Mocking the Draft wants to introduce you to a new article series taking a closer look at each team's draft workings. The WarRoom articles will give you a glimpse at the recent draft history and the decision-making structure of each NFL team. We will also include our thoughts about the structure and draft history.
Offensive Scheme: Miami hired ex-offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns Brian Daboll to run the offense. He comes from the Bill Belichick coaching tree and uses a heavy run oriented type of offense with play action passing. Coach Tony Sparano since being hired as head coach in 2008 wants the offense to continue establishing the team identity as a power running offense, but in 2010 the running game production fell off due to bad interior offensive line play. Drafting G/C Mike Pouncey in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft gives Miami an athletic interior lineman to go with bookends left tackle Jake Long and right tackle Vernon Carey.
Defensive Scheme: Mike Nolan was hired in 2010 to run the defense. He uses a base 3-4 scheme with some variations of the 4-3 defense. There is a lot of young talent on this side of the ball and they are starting to come into their own. It all starts with the defensive line which has a ton of depth. Randy Starks, Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling, and 2010 first round pick Jared Odrick makes for a nice rotation at defensive end. Nose Tackle Paul Soliai emerged as a run stopping force under Nolan's tutelage. Cameron Wake is the pro-bowl stud who brings the pressure off the edges from the outside linebacker position, while linebacker Karlos Dansby patrols the middle. The corners are manned by two up and coming stars in Vontae Davis and Sean Smith who can play aggressive man to man coverage. Free safety Chris Clemons needs to make more plays on the ball and strong safety Yeremiah Bell is solid at run support. This defensive unit ranked 6th in total defense in 2010 and should be just as good if not better in 2011.
Thoughts: General manager Jeff Ireland and coach Sparano work closely together when drafting the type of player the team needs to fit their scheme or philosophy. In the 2011 NFL Draft the main focus was on improving the offense. Some of their team needs consisted of: interior offensive lineman, running back, quarterback, speed receiver, tight end, and depth at nose tackle. They did a great job of maneuvering in the draft to acquire players to fit those needs.
Drafting G/C Mike Pouncey with the 15th pick in round one might not have been the sexiest pick but it was the right choice for them. Miami struggled last year with getting a push from the interior lineman in the running game. Pouncey gives them a player who can do that plus he is athletic enough to pull and hit a moving target. The Dolphins did not have a 2nd round pick so they traded back into the bottom of the 2nd round to select running back Daniel Thomas. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams both are set to be free agents in 2011 once the new CBA deal is done and neither of them may be brought back. Thomas is a physical back who runs well in between the tackles and can occasional get outside and turn the corner. Wide receiver Edmond Gates from Abilene Christian was selected in the 4th round. He has the speed to stretch the field that the Dolphins covet. Teams doubled Brandon Marshall pretty much all season and let them have the underneath pass receptions, Davonne Bess had career highs of 79 catches and over 800 yards receiving. Gates could be the player that opens up everything for the Dolphins. Defenses want be able to stack the box against the run and double Marshall as often. In the 6th round Miami selected from Tulsa, H-back/Tight end Charles Clay. He gives Miami someone who they can pair with TE Anthony Fasano to attack the middle of defenses. Nose tackle Frank Kearse selected in the 7th round has the size to be an effective backup but needs time to develop.
Overall, Miami had a solid draft. They stayed with their draft board and filled most of their team needs. One of the needs they did not address was quarterback. Chad Henne is the starter for now but the Dolphins need some quality depth behind him. Once the new CBA is reached, Miami will more than likely bring in a veteran free agent to compete with Henne.
Recent History: Miami's front office has done a great job of drafting over the last five years. They started in 2008 with building the foundation of both sides of the ball, the offensive and defensive lines. They selected such players as Jake Long, Phillip Merling, and Kendall Langford. In 2010 and 2011 with their first round picks that theme continued with taking DE Jared Odrick and G/C Mike Pouncey. Miami has built a physical and deep with depth front lines. This year was all about drafting pieces to help QB Chad Henne and the offense grow as a unit.
The Dolphins only miss with their 1st round pick was before Ireland and Sparano were hired in 2008. The previous front office selected WR Ted Ginn in 2007 who did not live up to the team expectations. A friend of mine has told me many of times, if you miss on draft day it will come back to haunt you later on down the road. Missing on that pick was the reason they had to trade for WR Brandon Marshall before the 2010 season costing the Dolphins 2 second round draft picks. Miami has also had good success with 2nd round selections the last few years from 2008-2010 all of them have been or are current starters. CB Sean Smith, LB Koa Misi, and DE Phillip Merling (was a starter before off the field issues and a injury ended his 2010 season early) all have had some success. Look for RB Daniel Thomas (2011, 2nd round) to have an impact early.
Five Year Record: 32-48
Coach: Tony Sparano
GM: Jeff Ireland
Draft History: Click Here to see a complete draft history
Best Pick (Past Five Drafts): LT Jake Long: Jake was the first overall pick in 2008, and since then has been nothing short of exceptional for this team. He has been to 3 straight pro bowls and named to the All-Pro 1st team in 2010. If you were constructing a building the first thing you would do is lay down the floor then build everything on top of it. Jake Long is that floor for the offense and if he is not there everything falls down. This was the best pick in the last 5 years by the front office hands down.
Worst Pick (Past Five Drafts): WR Ted Ginn: He had superior speed and was gifted at returning punts and kickoffs, but he could not catch the ball consistently enough and didn't have the size or strength to get off of press coverage. He ended up being a draft bust. This was a major miss by the front office considering they had other needs that could have been met. They passed on MLB-Patrick Willis and TE-Greg Olsen who have had better success than Ginn and would have filled a team need.