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My Thoughts On This Past Draft

Discussion in 'Miami Dolphins Forum' started by alen1, May 12, 2009.

  1. alen1

    alen1 New Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    I know I'm really late to this but school and other stuff is starting to pile on here and I've been working on this by day. Its been a few weeks since the draft but here's my thoughts anyways.


    Tony Sparano and company went through there second draft as part of the Miami Dolphins organization and left some fans scratching there heads over there selections. Who expected the organization to take Vontae Davis of Illinois, a prospect that wasn’t on the radar much for fans going into the draft. Other head-scratches include Pat White of West Virginia who was selected with the first pick in the second round and was considered by most as a “luxury pick”. Another prospect was Ohio State’s Brian Hartline who was selected in the fourth but wasn’t expected to go any time before the sixth according to some draftniks. With all that said, I hope I can shed some light on these players and how they will fit in with there new teams.

    25th Overall: Vonate Davis, CB, Illinois

    Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis was selected twenty-fifth overall by the Miami Dolphins in April’s draft. Davis was a highly regarded player during his time at Illinois as he made game changing plays and was a superior player than his opposition. Vontae is at his best when sitting back and attack the ball downhill in zone coverage. The reason for his success when attacking downhill is because of his good ball skills. Davis does a good job of recognizing routes and jumping them. One of my question marks in pass coverage with him is if he can play man to man coverage down field. I realize that Davis ran a 4.49 forty yard dash at the combine on a slower turf than the RCA Dome’s but when I watch him on tape, I fail to see him staying in the hip pocket of the wide receiver down field consistently. He displays quick hips when changing directions but appears to be faster in shorts than on the field. Despite his lack of ability to play man to man coverage consistently, Davis has good recovery speed and can be a big time player if put in the right scheme that fits his strengths, which is why I’m led to believe that is the reason the Dolphins selected him at twenty-five.

    In the Quarters coverage, from what I understand, it is basically a zone coverage, varying from cover 2, cover 3 and cover 4. In zone coverage, Davis will be asked to sit back and make plays on the ball going downhill, the aforementioned strength of his game. He will be asked to cover post and fade routes, which is something that will require him to stay in the hip pocket of wide receivers; and as you will notice, I listed earlier that as one of my concerns and issues with Davis. While that is a concern of mine, it only pertains to him playing man to man coverage, meaning starting at the line of scrimmage and running down field with the opposition and in the zone coverage, that won’t be an issue because the play will be in front of him and he will be able to recover to the wide receiver if he is beaten. With the pass coverage strengths addressed, one has to wonder what are the weaknesses in Davis’ game that can be exposed in the Quarters coverage. The biggest thing that stands out to me with Davis is that he has blown coverage quite a bit during his time at Illinois and that’s an issue because wide receivers that he’s covering will likely run a double move at one point during the game and that is something that gives fits to Davis from time to time.

    One of the best characteristics of Davis’ game that is pointed out is his aggressive play in run support. Davis is indeed an aggressive player against the run. He does a good job of wrapping up when tackling, he can lay the wood and is very willing. While he is a good player in run support, Davis will have games where he’s a dominate player, making plays on the ball and in run support, and then games where he will turn off the motor completely. He will start jogging around the ball carrier or will not be a willing player. That’s something that I loathe to be quite honest but is likely not to be a major issue as far as him doing his job on the field. What I mean by that is in the Quarters coverage, the cornerback is not asked to play much run support; actually very little. The cornerback, in this case being Vontae Davis, is likely to be the last defender to make the tackle.

    When Davis was first selected, I must admit that I was left scratching my head and remembered saying “very questionable pick” because of my concerns with his play on the field as well as the often brought up character issues. Davis was benched for three plays by Illini head coach Ron Zook because of his poor efforts in practice at one time and the rumours that swirled around about him being “uncoachable”. The character concern doesn’t seem to be a big of an issue as it was made it out to be by the media because according to the Dolphins management, he was cleared of character issues by his head coach. However, thinking it over and how Davis fits in with this team, it may pay off to be a very good pick because of his abilities on the field. He fits in very well with the newly implemented Quarters coverage and brings a fiery and passionate attitude on the field.

    44th Overall: Pat White, QB, WVU

    With the forty-fourth pick, West Virginia’s Pat White was selected and Dolphins fans burst out with anger across the nation. Many felt that outside linebacker would be the selection because the draft’s best 3-4 outside linebacker was still available, Clint Sintim of Virginia. Despite that, the Dolphins took White and now plan to use full advantage of his talent.

    Tony Sparano was quoted as saying that Pat White would work as a quarterback and he did just that in minicamp, showing off a good arm down field and good accuracy during his time there as well as throughout the whole draft process. The first job for White in the pros will be to Quarterback the Wildcat. White will bring another dimension to the Wildcat as he, unlike Ronnie Brown, will be able to pass out of the formation. What his ability to pass the ball does for the formation is that it gives more room to run for the ball carrier. Teams will have to take a step or two back when defending it and will not be able to crowd the box heavily with eight or nine defenders. Furthermore, the ability to pass the ball will also give the option of taking Chad Pennington off the field and adding another target to pass the ball to. The biggest factor in this maybe Ted Ginn Jr., as he has the ability to stretch the field and I am one of the people who think that White has a good enough arm to throw down field.

    Moving on to running the ball, the first concern that will pop into many football fans head is White’s ability to take the beating when running. Running backs take a big time beating when carrying the ball and White is basically a running back out of the formation, except that he is taking a direct snap from the Center. While the concern is there, I think that it won’t be too big of an issue because White will not be taking twenty carries and instead will likely look at eight to ten carries per game, if that.

    While White is recognized as a quarterback and ball carrier in the Wildcat formation, I think his future may hold as a slot receiver. Now I know that sounds ludicrous and is a hot topic with fans because he hasn’t spend the bulk of his career playing the position but it is one of (many) positions that White can make an impact at. One of the things that I thought about when the selection of Pat White was made was the interest in Percy Harvin leading up to the draft. Florida’s Percy Harvin is arguably the most dynamic player coming out of college and is a very elusive player in the open field. He can make defenders miss and can gain yardage in chunks. Pat White, in my opinion, can do the same. He’s not as dynamic as Percy Harvin nor is he as quick but one thing that he does have in common with Harvin is that he’s elusive and can make plays in space. White doesn’t have to be asked to run double moves down field but he may be asked to run drag routes and find the soft spot in zone defenses, which is something that I think he’s capable of doing.

    With all that said, we have quite a bit of wide receivers on the roster at the moment and White doesn’t seem to have a place in the slot with Brian Hartline, Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess possibly working the slot as well as Patrick Turner. While those players will likely hold back White from being an immediate contributor in the receiving department, I suspect that he will be a player in the future as I stated earlier because I am one of the people who believe the Dolphins could go to a spread offense that is similar to what the New England Patriots ran last season; a four wide receiver set and one tailback in the backfield. If the current wide receivers are still on the roster in the future, Ginn Jr. would line up on the wing while Greg Camarillo would work the slot or the opposite wide receiver position of Ginn and Bess or White would work the slot. With that line up set, it appears that Patrick Turner and Brian Hartline, two draft choices of this past draft, would be left out. However, the core would rotate in and out as we don’t have a dominant number one wide receiver on the team.

    The selection of Pat White seemed to be a reach at the time because there were many other valuable players on the board, such as the aforementioned Clint Sintim, but he is here now and has a place on the team. He can be a contributor from multiple aspects of the offense and that is a major plus as the management admires versatility.

    56th Overall: Sean Smith, CB, Utah

    The second selection of the second round was Utah’s Sean Smith after the Dolphins traded with the Colts from 56 to 61. Utah’s Smith is one of the better cornerbacks in this class in my opinion. He’s got great stature and length and while that is something that is a bit worry because there are very few cornerbacks at 6’3 ½ who have succeeded and have displayed fluidity in there hips, Smith is not cut from the same cloth. The former wide receiver is fluid when changing directions and can flip his hips to run down field with wide receivers. He has the ability to jump and make a play on the ball at its highest point due to his height and that’s a big plus in the scouting department because of wide receiver Randy Moss and Terrell Owens in the division. Smith is one of the more physical defensive backs in this class, despite his knocks of being consistently physical. He is one of the few that has actually spent time playing bump and run coverage and had success while doing so. When Smith is beaten due to a whiff of the wide receiver coming off the line of scrimmage, he has displayed good recovery speed up field and make a play on the ball. A perfect example of this is against Alabama this past season, when Sean Smith was asked to cover the slot receiver from Alabama. He went to jam the smaller wide receiver but his quick first step helped him avoid Smith’s jam and Smith ended up whiffing on the play; he is beaten in a foot race down field and once the wide receiver gets down field and is ready to haul in the pass from John Parker Wilson, Smith recovers to swat the ball out of the air.

    When playing the run, he’s a willing tackler. He does a good job of wrapping up ball carriers and making the stop. When Smith is tied up with blocking wide receivers, he does a pretty good job of disengaging off of the block and turning back into the play to make the stop.

    With all that said, Smith seems to be a legitimate number one cornerback in this class and should be a first rounder but yet, he was the sixty first pick in the second round. Why so? Well, the reason for that in my opinion is that he hasn’t played the position long. Smith played the cornerback position for two years after the team lacked defensive backs and offered to move him from wide receiver to cornerback. Whilst Smith has good ball skills as a defensive back, he’s a raw player. He doesn’t have great instincts and doesn’t always play with great smarts. He will be seen giving up a big cushion in zone coverage and will allow the inside route to wide receivers. When covering double moves, Smith will sometimes get twisted and get out of position, allowing the target to haul in the pass freely.

    The concerns that will stand out the most is Smith getting caught up in double moves and giving up too much cushion in zone coverage. The reason for it is because those are two important factors in the Quarters coverage. In zone coverage, the cornerback can drop five to eight yards and make a play on the ball going downhill or cover the wide receiver on a post route. However, Smith’s issue is that he gives up more than five to eight yards from what I’ve seen in college, at times giving up roughly fifteen yards, which his a big issue. While Smith will have to learn to stop giving up so much space to wide receivers in zone coverage, he can also play bump and run coverage, denying the short slant, with the Safety covering his back in the case of him being beaten by the wide receiver. I’m more inclined to have Smith do this than leave him in zone coverage, playing the wide receiver and covering double moves this early in his career. Once he develops his game over the course of the year, I’d be more confident allowing him to drop in zone coverage.

    Sean Smith passes the eye test very well and is a bigger and physical cornerback that this regime is looking for. Getting him at sixty-one was great value in my opinion, as I had him rated very highly coming out.

    87th Overall: Patrick Turner, WR, USC

    USC’s Patrick Turner was another guy that fit the bigger and physical theme that the management went looking for in this draft, as Turner stands 6’5”, 223 lbs. When this pick came in, the first thing that I thought of was Bill Parcells. I feel that this pick had Parcells written all over it because Patrick Turner compares favorably to Keyshawn Johnson. They are both bigger wide receivers that are physical and are possession wide receivers. Like Johnson, Turner is a good route runner. He displays good foot quickness in short areas which made some teams look at him as a potential West Coast offense wide receiver. Turners size and physicality helps him when coming off the line of scrimmage as he is able to beat the jam against cornerbacks. The big issue with Turner will be putting his talent together, as his inconsistency over his USC career helped drop his stock. He improved over the course of his career and logged a career high 741 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

    As to where Patrick Turner fits in Miami’s offense, he is clearly going to be the red zone target. The signing of Ernest Wilford last off-season to be the red zone target has not panned out thus far, as Wilford struggles with consistency and lacks the body control to be a red zone target in my opinion. Turner on the other hand does a good job of using his body and has soft hands. He uses his height to his advantage and it was a big factor in his last year at USC. One of the things that the offense seemed to lack last season was slant routes for wide receivers. When Dan Henning was in Carolina, he used slant routes with Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad but did not bring that over to Miami. The reason for that is we lacked a physical wide receiver. Ted Ginn Jr. is not Steve Smith as he’s not as physical as Smith is getting off the line and going across the middle and we lacked a big target that was comparable to Muhsin Muhammad. That may change now with the acquisition of Patrick Turner via the draft.

    The selection of Patrick Turner will pay big dividends in the future because the Dolphins sorely lacked a big target, especially in the red zone. David Martin and Anthony Fasano were the primary targets in the red zone last season and when they were covered by the underneath linebackers and safeties, our option came to smaller wide receivers such as Davone Bess. Turner could have an immediate impact with this offense, being a red zone target alone.

    108th Overall: Brian Hartline, WR, OSU

    Brian Hartline of Ohio State was one of the surprise and head scratching draft choices to many. He wasn’t expected to go in the fourth round and any time before late fifth round. However, the Dolphins management has there draft board stacked differently than others and they value players higher than others. The reason for the selection of Brian Hartline in the fourth round may be because Parcells usually takes a player earlier than expected because he doesn’t want to risk losing him later.

    When it comes down to running routes and getting open, Hartline proves to be a good route runner. He does a pretty good job of using his head to create separation on routes from defensive backs; although I will say that I think Hartline should put a bit more time in using his head to create separation because his head movement is so sudden that its almost like it never even occurred.

    Further, the biggest knock that I have seen on Hartline outside of production - which I will get to in a short time - is his lack of quickness getting off the line of scrimmage. I think that his quickness is inconsistent but is also underrated. I think when he gets off the line simultaneously as the snap, he displays good quickness getting up field. When he is slow getting off the line, its usually because he’s slow to get off the line. It seems very simple but true. I noticed that he will get off the line of scrimmage after Terrelle Pryor or Todd Boeckman take a step back from the snap and that’s an issue. It seems to be simply a timing issue and hopefully will not continue in Miami.

    Moreover, his ability to beat the jam at the line of scrimmage is something that I wonder about. While Hartline has good size, he’s not overly physical at the line of scrimmage and going over the middle from what I’ve seen. He gets knocked off his routes coming off the line from what I’ve noticed.

    Also, the lack of production of Hartline is often brought up with him. He did only collect twenty one passes this past season for 479 yards but his yardage per reception is what stands out to me. 22.8 was his average yards per reception, which is an outstanding number. He doesn’t have great long speed to separate from defensive backs but he has had success downfield.

    Finally, I think the knocks on Hartline are legit and they surely contributed to his potential in scouts and coaches eyes but I think they are correctable because Hartline is a smart and hard worker on the field.

    161st Overall: John Nalbone, TE, Monmouth

    Going to be honest here, I don’t know much about John Nalbone of Monmouth. I don’t get Monmouth games here and because of that, its difficult to touch on his play. From what I’ve read and heard, Nalbone is a good blocker as well as a pass catcher from the tight end position. He seems to be in the same mold as Anthony Fasano, who proved to be a good target last season for Chad Pennington. The addition of Nalbone signals that we may not keep David Martin or Anthony Fasano in the future as there contracts run up at the end of the season. It could also mean that they like Fasano and Martin but are not comfortable with Joey Haynos as the backup and third string tight end. Or it may simply mean that they wanted competition for Haynos.

    165th Overall: Chris Clemons, S, Clemson

    Moreover, the addition of Chris Clemons of Clemson was a good one and a great value pick in the fifth round. Clemons has played in the Quarters coverage during his time at Clemson and was a successful player during his time there. He’s a contributor in run support as he can play in the box as a strong safety and does a good job of wrapping up when tackling.

    In pass coverage, Clemons has a good burst to the ball and does a good job of jumping routes. He’s got good quickness, changes directions well and has good straight line speed. One of the issues that Clemons has is that he will be a step late to the ball from time to time.

    When Clemons gets his chance to play, he will have some heavy work to do in the Quarters coverage, From my understanding, he is responsible for identifying the run versus the pass. When playing pass coverage, he has to play the hash marks on the field and keep the play in front of him. He cannot let the opposition get past him as it will (obviously) end in a big gain and possibly a touchdown. He must make the correct reads as well and that’s a big responsibility because if he fails to, the defense will give up the big play.

    Against the run, he will have to read the play and get to the sideline to make a play near the line of scrimmage on the ball carrier. The safety, in this case being Chris Clemons, will basically be an extra linebacker as he’ll move up toward the line of scrimmage once he reads the play and then make lateral movements to make the play on the outside.

    Clemons has reportedly impressed in training camp and could get a shot at playing this season, if Yeremiah Bell unfortunately goes down with an injury. Clemons experience in the Quarters coverage and durability will be a big asset in the future as he can double up as a linebacker in the 3-4 as well as a safety in the defensive backfield. He provides much needed depth.

    181st Overall: Andrew Gardner, OT, Georgia Tech

    With the sixth round draft choice, the Dolphins selected Georgia Tech’s Andrew Gardner. Now in my opinion, Gardner would have gone higher had he not tore his labrum this season. He’s a good offensive tackle and the Dolphins got a steal here. He had a 48 game consecutive start streak snapped this season with the labrum injury and I am inclined to believe that Georgia Tech’s option offense dropped his stock quite a bit as well as he doesn’t have great lateral agility and that’s what is asked of him in there option offense. Gardner is a towering offensive tackle that displays good feet on tape and plays to the end of the whistle, showing some nastiness in his game. He’s a very hard worker and challenges himself, which is a big positive in the managements book.

    Gardner is going to provide much needed depth to the offensive line and has the ability to play left tackle if needed but I think his best fit may be on the right. He doesn’t have great agility as noted earlier and his inability to get off the line fast at all times will likely give him troubles with speed rushers, a trait that I think is seen with some of the top heavy offensive tackles such as Andre Smith and Phil Loadholt, even though Gardner is not top heavy IMO. All in all, I thought this was a good need pick and very good value for a durable and good player.

    214th Overall: J.D. Folsom, ILB, Weber State

    Weber State’s J.D. Folsom is another selection that I’m not familiar with as I don’t get Weber State games here. From what I know, Folsom has played both linebacker and safety positions and his size indicates that he’s likely to be moved to inside linebacker and since he’s played some safety, I’m going to assume that he’s going to be looked at as a coverage linebacker in the Quarters coverage. Further, Folsom will likely have to play special teams to make the team. If he can do both of those, the Dolphins could have a decent contributor on there hands. If he fails to do that, it’ll be a wasted seventh round draft choice, which isn’t a big deal because very few seventh round draft choices make the team in the first place.

    Finally, I’m not going to place a grade on this draft because I’m not a big believer in grading a draft this early but I will say this, the management did a solid job of filling needs on the team. I know outside linebacker was not addressed but in my opinion, there a couple of reasons for that. The first one is that they may not have been comfortable with the outside linebacker converts in this draft and felt like the guys that were available were not the right ones. The other reason is the class next year. Next year’s class has a plethora of talented outside linebackers (as well as interior defensive linemen) and it will be addressed next year with the position being doubled up on in my opinion.
  2. brandon27

    brandon27 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Dec 3, 2007
    Windsor, ON. CANADA
    Wow Alen... That is a great writeup. Thanks for sticking with it and sharing it. I enjoyed the read. I'm pretty excited to see what this draft class is going to do for us a few years.

    Thanks again. :up:
    alen1 likes this.
  3. Jackson

    Jackson Bruce Banner

    Mar 24, 2008
    Thanks Alen. Heck of a write up. I am printing this out and reading it first thing in the morning on my way to the studio!
    alen1 likes this.
  4. Onehondo

    Onehondo Senior Member Club Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    Very good read and a great perspective. Just thought I would mention, I watched one of Sparano's rookie camp press conferences and he said he liked Hartlines ability to stop and change directions from a run or a sprint. Something to that effect, and I guess in simple terms he said Hartline can stop and turn on a dime.
    Oh yes and he said most players take three steps to stop from a run and Hartline can do it in one step.
    alen1 likes this.
  5. anlgp

    anlgp ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A

    i like how you addressed how they will fit in with the team. to me that's what made the article because i don't go into all the position stuff i'm more about strategy and how pieces fit.

    i will add a criticism. i think if you broke it up more (maybe put like Pick #25, V. Davis CB) and did the section on him it would be a little easier to read. To me it ran on a bit. Other than that nice article.
    alen1 likes this.
  6. gladsadmad

    gladsadmad New Member

    May 18, 2009
    thanks for the breakdown..great read
    alen1 likes this.

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