Well, NFL the draft is almost upon us and with all the
prognostication, prediction and premeditation on the draft, it seems
almost pointless for me to make any guesses about it's outcome. I
mean, how can I, with my relative lack of football knowledge, match
wits with the likes of such NFL greats as Mel Kiper?
I'm sorry - I thought I could say that with a straight face.
Nevertheless, everyone and her brother has a prediction about
who the Dolphins (and every other team in the league) will be taking
on draft day. It is the current rage in sports circles - predicting
the NFL draft. It seems to be getting more attention in the news than
But I've never wanted to be like everyone else.
I mean, let's be reasonable here. We all know that it's
impossible to predict what Jimmy Johnson will do on any given day,
especially when that day is draft day. About the only thing that we
can be certain of is that Jimmy will be a-wheelin' and a-dealin' in an
attempt to get the best players that he can.
The Dolphins have 8 picks on draft day, including the 20th
pick in the first round. Personally, I see three possible scenarios
playing themselves out for the Dolphins on draft day, listed here in
order of likelihood:
1. The Dolphins trade their #20 pick for two lower picks, such
as the #25 pick and an extra second or third round pick. They then
use this pick to get a linebacker, such as Ray Lewis.
2. The Dolphins trade up to get one of the premier running
backs in the draft - Lawrence Phillips, Tim Biakabutuka, or Eddie
3. The Dolphins keep their #20 pick and use it to take the
best player available at that time - probably a linebacker, although
it will depend on who's still on the board at cornerback.
Now, the media have been flooded with various rumors about who
Jimmy will take with the #20 pick, but I very much doubt that the
Dolphins will sit on that pick. I believe that there will not be a
player available at that point that will be worth a #20 pick to Jimmy
Johnson and that, in order to get more draft choices, Jimmy will trade
down to #25 or lower - perhaps even into the second round.
Jimmy has said that there are good players available in every
round - all you have to do is find them. That's why I believe that
the most likely scenario is that Jimmy will trade down to get an
extra pick and then use that first pick to take a linebacker, which is
the Dolphins' biggest area of need right now.
The next possibility that I've listed is that Jimmy will trade
up to pick up a running back. I do not believe that this is very
likely, but it could happen. The Dolphins have reportedly looked
closely at Lawrence Phillips, Tim Biakabutuka, Eddie George and
Leeland McElroy. For trade bait, the rumors have mentioned both Terry
Kirby and Richmond Webb.
The problem with this scenario is the trade bait available.
Terry Kirby and a #20 pick don't really make up for a top 5 pick.
Kirby, Webb and a #20 pick might make up for it, but I doubt that
Jimmy would trade one of his best offensive linemen in an attempt to
get a running back. It doesn't make sense to decimate your offensive
line to try and establish a running game.
If the Dolphins do trade up, I think they'll try and take
Phillips or Biakabutuka. McElroy doesn't seem to me to be Jimmy's
type of back. But I wouldn't count on it happening.
Failing the first two possibilities, the Dolphins will keep
their #20 pick and use it to take the best player available. Mel
Kiper's latest picks have the Dolphins taking Eddie George at the #20
pick. Now, as unlikely as it seems that Heisman Trophy winner Eddie
George would fall to the #20 spot, it does seem that his stock has
been slipping a little in the past few months.
If the Dolphins can't trade up or down and get stuck with the
#20 pick, and Eddie George is still on the board, he may very well end
up a Dolphin. George is big (6'3", 230+lbs) for a tailback and is
best running out of the I formation - which Jimmy wants the Dolphins
to use next season. He also catches the ball well, which most of the
other top backs don't do. Jimmy may not be able to resist him.
However, I don't really see the Dolphins keeping the #20 pick
- I expect that they will most likely trade down to get an extra
pick. Then, they'll take a linebacker with that first pick, most
likely Ray Lewis of the Hurricanes.
After the first round, I expect that the Dolphins will take as
many defensive players as they can lay their hands on. I've seen some
people who predict that the Dolphins will take 2,3,4 or even as many
as 5 offensive players. Well, to that I just have one thing to say...
It ain't gonna happen.
The old adage that offense wins games but defense wins
championships might have been written by Jimmy Johnson. As a former
defensive coordinator and the man who is rebuilding the defense in his
image, Jimmy will want to take as many of his kind of defensive player
as he can get his hands on.
And what kind of players are those? Well, they'll be fast for
one thing. That's why Aubrey Beavers may finally get to start next
year and why I believe that Jimmy will spend at least 3 or 4 picks on
linebackers. Most of the current crop of Miami linebackers are slow
and big, designed to take on offensive linemen directly. Jimmy would
rather have his linebackers run around the offensive linemen.
The most likely linebackers that will be available to Miami
are Ray Lewis, John Mobley and Reggie Brown. Lewis is probably the
most likely first pick, especially if the Dolphins trade down.
After linebackers, the next need is in the defensive
backfield, where the loss of Troy Vincent has left a gaping hole. You
can probably expect Jimmy to pick up 2 or 3 defensive backs - fast
defensive backs who aren't afraid to cover or tackle. I would expect
the second pick of the draft to be a defensive back.
And that leaves us at the defensive line. With the signing of
Stubbs and Jones and the re-signing of Steve Emtman, the defensive
line has plenty of ends. However, they could use a good defensive
tackle to go alongside Tim Bowens and the name that intrigues me the
most in this regard is Daryl Gardener, a defensive end/tackle from
Baylor. Gardener is 6'6", 320 lbs and runs a 4.9 in the 40. Imagine
a defensive line anchored in the center by Bowens and Gardener.
However, Gardener will be long gone by the time that the
Dolphins feel that they can afford to spend a pick on a defensive
tackle. Still, I would expect that the Dolphins will take 1 or 2
defensive linemen in this draft.
I would be very surprised if the Dolphins took more than 1
offensive player in this draft, even if they draft up to take a
running back. There just aren't that many holes on the offense to
fill, especially when you compare them to the defense.
So the bottom line is this: I believe that on draft day, the
Dolphins will most likely trade down and take the best linebacker
available with their first pick. After that, I would look to see the
Dolphins take a series of defensive players - linebackers, defensive
backs and defensive linemen.
But, they could trade up and take Lawrence Phillips, Tim
Biakabutuka, or Eddie George. I don't think it's likely, but it is
Nevertheless, you can bet that, whatever they do, they will
have done it.....