Before I get to my OG/OC rankings and overall OL breakdown, the 2011 schedule came out last night. The Dolphins have three nationally televised games; two Monday Night Football games, including the opener, at home, against the Patriots, and Week 6 after the bye week in NY. Miami will be going to Dallas for Thanksgiving day, as they always do when we play Dallas in the rotation every 8 years. It's a tough schedule without many breaks, and while we start with two home games, we don't have a 1 o'clock home game until late October. Thank you for that Mr. Stephen Ross...
The Dolphins then have 5 out of 6 games on the road, with a bye week splitting up 3 straight. We then finish by playing 5 out of 8 at home (going by last season, it's hard to say whether that's good or bad). Miami ends the season playing the Bills, Pats and at home against the Jets. So it looks like just 2 cold weather games for Miami. Anyway, here is the schedule...
And now down to Miami OL breakdown...
1) John Moffitt, Wisconsin – Moffitt is not going to blow you away with any measurables, and there is popular belief that he’s overrated because he played in-between two 1st round caliber players, forming the best left side of an offensive line than many of us have ever seen. Wisconsin flat out ran people over, with their signature play being a power sweep to the left where Moffitt pulled outside of Gabe Carimi, creating a huge lane off-tackle. To me Moffitt’s teammates did not make him look good. In fact, I think he was the best lineman of the bunch. While he’s not combine athletic, he is pretty nimble on his feet and is very smooth in the open field. He plays downhill and very physical, in both the run and pass game. Moffitt also has the versatility to play either LG or C, and I think he could kick over the right side and play RG as well, although his best position is LG. The only weakness I see in Moffitt’s game is that sometimes in pass protection he will get heavy hands and feet, meaning that against athletic DT’s Moffitt will sometimes allow them to disengage and look stiff in doing so. Moffitt fits exactly what this team needs and wants in a LG, and ran the same blocking system at Wisconsin that we want to run in Miami. He’s a nasty, physical, versatile player who can come in and start from day 1. In the 3rd round he is excellent value.
2) Orlando Franklin, Miami – Right off the bat, Franklin looks like Carl Nicks. The way he’s built he looks more like a finesse RT (a Vernon Carey type), but when you put on the tape you see a physical, nasty run blocker who is also excellent in pass protection. Franklin has the ability to play LG or OT, although like Moffitt his best position is LG. He’s athletic and nimble enough on his feet to pull effectively, and plays downhill when doing so. The Dolphins seem to shy away from products out of the _, however Franklin would be an excellent pick in Day 2.
3) Rodney Hudson, FSU – Hudson is a very talented player, and is stronger than his frame would indicate. However he’s a zone blocking interior lineman. He’s not somebody the Dolphins are looking into.
4). Marcus Cannon, TCU – Maybe the biggest dude in this draft, Cannon played LT for TCU at about 370 pounds. Cannon is projected to kick inside and play OG in the NFL, (possibly RT), and is viewed as a mauling lineman in the run game and a nimble pass protector. While people are right on the money about Cannon’s pass blocking, I would beg to differ on his run blocking. He’s not a very physical player downhill, and despite what popular belief is, Cannon has not shown great strength in his base. The lack of a leg drive, physicality and a 370 pound frame will mean Cannon is blocking his RB from going through a lane, more so than clearing one for him. Cannon needs to lose some weight and become more physical if he wants to make it in the NFL. If he doesn’t change his mentality than his best position would be RT (where he could become a Vernon Carey type of player).
5) Mike Pouncey, Florida – Maurkice Pouncey has a tremendous rookie season for the Steelers at one of the hardest positions to play in football; center. Unfortunately people are letting this cloud their judgment on Mike. From what I have seen, Mike is not half of his brother Maurkice; he’s not as physical, as technically sound, athletic, nasty, strong, light on his feet, or versatile as Maurkice is. To me, Mike is a finesse player who gets caught lunging (possibly to make up from the lack of strength in his base) way too often, and is strictly a LG in the NFL (and a very average one at that). I don’t see any value at number 15, or later in the first round for him. I think he’s a 3rd round caliber prospect at best. To be honest, I see a lot of John Jerry in him.
6) Stefan Wisniewski, Penn St. – One of the most interesting prospects in this draft. Wisniewski has been touted as a first round pick for a couple of years now; he’s not overly strong or physical, but he holds his own in pass protection, creates good lanes in the run game and is very technically sound. However reports have come out in the last couple of weeks that Wisniewski won’t be drafted before the 3rd round, and that some teams have an undrafted grade on him. I don’t think he’s Nick Mangold or Maurkice Pouncey, but Wisniewski can play the game and can play the center position better than anyone in this draft. To me, if he is there in the 3rd or 4th round, it would be very hard to pass up. I think he could come in and compete for the starting center job with Joe Berger, allowing Incognito to move over to RG. He’s not special, but he’s solid.
7) Danny Watkins, Baylor – I am probably underrating Watkins severely, as Mike Mayock just recently ranked him as a first round caliber player. I didn’t get to watch Watkins over the course of the season, nor have I gotten to break down any of his regular season tape. However at the Sr. Bowl he failed to put an impression on me. His story is a nice one; in brief, he’s older because he just started playing football four years ago. Before that he was a fireman. Watkins looks like more of a RG than a LG to me as he’s bottom heavy and doesn’t seem to pull very well. That said he reminds me a Stephen Neal. If he turns out to be the next Neal, Miami would be wise to try and recoup a second round pick somehow to draft him.
8) Brandon Fusco, Slippery Rock - I know many of you are thinking, “Brandon who? Slippery what?” Fusco is a very interesting prospect that has garnered interest from several teams, but none more so than the Dolphins. It is very hard to project where such a small school prospect will go in the draft, and it’s highly possible that he could go as high as early round 3. I do think that Miami will find a way to get him though. The Dolphins made several trips to see him play this past season and have shown interest again this off season. Fusco won several awards the Division II level, including getting presented with the best offensive lineman award at the Sr. Bowl. Fusco has the size that you look for in an interior lineman at 6’4, 306 pounds and performed very well at the combine. I have not seen him play so I won’t bother trying to give a scouting report, however, he is somebody that Miami is very interested in and I expect the Dolphins to target him at some point in Day 3.
9) Clint Boling, Georgia – Boling seems to be all over the place on people’s rankings. Some have him in their top 3 as a potential early 2nd round pick, and some have him in the 4th or 5th round category. I’m not sure where he’ll end up, but I have him as more of a Day 3 caliber prospect. I don’t see any power in the run game, nor do I see athleticism or nimble feet in pass protection. His arms are short, which will cause problems at the next level. Not a huge fan of his.
Will Rackley, Lehigh – Rackley is a very interesting prospect as he’s been shooting up draft boards. I am not going to rank him as I have not seen him play, however Miami has shown interest in him. In fact, he’s one of just two OG’s that Miami has had a private workout with.
Rather than give you my OT rankings, I’m going to quickly discuss who I think Miami could be interested in, in the late rounds. Vernon Carey’s health is an issue, and I’ve been told by somebody in the-know that he may not be in the Dolphin’s future plans. Carey is still walking with a limp, and is on a 42 million dollar contract. If he isn’t in their plans, Gabe Carimi out of Wisconsin could be a wildcard first round pick. Carimi was a LT at Wisconsin but I think is either a RT or OG at the next level. I think Gabe would be a stud in the NFL at RT, and if Carey somehow were to make a miraculous recovery, Carimi could kick inside to RG and I think play very well from day 1, given his nastiness, power downhill, and athleticism. But chances are that Miami will be looking more towards the late rounds. Here are some names with some quick info on who they have worked out, and who they will be considering. I think one of these few names will be called on Day 3 of the draft at some point.
Derek Newton, Arkansas St. – Newton is a very athletic prospect with great size who some believe will kick inside to OG. He’s a little bit of a project but has a lot of upside.
Matt Murphy, UNLV – Team captain and extremely durable player. Tough, physical, hard nosed and has decent size. Type of player they would like and Miami has shown plenty of interest this off season. In fact, he’s the only OT that I know of that they had a private workout with.
Jah Reed, UCF – Miami has not shown as much interest in Reed as they have the other prospects that I am mentioning, but Reed is my favorite late round RT. He’s got very good power in the run game, is athletic and light on his feet in pass protection. I think he’s severely underrated.
Byron Bell, New Mexico – Byron is a huge dude with good athleticism and a lot of upside.
David Mims, Virginia Union – HUGE guy at 6’8, 340 pounds. Does not flash a lot of athleticism, but will probably be able to get good push in the run game from the right side.
OK, that’s it. Be sure to tune in next week for my full round by round projection. Instead of posting a mock draft this year, I’m going to post 2 or 3 different scenarios for each round that I could see happening. Gives me a better chance of hitting on a few picks;). There are several names that Miami has CLEAR interest in. For example, it is no secret that either DJ Williams or Virgil Green will be Dolphins. I am certain of that. It’s no secret that Miami loves Bilal Powell and have a lot of interest in Alex Green. I believe one of those two names could possibly be Dolphins. And there are several others, so, be sure to tune in next week (day before the draft), to find out who Miami is targeting round by round and what their draft strategy will be.