As I posted on Twitter this morning, I was out of town today and could only follow the final day of the draft from my phone. I unfortunately didn’t have time to post about any of the Dolphins’ picks until now.
I wasn’t a huge fan of what this front office did in the first two days, as they were a bit too conservative for my taste with the Pouncey pick and I thought they should have taken a chance on Mallett when they traded up into the second round instead of landing Daniel Thomas. But nonetheless, I think this Dolphins’ offense is headed in the right direction.
Tony Sparano has a run first mentality and to play his brand of football, the Dolphins had to improve the running game. They did that in the draft’s first two rounds. The game continues to evolve towards the passing game, and I still feel that you can’t be a legitimate title contender without a franchise quarterback, but if you can play great defense, which you could argue the Dolphins are on the verge of, and control the clock with the running game you can compete with most teams in this league.
Just look at the Jets. I hate them as much as the next Dolphins fan, but they’ve come a game away from the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons without a franchise quarterback. No, Mark Sanchez is not a franchise quarterback. Maybe the Dolphins aren’t as far off as we think.
Anyways, on to today’s picks. I was a bit critical of the Dolphins’ first two selections, but I’m a huge fan of what they did today.
With the 111th pick (4th round), the Dolphins selected Edmond Gates, WR, Abilene Christian
I had the feeling the Dolphins would use their fourth-round pick on a tight end, but instead they went with one of the most explosive playmakers in this year’s draft. A refreshing selection to say the least.
Some were disappointed that they took Daniel Thomas in round two, because he’s a power back that fits the slower mold this team has been constructed on the past few years. But Edmund Gates, on paper anyway, is just the player this offense needed.
They didn’t have a guy who was a threat to take it the distance any time he touched the football. It was often times difficult for the Dolphins to score points in 2010 because they were forced to put together long, methodical drives to do so. They lacked chunk yardage and players that could produce quick scores. Now they have a guy who is capable of just that.
There are concerns about Gates’ raw route running ability, but he’s the type of burner (mid 4.3 speed) that could potentially exploit the single coverage he will likely face with all the attention Brandon Marshall requires on the other side of the field. He will have his hands full beating out Brian Hartline, though, but this offense is going to find a way to utilize this guy’s wheels regardless. He also figures to be a dangerous kick/punt return option. Needless to say, I like this pick a lot.
With the 174th pick (6th round), the Dolphins selected Charles Clay, TE, Tulsa
The front office traded up five spots to snag Clay, moving down from 218 to 231 in round seven, so apparently he’s a kid they liked a lot. He’s an extremely versatile player, who played tight end and fullback at Tulsa. The Dolphins obviously have a huge need for a number two tight end behind Anthony Fasano that can be a threat as a receiver. Charles Clay has the potential to be just that. But Lousaka Polite’s job is far from safe at fullback after a huge fall off of production in 2010 outside of short yardage runs.
Whether or not the Dolphins plug Clay in at tight end, fullback, or use him in a hybrid role remains to be seen. I don’t know much about the kid, but some of the scouting reports I see question his blocking ability. That obviously hurts what he can do at both positions, but more so as a lead blocking fullback. I will tentatively say I would prefer seeing him start out at tight end.
With the 231st pick (7th round), the Dolphins selected Frank Kearse, NT, Alabama A&M
I didn’t mock Kearse to the Dolphins in my mock draft, but I thought they would possibly use a late round pick on a developmental project at nose tackle. Frank Kearse gives them just that, as a 6’4, 315 pound defensive lineman who consistently required double-teams at the collegiate level. The Dolphins are currently set at the nose with Paul Soliai, but could have a hard time locking him up long term after the 2011 season.
With the 235th pick (7th round), the Dolphins selected James Wilson, CB, Montana
With their final selection of the draft, the Dolphins picked a guy that gives them great value in the seventh round. You could argue that James Wilson has second round talent, but off-field baggage, including serving two years in prison while being tried for murder before being found innocent, caused him to almost go undrafted. You don’t typically take players with those kinds of character concerns early in the draft, but if they have talent, why not give them a shot with a seventh-rounder? Wilson has a great combination of size and strength, and should at least challenge to be a solid special-teams contributor.
Much, much more on these picks as well as the rest of the Dolphins’ draft to come this week. Stay tuned. In the meantime, share your thoughts about the Dolphins’ 2011 draft in the comments.