a good, but difficult,
decision for Parcells and friends.
5) A receiver with a high grade could slip to the Dolphins
With the receiver
needy Bears trading away their first rounder to the Broncos in the Jay Cutler
deal, the chances of a highly rated wide receiver falling to the Dolphins in
the first round may have gone up. It is generally assumed that Parcells is
averse to drafting receivers in the first round. But what will they do if Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin, Maryland’s
Darrius Heyward-Bey, or Florida’s
Percy Harvin falls to them?
The answer is that it
all depends on how highly regarded each player is. For example, if the Dolphins
perceive that Harvin is a carbon copy of Ted Ginn, Jr., they would be likely to
go in a different direction.
picking ahead of the Dolphins (#25) that are most likely to consider a receiver
with their first pick: Seahawks (#4), Raiders (#7), Jaguars (#8), Jets (#17),
and Vikings (#22). Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree, the consensus #1 rated WR, is
expected to be taken within the top 10 picks.
6) The Jason Taylor factor
The Dolphins need to
improve their pass rush, and they appear to have the first right of refusal
regarding Jason Taylor’s services. This knowledge is factoring into their
thinking as they continue to prepare for the draft. Other teams know this,
which adds to the fascination as to how certain decisions will be influenced
around the Dolphins’ picks in each round.
The front office is,
predictably, playing the Taylor
situation very close to the vest. I could be very wrong here, but my guess is
that they would like to have Taylor
back at the right price, though only with the desired commitment.
“We are looking at (Taylor)”, conceded Ireland. “I am not going to say
that we are not, but the interest level is something that I won’t comment on”.
Stay tuned, Dolfans.