Mr. Jones and MIA?

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Back to Ireland…

This Dolphins front office must make a statement with the draft, mixed with savvy off-season acquisitions, but in terms of just the draft I must emphasize the importance of drafting a bona-fide offensive play-maker.

I was all about Julio Jones and Mark Ingram back a month ago in Is April Here Yet?, and after watching them perform during the combine I must say, I am even more smitten with both former Alabama superstars. Roll Tide indeed.

I made it a point to watch the combine this year and put on my GM (I can dream) hat to see for myself what all this hype with hand size, broad-jumping and body type is all about.

During this evaluation process, every single metric is used and scrutinized by these scouts, GMs and coaches to find a “hit” in two months when they have to actually select players for real.

I am not sure how the latest metrics like horsepower and heart-rate will translate in 60 minute regular season games but hey, the more stats the better right?

Formulating all of these metrics, measurements and mental evaluations together is not an exact science of course, but what is simple to understand is the importance of pure talent and athleticism.

There was an offensive star this weekend that dazzled the evaluators in terms of his athletic ability and sheer “stats.”

It’s Mr. Jones…and I am not Counting Crows here.

The perfect catch for the Fish?

Julio Jones opposite Brandon Marshall would be the beginning of a potential Larry Fitzgerald/Anquan Boldin 1-2 punch.  When those two were teammates, they were arguably the NFL’s most formidable duo of receivers. Regardless of who the QB is, any signal-caller would have an easier life with a wide-out combination like that. Even Chad Henne, should he still be the Dolphins QB come September.

If you didn’t see Jones perform his drills this past weekend, here were is stats:

40-yd Dash- 4.39

Vertical Jump- 38.5

Broad Jump- 11’3”

Bench Press- 17 reps

At 6’2” and change, weighing in at 220 pounds, Jones could be the perfect compliment to Marshall, while letting Davone Bess work his way to becoming one of the games best slot-WRs.

If I were selecting in April, I’d be praying Jones slips, since he is arguably the No. 2 WR on most people’s boards below Georgia’s A.J. Green. Will 2 WRs be drafted in the top 14?  It could happen, but factor in a defensively loaded talent pool, a few QBs, and his Alabama teammate (who didn’t do anything at all to hurt his rep in Indy at the Combine) and Jones may be a gift to Miami at 15th overall.

Let’s look at the top 14 picks, and which of those teams may be the one to snag Jones before Miami.

Now let me preface this with saying that NO ONE will be 100% accurate in predicting the first round, as every year trades, surprises, reaches and over-sights always occur in bunches. With that said, here goes.

The first three teams picking will not go WR.  As Carolina and Denver should and likely will go defense. Buffalo can go Cam Newton, but I am actually a fan of Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Buffalo can’t afford a miss here, so they too can go defense and that would certainly be a proper move for them.

Now we come to Cincinnati, which may be the A.J. Green destination, since Batman and Robin (Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco) have an uncertain future in the Queen City.

Now the sweating starts. At this point the Dolphins will have to survive 10 picks without hearing Julio Jones called out by Roger Goodell. Of those teams who can really use a WR, I see a number that can pose a problem for the Phin Phaithful.

Skipping ahead,Tennessee is a team I am circling. A thin WR core is an understatement, as Kenny Britt is a fine weapon, but Justin Gage and Nate Washington aren’t fearful WR 2’s. With a new regime and a question mark at QB, this franchise is on a QB hunt as well, so we may dodge a bullet at 8th overall, should Arizona, Cleveland and San Francisco all go another way than WR. The Cards must go defense, since their performance against the run last season was abysmal at best.

The Browns are tricky here, since Colt McCoy is going to need some weapons as he now has the reigns to Mike Holmgren’s team. If you could name the Browns receiving corp in 5 seconds, you belong in Indy evaluating talent.  This team scares me in the Jones sweepstakes.

Then there is San Fransisco, which also is lacking a NFL-Standard WR2. However they too could be on a QB hunt, and Jim Harbaugh is working his first NFL draft as a head coach, so he is really a closed book right now and tough to predict.

Moving on, Dallas at No. 9 shouldn’t go WR, since they have plenty of weapons already like Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten. Fellow NFC East team Washington could use a WR, but they can certainly use help in the defensive secondary. The Titans and Browns scare me more than the Skins in this case, so if Jones is on the board after these three, the chances get better, of course, but there are still some candidates out there who would love Jones’ services.

I’m thinking the Texans and Vikings are OK at the WR slot, but each could go with the best player available route instead of absolute need, since each are arguably play-off contenders in 2011 (if Minnesota finds a solid option at QB).

Now we come to teams in the first round which I think are the most nerve-racking should Jones still be sitting with his family at one of those nice tables with the centerpieces and all.

The Lions and Rams are each looking for weapons for their franchise QBs in Matt Stafford and Sam Bradford, respectively. Each play indoors, and Jones would be a monster on either playing field whether it be in Detroit or St. Louis. Both teams are also on a major uptick from a season ago, where they were both bottom barrel teams selecting at the top of drafts.  Not anymore. Jones could become either young QBS best friend, and that’s why I truly believe, even after all this that Jones will be just missed by Miami.

So we have (in order of Jones likelihood) the Rams, Lions, Titans, Browns, and Redskins I am worried about the most.

The only situation I can see, would be if Miami tries to move up, maybe to a safe 10 slot to snag Jones, much like he would snag a pass from waiting cornerbacks. The issue here is, Miami is more likely to trade down as opposed to trading up, since the assets for the Fins to deal away are few and far between.

So after all this conjecture it could be for naught, as Jones is simply too talented to slip to the middle of the 1st round. Over the last few seasons, it seems every other season we will see a few WRs go in the top 15 picks. Happened in 2009, 2007 and 2005 recently. Not many of those WRs panned out with the teams that drafted them, and that list includes Troy Williamson, Roy Williams, Ted Ginn Jr and Mike Williams.  Not exactly home-runs for the franchises who called them out with their coveted 1st round pick.

Now, with Jones potentially gone, a contingency plan of Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram would be the safest bet.  So one way or another, I am all about rolling with the tide, as long as the Dolphins are riding the crest of one of those waves.

Until next time, Phriends.

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