With the draft concluded the bulk of our offseason picture has been painted. There have been a lot of positives thus far.
A few thoughts about the SoFlo Sea Mammals’ draft, which we actually gave a B+.
*Ryan Tannehill is a bit of a physical freak, and we think he’s going to be a dynamic young QB, sooner than later. It was time to spend big on a guy under center with first round talent. We did, and we think we will look smart for doing so. The ability to give wideouts that extra second to break free is invaluable. He can move the pocket, he can run, he knows the offense. Considering all of that, and the torturous Dan Marino hangover we’ve endured, was he ever NOT going to be the pick?
*Jonathan Martin will start in this league for the next ten years. Not exactly a flashy choice, but there was zero stoppage occurring on the right side of our line last year. It costs us, big time, and by many people’s estimation Martin should have been off the board long before we picked. Solid choice.
*Olivier Vernon has loads of talent, and with the mad scientist Mike Nolan heading north to the ATL, keeping our defensive talent level up was key. Our scoring defense was stellar last season (6th in the NFL), and ignoring that side of the ball would be a mistake. It was nice to hear Mike Mayock single Vernon out as one of the few Juniors who had skills to pay the bills.
*Michael Egnew is a promising pick, though we were screaming Mohamed Sanu’s name at the television. The Rutgers wideout would have been a nice edition, and with a solid Fasano and H-back Charles Clay already in the mix we thought a wideout was called for. Still, we all saw Jimmy Graham destroy the league this season, and Egnew, dare we say, is a similar prospect.
*Lamar Miller is a home run threat, through and through. This guy was in a lot of first round mocks leading up to the draft. Reggie Bush has been fantastic, but isn’t signed beyond this season. Daniel Thomas has disappointed, though it’s early. But aside from thinking down the road, Miller was far too good to still be on the board. We identified that, and jumped up a handful of picks to grab him. You can never have too many playmakers.
*Josh Kaddu is an extremely athletic linebacker prospect, who could be a gem in a 4-3, where the big boys up front occupy blockers and LBs shoot from a cannon. Again, at this point you’re safely into “anybody’s guess” territory, but he has some physicality to him that you just can’t teach.
*B.J. Cunningham jumps into the WR mix in the 6th round. This was good value. He had the highest NFL.com grade of any prospect snagged in the 6th. Considering how long we waited, we did well to bring him into camp.
*Kheeston Randall is a big body to throw into the mix on defense. Fell off this past season in college, but has potential. We’d also ignored the interior D-line up to that point, and he represented decent value.
*Rishard Matthews is another interesting wideout prospect. The Nevada kid was apparently impressive in his early Davie workouts. Not a speed demon, and not exactly a physical specimen, he just seems to have a knack for making plays.
*Of our undrafted free agents, we’re most interested to watch WR Jeff Fuller, a big kid (6’4″ 224lbs) with a great deal of familiarity with both Sherman and Tannehill.
*Can’t underestimate the locking down of Paul Soliai. Our run defense was fantastic. Only the Ravens and 49ers allowed fewer yards per carry than the Sea Mammals, and that was due in large part to the big man in the middle.
*To keep even greater defensive continuity we locked down Cameron Wake, who has improved his run defense and is far more than just a sack specialist. You must retain your talent. He earned this contract.
*Jamaal Westerman and Gary Guyton are defenders with some ability, but more importantly they were brought in with very low risk contracts. Guyton is an extremely athletic LB who just never clicked in New England. Again, moving to a 4-3, athletic LBs who can shoot the gaps are key.
*Legedu Naanee is a decent, low-cost signing who could rise from this, how should we say, “interesting” group of wide receivers. Which brings us to the elephant in the room, that figures to be sitting there snacking on peanuts ’til other answers emerge:
THE BRANDON MARSHALL TRADE
So far sending Marshall to Chicago has netted us TE Michael Egnew and WR BJ Cunningham, with a 3rd rounder in next year’s draft still to be used. For all we know those two players, and the player we grab with Chicago’s 2013 3rd rounder, will all be enshrined together in Canton. However, until then we’ve got to consider what this Dolphins team would look like had we not made that trade.
Jeff Ireland has locked down Paul Soliai and Cam Wake and added pieces to our #6 scoring defense. He’s found great value to plug in at RT opposite Jake Long, whose extension is apparently in the works. He’s committed to our quarterback of the future, a sky’s the limit kid. He’s added a little bit of lightning to our backfield alongside Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas. All of this could have happened with “The Beast” still in the fold.
Brandon Marshall, despite the distractions, is one hell of a wideout. He would have made for a great safety net for a rookie quarterback. Tannehill with a #1, All Pro wideout, coupled with slot-master Bess and Brian Hartline, a solid Fasano, H-back Clay, and perhaps the best pass-catching back in the NFL in Reggie Bush? Well that sounds like a much less daunting situation than the one Ryan will currently face.
Of course, this was a move that may have been made to protect Tannehill from a diva. Perhaps the folks in Davie felt that it would be too much for a new QB to deal with the constant chirping of a brash wideout, that it would somehow impede his development. And of course, it was a move made after news of another off the field incident. Yes, these distractions are ridiculous. Yes, they get tiresome to deal with.
But on Sundays this fall, if no one emerges as a #1, and our QB is running for his life while the Cutler-to-Marshall connection lights up the league, that trade will loom large.
GO DOLPHINS, and feel free to follow us on Twitter @TheBottlenose