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  Dolphins Close In on Draft
    | Home | News Wire | Roster | Depth Chart | Schedule | Links |  
         

by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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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.

 

I agree.

 

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 be welcomed.

 

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 York):

 

1) Think horizontal, not vertical.

Last November, 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 round decisions.

 

“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, IllinoisVontae 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.

 

Teams currently 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.

 
 
     
   
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