I'll be the first to admit I often view the draft through the prism of what the player is likely to do for the Dolphins, with little regard for what might have been if the team would have picked some other player.
It is the preliminary view that most teams take, frankly, because they prefer not to be compared with what other teams did. As Jimmy Johnson used to say, "Once the draft is over, I think and worry about the players I took. I don't ever think about the players I passed on because I'm not ever going to see them, but maybe once every four years and, at worst, maybe twice a year."
Well, that's sound organizational thinking -- especially if one traded oneself out of the opportunity to draft Randy Moss.
But today, those of us outside any NFL organization are taking a different view of the last draft. This time we're looking at it through the lenses of what might have been and what had better come to pass to make Miami's draft a success years from now.
The fact of the matter is the Dolphins are thrilled with the selection of CB Vontae Davis with the 25 overall pick in the first round. As a team source told me, he is at worst the second-best cornerback in the draft. He fills a position of dire need. And the Fins are thrilled to have him because they simply do not buy the so-called character issues with him.
But long-term Davis has to do more than simply be a solid cornerback for the Dolphins to make this pick a success. The fact is Davis was selected ahead of some very good prospects. And no on is going to be thrilled if Davis turns out to be a good player, but two or three guys drafted behind him become Pro Bowl guys.
The draft is about getting good value and picking a good player earlier while better players go later is not getting good value. So the hope is Davis is better than the guys picked behind him to make this a value selection.
That being the case, in the future we will view the Davis selection and also think that one pick later, Green Bay selected outside linebacker Clay Matthews. We will measure Davis historically against how Hakeem Nicks does in New York because the Dolphins also had a need at receiver and Nicks was on the board. So if Nicks, who went with the 29th overall selection, has a better career than Davis, I for one will feel kind of jipped.
It works both ways, by the way. The Saints, picking at No. 14, made Malcolm Jenkins the draft's first selected cornerback. Wouldn't it be sweet if Davis, selected 11 slots later, turns out to be a better player? The expectation is Jenkins must be better, but as Bill Parcells says, "You can't buy insurance for this stuff."
By the way, aside from Nicks, we must also follow the career path of WR Kenny Britt, who was picked 30th by Tennessee, because he was also on Miami's radar and also plays a position of need.
The second round again offers an interesting snapshot we must all refer to in the future. The Dolphins selected Pat White at No. 44 overall. He plays the quarterback position which is the most important on the field. White should immediately contribute in the WildPat and spread option package. Great.
But White was a luxury pick that answered no major pressing need. The Dolphins passed on Virginia OLB Clint Sintim, who was taken by the Giants one pick later at No. 45. Again, pass-rush is always a need and Miami has that need, even today. Furthermore, it should concern Miami fans Sintim was selected by the Giants because they run a hybrid 4-3 defense that sometimes looks like a 3-4 and sometimes uses linebackers as rushers [Thanks to the reader who corrected me on this]. They have proven to know a little something about identifying good front 7 players.
Miami also passed on Georgia receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and Hawaii OLB David Veikune -- both selected after Miami selected White. So those players will be linked to White.
With the 61st overall selection the Dolphins selected cornerback Sean Smith, a supremely talented kid with great size and potential and position flexibility. I loved this pick. And so did the Dolphins.
But the fact is in picking Smith the Dolphins passed on U-Conn OLB Cody Brown, who went to Arizona. It'll be interesting to see which player contributes more throughout his career.
The third round finally brought the Dolphins a receiver in USC giant Patrick Turner. At 6-5 and 225 pounds he should be a red zone threat. He better be, anyway. Eyes will be on him to see if he's more effective in the red zone than 6-6, 245-pound TE Chase Coffman, who the Bengals selected 11 picks later. Turner needs to be more productive than Penn St. WR Deon Butler, who the Seahawks selected at No. 91. Oklahoma WR Juaquin Iglesias (99th overall) and Wisonsin TE Travis Beckum (100th overall) also were selected after Turner in the third round.
The hope is Brian Hartlin, who Miami selected in the fourth round at No. 108 overall, is better than those previously mentioned players taken after Turner. The hope is OLB Victor Butler, taken by Dallas at 109 overall, doesn't prove to be a better player than Hartline.
The Chargers, in need of a nose tackle, took intriguing Vaughn Martin out of Western Ontario with the 113th overall selection. He would have filled Miami's nose tackle void. Hartline needs to become a greater value for Miami than Martin becomes for the Chargers.
The Dolphins have a much greater chance of getting draft decisions right than the Raiders because that is the history of late when comparing Bill Parcells and Al Davis. But Davis did pluck WR Louis Murphy from the University of Florida roster with the 124th overall selection. Murphy is bigger (6-3 and 205) than Hartline and faster. Is he more raw? Absolutely. More injury prone? Absolutely Will we watch the two develop and see which one becomes better?
By the way, two more NT-types went before the third round was over -- Auburn's Tyronne Green to San Diego and Michigan's Terrance Taylor to Indianapolis. Hard to dismiss these picks as both Bill Polian and A.J. Smith have done some outstanding work in building winners through the draft.
The Dolphins were active in the fifth round, picking TE John Nalbone out of mighty Monmouth and S Chris Clemons from Clemson. The interesting thing to me is that in picking Nalbone out of a program that doesn't typically produce NFL talent, the Dolphins passed on OL Duke Robinson out of Oklahoma, a program that typically does produce NFL talent. Robinson went to the Panthers two picks after Miami selected Nalbone so the career comparisons between them is on.
Clemons was very impressive in the rookie camp and colleague Craig Barnes, who covered college football for decades at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, tells me this kid is the real deal and that Miami got a steal. Great! So it should be no problem comparing how the Dolphins do with Clemons and how the Cowboys do with Clemson S Michael Hamlin, who was selected one pick later.
And, oh by the way, the Cardinals picked project OL Herman Johnson out of LSU with the 167th overall selection. The guy is fat at 386 pounds. But a year or so in the Arizona desert should trim him up a bit if the Cards are right on the kid. (He likely would have lost weight in Miami's humidity also). So I'll be checking in on him and comparing his value to Nalbone's and Clemons's.
The sixth round brought the Dolphins backup left tackle Andrew Gardner from Georgia Tech. Wonder how his value will stack up against TCU ILB Robert Henson, who went five selections later, or Washington State WR Brandon Gibson, who went at 194th overall to Philadelphia? We'll see.
The seventh round brought the Dolphins J.D. Folsom from Weber State. But the move that troubles me is the trade the Dolphins made with Kansas City for the 237th overall pick. The Dolphins traded it for Kansas City's seventh-round pick next year.
The stated reason Miami got no premium for trading a pick this year for a pick in the same round next year is that the Dolphins had no more players on their draft board. Really?
If that's the case, not one player that was selected after Folsom, was selected at No. 214 overall, had better become a star in the NFL. Not one of the 20 players selected after the Dolphins basically passed at No. 237 had better become a solid NFL contributor because if he does, it means the Dolphins walked away from the opportunity to select that guy.
It'll be interesting to see in the coming years how it works out. The belief here is Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland will get it right more often than they get it wrong. But that doesn't mean we won't be checking on it to make sure that is true.
By the way, the video below is of Nevada WR Marko Mitchell, who was selected at No. 243 overall, six selections after the Dolphins decided there were no more players on the board.