Instead of grading the Dolphins’ 2011 draft, something many sites will be doing in the coming days, I thought I would interview writers/bloggers that watched these prospects first hand in college.
Mainly because it’s kind of pointless to grade a draft class until the players are given a couple years. But also, while I have been reading up on the guys Miami drafted, I think it would be more insightful to hear from guys who followed their every move in college and have a real idea of what the Dolphins are getting.
First up, we will start with none other than first-round pick Mike Pouncey. Please welcome in Sean Quinn from Alligator Army, SB Nation’s Florida Gators’ blog, to answer a few questions about the Dolphins’ new interior lineman.
Phins Phocus: What are some of Pouncey’s biggest strengths that he will bring to the Dolphins’ offensive line?
A: To me, his chief most strength was off-the-field. Pouncey served as the team’s captain, but more than that he controlled the mood of the offensive line and was the senior leader the otherwise young offense needed. He served the role that new Tampa Bay Buccaneer S Ahmad Black did, morally at least, for the offense. He was someone Coaches Meyer and Addazio respected and he often appeared after to the press after games as the voice of the offense.
When it comes to matters on-the-field, the guy can block. He’s a big guy and he was able to block some of the strongest defensive tackles the SEC threw at him – guys like Terrence Cody, Marcell Dareus, and Nick Fairley to name a few. Very good blocker and incredibly strong off the line.
Phins Phocus: What are some of the things he struggles with?
A: The adjustment to center last year wasn’t pretty – mainly dealing with Pouncey’s inability to learn the shotgun snap. Beyond that, a lot of “normal lineman issues” – sometimes he’d be a bit slow to realize the blitz or end up flopping a bit too much, but nothing stands out like the shotgun snap.
Phins Phocus: He played guard for the Gators before moving over to center in 2010. The Dolphins have said they will start him out at center first, but many believe he could find a home back at guard in Miami. Which position do you feel he is better suited for?
A: Offensive guard. I think he was able to adjust to center his senior year, after the early mishaps, but the Mike Pouncey that won the national championship did it at offensive guard, a position that I think is better suited for him. We’ll see how Miami’s plan to start him at center works out – I don’t think it will be a complete disaster – but I think he’s a better guard than a center.
Phins Phocus: I still remember watching Pouncey’s miserable outing against Miami (OH) at the beginning of the season. Did those botched snaps continue throughout the year, or did Pouncey eliminate the problem by season’s end?
A: The game against Miami (OH) was my first as a student, and it felt like the Twilight Zone. Thankfully, Mike definitely improved. He fumbled 13 times that debut game, and I don’t think he ever fumbled more than 3 or 4 times in a game for the rest of the year. It still happened, inconsistently, until the end of the year, but it wasn’t an issue like it was against Miami (OH).
Phins Phocus: Some feel that Pouncey was only a first-round pick because of the success his brother Maurkice had as a rookie with the Steelers. Do you feel there is any validity to that? Is there a huge gap between the two, or are the Dolphins getting virtually the same player Pittsburgh got?
A: Maurkice’s success both in college and in his rookie season definitely helped his brother out, and perhaps inflated expectations a little bit, and they are certainly different players, but I think Mike was drafted on his own merits. Maurkice is a better player – for sure – but Mike is still one hell of an offensive guard and someone I would be proud to have starting on my offensive line.