The NFL draft combine in Indianapolis starts Thursday and to celebrate all the attention and focus we are about to lend to a bunch of dudes running around in shorts and doing everything except, you know, blocking and tackling and making plays from scrimmage, I present to you draft guru Mel Kiper.
He hates the Dolphins.
Let me correct that. Mel is a good man. He knows his stuff and he's great on TV. And he doesn't hate the Dolphins.
He just hates some of the stuff the Dolphins have done in recent drafts ... including drafting offensive tackle Jake Long with the first overall pick last year while passing on quarterback Matt Ryan.
To hear Mel explain it last week during a TWO-HOUR conference call with reporters, he thinks if Chad Henne does not become every bit the equal of Ryan in the next couple of years, the Dolphins will be proven to have made a grand mistake in Bill Parcells' first Miami draft.
And that is regardless of what Long, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, does. The thinking is a QB has the most important job in football and the Dolphins had a chance to get a very good QB in Ryan. So Henne better eventually erase that misdeed because, according to Mel, Ryan is better than any QB Miami can put on the field right now.
"They passed on Matt Ryan," Mel said. "And I've said all along, it's nice to have Jake Long and all that but Chad Pennington is kind of a plateau quarterback right now as we saw in the playoffs, which we knew going in, and Chad Henne is going to be the guy that will be compared to Matt Ryan.
"Three or four years down the road, Dolphins fans are going to be looked at and we'll say, "OK you could have had Matt Ryan and you didn't take him. Where's Matt Ryan? Where's Chad Henne?' And we better hope Chad Henne is right where Matt Ryan is or that was a bad move not taking Matt Ryan.
"So we kind of gave them a free pass last year not taking Ryan. But I'm not giving them a free pass. I want to see how this all shakes [out] down the line. They could have taken Ryan and didn't take him. And I think Ryan is better than Henne and right now Ryan is better than Pennington."
Mel also is not a big fan of Ted Ginn Jr., another former first round pick of the Dolphins. He thought, and I agree, the Dolphins reached for Ginn with the ninth overall selection in the 2007 draft. And he doesn't buy the argument that Ginn's kick return prowess made him a dual threat, thus a better selection at No. 9.
"I don't think you draft a kid that high based on his return skills," Mel said. "I remember when Miami drafted Ted Ginn and Cam Cameron made that statement. It was like, "Are you kidding me?" You just don't draft a kid that high based on return skill. You just don't do that. You draft Ted Ginn based on his wide receiver skills.
" ... If you have to hang your hat on what kind of returner he is, that means he's a disappointment as a wide receiver. You can get returners as free agents. The Ravens proved that with B.J. Sams a long time ago and we saw that all the way through the history of the NFL.... Leon Washington wasn't a first or second round pick with the Jets."
Mel wasn't a big fan of drafting Ginn at No. 9 in 2007 and believes the Dolphins should pick a receiver at No. 25 now, in part, because Ginn hasn't stepped forward as the spark the Miami offense needs.
"Wide receiver is a need area," Mel said. "There's no question offensively this team needs some juice."
Mel projects the Dolphins picking Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey in the first round. I don't agree with that. I think the Dolphins can find receivers in later rounds and I think they will be prone to fill other needs -- specifically in the secondary, the front seven and offensive line -- in the first round.
I also believe the Dolphins already have their eyes on guys such as North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks and Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi and Cal Poly's Ramses Barden and Rutgers' Kenny Britt and Ohio State's Brian Robiskie after the first round.
Heyward-Bey, fast and big, is also maddeningly inconsistent. And Mel admits that when pressed.
"Heyward-Bey, his route running at times he doesn't push it enough," Mel said. "He's going to have to turn that intensity dial up a bit ... In some games he looks like a top 10-15 pick. In other games, he's completely off the radar a bit."
Mel later calls Heyward-Bey a, "borderline first round pick."
So why would the Dolphins pick him?
Now, in discussing this post, I don't want it to become a ripfest on Mel Kiper. That's just dumb. If you disagree with him and believe LT Jake Long is just as valuable as the best QB in last year's draft, say WHY, give a reason, use your head and make the point!
If you think Mel is wrong in saying Ryan is better than Pennington and Henne, give reasons for that. Mel sucks is not a reason. Armando sucks is definitely not a reason. Show some intelligence, blogosphere ... I will not hold my breath.
Finally, The Herald is considering many innovative things for this very popular blog. And in planning that innovation we need to know what types of mobile phones you are using. So please tell us in your post. [Do not respond, 'The type you talk into.']