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With the first pick in the 2008 NFL Draft Miami selects ...


lanholmes
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http://www.kffl.com/article.php/86760/123

The draft order procedure always had good intentions. The worst teams from the previous season get the highest picks and thus the opportunity to draft college football's best prospects, all in hopes of being more competitive in the years to come. In some ways, however, it has become more of a curse than a blessing.

The pressure on the team with the No. 1 pick in the draft is enormous, due in large part to the skyrocketing money being paid to top draft picks. Last year's first overall pick, Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell, received a $61 million contract with $29 million guaranteed. This year's top pick could receive guaranteed money pushing $35 million. It is a steep price for any player, let alone one that has never played a down in the NFL. If a team chooses the wrong player, it can be a salary cap burden for years and is a black mark on the franchise. It is also a big reason why the Miami Dolphins, on the clock with the first overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, would love to trade down. Unfortunately, it takes two to tango, and no one's dancing.

Stuck at the Top

Coming off a 1-15 season in 2007, it's no secret the Dolphins have many holes to fill. While they addressed some of those needs with a spending spree early in free agency, plenty of holes remain. The quarterback situation remains up in the air. Their starting running back is coming off a serious knee injury, and they lack a proven No. 1 receiver. They essentially haven no left guard or right tackle. The secondary has plenty of bodies, but is lacking in talent.

In addition to the money saved by trading down, stockpiling draft picks would easily be the best course of action for the Dolphins because it would allow them to acquire more young talent to build around. A potential trade down from the No. 1 spot would net them a handful of first-day picks, which would go a long way in restoring a franchise that hasn't been to the playoffs since 2001. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, one of the biggest reason they'd like to trade down (money) is the same reason other teams aren't inclined to trade up.

The Dallas Cowboys - the team most frequently brought up when discussing Miami's potential trade partners - are unlikely to make a move for the top spot. Even Jerry Jones, a University of Arkansas alumnus, is unlikely to pay the price it would take (both of his first-round picks plus more) to trade up just so he could grab Razorbacks running back Darren McFadden - especially when you consider he'll likely be able to land another Arkansas tailback, Felix Jones, later in Round 1.

Now, it seems Miami is stuck with the No. 1 overall pick, whether they like it or not. The price, both in terms of draft pick compensation as well as the cost of the player himself, is just too great to justify making the jump to the top spot.

What are Miami's options at No. 1? There are a few worthy candidates, some more likely than others.

A Franchise Signal Caller?

The Dolphins have lacked a productive, reliable quarterback since Dan Marino retired in 1999. Since then, they've used a handful of journeymen and other team's backups to get the job done, with little success. If the Dolphins want to fill the void with a quarterback using the first pick, Boston College's Matt Ryan is really the only prospect worth considering. Unfortunately for Ryan, his agent and his banker, he is probably the fourth most likely prospect to be taken by the Dolphins at No. 1.

Despite 2007 second-round pick John Beck being brought in by the previous regime and despite the fact he threw just one touchdown in five games (all losses) his rookie season, word is Dolphins vice president Bill Parcells is quite high on Beck. Quarterbacks coach David Lee and offensive coordinator Dan Henning have already worked extensively with him this offseason; Beck's work ethic has been touted as second to none. While he was not hand-picked by Parcells, it certainly appears as if the organization isn't giving up on Beck just yet.

In addition, the team brought in veteran Josh McCown on a two-year, $6.25 million contract to push Beck for the starting job. Both he and Beck are virtual locks to make the team. One of them will start, making it very unlikely they take add Ryan, too. While they will probably bring in a rookie in Rounds 2-3 to add to the mix, more than likely they'll look elsewhere with the first overall pick.

An Elite Left Tackle?

Like the quarterback position, the Dolphins have lacked a stud left tackle since last decade when Richmond Webb was protecting the blindside. Vernon Carey manned the left side last season with mixed results and is probably better suited for the right side. While the Dolphins added a strong right guard in Justin Smiley through free agency, the offensive tackle position has been unaddressed, making it likely the Dolphins will have to leave Carey at left tackle in 2008 and address the position through the draft. The University of Michigan's Jake Long headlines a deep 2008 class of offensive tackles.

While as many as seven offensive tackles could feasibly go in the first round, Long is the most widely accepted top prospect and probably the only player at his position being given significant consideration for the top spot. Long is an extremely talented player, but many feel he is not an elite left tackle prospect. Some even believe he might be better suited for the right side - something you don't typically look for when drafting a tackle as high as Miami would be.

Furthermore, the offensive tackle position is quite possibly the deepest in the draft and the drop-off from Long to those available in the next two rounds is not that big. Why take Long in Round 1 when you could go elsewhere with the pick and still land Sam Baker (Southern California) or Carl Nicks (Nebraska) in Round 2, or even Anthony Collins (Kansas) or Barry Richardson (Clemson) in Round 3? With the depth at the position, Long would be only the third-best choice for Miami at No. 1.

A Dominant Pass Rusher?

Once you eliminate Ryan and Long from the draft board, there are really only two players - both at the same position - worth considering for the No. 1 overall pick. The University of Virginia's Chris Long and Ohio State's Vernon Gholston were both standout defensive ends in college, both having the ability to be premier pass-rushing outside linebackers in Miami's expected 3-4 alignment.

While not an immediate need for Miami due to the presence of outside linebackers Jason Taylor and Joey Porter, it could become a need sooner than some think. Despite Parcells' assurances that Taylor is going nowhere, it remains a strong possibility he is dealt as early as draft day and at least some time before camp. Even if Taylor stays in Miami in 2008, he is likely to begin seriously considering retirement after the season and will probably be gone in no more than two years.

Meanwhile, Joey Porter - Miami's big free-agent signing from last year - had a disappointing season in 2007 with 65 tackles and just 5.5 sacks. There could also be character concerns after the way Porter erupted on Cam Cameron in front of the team at the end of last season, and it seems likely Porter will not play out his contract in Miami without a serious increase in production.

With a potentially glaring hole at the position by 2009 or so, possibly sooner, Long and Gholston would make a lot of sense for Miami at the first overall pick. Parcells has long been a fan of drafting defense early, just like he did when he took Troy University defensive end DeMarcus Ware in 2005. In Long or Gholston, Parcells would pick up a player with the physical tools to join Ware among the elite 3-4 pass rushers.

Once you narrow it down to Long and Gholston, you're only halfway finished. While both extremely talented, both have their advantages. Long has the pedigree as the son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long. He has the connections, having worked under Parcells' good friend Al Groh at Virginia. He possesses good size, strength, adequate speed and an unparalleled drive and work ethic. Of course, he has the production, with 41 of his 43 sacks coming since his sophomore season. While he was a 3-4 end in college, he weighed in less than 270 pounds and seems destined to stand up if he gets drafted by a 3-4 team in the pros.

Gholston is no slouch himself. He, too, has the production, with 30.5 sacks over the past two seasons. He is a tremendous athlete with great strength and 4.6 speed. The best pure pass rusher in the draft, Gholston could easily be the next Ware. The criticisms, though there are few, have been that he lacks consistently and sometimes takes plays off. That can be coached but talent cannot.

While the debate of Chris Long or Gholston is an endless one, Long is probably the more likely pick based on his Parcells connections and intangibles. Gholston, meanwhile, is the dark horse and would be considered by some less likely that Ryan or Jake Long. However, when it comes to potential upside, it's hard to surpass Gholston and Parcells could recognize that.

Either way, Miami is likely to select a potentially elite pass rusher with the top overall pick. While only one piece of a puzzle still missing many, all things considered, it would be the right choice.

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Right now, I think it's 40% likely the Dolphins take Gholston, 30% likely they take Chris Long, 20% likely they take Jake Long and 10% Matt Ryan. I had been thinking it would be Ryan, but none of the reports I'm reading has him in serious contention. As such, Gholston is the player most similar to what Parcells did in Dallas with DeMarcus Ware.

Personally, I think Gholston over Long would be nuts, though.

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lanholmes (4/5/2008)
http://www.kffl.com/article.php/86760/123

The draft order procedure always had good intentions. The worst teams from the previous season get the highest picks and thus the opportunity to draft college football's best prospects, all in hopes of being more competitive in the years to come. In some ways, however, it has become more of a curse than a blessing.

The pressure on the team with the No. 1 pick in the draft is enormous, due in large part to the skyrocketing money being paid to top draft picks. Last year's first overall pick, Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell, received a $61 million contract with $29 million guaranteed. This year's top pick could receive guaranteed money pushing $35 million. It is a steep price for any player, let alone one that has never played a down in the NFL. If a team chooses the wrong player, it can be a salary cap burden for years and is a black mark on the franchise. It is also a big reason why the Miami Dolphins, on the clock with the first overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, would love to trade down. Unfortunately, it takes two to tango, and no one's dancing.

Stuck at the Top

Coming off a 1-15 season in 2007, it's no secret the Dolphins have many holes to fill. While they addressed some of those needs with a spending spree early in free agency, plenty of holes remain. The quarterback situation remains up in the air. Their starting running back is coming off a serious knee injury, and they lack a proven No. 1 receiver. They essentially haven no left guard or right tackle. The secondary has plenty of bodies, but is lacking in talent.

In addition to the money saved by trading down, stockpiling draft picks would easily be the best course of action for the Dolphins because it would allow them to acquire more young talent to build around. A potential trade down from the No. 1 spot would net them a handful of first-day picks, which would go a long way in restoring a franchise that hasn't been to the playoffs since 2001. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, one of the biggest reason they'd like to trade down (money) is the same reason other teams aren't inclined to trade up.

The Dallas Cowboys - the team most frequently brought up when discussing Miami's potential trade partners - are unlikely to make a move for the top spot. Even Jerry Jones, a University of Arkansas alumnus, is unlikely to pay the price it would take (both of his first-round picks plus more) to trade up just so he could grab Razorbacks running back Darren McFadden - especially when you consider he'll likely be able to land another Arkansas tailback, Felix Jones, later in Round 1.

Now, it seems Miami is stuck with the No. 1 overall pick, whether they like it or not. The price, both in terms of draft pick compensation as well as the cost of the player himself, is just too great to justify making the jump to the top spot.

What are Miami's options at No. 1? There are a few worthy candidates, some more likely than others.

A Franchise Signal Caller?

The Dolphins have lacked a productive, reliable quarterback since Dan Marino retired in 1999. Since then, they've used a handful of journeymen and other team's backups to get the job done, with little success. If the Dolphins want to fill the void with a quarterback using the first pick, Boston College's Matt Ryan is really the only prospect worth considering. Unfortunately for Ryan, his agent and his banker, he is probably the fourth most likely prospect to be taken by the Dolphins at No. 1.

Despite 2007 second-round pick John Beck being brought in by the previous regime and despite the fact he threw just one touchdown in five games (all losses) his rookie season, word is Dolphins vice president Bill Parcells is quite high on Beck. Quarterbacks coach David Lee and offensive coordinator Dan Henning have already worked extensively with him this offseason; Beck's work ethic has been touted as second to none. While he was not hand-picked by Parcells, it certainly appears as if the organization isn't giving up on Beck just yet.

In addition, the team brought in veteran Josh McCown on a two-year, $6.25 million contract to push Beck for the starting job. Both he and Beck are virtual locks to make the team. One of them will start, making it very unlikely they take add Ryan, too. While they will probably bring in a rookie in Rounds 2-3 to add to the mix, more than likely they'll look elsewhere with the first overall pick.

An Elite Left Tackle?

Like the quarterback position, the Dolphins have lacked a stud left tackle since last decade when Richmond Webb was protecting the blindside. Vernon Carey manned the left side last season with mixed results and is probably better suited for the right side. While the Dolphins added a strong right guard in Justin Smiley through free agency, the offensive tackle position has been unaddressed, making it likely the Dolphins will have to leave Carey at left tackle in 2008 and address the position through the draft. The University of Michigan's Jake Long headlines a deep 2008 class of offensive tackles.

While as many as seven offensive tackles could feasibly go in the first round, Long is the most widely accepted top prospect and probably the only player at his position being given significant consideration for the top spot. Long is an extremely talented player, but many feel he is not an elite left tackle prospect. Some even believe he might be better suited for the right side - something you don't typically look for when drafting a tackle as high as Miami would be.

Furthermore, the offensive tackle position is quite possibly the deepest in the draft and the drop-off from Long to those available in the next two rounds is not that big. Why take Long in Round 1 when you could go elsewhere with the pick and still land Sam Baker (Southern California) or Carl Nicks (Nebraska) in Round 2, or even Anthony Collins (Kansas) or Barry Richardson (Clemson) in Round 3? With the depth at the position, Long would be only the third-best choice for Miami at No. 1.

A Dominant Pass Rusher?

Once you eliminate Ryan and Long from the draft board, there are really only two players - both at the same position - worth considering for the No. 1 overall pick. The University of Virginia's Chris Long and Ohio State's Vernon Gholston were both standout defensive ends in college, both having the ability to be premier pass-rushing outside linebackers in Miami's expected 3-4 alignment.

While not an immediate need for Miami due to the presence of outside linebackers Jason Taylor and Joey Porter, it could become a need sooner than some think. Despite Parcells' assurances that Taylor is going nowhere, it remains a strong possibility he is dealt as early as draft day and at least some time before camp. Even if Taylor stays in Miami in 2008, he is likely to begin seriously considering retirement after the season and will probably be gone in no more than two years.

Meanwhile, Joey Porter - Miami's big free-agent signing from last year - had a disappointing season in 2007 with 65 tackles and just 5.5 sacks. There could also be character concerns after the way Porter erupted on Cam Cameron in front of the team at the end of last season, and it seems likely Porter will not play out his contract in Miami without a serious increase in production.

With a potentially glaring hole at the position by 2009 or so, possibly sooner, Long and Gholston would make a lot of sense for Miami at the first overall pick. Parcells has long been a fan of drafting defense early, just like he did when he took Troy University defensive end DeMarcus Ware in 2005. In Long or Gholston, Parcells would pick up a player with the physical tools to join Ware among the elite 3-4 pass rushers.

Once you narrow it down to Long and Gholston, you're only halfway finished. While both extremely talented, both have their advantages. Long has the pedigree as the son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long. He has the connections, having worked under Parcells' good friend Al Groh at Virginia. He possesses good size, strength, adequate speed and an unparalleled drive and work ethic. Of course, he has the production, with 41 of his 43 sacks coming since his sophomore season. While he was a 3-4 end in college, he weighed in less than 270 pounds and seems destined to stand up if he gets drafted by a 3-4 team in the pros.

Gholston is no slouch himself. He, too, has the production, with 30.5 sacks over the past two seasons. He is a tremendous athlete with great strength and 4.6 speed. The best pure pass rusher in the draft, Gholston could easily be the next Ware. The criticisms, though there are few, have been that he lacks consistently and sometimes takes plays off. That can be coached but talent cannot.

While the debate of Chris Long or Gholston is an endless one, Long is probably the more likely pick based on his Parcells connections and intangibles. Gholston, meanwhile, is the dark horse and would be considered by some less likely that Ryan or Jake Long. However, when it comes to potential upside, it's hard to surpass Gholston and Parcells could recognize that.

Either way, Miami is likely to select a potentially elite pass rusher with the top overall pick. While only one piece of a puzzle still missing many, all things considered, it would be the right choice.

 

 

with all that said, the Fins will take Matt Ryan, they have NO QB at all.

The post Marino jeers are getting louder for a QB. The Fins have no leader.

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jidady (4/5/2008)
Right now, I think it's 40% likely the Dolphins take Gholston, 30% likely they take Chris Long, 20% likely they take Jake Long and 10% Matt Ryan. I had been thinking it would be Ryan, but none of the reports I'm reading has him in serious contention. As such, Gholston is the player most similar to what Parcells did in Dallas with DeMarcus Ware.

Personally, I think Gholston over Long would be nuts, though.

dude, when they say nothing about a guy, there is a great chance that "he" is their guy. Whomever they are talking about is just misdirection just before the draft.

Last week when Coach Smitty was talking about big guys, he was setting up an angle to get Ryan. Now, if the Fins take Ryan, we get to grab up who we wanted anyway.

Let the head games begin!

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michaelgee (4/7/2008)

dude, when they say nothing about a guy, there is a great chance that "he" is their guy. Whomever they are talking about is just misdirection just before the draft.

Actually, this is a popular misconception. There is no need for the #1 team to smokescreen unless they are devoted to the idea of trading down. Charlie Casserley repeatedly said he thought Bush and Williams were close heading into the 2006 draft, but nobody believed him since they thought it was a negotiating tactic.

Parcells and his new GM appear to have made the call that they need to draft a guy who is guaranteed to help at #1 overall rather than a QB, just as they should. I would love to be wrong about this, but the situation appears to be going the wrong way.

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jidady (4/7/2008)

Parcells and his new GM appear to have made the call that they need to draft a guy who is guaranteed to help at #1 overall rather than a QB, just as they should. I would love to be wrong about this, but the situation appears to be going the wrong way.

i haven't watched any of the combine footage, but i would be interested in what parcells thought about watching ryan. when bledsoe was in the combine, parcells fell in love with him and took him first overall in 1993. ryan is about the same size as bledsoe, but i really dont know much about their styles being the same. just an interesting thought i guess.

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