The NFL draft starts tomorrow, in case you weren’t aware.
For the past month (probably longer) experts and amateurs alike have been giving their opinions about what they think and what they want to the Dolphins to do on draft day. Every person on this site has some sort of mock draft going up. Everybody seems to think they know what is best for the Dolphins. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even think the Dolphins know what is best for the Dolphins.
Anyway, I have spent a lot of time doing research and going over prospect lists over the past month. In my previous 21 years on this Earth, I’ve never studied the NFL draft as in depth as I have this year and most of the years I couldn’t even pretend to know much about any prospect projected to go later than the second round. This year is different and it has truly been a pleasure to learn about these guys. I will be able to watch the draft with a completely different perspective than in previous years.
As such, I feel like should give one final opinion on the draft. This will not be about who I think the Dolphins should take in each round. That’s been done a hundred times over. This is plain and simple enough. A few guys that I love, and a few guys that I don’t. This is not a list of guys that I think the Dolphins should or shouldn’t take. This is just my own personal opinion after the research that I have done this year. Feel free to critique as necessary.
A Few Guys that I Love:
Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
I know nobody agrees with me about him, and that’s fine. I am aware of his downsides. Seems like with a lot of the quarterbacks in this class, experts are willing to look past the red flags and only look at the potential (i.e. Ryan Mallett), yet Kaepernick seems to continuously get the short end of the stick. For some reason, all I hear is the negatives about him. Have you seen this kid play? To put his athleticism in perspective, Kaepernick is the only quarterback in NCAA history to throw for more than 9,000 yards and rush for more than 4,000 in a career. He has matured as a passer and is not a run-first quarterback anymore. His arm strength can not be questioned and in 2010, he put up a completion percentage of 64.9%, which is actually better than Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Mallett or Christian Ponder. He can throw on the run, he can evade defenders, and can certainly get out of the pocket when necessary. He size is ideal and his wingspan is 79 3/8 inches. Scouts question his delivery, but he has said he has been working on it and will continue to work on it. You will not find a better leader and a better guy in this draft. He doesn’t come with any of the baggage that a Mallett or Cam Newton does. He is a team-first, not me-first player. He may need a year or two to develop, but I believe he could be the one of the better quarterbacks of the entire class.
Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Remember when Locker was quite possibly going to be the number one pick of the 2010 draft? Neither do I. Seems like a long time ago for Locker, who has seen his draft stock plummet, then rise again. I know the concerns, the main one being his accuracy. It is a legitimate concern, but it’s not fair to go exclusively off the numbers. First off, Locker came from a system in Washington that is not designed to put up high accuracy numbers. His receivers were responsible for more than a few drops. Behind a porous offensive line, Locker spent half his time running for his life and making throws on the run. I look at Locker and see a player with enormous potential. He has the intangibles you look for in a quarterback. He has good size and 4.55 speed. Any accuracy issues can be fixed with decent coaching. Experts are looking at Locker for what he is right now, but I am looking at what he can become and I believe in two or three years Locker will be the best quarterback from this class. Sorry, but I am drinking the Kool-Aid and I think Locker will be absolute steal if the Dolphins can get him at #15 or lower, if they trade down.
Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh
I’ve heard the Dolphins are really high on this kid and that makes me extremely happy. Any concerns I had about him coming from an FCS school were dispelled at the East-West Shrine game. Check out some highlights here. He is a beast. He has made 40 consecutive starts, and spent time at both guard and tackle, making his versatility another reason to love him. Rackley has a first-team FCS All-American selection in 2010 and a first-team All-Patriot League selection in both 2009 and 2010. He plays with a mean streak and has the ability to pull and get to the second level of the defense. Out of all the guard prospects, Rackley is hands-down my favorite.
Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut
A fast (4.4) kid out of Connecticut, Todman is the home-run threat the Dolphins are solely lacking. I love this kid. Despite his size (5’9), Todman has tallied over 550 carries the last two seasons. In the NFL, he probably won’t be asked to carry the load, but it’s great to know he can if injuries call for it. He benched a surprising 25 times at 225 pounds at the combine and showed excellent burst and vision. He is stronger than he looks and can run through the arm tackles. If he is able to improve as a pass blocker, he could be a force in the NFL. I like him a lot as a third round selection and will certainly be more than serviceable for whatever team is able to land him.
Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana
You won’t find a receiver in the draft with better hands than Doss. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but will certainly find a home in a west coast offense. “Guru” Mel Kiper has been absolutely raving about this kid and I have to say I agree. Not only does he have excellent hands, his route running is second to none and he has the ability to concentrate well while in traffic. He has ideal height for the position (6’3). His hands remind me a bit of Wes Welker, but imagine Welker plus five inches and 15 pounds.
A Few Players I Don’t Love:
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
I know this won’t make many people happy. But I can look past the 6’7 frame and the rocket arm and see some serious character flaws that remind me too much of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf. The Dolphins need a leader on and off the field, and Mallett will not provide that. He comes off as lazy and unmotivated, and I’m worried that once he has his money, he will sit around South Beach, doing drugs and doing work when he feels like it. On the field, he is slower than a snail and will be a sitting duck for pass rushing linebackers. With our line, we need somebody who can get out of the pocket and evade defenders when necessary. I can see the potential in him, but we also saw the potential in Russell till he got fat and lazy. Mallett is too much of a high-risk, high-reward pick, and the Dolphins need stability. It’s one thing for a quarterback to just need some coaching (Kaepernick or Locker), but at least we know those guys will work hard and are good guys. Mallett has too many red flags ON and OFF the field to justify using a first or second rounder on him.
Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington
Everyone’s favorite riser and speed demon (4.3) is flying up draft boards. I’m not sold. Yes, he is fast. Yes he has home-run threat potential and great acceleration. I’m not sold. There is a reason nobody was talking about him until he ran fast. How’s 17 fumbles in 2009 and 2010? He spent 2008 on the shelf with a broken leg and spent 2009 nicked up with hip, hand and shoulder injuries. Having great speed alone will not get by in the NFL. The hits will get harder and injuries will pile up. He may have some value as a kick returner and a change of pace guy, but anything higher than a fourth rounder for him will be a reach.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
The fact that Rudolph is considered a first-round prospect doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. In almost three seasons, Rudolph has never had over 400 yards receiving or more than 3 TD’s. He spent the second half of 2010 injured, and for some reason still decided to declare for the draft a year early. He is a decent, but not spectacular blocker. He does have the ability to stretch the defense and certainly has the size (6’5) to be a player down in the red zone. He would certainly be a good late-second or early-third rounder, but the injury history and just lack of production makes his first round grade seem a bit high. I’d much rather wait and try my hand with a guy like Rob Housler, D.J. Williams or Virgil Green in the middle of the draft than waste a high pick on Rudolph.
Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky
This might be just an overreaction to Pat White, but drafting players because they would be good in a wildcat set scares me. Cobb is a jack-of-all-trades type player, who can line up in the wildcat, at receiver or running back and produce. He is certainly an interesting prospect. There is nothing about Cobb’s skill set that make me think he won’t succeed in the NFL. Like I said, the White pick has me skeptical about these types of gimmick players now. Cobb has been moving up, but I think anything higher than a 3rd for him might be a reach.
Just a few players who have caught my eye, for good or for bad. There are plenty more players who I like and who I don’t, but these guys in particular, I will keeping my eye on over the next few days.
I hope everybody enjoys watching the draft and don’t forget to come join us for live chats tomorrow and Friday night!