At this moment, the Miami Dolphins should be putting the finishing touches on their 2010 NFL Draft board. We'll see the results when the draft is aired for the first time in prime time Thursday night on ESPN.
So far, prognostications have been all over the place regarding Miami's pick. The one thing they all seem to agree on, is that Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant is now off Miam's draft list because of last week's Brandon Marshall trade. Oklahoma linebacker Rolando McClain was another early candidate, but most mock drafts have him gone by the time Miami is set to pick.
Perusing some of the mock drafts, two names seem to come up more than any other at the Dolphins' slot: Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams and Texas outside linebacker Sergio Kindle (pictured, left).
Williams is projected to go to Miami by three of the four draft experts at CBSSportsline.com, while the fourth, Rob Rang, has outside linebacker Jerry Hughes going to the Fins.
Pat Kirwin of NFL.com says Kindle, as do two of the four writers who cover the Dolphins for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
Interestingly, while most of the draft gurus think the Dolphins will go with defense Thursday, CNNSI.com's Peter King has Miami trading down with the Philadelphia Eagles and acquiring Philly's 24th overall pick. King has Miami taking Fresno State running back Ryan Matthews, arguably the best back coming out after Clemson's C.J. Spiller.
Now, with pre-draft rumors swirling that Ronnie Brown is on the trading block, it would be that type of a move that would necessitate drafting Matthews, unless Miami is worried about Brown's durability, which is a legitimate concern since he has been injured in two of the last three seasons.
We've already discussed Williams in an earlier post, so let's take a look at the other defensive candidates for the Dolphins, since I disagree with King and think defense is the way Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland will go Thursday night.
- Kindle, Oklahoma: According to CBS Sportsline, Kindle is "an instinctive and athletic playmaker who would be at his best playing outside linebacker ... but also has experience at defensive end." Sounds like the type of versatility the Dolphins would covet, and with Karlos Dansby and Channing Crowder starting at the other two linebacker positions, Kindle could take over at Jason Taylor's old spot, with Cameron Wake perhaps becoming the fourth starter. At 6-foot-3 230 pounds, Kindle has good size and speed, though he does have behavioral issues.
- Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech: Morgan, an outside linebacker, is 6-foot-3, 266 pounds, but according to NFL.com, "he doesn't appear to have the overall athleticism to project him as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme." This would be a problem, since that is the defense Miami favors.
- Brandon Graham, Michigan: Graham is the shortest of the outside backers we've reviewed so far, at 6-foot-1, 268 pounds. NFL.com says, "he doesn't have enough burst and lateral agility to excel as a stand-up player in the NFL, but may be effective in zone blitz schemes in limited coverage responsibilities."
So, each player has the versatility to play in the Dolphins defense, but each has his limitations. But, in a deep draft such as this year's, all are projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to early in the second round, meaning they are talented players.
Of course, the draft is a crapshoot, so odds are that one or more of these players will not pan out.
Schedule-makers do Dolphins no favors
Tuesday, the NFL released the 2010 NFL schedule, and the Dolphins have no easy task away from home, where they're at Minnesota, Green Bay, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Oakland, New York and New England.
That's six playoff teams from 2009. Oakland would appear to be the only easy game, but remember, the Dolphins historically have struggled on the West Coast.
Home games include the usual AFC East suspects, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit.
Miami has one Monday night game (against New England in Week 4) and two Sunday night games (the Jets in Week 3 and Chicago in Week 11). All are home games for Miami.
Officially, the NFL rates Miami's schedule as the 17th toughest in the league. But really, aside from Buffalo twice (and the Bills beat the Dolphins last year and should be improved in 2010), Detroit and Cleveland, there are no gimmes. (And note the above explanation for why I didn't include Oakland).
It's going to be another long haul for a team that will have little time to go through growing pains with a young quarterback, new No. 1 receiver, and possibly an all-new linebacking corps.
J.T. a Jet
It long seemed a foregone conclusion, and Tuesday, Jason Taylor finally signed with the New York Jets. The Dolphins never really seemed interested in bringing back their all-time sack leader, which Taylor's brother-in-law and former Miami great Zach Thomas made clear in a story published in a local newspaper.
Now, it's obvious the Dolphins could have done more to bring Taylor back, but did he really have to sign with the Jets? Maybe it's another Brett Favre scenario, where J.T. wants revenge against a team he felt had discarded him.
Anyhow, J.T., you gave us 12 years of brilliant service here in Miami, and you won't be forgotten. But, you're with the enemy now, and Dolfans will root hard against you. Expect no sympathy in either meeting this season.