Miami Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey is still new. He’s warmed the seat
of his chair, refined his scouting department, brought in better
technology, smoothed out his delivery at various introductions and
pressers, and spent some money to fill holes so obvious that a dope
like me probably could have managed it. Nothing controversial, little
to really debate, a decent start.
Dennis Hickey hasn’t done anything yet.
get me wrong: what Hickey's accomplished thus far has been helpful.
Free agency has been wisely handled, with few risks taken in
addressing needs. Operational improvements here and there have been
made to simplify decision making and increase efficiency in sharing
data amongst coaches and scouts at points of need.
of this is fine and good, and tips us off a bit as to how Hickey may
conduct his business. But the real heavy lifting comes with NFL
Draft, the repeated failure at which being the major cause for the
Dolphins wandering and floundering over the past decade and a half.
Nothing defines a GM more than his work in the NFL Draft. It’s less
about being clever, or making slick trades, and more about simply
selecting good players which, unfortunately, previous Dolphins GMs
have not done a good job of.
last decent GM the Dolphins have had was Jimmy Johnson. Since then,
snake eyes, including the recently departed Jeff Ireland.
should our expectations of Dennis Hickey be?
Hickey’s smart, he’ll continue grinding along as he has. There
won’t be a dramatic waive of the magic wand or anything spectacular
or desperate. Hickey knows the Dolphins need more good players, and
that few positions on the team are truly set. He knows he will be
judged, ultimately, on winning and that winning is predicated mostly
by how well your players perform.
put, his job is to scout and select more good players. Period. All
the wailing from the draft gurus and the like about value and
position doesn’t mean a hill of beans. All he has to do is just
pick good players.
today’s NFL almost all of the teams do a fine job of scouting. The
report that the Patriots have on a guy is every bit as comprehensive
as the one the Bills have. And the Dolphins have one of the best
scouting departments in the NFL, a legacy of the Wayne Huizenga years
when no expense was spared in people, travel, or tools.
separates the elite teams from the average ones is quality
decision-making on a consistent basis, in-line with an agreed
philosophy. The act of deciding, if you will. The Dolphins have
failed at this time and again.
needed now is a steady hand. Will Hickey provide it? Is he ready for
one really knows, not even Hickey. As for me, I won’t waste your
time telling you what other media wags and draft gurus have already
said about team weaknesses and priorities. In today’s instant news
world of Twitter, being first is more important than being right, and
so much of what you’ve already read is probably wrong anyway.
Hickey and the Dolphins, this draft ought to be about talent first.
You can wrack your brain studying scenarios until you turn blue, but
what happens when the Dolphins go on the clock in the first few
rounds should be rather simple: pick the best player available on
their board. Don’t reach, don’t be clever. If the guy you like is
there, take him.
does this mean?
it means you should brace yourself for someone not necessarily at a
position of need in round one. No matter. With the roster as it
currently stands, there is little chance that player won’t be
afforded a chance to contribute.
offensive linemen? Obviously needed. Wide receiver? With the injuries
to two of their top three guys, it’s an obvious need. Tight end and
running back upgrade? Needed. Defensive back or lineman? Can’t have
enough good ones.
it means that the Dolphins will have a shot at a very good player no
matter what. And for a team with a crying need for more of them, just
about everywhere, this is good news. If need and availability match
up, it’s extra wonderful.
it means that trade ups and trade downs in the early rounds just
aren’t necessary this year. Quality, quality, quality should be the
recurring theme to get this team into the playoff mix.
doesn’t need to wheel and deal to have a solid first draft. He
doesn’t need to pay through the nose to trade up for a right tackle
in round one. It isn’t worth giving up badly needed picks. Just
stick to your knitting Dennis, and don’t get cute.
later rounds, things always tend to get a bit more tricky. This is
where need starts to become more of a tiebreaker as next tier players
begin to line up rank and file. Great GMs are adept at sorting
through this talented but flawed pool to identify gems. And nabbing
an extra roster worthy player in the pool of undrafted guys is like
putting a cherry on top of the sundae. Hickey will have his chance to
show us his true judgment skills.
springs eternal. Welcome to the Dennis Hickey era, Dolfans. Let’s
pray this one is happy.