Bill Parcells and Friends
have narrowed it down. They always do by the end of March. They now know who is
on their very short list (five names or less) of prospects that they will
choose from with their top pick.
The first task, which is
stacking the board, is complete. The Parcells-era Dolphins do this horizontally
by position, not vertically as other teams do. No more than 150 players overall
are on it. They’ve all been graded and debated at least twice, some thrice. As
players come off the board, the list is reduced. When the Dolphins go on the
clock, they’ll look across the board at top rated players at each position and
sort out the ones with the highest grade overall. Then they’ll use ‘need’ as a
criteria to break ties amongst the group to determine the final choice.
The second task, running
through their mock draft scenarios, continues. This process has already gone
through several iterations and will be ongoing as new competitive intelligence flows
in, superior to anything the public sees on a consistent basis. Yes, the
Dolphins do look at the opinions of the more reputable draft gurus, just to
digest another point of view, but rely more on their own inside information
from people they trust. The outcome of this is an “if-then” decision tree to
take guesswork out of making the top picks.
Meanwhile, rumors abound.
Some of what’s out there is probably true, but most of it is false. Where it
concerns the Dolphins, this is by design. The only things that leak out of Davie is the stuff that
Parcells wants out there. Bank on that.
The latest draft buzz
includes a rumor that the Dolphins are interested in Clemson’s C.J. Spiller.
Spiller is a very talented and versatile running back. Objectively, he would be
an upgrade over any RB on the Dolphin roster today. The rumor is that the
Dolphins would dangle Ronnie Brown in a trade to move up and nab Spiller, or in
a separate arrangement to net more draft picks while taking Spiller with their
12th overall selection.
It is plausible? Sure.
That’s the beauty of the stuff Parcells leaks out there. He wants people to be
distracted by it so that his true intentions aren’t spoiled by the nosy media
As I’ve suggested many times
in the past, the best thing for us outsiders to do during the lying season is to
stick to the facts as we know them.
We know the Dolphins still need
upgrades at Nose Tackle, Free Safety, Outside Linebacker, and Wide Receiver. Of
these, Nose Tackle and Free Safety are probably the most urgent. In my opinion,
Nose Tackle is the most pressing given its criticality to the overall effectiveness
of the 3-4 defense. Remember, Jason Ferguson has been suspended for the first
half of the season and Paul Soliai is probably not a true NT.
If the draft gurus are to be
believed, the best two-gap NT available would be Tennessee’s Dan Williams. Assuming this to
be true, it is logical to expect that the Dolphins will draft Williams first
overall if he is available.
As for free safety, they do
not need the second coming of Dick Anderson to fill the need. What they do need
is someone with the physical size, ability, and intelligence to diagnose and
prevent the big play, someone versatile enough to guard physical tight ends,
run with a wide receiver, and support the run. Do they need a first round
talent to solve this? Personally, I don’t think so. But they need a highly
Defensively, this leaves us
with the outside linebacker position, a need the Dolphins could very well solve
with their top pick if Parcells is convinced that the next DeMarcus Ware is out
there. Interestingly, Ware was taken by Parcells with the 11th
overall pick in the 2005 draft, just one spot ahead of where the Dolphins are
drafting this year. If not, one Jason Taylor is available and ready to return
to his weakside position for another season.
As for you Wide Receiver
proponents, perhaps stirred up by local talk radio wags, I feel your pain. But
I just don’t see how the Dolphins can justify spending their top pick on a guy
like Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant when they have already made a first, third,
and fourth round investment in the position over the past three seasons. All of
those investments (Ted Ginn, Patrick Turner, and Brian Hartline, respectively)
are still on the upswing, development-wise. GM Jeff Ireland is on record as
having stated that he likes Ginn “very much”, a sentiment recently echoed by
Steelers and fellow Ohio State WR Santonio Holmes.
“The Dolphins aren’t gonna
let him go,” Holmes said. “He’s definitely too valuable. At Ohio State,
whether it was wide receiver, kick return, punt return, he made things happen
on the field. Now, learning the whole thing where you’ve got to be a primary
wide receiver, that takes time. I’m sure he’ll grow into it.”
The Dolphins think so, too. It
doesn’t mean they won’t invest more in the position, just not a top draft pick.
So for now keep thinking “defense,
defense, defense”, as rabid Dolfans like to say on game day.
As for Spiller, I’ll believe
it when I see it.