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  On Rumors and Playing it Safe
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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The latest rumor about Alabama RB Mark Ingram, and the timing of it, is interesting and typical.


As many of you know, Ingram had arthroscopic surgery on his knee right before the start of last season. Even though he returned last September to rush for 875 yards and 13 TDs, his production was almost half of what he produced the season before. Now teams are supposedly worried about the stability of the knee and are downgrading him on their draft boards.

“I’ve had two teams tell me the knee is very bad,” NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi reportedly said. “He won’t be on their boards. These are teams that need running backs.”

Teams like the Miami Dolphins.

The reason I find this alleged report interesting is because we are in the height of the season…the lying season, that is. Everything that is reported can or should be considered with skepticism, including the timing.

What does all of this mean to the Dolphins?

If the draft gurus are right and Ingram is destined for South Florida, these rumors serve to potentially discourage other suitors from drafting Ingram earlier than the Dolphins can.

If the gurus are wrong about the Dolphins’ interest in Ingram, then the rumors could discourage potential draft partners from doing a deal with the Dolphins for the 15th pick if their intention is to draft Ingram later.

If the rumors are true, which they very well could be, then it is of no consequence to the Dolphins as their true interest probably lies elsewhere.

As I’ve stated previously, I find it hard to believe that the Dolphins would draft Ingram because it would all but assure them of sticking with QB Chad Henne for another season as the lone QB of the future. I just don’t see how this can happen, not after the tremendous fallout from last season that brought us within a whisker of a major coaching change.

To me, one of five scenarios is in play:

1) Trade up to draft a QB

2) Stay at 15 and draft a QB.

3) Stay at 15 and draft the highest graded player available.

4) Trade down, recoup a second round pick, and draft a QB.

5) Trade down, recoup a second round pick, and draft the best player available.

GM Jeff Ireland’s draft philosophy is with scenario #3. After the disappointment of last year’s draft results (scenario #5), passing on a host of talented players (including two Pro Bowlers) in trading down for DE Jared Odrick, I think the safe bet is that Ireland will return to his normal philosophy (#3).

Objectively, the Dolphins have needs that can be well met by staying put.

But can Ireland afford to play it safe after what happened last year? Can he really afford to trust Henne as the sole heir apparent? There isn’t a potential free agent QB that can assume that mantle. And Kevin Kolb isn’t that guy. Neither is Carson Palmer.

While it is tough for a rookie QB to earn a starting job, it’s the future hope and potential that such a player brings to the mix that the Dolphins most sorely lack right now. And there are only a handful of guys in this draft that have that sort of potential. They all figure to be gone by the end of the second round.

The Dolphins do not have a second round pick and the lockout may prevent Ireland from using current players in a trade up the draft board (scenario #1). This leaves him in a very difficult position if he intends to solve his QB problem this year. Here’s why:

1) The two best QB prospects (Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert) will likely be gone before the Dolphins go on the clock.

2) Their pick among next tier of QBs (Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker, Colin Kaepernick, and Christian Ponder) are probably a reach at 15. Yet QBs command a premium that other players do not.

3) Trading down would net the Dolphins badly needed picks, but might cause the them to miss out on their man if they misread the intentions of other potential suitors (scenario #4).

In all of this confusion, two things are absolutely certain:

1) If Ireland has a conviction about a second tier QB, he can get that player by staying put at 15 (scenario #2). It would be a reach, but he would have his man.

2) Playing it safe at the QB position hasn’t worked before and it won’t work now. Safe will probably get the current regime fired and leave the Dolphins rudderless at the most important of positions.

So it all comes down to Ireland’s determination to fix the QB problem this year. If he’s highly motivated to avoid a repeat of last season and create hope for the future, and if the lockout is still in effect, I believe he’ll take a chance and draft his QB at 15 (scenario #2)

Just two weeks left to the start of the NFL Draft and, perhaps, a fresh new hope for the future.

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