Dolphins Watch

April 26, 2010 3:07 PM

Dolphins draft fills needs

ODRICK.bmpIt wasn't the most star-studded draft by any means. In fact, I hadn't heard of any of the players the Dolphins selected until last weekend.

But, it was a basic draft that served to fill various needs, particularly on defense, where Miami spent seven of its eight selections.

The Dolphins recouped the second round pick they lost in the Brandon Marshall trade, moving down on the first day from 12th to 28th in a trade with San Diego, acquiring the 40th choice in the process.

This is really the only fault I found with Miami's decision-making this weekend. Yes, the Dolphins managed to stay in the first round, and pick up an extra second round pick GMs so covet -- especially in this draft, which was so deep.

But, the odds are Miami passed on a special player with the 12th pick.

Over the last five years, Knowshon Moreno (Denver), Ryan Clady (Denver), Marshawn Lynch (Buffalo), Hatoli Ngata (Baltimore) and Shawn Merriman (Chargers) have all been selected with the 12th choice.

Merriman was, for a time, the most dominant linebacker in the game. Clady is one of the best offensive linemen in football, Ngata is a force at defensive tackle, and Lynch is a solid player for the Bills. Moreno just completed his rookie season, so it's too soon to determine his value.

Going back to 2004, when the New York Jets selected linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the 12th selection has been a good spot for NFL teams.

But historically, it has also fielded its fair share of duds. The only stars found at No. 12 over the last 30 years are Warren Sapp (1995) and former offensive tackle Jim Lachey (1985). Sapp is the only current or future Hall-of-Famer in the group during that period.

But, the list is misleading, because players like Jerry Rice (16th, 1985), Troy Polamalu (16th, 2003) and Randy Moss (21st, 1998) have also been available. So, it depends on the brain trust making the selection.

The point is, Miami had a better chance of selecting an impact player at 12 than they did at 28, and the Dolphins may regret passing on players like Texas safety Earl Thomas (14th to Seattle) or linebacker Derrick Morgan (16th to Tennessee).

History will decide that, as well as if the Fins losing out on Tennessee's Dan Williams will come back to haunt them. Williams went just two spots ahead of Miami's pick at 26 to Arizona, and he was considered the best nose tackle in the draft.

Miami ended up with the consensus second-best tackle in the draft, Penn State's Jared Odrick, a 6-foot-5, 296-pound behemoth who was a 2009 All-American and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

He will team with Paul Soliai and converted defensive end Randy Starks in the Dolphins nose tackle rotation, with Jason Ferguson suspended for eight weeks for violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy.

After Odrick, the Dolphins chose outside linebacker Koa Misi of Utah (2nd round, 40th pick), Ole Miss offensive guard Jon Jerry (3, 73), Iowa linebacker A.J. Edds (4, 119), Maryland cornerback Nolan Carroll (5, 145), Georgia safety Reshad Jones (5, 163), Middle Tennessee defensive end Chris McCoy (7, 212), and Ohio State linebacker Austin Spitler (7, 252).

So, Miami was able to draft a replacement for Justin Smiley (who the team is reportedly shopping), depth at linebacker, a group where Miami had the same backup for two positions last season, and help for a beleaguered secondary that gave up the most 40-yard pass plays in football in 2009.

Jones has the most potential, a projected second-day pick who fell to the fifth round because of inconsistency. If the Dolphins can erase those issues, he could solve the safety woes that plagued the secondary last year.

All in all, an unsexy draft that could yield promising results. But, will this draft be remembered more for the players the Dolphins let get away than the ones they chose? Only time will tell.

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