The month before the draft is always the most anticipating and exciting time of the year for me. I enjoy watching and studying college player highlights to visualize who has what it takes to be a good fit for our Miami Dolphins. Based on the current needs on the roster, my attention is focused on prospects who will fill those holes. Lately, I have been spending a lot of my time reading scouting reports and watching film on wide receivers. Needless to say, I have been impressed. For those of you who have been researching the draft, this article should not be a surprise to you. This year is a VERY deep draft for receivers.
When the Dolphins traded away Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears for two third round picks, I was angry at first. Panic really started to set in when Miami decided not to pursue any high profile receivers in free agency to replace him. Considering the amount of talent at this position in the draft and the fact that Joe Philbin will be running his West Coast (WC) offense that promotes spreading the ball around to multiple receivers, I’m not as worried any more. Besides, trading away Marshall freed up about $12M in cap space this year that will come in handy once all the dust settles after the draft.
Fortunately for Miami, they will be able to find solid receiver options in later rounds. It’s not like they will be forced to use their eighth pick on a receiver in order to replace Marshall, who by the way was drafted in the 4th round. Instead, they can focus that pick on finding their franchise quarterback who most believe will be Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill. In return, Miami can look to the second or later rounds to address our receiver gap.
By the time the Dolphins are on the clock in the second round, the following stand out receivers “should” still be available; Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech), Rueben Randle (Louisiana State), and Mahamed Sanu (Rutgers). Personally, I’m high on Hill and I hope he is still on the board when Miami is picking. At 6’4 and 215 pounds, he runs the forty yard dash around 4.36 seconds and will be making big plays on Sundays.
If Miami decides to wait until the third round to draft their future playmaker, they have two picks to do it. In some mock drafts, analysts have the Dolphins picking two receivers in the third round alone! Nick Toon (Wisconsin), Chris Givens (Wake Forest), and Brian Quick (Appalachian State), the replica of Brandon Marshall minus the attitude, are all three expected to be available if Miami is interested.
Similar to Stephen Hill, Quick is 6’4 and 220 pounds. He has extremely long arms at 34 ¼ inches and has good speed. He’s raw, but very physical and has no problem going up and catching the ball at its highest point. During his senior year, he caught 71 balls for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns. I wouldn’t have any issues with the Dolphins picking Quick in the third round.
The fourth and fifth rounds will also be stocked with several skilled receivers. I believe these two rounds could very well hold the “steal” of the draft. For example, Tommy Streeter (Miami), Marvin McNutt (Iowa), A.J. Jenkins (Illinois), and Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M), will most likely get selected in one of these two rounds. If the Dolphins do indeed draft Ryan Tannehill in the first round, they may want to pick up a guy like Fuller in the fifth who has chemistry and played well with Tannehill at Texas A&M. However, McNutt is also a perfect fit for the WC offense since he played in this system at Iowa. He is very quick with excellent hands and should be considered by the Dolphins if he is still available by the 4th round.
It’s safe to say this year’s class of wide receivers is action packed with elite talent and high potential. There are several players to be excited about and hopefully Jeff Ireland will select the right ones that will excel in Philbin’s new WC system. I chose to mention these prospects because these guys will be valuable picks, depending on where they are selected. I believe Miami will select two receivers in this year’s draft. There’s just that much talent. 2012 is the year of the receiver and hopefully the Dolphins will reap the benefits from it.