I’ve read more mock drafts in the past two months than I’d care to admit. I’ve crept across the vast expanse of the internet, leaving no stone unturned and I’ve seen some pretty horrid predictions along the way. I’ve seen players that didn’t declare for the draft going in the first round, players that won’t be taken until Saturday (4-7) in the top 20 and all kinds of bizarre predictions for the Dolphins at 15. And that’s ok, because a good majority of the mock drafts you find in the darkest corners of these interwebs are written by morons or fans of other teams (or in the case Steelers and Jets fans, both).
What boggles my mind though is when a mainstream expert like Pat Kirwan has the Dolphins taking Prince Amukamara at 15. Now, first a whole bunch of concessions. Pat Kirwan is brilliant, he wrote the book Omar Kelly touts so frequently (“Take Your Eyes Off the Ball”) and his commentary is typically spot-on. The man truly knows his football. And Prince Amukamara is a fantastic corner. In fact so good I doubt he makes it to the 15th pick. And given the fact the Jets spent a first rounder on Kyle Wilson last year when they had Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis locked up it could also, technically, happen. But it won’t. That’s a prediction from a very smart man that just makes absolutely no sense.
Amukamara is the second best corner on the board. The Dolphins know they are playing more nickel defense than the base package, which means the third corner is a starter. With Tom Brady, the Patriots play a lot of three-receiver packages. Miami will get a running back later.
Now, it may not be fair to fault Kirwan for not having in-depth knowledge of every team’s reserves. But corner ceased to be a need for the Dolphins when Will Allen restructured his deal to stay in Miami. The Dolphins currently have three talented young corners with a ton of potential in Vontae Davis, Sean Smith and Nolan Carroll. Toss in Allen and suddenly Benny Sapp is the fifth corner, and the Dolphins still retain rights to Al Harris and Nate Ness. Even if Miami still wants to move Sean Smith back to safety on some of its nickel and dime packages, the Dolphins still don’t need to spend a top 15 pick on a corner this year. There are plenty of better ways to spend that pick.
Now, I mentioned the Jets because clearly that’s a parallel that can be drawn. However aside from already having two good corners on the roster, there aren’t many similarities between the two situations beyond that. First of all, team needs were much different, the Jets were in win-now mode and were addressing a different set of issues than the Dolphins are. One of those issues was the fact that Darrelle Revis was threatening to hold out, which he did until the last possible moment. It might be easy to forget that, but the Wilson pick was made as much to be a contingency for the absence of Revis, as it was to get another good corner on the field.
The Dolphins don’t have that issue, barring injury they should have both of their starting corners back on the field as well as three guys (Carroll, Allen and Sapp) vying for the Nickel corner role. For a team with questions at quarterback, running back and along the interior line, using a top 15 pick on a corner would be a bad decision by the front office. The secondary, despite being banged up a lot of last season (and missing Will Allen through all of it) still finished 8th in the NFL. The entire defense was top ten overall (top five until they mailed it in at Foxboro).
There have been other analysts and commentators who have listed corner as a need for the Dolphins and even had Miami taking one in there mocks, Kirwan is just the best to do it. And I’m not bashing Kirwan, for all I know maybe he’s right and I’ll be eating crow in 13 days. I just don’t understand when corner became a need for the Dolphins. This team has enough needs without analysts adding new ones.
And ending on a lighter note, there’s a sentimental reason I hope Kirwan’s wrong too. I remember a draft exactly ten years ago when Miami had two good corners on the roster (a couple guys named Madison and Surtain), a top ten defense and they needed a quarterback. They opted instead to select a corner, Jamar Fletcher. The rest is history and we all got to see Drew Brees raise a Lombardi in Miami a couple years ago for another team. I’m not saying it’s exactly the same or that it will happen again, I’m just point out the similarities. And it does feel a little… odd.
Regardless, Pat Kirwan is a bright guy, but dead wrong on this.