The Dolphins are stuck in the middle of the first round and despite their disappointing record in 2010, but they aren’t a bad team. Most of their problems stemmed from the fact that they have inconsistency at the quarterback position. And that’s something that the team is going to want to address in this year’s draft. But it’s something that the team may not be able to do given where they are picking. In the end, I think they will draft a running back in Alabama’s Mark Ingram.
Bill Parcells is no longer the godfather of the Dolphins, although his imprint is still on the organization. He’s more like Vito Corleone than Michael. It’s likely that they will adhere to his influence and style when it comes to making decisions this April. And the biggest issue will be as previously mentioned the quarterback. Parcells has four rules when it comes to drafting and evaluating quarterbacks. And when those rules are applied to this year’s draft class, TCU’s Andy Dalton is the only one of the top passers that meets those requirements. Christian Ponder fails the fourth criteria because he only won 22 games at Florida State instead of 23. But the question remains will the Dolphins look at this quarterback crop and have Dalton and Ponder at the top of their lists? They passed on Matt Ryan in 2008 not because he didn’t meet these requirements but presumably because his arm wasn’t as strong as they liked, which is why they settled for Chad Henne in the second round. Well, Dalton and Ponder aren’t known for their big arms either.
One wonders if the Dolphins adhere to the Parcells Standards at quarterback, they may be caught out in the cold once more. They’ve missed on two straight second round picks in John Beck and Chad Henne, so maybe it’s time to take a swing on a first round talent. Which means that while he doesn’t mean their standards, a player like Auburn’s Cam Newton could be in the cards. But they’d have to move up to get Newton, and it’s unlikely the Dolphins are going to roll the dice on a Jake Locker (inaccurate) or Ryan Mallett (character concerns) with the 15th overall pick.
So the Dolphins may be forced to look in another direction. One way to provide some more stability on offense is to get back to the ground attack that they were so good with in 2008 and 2009. Ronnie Brown is a free agent and Ricky Williams presumably is playing his last year of football, so the Dolphins have room for another runner. Ingram would be a good fit because he’s a solid, power runner. His father played for Bill Parcells in New York back in the 80s, which makes that pipeline pretty solid. But in the end the Dolphins may not see Ingram as the slam dunk as a Top 15 pick and try to get a better playmaker at another position.
That position may wind up being inside linebacker. The team added Karlos Dansby in free agency last year and he was a strong addition inside. Channing Crowder isn’t as consistent as they want, and Tim Dobbins hasn’t played at a high enough level during his career to be a trusted starter. So a player like Illinois Martez Wilson, who compares favorably with Dansby could be a significant upgrade inside.
If not there, then the Dolphins may try to shore up their depth on their front. The team did draft Jared Odrick with their top pick last year, but he missed most of the year with an injury. But the team seems fairly solid up front with him, Kendall Langford, Randy Starks, and Philip Merling as their ends. So while players like Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt or Cal’s Cameron Jordan would be very good fits, they don’t seem to be strong needs. But it should be noted that Langford and Merling are both entering contract years.
So while Ingram probably fills the most obvious need, we may discover that the Dolphins grade a player like Cameron Jordan, J.J. Watt, or Martez Wilson higher on their boards overall. Certainly many experts have Jordan and Watt as potential Top 10 picks, and few have Ingram rated that high.
But in the end, the Dolphins lack of a second round pick likely means they have to focus on need a bit more in the first round than others. And it’s hard to deny that running back isn’t a more pressing need than their issues in the front seven. It would be smart for the Dolphins to try and trade down a few spots and pick up some extra picks in the third or fourth round and still try and snag Ingram.