May 14, 2015

Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots reacted to a Wells report quite differently

Ted Wells issued an infamous report regarding the New England Patriots in 2015 and the reaction from that club and representatives of those affected by the report and the subsequent sanctions has been like that of a pugilist.

The Patriots are generally fighting back as much as they can.

Ted Wells issued an infamous report regarding the Miami Dolphins in 2014 and the reaction from that club and representatives of those affected by the report were like that of a red-faced child caught with hands in a cookie jar.

The Dolphins as an organization did not argue one iota against the report's findings. They accepted the entirety of the Wells report findings. 

Two NFL clubs. Two AFC East rivals. Both slammed by Ted Wells.

But reacting substantially different one from the other.

And today I wonder why?

Today I wonder which approach is better?

When the Miami Wells report came out, I heard grumblings from players, assistant coaches, agents, and others connected to the Dolphins that the report was heavy handed and tilted unfairly against them. That is portrayed the organization in a light that wasn't representative of what truly goes on within the locker room and organization.

So why didn't the Dolphins fight back?

Several sources told me Wednesday there was a faction in Davie that wanted to fight back against Wells' findings last year. That faction wanted to mount a public defense.

But, according to one source, the "New York non football' group didn't, which also shows a glaring difference between the Krafts (who are in the building everyday) and Steve [Ross] who is not in Davie more than once a month if that ... Plus the 'New York non football' group wanted the distraction from the NFL to go away rather than fight it so as to appease the league and allow for a better dialogue later in the year when going before the other owners asking for money for the stadium."

So the Patriots, not needing or caring about favoritism from other owners, are not exactly knuckling under. The Dolphins chose to let the matter die a quick death and grow relationships with other clubs.

And let there be no doubt that is the way the clubs handeled it (in Miami's case) and are handling it (in New England's case).

When the Wells report dropped on New England, owner Robert Kraft slammed the report.

"Throughout the process of this nearly four-month investigation, we have cooperated and patiently awaited its outcome. To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship Game, would be a gross understatement. In addition, given our level of cooperation throughout the process, I was offended by the comments made in the Wells Report in reference to not making an individual available for a follow-up interview. What the report fails to mention is that he had already been interviewed four times and we felt the fifth request for access was excessive for a part-time game day employee who has a full-time job with another employer.

"While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me. Knowing that there is no real recourse available, fighting the league and extending this debate would prove to be futile. We understand and greatly respect the responsibility of being one of 32 in this league and, on that basis, we will accept the findings of the report and take the appropriate actions based on those findings as well as any discipline levied by the league."

[Update: The team Thursday released a statement attack from its team counsel refuting parts of the Wells report. It begins, "The conclusions of the Wells Report are, at best, incomplete, incorrect and lack context," and gets better from there. The full statement is here].

Following the NFL's four-game suspension against quarterback Tom Brady, Brady's agent, Don Yee, went after Wells on national television. Wells and the NFL got put on blast. The heat apparently got so high that the NFL made Wells available to selected media in a conference call this week in order to push back.

The point is Wells and the NFL were on their heels.

Brady will be appealing his suspension. He may take the league to court. And, indeed, there is a feeling Kraft is strongly considering a lawsuit against the NFL to get sanctions against the Patriots themselves -- namely two lost draft picks and a $1 million fine -- overturned.

The Dolphins?

This was the statement from Ross at the time:

“I now have had a chance to read the report and obviously, the language that was used and the behavior as described is deeply disturbing. Although the report commended Joe Philbin’s commitment to promoting integrity and accountability throughout the Dolphins organization, I told Ted Wells personally during my visit with him that we are committed to addressing the issues outlined in this report. We must work together towards a culture of civility and mutual respect for one another. It is important to me, important to coach Philbin and important to the entire Dolphins organization.

“I have made it clear to everyone within our organization that this situation must never happen again. We are committed to address this issue forcefully and to take a leadership role in establishing a standard that will be a benchmark in all of sports."

Zero pushback. Acceptance.

So the Patriots, not needing or caring about favoritism from other owners, are not exactly knuckling under. The Dolphins chose to let the matter die a quick death and grow relationships with other clubs.

That raises the next question...Which approach is better?

Look, the stain of having Ted Wells knock on your facility doors and run the organization through his investigative ringer doesn't quickly fade. The Dolphins have it. The Patriots have it.

The Dolphins tried to rid themselves of it as quickly as possible. They elected not to fight city hall. That apparently is not the Patriot way. That Patriot way has put Wells and the NFL on the defensive at times the past few days.

We shall see if fighting back gets any sanctions overturned.

But, ultimately, the stain remains.

May 13, 2015

Ryan Tannehill will be AFC East's best QB to start 2015

Counted among the fallout from the #Deflategate discipline that has dropped on the New England Patriots like an anvil pushed off the Prudential Tower roof is that pundits are now analyzing the effects on the AFC East for 2015.

With Tom Brady suspended four games, for now anyway, their is a question whether that opens the door for the Miami Dolphins or Buffalo Bills or New York Jets to win the division. And Tuesday on ESPN's NFL Live the pundits weighed in.

And Tuesday they made goofs of themselves.

The panelists were asked to pick the Patriots to win the division or pick the field.

Former Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark picked the Patriots. Cool. His opinion and his entitled to it. But then he went off the rails.

"I do think the teams around [the Patriots] got better," Clark said. "But the thing they're going to have in common with the Patriots the first four games? They don't have any quarterbacks."

Clark said he's "still going with the New England Patriots. They're going to find a way to win." He also made the point the last time the Patriots were without Tom Brady, "they went 11-5 and got Matt Cassel paid."

"I'm 100 percent with you," former Colts center Jeff Saturday then chimed in.

Former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson went a different direction and took the field. And then he extolled the offseason moves made by the Jets.

And Saturday chimed in again, "I don't think it's going to be a cakewalk but you didn't throw a quarterback in that mix."

And when I got done banging my head against a keyboard over the total disrespect for the facts, I took to Twitter and offered some of those facts as I see them:

1. No one is saying Ryan Tannnehill has arrived as a premier or elite quarterback in the NFL. He clearly is not that. Yet.

2. But neither is he in the same class with Geno Smith. Or E.J. Manuel. Or anybody else vying for a starting job in Buffalo or New York such as Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jake Heaps or Matt Simms or Jeff Tuel. And Tannehill is better than presumed Brady replacement Jimmy Garrapolo as well.

The truth of the matter is if Tannehill remains healthy, when the Patriots and Dolphins open their season, for the first time since perhaps 2002, the Dolphins will have the superior starting quarterback under center in that opener. 

The truth is that at the start of the 2015, the Miami Dolphins will have the best starting quarterback in the division.

Anyone denying that is denying facts.

Cassel is probably the most accomplished of the guys vying for a QB job on those other teams and he is not as good as Tannehill right now.

Consider that Cassel has authored two good NFL seasons in his career. But his career has spanned 10 years. 

He's thrown for 15,727 yards in those 10 seasons. Tannehill has 11,252 in three seasons.

Cassel has thrown 96 TD passes and 70 interceptions in 10 seasons. Tannehill has 63 TDs and 42 interceptions in three seasons.

Cassel has a career 80.1 passer rating. Tannehill's career rating at 84 and he has improved this stat every season in the league, from 76 as a rookie, to 81.7 to 92.8 last season.

So how is it the ESPN experts look at Tannehill and Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel and Matt Cassel and see the same guys to be lumped into the same on-set guffaw session?

Amazing to me.

This is more amazing. Someone for unknown reasons sent my tweets to Miko Grimes, who happens to be Miami cornerback Brent Grimes's wife. She is very active on social media. She does some local radio work in South Florida. She's interesting.

But my defense of Tannehill didn't seem to impress her. Indeed, she wrote that person who sent her my tweet that I had forgotten a small detail about Tannehill ...

  

Grimes also suggested that the statistics I posted about Tannehill are not representative of who he really is. She referred the person to study "film" of Tannehill instead, which I suppose she thinks tells a different story.

<blockquoteclass="twitter-tweet" lang="en">

Stats <<< Film and u lost your argument at both! #BeatIt

— MikoGrimes (@iHeartMiko) May 12, 2015

And that's fair. Tape can offer a more complete view of the truth that stats and analytics miss.

But here's the thing: The Dolphins watch tape. More than Miko Grimes, I dare say. And they're all on board with Ryan Tannehill.

And I indeed did not post the Dolphins' 8-8 record a season ago. And I admit, 8-8 is not good enough. It is roundly mediocre and I've been as critical as anyone (more, actually) about the constant mediocrity (at best) around here.

But is all that on Tannehill?

The reason I didn't include Miami's record is football is a team game. And I was comparing individuals. Last season, Tannehill was closer to Joe Flacco than Geno Smith or E.J. Manuel or Matt Cassel or Ryan Fitzpatrick.

And yes, Tannehill is important as any quarterback is. But last I checked, he's not an entire team.

It is not all about him. If it was all about the QB, Aaron Rodgers would have been in the last couple of Super Bowls for the NFC and not Russell Wilson. If it was all about the QB, the Saints would have been in the playoffs. They weren't. If it was all about the QB, the Cardinals would not have been in the playoffs. They were.

Football is a team sport, informed sources are telling The Miami Herald.

Yes, the QB is the most important player. But he cannot do it all by himself and to suggest as much is thoughtless. It is lazy analysis.

Look, Tannehill's team went 8-8 but I thought it was the defense that gave up late, late fourth-quarter leads to Green Bay, and Detroit and Denver to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

It was the defense that gave up 37 points to the Jets in the season-finale.

And 35 points to the Vikings the week before that.

And 41 points to the Patriots the week before that.

That's Tannehill's fault?

I know I'm starting to sound like a Tannehill fanboy. But anyone who knows my history, anyone who reads my work, who watches the games with a clear head and unbiased vision, knows I'm not holding a pom-pom with one hand and typing with the other. I know Ryan Tannehill is not elite yet. He has to find better pocket awareness. He has to speed up his decision-making. He has to improve his accuracy. His footwork could sometimes be better.

But he nonetheless checks a lot of boxes for what you want in an NFL quarterback.

Indeed, Tannehill's career arc is actually what gives Dolphins fans hope. Tannehill is pointed toward steady and undeniable improvement.

What these so-called experts and detractors are suggesting is that Tannehill is part of the problem. That he is just a guy (a JAG in Bill Parcells parlance). That Tannehill, who the Dolphins are committed to keeping as their starter for years and years based on a financial commitment, is the equivalent to journeyman Cassel or benched Manuel or unproductive Geno.

He is not that.

Why do I even have to make the case he's not? It's crazy.

May 12, 2015

Brady suspension helps division rivals, Bills get biggest benefit

You remember the 2002 NFL season?

You should because the Tom Brady four-game (for now) suspension raises the possibility of a similar type season in the AFC East and it definitely gives the Buffalo Bills something of an edge over its AFC East rivals.

Why?

Here's my thinking: The only game Brady is scheduled to miss within the division is against Buffalo. Even if Brady's suspension is cut in half on appeal, he would still miss the Week Two meeting at Buffalo.

Meanwhile, Brady will be off suspension and available -- barring injury or other unforeseen circumstance -- for both games against the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets.

That gives the Bills a direct advantage over the Patriots that neither the Dolphins nor the New York Jets will enjoy. I made that point on my twitter account (follow me) on Monday and got pushback from a couple of followers who made the point that a Patriots loss benefits every other team in the division regardless.

And this is true.

But that misses the point that in the NFL head-to-head victories in the division are a tiebreaker. And record within the division is a tiebreaker.  And in those two categories the Bills suddenly are facing a star quarterback one fewer time than either the Dolphins or the Jets. The benefit is clear. The benefit for them is obvious for any right-thinking person.

And if one is not convinced go back to that fateful 2002 season. The New York Jets finished the year 9-7. And the Patriots finished the year 9-7. And the Miami Dolphins finished the year 9-7.

But the Jets won the division over New England based on a better record in common games and over the Dolphins based on a better record within the division.

It stands to reason if the Dolphins and Bills split and Miami and New England split but the Bills sweep the Patriots, the Bills will have the upper hand (if all else is equal) in winning the division. Obviously one must throw the Jets into the mix as well but for our purposes we're talking about the teams that finished 1, 2, 3 within the division last season.

The point is the Brady suspension gives the Bills get a direct benefit neither Miami nor New York gets.

By the way, numberFire, which uses quantitive analysis to offer sports predictors says the Patriots' chances of winning the AFC East dropped from 45.09 percent to 41.44 percent based on a four-game suspension.

May 11, 2015

Where the Miami Dolphins upgraded, where they did not

So where are they now?

No, I'm not wondering where former Miami Dolphins players long ago off the roster have gone. I'm not wondering what old friends are doing, either. I'm wondering where are the Dolphins now that most (maybe 85-90 percent) of their talent acquisition this offseason is over.

Specifically, I'm wondering where they find themselves on their positions that everyone has been worried since the end of 2014.

The Dolphins, it must be said first, this offseason have improved in several categories.

Their interior defensive line is better, according to them, because they added Ndamukong Suh and drafted Jordan Phillips in the second round to replace the free agency loss-cutting of Jared Odrick and Randy Starks.

I told you recently that Miami's receiver corps was worse than last year's after a great amount of reconstruction until the team got DeVante Parker in the draft's first round. There was pushback on that comment from the fanboys. But the truth is without Parker, the receiver corps would consist of a player New Orleans traded for chemistry reasons (Kenny Stills), a player Green Bay let walk and Minnesota cut (Greg Jennings), a player who wants out (Rishard Matthews) and a good second-year slot receiver (Jarvis Landry).

That would not have been good enough to replace a receiver who caught 10 TDs last year and was a deep threat everywhere but Miami for reasons not wholly his doing (Mike Wallace), a former two-time 1,000-yard receiver who admittedly didn't fit Bill Lazor's offense (Brian Hartline) and a solid slot guy who happens to be one of the bigger targets out of the slot in the NFL (Brandon Gibson).

The addition of Parker -- a deep threat, a red zone threat, an outside the numbers threat, a BIG target with a great catch radius -- changes the dynamic of the receiver corps.

(End of explanation).

Anyway, the running back corps is better because, well, Daniel Thomas is gone and that is addition by subtraction, and the addition of rookie Jay Ajayi, who is 6-foot and 221 pounds, adds bulk and a reputation for no-nonsense tough running to the mix. Damien Williams might also be better in his second year than as a rookie, as many guys are.

The tight end position is not better. But it is, well, different. Losing Charles Clay hurts. A team doesn't just wave good-bye to a 50-70 catch guy that is a mismatch for linebackers and safeties and simply just shrug. There is a reason the Dolphins wanted to keep Clay, we must be fair in this assessment.

But the addition of Jordan Cameron is exciting. Cameron, unlike Clay, is a very good red zone target at 6-5 and 250. He is more a seam target than Clay was as well. And he's as fast, if not faster, than Clay. So while Clay was probably more trouble for defenders on crossing routes and outside the numbers, Cameron will add a valuable dimension if he's healthy. That might be a better fit for the skills QB Ryan Tannehill brings to the game.

The slot cornerback and safety spots may be better because I like Brice McCain in the slot better than anyone who played the position last year and that includes Jimmy Wilson, Cortland Finnegan, Jamar Taylor or Will Davis. McCain is smallish at 5-9 but he's tough, he's not been a missed-tackle machine like some of those other guys, and he has experience and has been durable.

The return of Louis Delmas at strong safety -- he is on schedule for training camp -- will make the Dolphins better here than how they finished the season.

Now the, ahem, issues.

The offensive line is not better.

The linebacker corps is not better.

And the outside cornerback spot is a concern.

The OL: Well, this would be a totally different conversation if the Dolphins had been able to add a legit starting left guard. They didn't. They tried and came close to landing La'el Collins once they became convinced he wasn't involved in a Baton Rouge homicide. But the Cowboys got him instead so right now their starting guards are LG Dallas Thomas and RG Billy Turner.

Again, Turner has earned the right to compete for a job. He basically redshirted in 2014 so we'll see what he looks like in training camp. But is he going to be upgrade from Mike Pouncey last year? Hard to count on that.

The Dolphins say they like Thomas as their left guard. I do not believe them. They've tried -- albeit not hard enough -- to upgrade there but have failed to do so. Maybe a veteran bridge left guard drops out of the waiver wire or off the free agent list late in the offseason or during training camp like Samson Satele did at center last year. But unless that happens, Thomas will be taking first-team snaps the first training camp practice. That is not even an upgrade from Daryn Colledge.

The guard spots are not obvious upgrades at all from 2014.

Center is an upgrade with Pouncey going back to his traditional position. The tackle spots should be back to full strength and original plans if left tackle Branden Albert is ready to go for training camp (indications are he will be) and stays healthy and right tackle Ja'Wuan James goes back to RT with a more NFL-ready body that has improved this offseason.

So overall upgrade at offensive line? No. Not at this time.

Albert may or may not be the same guy, we do not know. The guard spots probably are not upgraded at all. The right tackle spot may be better based on growth or it may be what we got last year. The center spot will be upgraded.

Thomas continues to glow in neon as the weak link and I'm not talking weak link as in not a Pro Bowl player. I'm talking weak link as in Gerald McCoy beat you for two sacks and a tackle for loss on only five or six plays last preseason and you were out of the starting lineup the next day.

Cornerback?

Brent Grimes is Brent Grimes, the Miami Herald has learned. He is not the concern at all now.

But as the NFL is a passing league and most teams need another starting outside cornerback, sometimes three, to play anywhere from 55-65 percent of their downs, the Dolphins have issues at the spot.

Finnegan, a reach in free agency last year, was the failure move I predicted it would be. He was out injured for 31 percent of the season. He got beat a good deal when healthy. His tackling was shoddy. He lost the Green Bay game for the Dolphins.

He was, however, a fine influence for youngsters Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. I will give him that. He took those guys under his wing (yes, cliché) and helped them learn to be pros.

We'll see the measure of that help this preseason and regular season because one of those guys is going to have to step up. Taylor will likely be a starter the first day of training camp. And he has the pedigree as a 2013 second round pick. He has flashed ability at times, particularly last season.

But his history is he still is very inexperienced. His history is he is often injured or unavailable. I've been told by multiple Dolphins sources the team is not fully comfortable with him as the starter but most NFL teams go to camp and even the regular season with question marks.

Taylor is one of those for Miami. Davis, who similarly has been hurt and struggled on the field when healthy since he was a third-round pick in 2013, is also a question mark.

So upgrade at cornerback? No.

How about linebacker?

Well, Jelani Jenkins was something of a find in 2014. Yes, it was by sheer happenstance as he was buried down the depth chart until all three starting linebackers in training camp came out of the season-opener injured. With Phillip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe and Koa Misi all either hurt or out for the year, Jenkins became a fixture out of necessity and played very, very well.

The Dolphins could use another lightning bolt of luck like that this year. Misi today remains the team's starting middle linebacker after the 2014 experiment of him at middle linebacker was something of failure. Let's face it, Misi missed most or all of six games. And in the games he played, he wasn't exactly John Offerdahl. He was ... acceptable.

I believe the Dolphins would feel more comfortable if they had a legitimate middle linebacker who is able to avoid the traffic (and possible injuries) that come at middle linebackers and move Misi back to his more natural position on the outside.

Is Kelvin Sheppard that guy?

The fact is the Dolphins more likely added competition at the other outside backer spot by signing Spencer Paysinger -- mostly a backup in his career -- than they did at middle linebacker. They also have youngsters Jordan Tripp and Chris McCain on the outside.

The Dolphins have multiple college high-tackle guys -- Mike Hull, Zac Vigil, Neville Hewitt, Jake Knott, Jeff Luc -- on the roster. But to expect one of these to become Zach Thomas or Bryan Cox or even Jelani Jenkins is at this point wishful thinking.

So LB upgrade? No.

May 09, 2015

Don Shula: 'We didn't deflate any balls'

The Miami Dolphins today announced their 50th season anniversary celebration and brought back legendary Hall of Fame coach Don Shula to the press conference. And in that press conference, Shula picked the occasion to take a swipe at the New England Patriots.

"It was always done with a lot of class," Shula said of the Miami franchise. "A lot of dignity. Always done the right way. We didn't deflate any balls."

Zing!!!

Shula was clearly tweaking the Patriots who have been investigated the past five months for deflating footballs against NFL rules for the AFC championship game against Indianapolis.

A report by NFL investigator Ted Wells found it was "more probable than not" that the balls were improperly inflated by the team and "more probable than not" that quarterback Tom Brady knew about it. 

Following his off the cuff remark, Shula was asked if he believed the Patriots' Super Bowl victory over Seattle following the AFC title game win is tainted.

"I think I'm going to pass on that answer," he said.

Shula has a long history of standing for integrity and always has guarded that part of his reputation ferociously. He similarly has shown disdain for those he thinks do not stand for integrity.

During an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, for a story celebrating his 85th birthday, Shula referred to New England coach Bill Belichick as "Belicheat."

Oh, yes, about the celebration:

The Dolphins are putting together a coffee table book, Fins at Fifty, that will include a copy of Dan Marino's rookie contract.

The Dolphins also unveiled their alternate jersey to be worn at the Monday Night Football game against the Giants. It is a throwback jersey from 1966.

Parker the missing final piece to a great WR corps?

I wrote about DeVante Parker in Saturday's Miami Herald and as part of that column I spoke with former first-round pick O.J. McDuffie who made the point Parker has to be a big-time player right away.

I made the point that without Parker, this year's wide receiver corps would not be as good as the 2014 wide receiver corps.

Think about it: Without Parker the receiver corps would be a player traded away by New Orleans, a player cut by Minnesota who did not sign until just before the draft. Rishard Matthews, who is rarely happy with his status on the receiver totem pole. And Jarvis Landry, the slot receiver.

Who would be the deep threat?

Who would be the red zone threat?

There would be many complementary player but no bigtime star.

One more thing McDiuffie said that was not in the column. He wants Parker working overtime.

"He needs to take extra reps," McDuffie said. "If Ryan wants to throw, you stay with him. If he wants to stay out, you better not take your butt in the locker room. Until your tongue comes out of your shoes you better be out here taking extra reps. Extra reps are critical. That rapport is critical."

You'll remember that a certain speedy wide receiver who scored 10 TDs last year but was traded away this offseason didn't wish to do extra work with Tannehill the past two years.

Perhaps in that regard at least, Parker will be more of a fit.

 

May 08, 2015

Miami Dolphins rookie camp roster here (free)

The Miami Dolphins are on the field now. Well, their rookies and undrafted free agents and tryout guys are.

Here's the list:

Name                     Pos.               Ht.    Wt.       Birthdate          Exp.     College            Hometown                   Acq.

Baucus, Mickey        OL                 6-8     293       2/13/92             R          Arizona '15        Mundelein, Ill.                FA, '15

Darr, Matt               P                   6-1     220       7/2/92               R          Tennessee '15    Bakersfield, Calif.           FA, '15

Drew, Ray               DE                 6-5     276       9/24/92             R          Georgia '15       Thomasville, Ga.            FA, '15

Franks, Andrew        K                   6-1     205       1/11/93             R          RPI '15              Carmel, Calif.                FA, '15

Hull, Mike                LB                 6-0     232       5/25/91             R          Penn State '15    Canonsburg, Pa.            FA, '15

Jones, Christion       WR                5-11   187       12/20/92           R          Alabama '15      Adamsville, Ala.             FA, '15

King, Nigel              WR                6-3     210       10/9/92             R          Kansas '15         Raleigh, N.C.                 FA, '15

Liedtke, Michael      OL                 6-3     305       1/15/92             R          Illinois State '15  Woodstock, Ill.              FA, '15

Luc, Jeff                  LB                 6-1     256       2/14/92             R          Cincinnati '15     Port St. Lucie, Fla.          FA, '15

McCarthy, Ellis         DT                 6-5     325       7/13/94             R          UCLA '15          Monrovia, Calif.             FA, '15

Montgomery, Kendall DE                 6-5     262       7/27/92             R          Bowling Green '15          Miami, Fla.        FA, '15

Savage, Dionte        OL                 6-4     343       2/10/92             R          Oklahoma '15    Flint, Mich.                    FA, '15

Vigil, Zach               LB                 6-2     240       3/28/91             R          Utah State '15    Clearfield, Utah              FA, '15

Walker, Aundrey      OL                 6-6     315       1/15/93             R          Southern California '15 Cleveland, Ohio             FA, '15

 

May 07, 2015

Entire Dolphins draft class is signed

It was getting a little repetitive breaking news of Dolphins draft picks signing, one after another.

So I am reporting the entire Miami Dolphins class of 2015 is now signed.

All of them.

First rounder DeVante Parker, second-rounder Jordan Phillips, fourth rounder Jamil Douglas, and fifth rounders Bobby McCain, Jay Ajayi, Cedric Thompson and Tony Lippett.

The team has confirmed the signings.

All are expected to attend this weekend's rookie minicamp which begins Friday.

That is undoubtedly a team record for speed of getting all the picks signed. And, yes, getting these deals done in today's NFL is a predetermined certainty.

But it often doesn't happen until June or even early July for some teams. At least, that's how it has been with the Dolphins in recent years.

It cannot be mere coincidence this is happening for the first time in the first year Mike Tannenbaum has taken over as Miami's executive vice president of football operations.

 

Second round pick Jordan Phillips contract done

The Miami Dolphins are working overtime on contracts today.

Second round pick Jordan Phillips is close to agreeing to terms with the team, The Miami Herald has learned.

[Update: A league source tells The Herald the deal is done].

First-round pick DeVante Parker agreed to terms earlier today.

This is good policy by the Dolphins. The rookies begin a mini-camp on Friday. It is better for the new guys to be thinking about football rather than worrying about possible injury during a camp.

Phillips, the 52nd overall selection, gets a four-year deal.

Miami Dolphins, DeVante Parker close to deal

The Miami Dolphins are not waiting for July to get their draft picks signed.

Per a source, the team and first-round pick DeVante Parker are close to reaching agreement on a four-year deal. The two sides are agreed except for minor language. Beyond that all this really requires is a signature, which should be done by Friday.

The money part is set. The deal will be worth close to $11 million with a $6.2 million signing bonus.

This could be the quickest the Dolphins and a first-round pick not picked first overall come to an agreement in the salary cap era.

Parker, the No. 14 overall selection in the first round, is expected to vie for a starting job with the Dolphins in the base package and certainly in the three-wide set.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Collins to Cowboys

The courting of La'el Collins is over if a report by the Fort Worth Star Telegram saying he is signing with the Cowboys is correct.

Collins, an undrafted free agent offensive lineman, visited the Cowboys along with his mother on Wednesday. There was a report earlier he would be visiting other teams, including the Dolphins.

That apparently is not going to happen.

I have not been able to independently confirm this report. But any deal Collins signs is for three seasons.

[Update: It is indeed true. Collins is a Cowboy].

If this report -- authored by a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America president -- is correct, the Cowboys offensive line will boast four players who were either drafted in the first round or could have been (Collins) based on talent.

Tom Brady discipline: 'everything is being considered'

Two notable topics dominate the NFL landscape now and both affect the Miami Dolphins to varying degrees.

The small tidbit of news I can offer is that the NFL is weighing a suspension of New England quarterback Tom Brady that could span up to one season. "Everything is being studied, everything is being considered," an NFL source with knowledge of the disciplinary procedure told me Wednesday night.

The source said it would be wrong to think a season-long suspension will absolutely be the punishment doled out because that decision had not been finalized at the time of our conversation. But he also said it would be wrong to dismiss such an extended and seemingly improbable length of time as the ceiling for discipline.

The source declined to give a discipline floor, or the most lenient discipline Brady is facing. Interestingly, the source did not mention possible discipline for New England coach Bill Belichick or owner Robert Kraft.

It is clear the NFL is expecting to hand down some sort of discipline on #deflategate following the unveiling of the Ted Wells report at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The process is in the hands of NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent and others.

(Yes, the Troy Vincent who was drafted by the Miami Dolphins, and also played for the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, and Philadelphia Eagles).

ESPN has reported the NFL would respond to this Wells Report (there was another, you may recall) within days, not weeks.

That time frame is correct. 

Obviously, if Brady misses the entire season, the AFC East is up for grabs. Indeed, this has implications beyond the division.

The last time a team other than New England won the AFC East was 2008 when the Dolphins won the division in a year Brady was injured the first regular-season game and missed the rest of the year.

Even a lesser suspension for Brady could affect the division. New England's backup quarterback is second-year player Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo has thrown 27 NFL regular-season passes.

The second matter involving the Dolphins is the ongoing courting of undrafted free agent player La'el Collins by dozens of teams.

The offensive lineman is going to start making trips to various interested teams. Multiple reports Wednesday said the Dallas Cowboys will be the first trip he takes. There is a report by a New Orleans TV station that Collins will visit the Dolphins within 24 hours. I have not been able to confirm this report.

Baton Rouge police confirmed Wednesday that paternity tests said Collins was not the father of the unborn child his ex-girlfriend was carrying when she (and the child) were shot and killed in late April.

Of interest in the Collins matter is whether the Dolphins can offer him a chance to play offensive tackle, something his representatives want because it would maximizes his earning potential for his second contract.

Would the Dolphins do that?

Miami's left tackle is Branden Albert. Miami's right tackle is Ja'Wuan James. The team went to great lengths to get both in 2014 -- paying Albert $46 million in free agency and drafting James in the first round.

What the Dolphins really need is a left guard.

But as Albert is still recovering from knee surgery and James is solid but not great, the thinking here is the Dolphins can always pitch to Collins an opportunity to start at tackle if he is the best player at the position.

They can point to the fact Mike Pouncey, a Pro Bowl center, played right guard last year because Samson Satele surprisingly was the best fit for the team at center.

Most teams, however, are also likely to offer similar opportunities to play tackle if Collins is the best fit available.

Collins visited the Dolphins prior to the draft. Dolphins players went to visit, support, and yes, recruit Collins in Louisiana Tuesday afternoon and evening.

May 02, 2015

Dolphins fifth-round (D) pick: WR/DB Tony Lippett

The Miami Dolphins wanted receivers with bigger catch radius and they got that with their fourth draft pick of the fifth round. They also want bigger cornerbacks.

They might have one or the other here.

The team picked Michigan State WR Tony Lippett, who had 65 catches and 1,098 yards in 2015. That's 18.4 yards per catch average. He scored 11 TDs.

Lippett, 6-2 and 192, was first-team all Big 10. He was the team MVP on a club that also had CB Trae Waynes, who was a first-round pick.

Lippett has interesting position flexibility in that played cornerback at times at Michigan State and can project as a defensive back in the NFL.

Dolphins fifth-round (C) pick: Cedric Thompson

The Dolphins re-signed Louis Delmas to play safety this year but they just drafted a player for the position for the future.

Miami picked Cedric Thompson with their third pick in the fifth round. Thompson, 6-foot and 208 pounds, was a three-year starter. He's a good communicator and good tackler.

He had 83 tackles and two interceptions last year. He ran a 4.5 at his Pro Day.

He took two-hour bus rides to high school to stay away from gang violence in Los Angeles. He obviously has bus riding ability.

 

Miami Dolphins fifth-round (B) pick: Jay Ajayi

The Dolphins didn't get Todd Gurley but today got another running back with a medical red flag.

The team drafted Jay Ajayi of Boise State.

Ajayi, born in England to Nigerian partent, is 6-foot and 220 pounds. He played soccer long before he played football, but obviously he's caught on with the American sport.

He is the only player in FBS history with 1,800 yards rushing and 500 receiving in a single season. 

Ajayi had 50 career TDs. He ran a 4.57.

Ajayi tore his ACL in 2011. He is said to have a bone-on-bone issue with that surgically repaired knee. That's the reason he fell to the fifth round.

Ajayi was projected as a second round pick but obviously fell.

He was off some team's boards entirely because of flunked physicals during the pre-draft process. But obviously the 149th overall pick is not exactly a high investment in such talent.

Dolphins Fifth (A) pick: CB Bobby McCain

The Miami Dolphins have added to their cornerback competition this afternoon by drafting Memphis cornerback Bobby McCAin.

McCain, 5-9 and 195 pounds, ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the combine. He had a 130-inch broad jump. He is said to have a good leaping ability.

McCain is a playmaker. He had four interceptions returned to touchdowns during his career.

He is a good scheme fit with off-man and zone ability.

"I'm really smart," he said. "I'm not the tallest guy, I'm not the fastest guy. But I'm not going to back down from anybody."

McCain also has return experience. He had a 25.1 kickoff return average last season.

Dolphins Fourth round: OG Jamil Douglas

The Miami Dolphins finally filled a need on the offensive line in the fourth round of the NFL draft today by pikcing Jamil Douglas from Arizona State.

Douglas, 6-4 and 304 pounds, was a first-team All-PAC 12 selection. He was a guard and moved to left tackle as a senior. He is a left guard prospect in the pros.

Douglas is said to be athletic and have a great lower body. He started every game the past three years so durability is a strength. He also is said to need a motivating force behind him to raise his level of play.

"I'm a versatile player, I'm an athletic player," Douglas said. "I'm strong at the point of attack. I'm an explosive player. I'm a disciplined player as well. I'm a smart guy. I can figure things out. I can adjust on the fly and those are all things that come with my game."

NFL.com projected Douglas as a fifth or sixth-round pick. Douglas was arrested in 2010 on suspicion of burglary but the charges were later reduced to trespassing.

"Very interesting prospect," Hickey said. "He's a very athletic, versatile lineman. We're going to put him at left guard."

Hickey said Douglas is especially good on pull blocks and combo blocks.

May 01, 2015

Miami Dolphins pick Jordan Phillips

The Miami Dolphins have selected Oklahoma's Jordan Phillips in the second round of the NFL draft.

And that is interesting because, well, Phillips is a defensive tackle.

And the Dolphins just spent an ungodly amount of money on DT this year when they signed Ndamukong Suh. And they signed Earl Mitchell as a DT in free agency last year.

And the team has needs at cornerback, and offensive guard and linebacker.

Interesting.

Phillips is a giant. He's 6-5 1/4 and 329 pounds.

But his production has never matched his size or athleticism. And he did have conditioning issues at times.

This feels like a boom or bust pick.

 

 

Miami Dolphins exchange second round pick with Philly

The Miami Dolphins traded their second round pick, 47th overall, to the Philadelphia Eagles tonight for their second round pick and other picks.

The details of the trade:

Philly gets No. 47 (2nd round), No. 191 (6th round).

Miami gets: No. 52 (2nd round), No. 145 (5th) and  No. 56 (5th round).

Miami Dolphins ready to 'get wild' tonight

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross just walked into the team's practice facility with a confident Vince McMahon strut and big smile. He walked up to General Manager Dennis Hickey, shook his hand and asked, "You ready to get wild tonight?"

"We're ready," Hickey responded.

And then he turned to me and said, "We're going to try some things."

Ross is obviously feeling good about the Dolphins right now. He's obviously feeling good about Day One of the draft when the Dolphins got receiver DeVante Parker.

And he obviously believes his team has big plans for the second and third round tonight, which begin at 7 p.m.

About that: The Dolphins have the 47th overall selection in the second round. They do not have a third-round pick because they traded it away for receiver Kenny Stills.

So it stands to reason perhaps the Dolphins are expecting to trade back in the second round and gain a third round pick. Or perhaps if they stay at No. 47, they'll try to use other resources to try to trade into the third round another way.

Either way, there is an air of confidence at Dolphins camp now.

Starting with the owner.