The Miami Dolphins attacked the 2011 NFL Draft by selecting quality players at positions of need on the offensive side of the football with their first four selections all going to offense. Needs at C, RB, speed WR/KR & TE were all addressed with selections of Mike Pouncey, Daniel Thomas, Edmond Gates, and Charles Clay. The only “need” position that Miami didn’t really address was at quarterback. You can argue that it’s not really a need, but I was caught by surprise that Miami didn’t pick up one of the young guns in this year’s draft.
Some of the other NFL teams around the league may have been in more of a desperation mode when it comes to this position. Carolina selected Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton with the first overall selection and they’re wagering that he can make the transition from college to pro football in five months! The Panthers did their due diligence and now have the task and pressure of getting him ready. But there were other quarterbacks selected in the first round that Miami felt like either they weren’t worth moving up to get, or felt that what they have in Chad Henne is a better position to be in.
Tennessee stretched their necks out to select Washington’s Jake Locker with the eighth pick overall, and not even ESPN’s Mel Kiper or Todd McShay had the QB going that high. Jacksonville moved up from the 16th pick to number 10 to select Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert and Newton seemed to be the top two quarterbacks going into this year’s draft, but teams like Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona, and the Titans at #8, all passed on Gabbert. Miami, sitting at #15 still must have felt like moving up to nab Gabbert wasn’t going to put this team in a better position moving forward in 2011. Minnesota also had a need at the position coming into the draft and pushed all of their chips directly to the center of the table by selecting Florida State’s Christian Ponder with the 12th pick overall. Again, most analysts believe it was huge gamble selecting Ponder so high, and the Dolphins must have agreed with the assessment. Miami didn’t make a play for a quarterback in the first round, though four were selected before they chose at 15.
I was feeling fairly confident coming into this draft that if I needed a quarterback to either compete for the starting job, or give the incumbent a little nudge, I would select Arkansas’s Ryan Mallett. He is to me the most NFL ready prospect in terms of arm strength, knowledge, and overall ability. When I heard that the Dolphins were making noise moving up late in the second round, I was convinced that it was to select Mallett. It would solidify one of their needs to create competition at quarterback, and there were still plenty of talented running backs left in the draft that would compare to the skill set of KSU’s Daniel Thomas. I was convinced that Miami would get a talented young QB in the draft, and then make a play in free agency or via a trade when the “new league year” starts.
The actions of the Miami Dolphins in the 2011 Draft tell me a couple of things. Filling the needs at center, running back and getting a deep threat were more pressing that selecting a quarterback that they felt either couldn’t compete for the starting job, or would have enough experience or ability to push Henne. Ireland and Head Coach Tony Sparano must feel that they have a better chance to get a veteran quarterback in the off-season and create competition that way. It’s a good strategy because you’ll get someone that either has started in the NFL, or has the experience to compete from day one of training camp. The Dolphins have definitely strengthened the offensive side of the football and coupled with a new offense, that might be enough to help Henne and company succeed right now.
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