Monday, January 29, 2007

Senior Bowl Coverage: Potential Dolphins Draft Picks

The Senior Bowl came and went and aside from looking at some pretty good NFL prospects, it was a mind numbingly boring game to watch. The North, anchored by a ferocious defensive line, dominated the game and won it by a score of 27-0.

With the NFL Combine still ahead, there are still plenty of prospects to watch. And draft projections will undoubtedly fluctuate from now until April’s draft. But this game did feature some players that caught my eye as well as others whose play solidified my opinions about them.

The Dolphins have needs up the wazoo and Randy Mueller and his brain trust can go a number of different directions with that number 9 pick. I will give my opinions here on how the team should approach this thing.

First off, we’ll only look at the first two picks in this particular post. We know the Dolphins have the 9th overall and 41st overall picks (which is pretty good) in this draft. Their draft slots after this will be decided by a coin flip and the Fins will rotate slots every other round with the Minnesota Vikings. This is because the two teams finished with the same record – or something like that. Maybe Nick Saban is somehow to blame.

Anyway, all this will be resolved once the Super Bowl ends and the final slots are all in place.

Here now is my preliminary 2007 Miami Dolphins Draft report:

First Round, 9th Overall Pick

It’s no secret I think the Dolphins really need to address the quarterback position in this draft. Daunte Culpepper is too much of a question mark and we’re not sure how good Cleo Lemon really is. Drafting a QB this year means sitting him down for at least one season to learn under Lemon or Culpepper and, of course, learning from Cam Cameron – who has a nice history of developing young QBs. Right off the bat, I think JaMarcus Russell of LSU and Brady Quinn of Notre Dame are the two best quarterbacks in this draft. Say what you will about Quinn, but I believe he’s worth a shot if he’s available. I’ve been calling for the Fins to target Quinn this April and at least one draft “expert” seems to have him projected to drop to the Dolphins at the number 9 pick. But I don’t think either Russell or Quinn will be there when the Dolphins’ first pick rolls around. There are other QBs to consider in the later rounds, which we’ll get into later.

There are many glaring needs this team needs to address besides QB. Most notably at offensive line, secondary, and wide receiver. They also need to get younger at linebacker and defensive line. With that said, and assuming neither Quinn nor Russell will be there at No. 9, here are the guys I’d like the Fins to target.

First Choice: Amobi Okoye, Defensive Tackle, Louisville. I’ve liked this guy for a while. He’s a man-child and a stud player who has that rare ability to dominate the line of scrimmage, stuff the run and rush the passer. Think Warren Sapp in his hey day – only with a future that seems brighter. Okoye is only 19 years old, which means as good as he is now, his best years are still ahead of him. The guy’s potential is through the roof and his talent is rare at the position. This kid is the real deal. Not only did he have a monster senior season but he had a monster Senior Bowl. Yes there are big needs at the skills positions and really big needs at the corner back position. But Okoye is simply too good to pass up should he be available at No. 9. Okoye would fill an immediate need. Keith Traylor, Vonnie Holliday, and Jeff Zgonina are not only aging, their all unrestricted free agents. That’s three starting interior linemen that we could potentially lose to age and free agency. Okoye would not only help anchor the D-line, his presence will also open things up for Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas in a big way. Plus, nothing helps a mediocre secondary like a monster pass rush – which Okoye will definitely bring to the table along with Taylor and Co. With big time prospects like Quinn, Russell, Calvin Johnson, and Joe Thomas likely gone by the time the Fins pick in the first round, Okoye will be the best player available. The only set back right now is that Okoye’s stock is sky rocketing and teams like the Redskins, Cardinals and Browns – who all pick ahead of Miami – are also in need of D-line help and would be foolish to pass on a stud like Okoye. If he’s there at number 9, we need to take him.

Second Choice: Darrell Revis, Corner Back, Pittsburgh. The Dolphins desperately need a corner back. Buffalo’s Nate Clements is a free agent and some reports have the Bills not re-signing him or even tagging him as a franchise player. IF these reports are true, then the Fins need to pour all their resources into making Clements their number one free agent signing priority. But that’s all speculative. If they can’t land Clements (or even if they do), then they need to pick a cornerback somewhere in the draft. As it stands, I think Revis is the best of the bunch right now. Some would argue that Michigan’s Leon Hall is the best CB prospect but Hall lacks explosive, shut down speed. That’s where I think Revis edges him out. The Dolphins defense boasts one of the best front sevens in the NFL and adding a shut down, physical corner like Revis to their secondary would make the defense even more dominant. Miami’s secondary is extremely mediocre, so taking a top flight CB at this spot would shore up a huge need. An important factor to take into account is that this draft seems to be deep in defensive back prospects, which means if the Fins pass on a CB early, there’s always a good chance they can target another one later. Remember, the Dolphins have a history of picking good CBs in the second round or later (i.e. Pat Surtain & Sam Madison).

Third Choice: Levi Brown, Offensive Tackle, Penn State. Again, not a sexy pick by any means. But this is a huge need and Brown fits the bill very nicely. Brown is drawing comparisons to guys like Will Shields and Willie Roaf. Imagine having a player like those two busting holes open for Ronnie Brown and protecting our quarterback. At 6-5, 328 pounds, Brown is a walking mountain. He’s also a fantastic athlete. He’s quick, has great footwork and has four years of starting experience in the Big Ten. He’s also been healthy his entire career, which is always a huge plus for the position as many times you have talented offensive line prospects coming into the NFL with prior knee and ligament injuries. Again, he’s not a skills position guy but he fills a huge need in a big way and with Hudson Houck running the O-line again this year, a guy like Brown can be molded into a Pro Bowl caliber OT. (I just don't look forward to Chris Berman calling him "Bad Bad" Levi Brown on NFL Primetime).

Second Round, 41st Overall Pick

Again, assuming the Dolphins miss their chance to draft either Brady Quinn or JaMarcus Russell in the first round, I really believe they need to address the QB position with their second pick. Right now, in my mind, there are only four quarterbacks worth taking in this year’s draft. Russell and Quinn are the top two. I think Michigan State’s Drew Stanton and Houston’s Kevin Kolb are the other two. Both Stanton and Kolb will have plenty of opportunities to raise their stock at the combine and, much like Jay Cutler did last year, could go from projected second rounders to late first rounders. There’s a big drop off between Russell/Quinn and Stanton/Kolb. Quinn and Russell have more polish to their games and seem to be sure things. But both Stanton and Kolb have tremendous potential to be franchise QBs and I think Cam Cameron is the right man to work with either of these two. Either way, the Dolphins would be wise to use their second pick on either of these guys should they be available – and there’s a very good chance that they will be. During the 2001 NFL Draft, there was a talented QB from Purdue who dropped down out of the first round and into the second and the Dolphins had a chance to grab him. Instead, they drafted cornerback Jamar Fletcher, who ended up being a disaster of a player and has since bounced around the league. The quarterback from Purdue they passed on? Drew Brees. Let’s not make this mistake a second time.

Drew Stanton, Quarterback, Michigan State. My liking for Stanton and Kolb changes every day. Today, I’ve got Stanton rated higher because he played more minutes in the Senior Bowl and had a decent game while Kolb barely sniffed the field (thanks to terrible roster management by South coach Mike Nolan). I’ve liked Stanton as a draft option since last season. But he opted to stay in college one more year. This may have hurt his stock as he had a mediocre senior campaign. But I still like him. Stanton is a dynamic player but can also be a polarizing one. Fans and scouts seem to be split down the middle as far as Stanton’s prospects as an NFL quarterback are concerned. There’s no doubt Stanton is physically gifted. At 6-3, 230 pounds, he’s a prototypical QB. He has decent speed, is a great athlete, is tough and has a cannon for an arm. However, he’s wildly inconsistent. He can be a bit of a head case. He’s also had his share of injuries, including a torn ACL back in 2003. Mechanically, he tends to stand in the pocket too long, sometimes stares down his receivers and tends to have mental lapses. But when he’s on his game, he can be outstanding. He’ll need to prove his mental toughness at the combine. But because of his physical attributes, he has the potential to raise his stock and may have already with a solid Senior Bowl outing. I think, under the right direction and leadership, Stanton can be developed into a great NFL QB. He’ll be a project, but one worth investing in.

Kevin Kolb, Quarterback, Houston. I really, really like Kevin Kolb. Like Stanton, Kolb is a work in progress. But he’s also a great prospect to consider. At 6-3, 220 pounds, he’s got great size. He’s also very athletic and has a great arm. Kolb can throw it deep and can be extremely accurate. He can make any throw on the field and can also throw darts on the run, which is rare. And he’s also proven to be a tough, durable QB who knows how to take a good hit. Kolb had a tremendous senior season at Houston, throwing for 3,809 yards and 30 TDs. He has all the physical tools to be a successful NFL quarterback and a good combine will likely sky-rocket his stock. Much like Denver's Jay Cutler last year, Kolb is coming into the combine a virtual unknown whose initial projections have him going somewhere in the third round. That will change come February. Kolb is the real deal and much like Cutler, will raise his stick significantly at the combine. Kolb has shown signs of inconsistency throughout his college career but nothing that can’t be fixed by sound NFL-level coaching. Stanton is more physically gifted, has a bigger arm and is a better all-around athlete. But the NFL game is also a game of mental toughness and Kolb seems to have an edge over Stanton in that department. He's proven himself as a superb passer, and his decision making has improved tremendously over the last two seasons. He also cut back on turnovers and has shown a lot of pocket presence and toughness. If either he or Stanton are there at 41, the Dolphins need to pounce.


These are just my preliminary thoughts. I'll have more to say once the combine comes. I might change my mind here and there. But we'll see how these guys do at the combine and what the Dolphins say about it all. As always, I welcome your thoughts, opinions and suggestions.


i agree that we need to take a shut down corner with oue first pick. adding a strong dt would be fine but the front seven isn't the problem. the problem is the damn secondary saban left us with is a disgrace and a player that can potentially be the next champ bailey would be the way to go. and i agree that we need to target clements as long as he's not made a franchise player by buffalo.
Great stuff Dude. You got me all fired up over here! Forget the Super Bowl -- bring on the draft and let's start the madness! Go Fins!!!
Nice job DUDE. I think that its a coin flip whether or not Quinn will be there. Teams are now scared to draft a 1st round QB it seems. Hell look at Leinart falling last year (I think to the 10th pick). There are some teams ahead of us that could use a QB, but maybe Quinn's bowl performance will hurt his stock. Probably just wishful thinking on my part. Keep up the good work.
I like your choices. I agree with TK though. I'd rather get an immediate need and draft a shut down corner (if Quinn or Russell are gone).

As for Stanton/Kolb, don't know much about Kolb. But Stanton reminds me of a strong armed, athletic Joey Harrington. Not much of an improvement there. But I guess we'll see what happens at the combine.
I also think we need to keep in mind that when you pick at 9 (and at 41 for that matter) we should take the best available not necessarily the most needed position. The only position I would avoid picking a player at is RB, because we have too much money invested in Ronnie. Plus I think Ronnie can get it done. All other spots are needs or will be needs in the near future. I lost faith in McMichael after this year. I like Booker but he is expendible. Our QB situation is up in the air. Any addition to the OL would be welcome. Our front 7 is good but aside from Matt Roth and Crowder, we need some young talent for Zach and Jason to pass the torch too. The age of our interior linemen is definitely a concern. The young guys we drafted have yet to prove anything. I agree with TK that we definitely need a shutdown corner. I don't see a potential Champ Bailey player out there. (Maybe the kid from Pitt) Targeting Clements would be a good idea. He has always been a thorn in our side. Word out of upstate NY is that the Bills gave him their word that they wouldn't franchise him again. They definitely won't buck-up either, they tend to only go for bargain players. (With the exception being Takeo Spikes) I don't blame their ownership either, they failed to sell out their last 4 home games.

Back to the point: We must take the best available player! Many fans were giving Nick shit for doing just the opposite. We need the most talented player no matter his position.
Also...I hope this is the last time we are picking this high for a long, long time.
I watched some of the Senior Bowl and I really liked this kid Okoeye. Like you said, Dude, he's a manchild. The guy is huge (pure muscle) and attacks the line of scrimmage with intensity. I salivate at the possibility of having him rush the passer with JT. Would be awesome. I agree with drafting best available player and filling needs and this guy fits both those bills.

As far as QB. Not crazy about Stanton. I'm one of those who thinks he shrinks under pressure and Doug's analogy of him being a strong armed Harrington is not only funny but pretty acurate. Don't know much about Kolb outside of the Canes shutting him down this year when we played UH.

Go Phins!
Not sure Levi Brown would make a good first round pick, at least not at 9th. But he did have an impressive Senior Bowl. I do like your first 2 choices for the 9th pick. Of the two, I'd take Revis. Although I do like Amobi Okoye very much. Leon Hall isn't a bad option either. Revis is a physical CB and his stock is rising fast. Even though Cam is an offense guy, the secondary needs lots of improvement. Otherwise, we're wasting the great play of our front seven.

I've been waiting for this blog entry! Great picks Dude but i'm really interested in seeing us get the O-line beefed matter how good at QB we get or "have", they can't do anything with the mediocrity...

I like Revis (sure star on the rise) or Clements, hell both if the stars aligned...

I haven't seen much play from Okoeye so I can't comment much but from what you guys describe, Jason and Zach should be salivating for him

I don't think Russell or Quinn will fall either but like NY stated about Leinert, it could happen and i'd feel better with a Russell pick over Quinn (he's a beast and can throw damn near the length of the field kneeling) although i'd take either....someone mentioned in an earlier blog about the kid (QB) from Hawaii, any thoughts or info on him?

and so the story continues, can't wait for the combine and draft goodies
The QB from Hawaii you’re referring to is Colt Brennan. He opted to stay in school for his senior season so he won’t be available till next year.
Thanks for the info. I'm sure we'll know more as the combine comes and goes. I wonder how much of a priority getting a QB is really for Dolphins brass. If we can't land Russell or Quinn -- who we'll need to trade up for -- I'm not sure they'll draft Stanton or Kolb. For some reason, I see them using their first two picks on a CB and O-line or receiver.
If someone like Rex Grossman can take the Bears to a Super Bowl, then I'll take someone like Drew Stanton if he's available. Of course he's not worth the Number 9 pick but if he's there when round No. 2 rolls around, then we need to grab him. You can't win without a good QB and I'm not sure Cleo is the answer and we need to take a shot at one of these prospects and groom them the way Cam groomed Philip Rivers.
Good analysis, "BOB" -- I mean, Dude. Sorry, I get all reverent everytime I see our Lord JR Dobbs.

Doug, your characterization of Stanton as a Harrington redux is right on, and not just because he plays in Michigan. He seems like a guy with great physical talents, but the great QBs win with their decisions.

As for Colt Brennan, forget him. He's a system QB who'll wow you with the stats, but think Dave Klingler, Andre Ware, Kliff Kingsbury. Shredding weak conference defenses with a run-n-shoot has nothing to do with the NFL.

I think Dolfans should sue Saban and Spielman for the multi-year neglect of the O-Line. I'd rank draft needs thusly: OL, CB, WR, QB, DT, LB. They also need to draft a viable kicker in a late round to kick Mare in the ass.
Ha! That's right, Seamus. I am the supreme leader of the Church of the SubGenius!!

And, yes ... we need O-line. I like Levi Brown (if we can't get Joe Thomas).
Quinn doesn't have that Jamarcus Russell stud label, and that whole knee (no matter how 'it's just a bruise)makes you think Daunte. The article you had had Joe Thomas T - Wisconsin at 5, but if he falls to nine I think that's our man. I sure hope he's there at nine Other good picks might be Ginn from Ohio State (taking that kickoff to the end zone on the Gators isn't pure luck and he has speed); Dwayne Bowe (LSU) another good receiver to look at, but he's might be too soon of a pick at nine, and he'll for sure be long gone by the time the second round rolls around.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?