The Dolphins will not say what their draft needs are. Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland won't say they have holes at OLB and CB and WR that demand 2009 draft attention.
“We have needs at a lot of different positions," Ireland said cryptically. "To give you what those exact needs are goes into strategy which we are not going to talk about. Our greatest needs are players that fit our system. Our greatest needs are players that think the way we think; that want to be here and have high passion and high character. Those are the greatest needs that we have on the team.”
I find it interesting the Dolphins won't give you even a hint of what they think their needs are although everyone knows they need a starting CB because Will Allen cannot start at both LCB and RCB. They need a starting OLB that can improve the overall pass rush because Joey Porter cannot do it by himself. And they need a wide receiver that actually scares the defense because no one on Miami's receiver corps does that.
The Dolphins also need help at other positions like nose tackle and ILB, but those needs are not as dire and can be addressed in later rounds.
So even if Ireland and Sparano won't say what the Dolphins need, we pretty much know. But where they show brilliance in keeping internal information, well, internal is in refusing to to give even a hint what their priority is. We know what they need, even if they refuse to confirm it. But we don't know in what order they think they need those things.
Miami's priorities, rather than its needs, are the big secret.
In other words, no one outside the Dolphins knows if the team sees CB as a bigger need than WR. Or maybe OLB is a bigger need than the other two. I love that the Dolphins are able -- so far -- to keep this under wraps because that helps their cause in playing draft day poker against other teams.
But our purpose here is to break it down a little to get a better idea which of the three areas of need is the area of greatest need. So here goes ...
The case for OLB: The Dolphins had 40 sacks last season but 17.5 of those came from Porter. The team will not allow itself to rely on one player for 43 percent of its sacks. Yes, Cameron Wake was signed to address that problem and that might alleviate the level of need, but what has Wake proven? Is his presence enough to let the Dolphins go elsewhere with their top pick? Remember that a great pass rush is at the core of what Bill Parcells believes makes a great team. Remember that a great pass rush helps erase flaws in the secondary. And there are mathematical studies done by folks with, like, analytical minds, that state a sack is worth 3 1/2 points in an NFL game. Yes, the study shows a sack is more valuable than a field goal. So the case for finding a young, outstanding, pass-rushing OLB is strong.
The case for a WR: When Ireland was asked to name his No. 1 receiver last week he stumbled. "It is Teddy (Ted Ginn, Jr), it’s (Greg) Camarillo," he said. "Those are the receivers that are number one and number two, or number two and number one right now. We obviously need to upgrade a lot of positions and receiver is a position that we need some depth at for sure.” For sure. The Dolphins do not need a deep threat in the traditional sense. Ginn is capable of becoming that player that catches passes over the top of the defense. But Miami lacks a player that can turn a 7-yard slant into a 56-yard TD. Miami lacks a guy that can make the first defender miss, breaks the next guy's tackle, and is gone to the house. Miami lacks a guy that brings the YAC (Yards After Catch). Such an addition would open up the running game. Such an addition would slow a defense's desire to blitz. Such an addition would make any QB look a whole lot better.
The case for CB: Sparano has said he doesn't know that there are any lockdown corners anymore. The fact is the NFL game is made for offense and, except for the rescindment of the force-out rule, the fathers of the game are always trying to help open up the passing game. That does not change the fact Miami's best candidate for starting opposite Will Allen is Eric Green, who Sparano says, "has something to prove." Yeah, he's got to prove he can be a starter. Regardless of whether that happens or not, the Dolphins have three corners scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after 2009 assuming a collective bargaining agreement is reached. And even if it is not, Allen is scheduled to be unrestricted. So this position requires attention in this draft -- and perhapswith the selection of multiple players. Jimmy Johnson used to say you draft four positions in the first round. He wanted left tackles, pass-rushers, quarterbacks and cornerbacks. (Wish he had remembered his own rule relative to the Yatil Green selection). But the point is cornerback is a championship position. And the Dolphins are lacking there.
So there you have it. That's the case for each need. Which one is the Dolphins' priority?
You tell me. I'll give you my opinion tomorrow.