It’s the first
minicamp of the Cam Cameron era, a mere two weeks before the 2007 NFL Draft,
and the Dolphins have the look of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde all at once.
Jeckyll would be the
Dolphin defense. A very talented unit, with one of the best defensive
coordinators and front sevens in football, and boasting the NFL Defensive
Player of the Year, they’re capable of doing their part in taking the Dolphins
deep into the playoffs.
Hyde would be the
Dolphin offense. With only the right side of the offensive line and the running
back positions set, it would be a frightening prospect indeed to have this
bunch line up and play a game today.
Unfortunately for the
Dolphins, free agency hasn’t been helpful in boosting the offense. Unless, that
is, you see subtraction as addition with the departure of undertalented,
overpaid players…Wes Welker exempted, of course.
Simply put, the
Dolphins are now down to their final two outs…the draft and the June salary cap
cut downs. Thereafter, they’ll be forced to play the cards in their hand.
Before we wail and
gnash our teeth at the current state of affairs, we need to give Cameron and GM
Randy Mueller the benefit of the doubt. We need to presume that they cannot be
serious in standing pat with what they have. The cavalry has to be on the way,
More to the point,
help for the Dolphin offense has got to
be the priority here on out.
I won’t begin to
guess who could come available in June, or if the Dolphins will be able to pry
Trent Green away from the Chiefs. It may be that the Dolphins will wisely wait
until after the draft is concluded to make a move, obviously not wanting to
surrender a high pick for a 37 year old QB with a history of concussions.
And, for those of you
moaning over the pass on David Carr, I ask you to please, please question your belief in a guy who hasn’t shown he is
anything but the next Joey Harrington.
leaves the rehab room and the draft to address the top three priorities on
As frustrated as we
are with the length of his rehabilitation, and more of Nick Saban’s lies to the
same, a healthy Daunte Culpepper is still one of the best players in the NFL.
Let’s not forget that. Having a 100% Culpepper ready to go for training camp is
the best possible solution, the one that gives the Dolphins the highest
probability of a playoff run in 2007.
Still, the Dolphins
cannot afford to place all their chips in his basket; it is just too risky. And
while Green would be a decent short term insurance policy, a good young
prospect must be added to the mix. The Dolphins cannot procrastinate on this
The top two prospects
in the draft, LSU’s JaMarcus Russell and Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn, figure to be
off the board before the Dolphins come to bat with the 9th overall
pick. The big question facing the Dolphins is whether or not to move up in a
bold effort to solve this paramount problem, or settle on a next tier guy like MichiganState’s Drew Stanton.
Moving up is a costly
and risky proposition. There are no guarantees. On one end we have Peyton
Manning, a former #1 overall selection. On the other we have Tom Brady, a sixth
rounder. In between we have a collection of hits and misses that tells only one
story…that first round QBs are indeed a risk.
Using the famed NFL
trade chart as a guide, the Dolphins would have to give up their first round
pick and their first of two second round picks to move up to the #4 spot (Tampa
Bay). Russell and Quinn could be gone by then.
Whatever they decide
will depend on the information they have on Russell and Quinn. All we can say
is that, given Mueller’s reputation, we can expect them to address the position
within the first four rounds.
2) Offensive Line
The right side of the
line, with C Rex Hadnot, RG L.J. Shelton and RT Vernon Carey, is in good shape.
It is the left side that needs work.
Next to Culpepper,
perhaps the single biggest potential impact
player the Dolphins have now is LT Anthony Alabi. There is a belief that Alabi
is on the verge of earning a starting job. This is a player that came from TCU in
2005 with excellent size and athleticism but in need of coaching and
After two years under
the eye of the incomparable Hudson Houck, and more than a few reps against one
Mr. Jason Taylor, Alabi’s time may have finally come.
As such I find it
difficult for the Dolphins to justify spending the 9th overall
selection on a prospect like Levi Brown, who may not be as good as Alabi is
Therefore, look for
the Dolphins to use a second or third round pick on an offensive lineman or
3) Wide Receiver
Once again I say that
if Cameron thinks that Chris Chambers is his answer for #1 WR, we should be
very concerned. That the Dolphins have been working Chambers in the slot speaks
to a more common sense approach in how to best use him.
What they need now,
desperately, is a gamebreaker at #1 WR, someone who can change a game with one
play…a true difference maker.
There is no such veteran
player available today. And, please,
do not mention Randy Moss’s name. The Dolphins do not need the headache.
Rather, the name you
should be saying is Ted Ginn, Jr. Still gimpy-legged, he nevertheless ripped
off a series of 4.3 second 40 yard dash times in his recent workout. When
healthy, he may become the fastest man in the NFL.
But Ginn is a lot
more than a fast guy…he’s an impact player. Ginn started at OhioState
as a true freshman and made BIG plays against the best in college football for
three years running. His exceptional ability returning punts and kickoffs is a
huge bonus that would address another team need.
Ginn could be
available when the Dolphins pick. In fact he may be their best option at
instantly upgrading the offense, provided they stand pat with the 9th
There are three other
players who make sense at #9. Miami TE Greg Olsen has been compared to Todd
Heap and would be a terrific add. The other two are defensive players that
would be purely value picks should all the best offensive options be gone
(which could easily happen).
The first is LSU
safety LaRon Landry, a guy that is looking like a better fit for the Dolphins
now that Jason Allen has been moved to CB (permanently?). The second is
Louisville DT Amobi Okoye. DT is not a
primary need for the Dolphins given the pool of young and promising talent on
the roster. However, Okoye is such an exceptional young man, on and off the
field, that the Dolphins must seriously consider him.
Training camp is
still three months away, so there’s no need to panic yet. But Mueller and
Cameron must act decisively, and soon. Otherwise, it will be another season of
Mr. Hyde and failed playoff expectations for the Dolphins.