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6 posts from May 8, 2014

May 08, 2014

Dolphins pick Ja'Wuan James

The past hour had been a bad one for the Miami Dolphins. And then, on the clock at No. 19, the team picked Tennessee right tackle JaWuan James.

This one will feel troubling to some who think the Dolphins reached.


It's hard to reach when you pick a first-day starter. And that is what this plug-and-play tackle will be.

He is Miami's starting right tackle.


All the first-round OTs are gone

The four consensus first-round offensive lineman are off the board in the NFL draft.

It started, as expected, with Greg Robinson going to the St. Louis Rams with the No. 2 overall pick.

Then there was a lull until the Falcons, at No. 6, but they did the right thing and got Texas A&M's Jake Matthews to protect quarterback Matt Ryan.

The Titans, who picked guard Chance Warmack last year in the first round, are turning their offensive line into a strength as they selected Michigan's Taylor Lewan, a Jake Long clone, with the No. 11 pick. The Dolphins did not try to get up to the pick.

The Giants passed on the tackle Zack Martin to take receiver Odell Beckham Jr. But a few picks later the Dallas Cowboys, keeping twitter in business on the Internet, passed on Johnny Manziel and took ...

Zack Martin.

It's time to trade down, folks.

Shazier goes to the Steelers

Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, a darkhorse first round possibility to the Dolphins, is gone.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, picking No. 15 in the draft, have just selected the former Plantation High standout.

The Dolphins had Shazier in for a visit and his father is the Dolphins team chaplain. Miami was very interested in him as a weakside linebacker.


Live blog here: NFL draft has arrived

The NFL draft has finally arrived. Well, it'll be here soon and these are some things you should be monitoring as the process goes along:

1. Everyone I have spoken to continues to say the Dolphins must get an offensive linemen. They do not buy the idea of a best available player at linebacker or cornerback or safety or whatever. I hope they are correct but I continue to think if the team is locked into the No. 19 pick it will be hard to get a value offensive tackle.

2. I'm hearing the Dolphins may be thinking left guard as well as right tackle in the first round, which is interesting. If that is true, think that perhaps Zack Martin might be used as a left guard or a right tackle. Think that UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo might be on the board at some point.

3. If the Dolphins draft a linebacker -- either Ohio State's Ryan Shazier or Alabama's C.J. Mosley -- it will force everyone to await the other shoe to drop. What is that other shoe? It might mean the Dolphins will start trying to trade Phillip Wheeler. Wheeler was a free agent signing a year ago and got a five-year, $26 million deal with $13 million in guaranteed money. He is scheduled to cost $6.4 million against the cap this year. That is outrageous for a non-starter. If the Dolphins can trade Wheeler, he would still cost the team $4.2 million. Getting out my trusty calculator ... $6.4 million is more than $4.2 million.

4. If, and that's a big if, the Tampa Bay Bucs draft a quarterback at some point in the next two days, they may be willing to trade quarterback Mike Glennon. Obviously, Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey has a history with Glennon and the Dolphins have been telegraphing a desire to add a young QB before training camp. The Dolphins are not going to give up a premium pick for Glennon, who threw 19 TDs and 9 INTs as a rookie. And the Bucs are going to want a good pick. But if we start talking fifth- or sixth-round compensation? Well ...

5. If, another big if, the Dolphins try to trade up to grab Zack Martin, a team that seems a likely trade partner is Tennessee at No. 11. Why there? They might be able to land a cornerback at No. 19. They might land a quarterback in the second round. And the Dolphins would have to get ahead of the New York Giants at No. 12. A lot of ifs.


Dolphins need to steer clear of injured players

In the lead up to the Dolphins 2014 NFL draft I ask you, and more importantly the Dolphins people who read this blog, to please remember the 2013 draft.

Remember the 2013 draft?

First round pick Dion Jordan came to the Dolphins rehabilitating after shoulder surgery.

Second round pick Jamar Taylor came to the Dolphins with kidney issues that prevented him from taking anti-inflammatory medication. So less than a month after being drafted when he required sports hernia surgery, there was no good way to treat Taylor's pain. 

Third round pick Dallas Thomas came to the Dolphins after tearing his labrum at the Senior Bowl and requiring surgery to repair it.

Jordan, Taylor and Thomas all missed the offseason conditioning program and OTAs. Taylor missed most of training camp. Jordan missed the first two weeks of camp, suffered a setback in a preseason game and missed all but the final two weeks before the regular season. Thomas was limited early in training camp before eventually working in later in the process.

All three factored very little as rookies, disappointing anyone with a brain.

And that brings me to the 2014 draft.

The Dolphins would be wise to learn their lesson. New general manager Dennis Hickey was not in Miami last year so he wasn't stung by the lack of rookie production last year. But he'd be wise to brush up on the history because, as we speak, there is a possibility the Dolphins could be again eyeing draft picks with medical flags.

The players the Dolphins have met with, worked out, visited or otherwise been tied to that have medical issues:

OT Cyrus Kouandjio: Red flags are waving all over this player to the point I know at least two teams have him completely off their board. Kouandjio had ACL surgery in 2011 and, according to former NFL team doctor David Chao there is worry about articular cartilage damage leading to arthritis. "Some teams appear to be concerned about his ligament stability as well," according to Chao.

OG Brandon Thomas: The Dolphins were on him early in the draft process and even wanted to bring him to Miami for a visit but then the player suffered a torn ACL during a workout for the New Orleans Saints. He will not be available to play in 2014. Formerly a second- or third-round prospect, he's likely a Saturday pick now.

QB Aaron Murray: The Dolphins paid a lot of attention to him as well as Miami's Stephen Morris as later-round possibilities. But he had ACL surgery in late November.Murray may be ready for training camp.

CB Darqueze Dennard: His history of shoulder, knee and ankle injuries as well a double hernia surgery makes him sound medically a bit like Taylor. Better player but the history is the history.

LB C.J. Mosley: History includes dislocated right elbow, dislocated hip, and torn right labrum surgery. He started every game in 2013 but he did not lift at the Indianapolis Combine due to a right shoulder injury.

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins: The Dolphins gave him a medical re-check recently and that's good because a foot fracture was discovered at the Indianapolis Combine. According to Chao, he had surgery on his fifth metatarsal stress fracture. "Seferian-Jenkins attended the medical re-checks two weeks ago and the key is to see how much healing he has on x-rays and the CT scan," Chao said. "This will determine when he will be released for full football activities. My sources in the medical community seem optimistic."

WLB Ryan Shazier: Not a huge deal here but ... He didn't run at the Indianapolis Combine because of a hamstring injury. So he came out at his Pro Day and expected to do everything but he suffered a hamstring injury while running the 40-yard dash.

Dolphins need a RT, should pick a RT

The Miami Dolphins need a stating right tackle and I tell you in my column in today's Miami Herald why general manager Dennis Hickey would be fooling himself if he thinks Jason Fox can be that guy. The team needs to draft a legitimate starting right tackle.

But guess what?

Some of the players some mocks have slotted to the Dolphins as right tackle possibilities are actually left tackles. And, at the risk of being obvious, a college left tackle does not always translate to a good NFL right tackle and rarely is it seamless the player's rookie year.

Do the analysis (Or simply keep reading). College left tackles picked in the first round and asked to play right tackle almost always struggle that first year and sometimes never quite arrive at all.

This while the success rate of first rounders who played left tackle in college and are drafted for that expressed purpose in the pros is much, much better and among the best of any positions.

Take last season for example: Eric Fisher, Luke Joekel and Lane Johnson were all college left tackles and asked to move to the right side as rookies.


Johnson rated the No. 39 tackle in ProFootballFocus.com's tackle ratings, gave up 10 sacks and 39 quarterback hurries. He was the No. 4 overall selection.

The second overall selection, Joekel, broke his ankle in October after playing only five games. He gave up three sacks and 11 hurries (more than two per game) in those games that accounted for only 280 snaps. He didn't have one game where he graded out on the plus side, according to PFF.

Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall selection by Kansas City obviously was not going to beat out Branden Albert at left tackle. So he moved to right tackle and, well, struggled. He was rated No. 70 among 78 rated tackles while giving up six sacks and 35 hurries and collecting six penalties.

All but Johnson are expected to move to left tackle this year.

The problem with this snapshot of 2013 is that it is representative of the past four drafts.

In 2010, four collegiate left tackles were selected in the first round. Two were asked to play their natural left tackle spot. Two were asked to move to right tackle. The two rookies who played left tackle -- Trent Williams and Russell Okung -- performed better and graded out higher than Green Bay's Bryan Bulaga and San Francisco's Anthony Davis who were asked to play other positions including right tackle.

Davis gave up 11 sacks and 37 hurries as a rookie right tackle. Bulaga gave up 12 sacks and 24 hurries. Both have since grown into their positions and Bulaga is now a left tackle and Davis is a good right tackle. But the point is the move to what is supposedly the easier right tackle spot was taxing that first year.

in 2011, five college left tackles were picked in the first round and four of those worked at right tackle as rookies. While Dallas played college left tackle Tyron Smith at left tackle and got very good results, Derek Sherrod struggled in Green Bay at right tackle, Gabe Carimi managed only two games at right tackle for the Bears and James Carpenter was able to get into only eight games for the Seahawks and in those eight games he yielded five sacks.

The only rousing success move from college left tackle to pro right tackle as a rookie that year was New England's Nate Solder who started 13 games at right tackle and three at left tackle and was the No. 33 tackle in the league as a rookie.

In 2012, Matt Kalil started all 16 games at left tackle after playing left tackle in college and he was outstanding. Meanwhile, Reilly Reiff went from left tackle to right tackle but could not crack the starting lineup for the Lions.

(As an anecdotal aside, you'll remember in 2012 the Dolphins asked college left tackle Jonathan Martin to start at right tackle. It was not good. But, of course, we're not getting too deep into that because Martin was a second-round pick and that other thing everyone is trying to forget eventually happened).

So what's the point again? College left tackles do not automatically make good NFL right tackles and rarely do so as rookies.

So with the Dolphins badly needing a starting right tackle, why are so many people thinking a college left tackle will do the trick?

Cyrus Koundjio? Forget the fact that some scouts I talk to laugh at the idea of him being a first round pick. He started 26 games at left tackle for Alabama the past two years so even if he's healthy enough to play, he's going to struggle at right tackle.

Taylor Lewan? I shouldn't even waste valuable cyberspace with this but he will not be there when Miami picks and he's a left tackle.

Cornelius Lucas out of Kansas State, who is a late rounder, was a college left tackle. He ain't a right tackle, folks.

Zack Martin of Notre Dame? Well, he's a college left tackle but he is one consensus pick to make a seamless move to either left guard or right tackle. He will not be around if the Dolphins pick at No. 19.

Jake Matthews of Texas A&M? Another college left tackle but he played right tackle prior to that and did it well. Doesn't matter as he will not be around if the Dolphins pick at No. 19.

UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo? He played left tackle and did so quite poorly. He's an NFL guard, maybe even a left guard, but he's not a value at No. 19. 

North Dakota State's Billy Turner? A college left tackle and a later round pick anyway.

Virginia's Morgan Moses? He has started each of his last 23 games at left tackle. The saving grace here is he started 13 games at right tackle in 2011 and had six more right tackle starts in '10. So this might work.

Tennessee's Ja'Wuan James? He started a whopping 49 games in his SEC college career. All of them were at right tackle. Ding, ding, ding, ding! This is what I'm talking about.