Monday, March 27, 2006

Sponge Worthy?

After getting so many e-mails from you folks about the latest news that the Dolphins have invited Vince Young to work out next month, you're all wondering where I stand.

Are the Dolphins really thinking about using their pick on Vince? Will he even be there at 16? If you've read the Godfather's latest rant, you know he thinks it's do-able.

First of all, let me just say this about Young: He's going to be a great QB in the NFL. He's still ranked number 2 in our QB Draft projections right after Leinart and right before Cutler.

But the most unfathomable thing to me is just how excruciatingly bad Young's representation have botched his draft stock. Who's representing this kid? Howard Dean?

After winning the National Championship against ESPN's Pronounced Greatest College Football Team Of All Time, Young could not have been hotter. Then, the Wonderlic fiasco happened. Then, he didn't work out at the combine although most football scouts advised him to do so. Then, during his pro day individual work outs, he only did half of the things that are done at the combine. And instead of taking advice from more scouts about where to run his 40, Young ran on his own chosen track -- and scored a lower time than expected. "Eeeeeeaaaahhhhhh!!!!!"

So now his stock is suddenly said to have taken an Enron/Martha Stewart-like dip. Some have said that as the 2006 Draft goes on, Young will drop much like Aaron Rodgers did a year ago. And now, thanks to the latest Dolphins news, many are saying, "Vince Young will be ours!" But remember: The Dolphins only have one pick in day one. That pick suddenly looms very large. Who is worthy of that pick? That will ultimately be decided by the Nick-Tator.

So, here are my thoughts (finally!)

1.) Let's see, you have the Titans, Jets, Raiders, Bills, Lions, Cardinals, Browns, and Ravens all conceivably needing a franchise QB and all picking ahead of your Miami Dolphins. Not picking Young is an invitation for these QB-challenged GMs to getting fired (well, except maybe Matt Millen, who apparantly will never be fired ever.)

2.) The Dolphins are not the only team hot on Young. Every team except the Redskins attended Young's pro day workout.

3.) The NFL allows teams to invite a large number of prospects to workout for them prior to the draft. Young seems to be the "biggest name" invited so far by the Fins, but he certainly won't be the only one.

4.) Being the shrewd coach that he is, Saban wants to weigh all his options. He has always said he likes drafting the best available player and having Young as an understudy to Daunte Culpepper would be ideal.

5.) The fact is, no matter what, Saban will look to shore up the Fins larger needs on draft day. With Culpepper on board, the Fins only have one pick on day one, meaning that one pick is very valuable. As I said above, whomever the Dolphins look to pick, he will have to be worthy of that pick. Not sure Young falls in that category to be honest. I expect the Fins to have their backup QB already set by then and they have more pressing needs on the offensive line, the outside linebacker position, wide reciever depth and a need for a young defensive tackle. Look for the Dolphins to fill one of those needs even if Young is still sitting backstage with Howard Dean next to him, manning the phones.

Young is a pipe dream. So I think we should all curb our enthusiasm here. The reality is, Young will be long gone by the time our number rolls up. And I think if he is, for some reason, still there, Saban will trade the pick to someone who desperately wants Young for more draft picks. Maybe the Bears or, hey -- the Vikings! They've proven to be pretty stupid. Why not? I think Saban wants that 2nd rounder he gave up for Culpepper back (although he does not regret it).

Vince Young a Dolphin? Not happening.

But below I've written scouting reports on who the Dolphins should target for QB in the Draft:

1, JAY CUTLER, Vanderbilt

Strengths: Cutler has made a name for himself with a very strong arm. At 6-4, 225, he fits the mold of the archetypical QB. Has has shown a knack for being athletic in the pocket, for taking hits and for making the right pass at the right time. Cutler has a nice delivery and an underrated quick release. He has also shown great abilities in leadership and other intangibles that create a solid make-up for a successful QB. Even while playing with lesser talent on his own team in college, he has proven he can be the type of leader who comes up big in the clutch.
Weaknesses: He is a raw player who has lacked the right coaching in his career to prepare him well enough for the NFL. He’s a gun-slinger, which means he can be reckless and wild if not coached properly. His mechanics need some tweaking and he lacks the pedigree for winning shown in Leinart and Young.

The Dude's Notes: Cutler was my early favorite coming into this year as a possible pick for the Dolphins. I knew Matt Leinart would go first or second, meaning the next best option for the Fins was Jay Cutler. But the national exposure has been very big, very fast on Cutler, which means his stock will shoot up as Draft Day approaches, perhaps too much to be within reach for Miami. He may not have been as successful as the other two guys, but he did play for Vanderbilt. Not his fault. More than anything, this guy reminds me a lot of a young Brett Favre. A raw, cocky, gun-slinging QB who just needs to be corralled and taught properly by the right coaching staff. And it sucks that he’s getting so much exposure by the press because he’d fit in perfectly with what Nick Saban is trying to build down here.

CHANCES OF THE FINS GETTING HIM: Among the Top 3 QBs in the draft, Cutler would seem the best fit for Saban’s Dolphins. But with not much to bargain with, and with other teams also in the hunt for a QB picking ahead of the Dolphins (Lions, Cardinals, Ravens, to name a few), it leaves little hope that he will still be there at the 16th pick.


Strengths: Croyle has shown a knack for reading defenses and has an extremely strong arm. He has good size at 6-3. He’s intelligent and calm in the pocket and has great leadership abilities. Croyle is also a great athlete with solid mechanics and is an accurate passer. Like most of the prospects, he’s raw but the right coaching can make Croyle a highly successful QB in the NFL.

Weaknesses: The biggest down side to Croyle is his durability. He has a history of injuries going back to his high school career, including a dislocated elbow and a torn labrum. The most troubling of the injuries have been his torn ACL's in both knees, which doesn’t bode well for someone who has yet to take a snap at the NFL level. His experience level is also of some concern and he’ll need to bulk up some if he want to survive a long career in the NFL. While his height is good, he’ll have to bulk up that 205 lb. frame to be on par with today’s NFL quarterback.

The Dude's Notes: Croyle has all the tools needed to be a solid QB in the NFL. His most impressive attribute is that cannon-arm he throws with. And the intelligence and leadership qualities are all there. But the injuries, size and durability are a big concern and he has "possible bust" written all over him. That doesn’t mean he will be a bust – he could very well be a huge success in the NFL – it’s just that the risk is very high with this kid. Still, he might be worth a look if he’s available in the second round and there’s a reason why he’s ranked so highly on most Draft and NFL scouts’ charts. If he’s available in the second round, I say let’s take him.

CHANCES OF THE FINS DRAFTING HIM: This all depends on how he performs during the combine and what the Dolphins learn about the health of his knees. He’s an intriguing option who’s being held back by those nagging doubts about his toughness. But I’m going to venture a prediction here and say that Brodie Croyle will be the next quarterback for your Miami Dolphins (If they can’t land Leinart, Young, or Cutler). This would be a bargain pick and a QB the Dolphins could eventually build around.


Strengths: Whitehurst has all the intangibles: arm strength, size (6-4, 225), solid mechanics and delivery. He is a natural athlete who doesn’t possess a lot of speed, but can make the right moves in the pocket and he has shown good escape-ability from oncoming defenders. Whitehurst is intelligent and is a solid on-field leader. He’s proven durable over his career and has shown a very strong sense of competitiveness as well as grace under pressure.

Weaknesses: Whitehurst can be a little unnerving in his decision making. While he has been cool under pressure he has also shown the opposite, making bad decisions when the pass rush is heavy. His career has run hot and cold and he has taken unnecessary risks at times. Whitehurst will need to be weaned slowly into the NFL level and will need a lot patience and development by the right coaching staff. He will be a project for whoever drafts him but the potential is there.

The Dude's Notes: Whitehurst has good pedigree. His father is former Green Bay Packer quarterback David Whitehurst (played in the NFL 1976-83). His hot-cold career bothers me a little but maybe it’s coaching and maturity that he’s lacked. He looked very good at the Senior Bowl, out-performing other hot prospect quarterbacks. He told 790 The Ticket’s Joe Rose that he was only at 80% health-wise in that game and will look to make some noise at the Combine. He has all the tools but will need a lot of grooming and will be a bit of a risk. He does remind me a little of Cleveland’s rookie QB Charlie Frye, whose pro career has yet to show us anything.

CHANCES OF THE FINS DRAFTING HIM: Unless he really shows a lot at the Combine, I’m not all that convinced the Dolphins will draft him. If they can’t land the other guys they have their eye on, I see them looking elsewhere for a QB (free agency, a trade) and using their 2nd pick as either a trading chip or filling another positional need.

Well, that's it. I guess we'll see come Draft Day.


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