Dolphins' 2012 Draft Picks at Wide Receiver

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Then, in the 5th round, I thought for sure Ireland would select a WR with Marvin Jones (WR – California) and Juron Criner (WR – Arizona) still available at the time.  Instead, Ireland selected Josh Kaddu (6’3″ and 235 pound LB – Oregon) with the 20th pick of the fifth round (155th selection overall).

Ireland wound up selecting B.J. Cunningham (WR – Michigan State) with the 13th pick of the 6th round (183rd selection overall).  He also selected Rashid Marshall (WR – Nevada) with the 20th pick of the 7th round (227th selection overall).  Then, Ireland added Jeff Fuller (WR – Texas A&M) and Derek Moye (WR – Penn State) as UFA rookies.

So, I wondered what did the Dolphins get selecting these four new rookie WRs?  I also wondered how did they stack up against the four aforementioned WRs that Ireland passed up in the 2012 NFL Draft (two in the third round and two in the fifth round)?

Let’s go inside the numbers and take a look at these eight (8) wide receivers.  The table below denotes each player and his 2011 school along with providing some of his 2012 NFL Combine measurables.  The table also shows the prospect’s number of college starts along with any college honors plus his number of receptions, total receiving yards, TDs, and yards per reception.  Finally, I included the prospect’s projected draft round selection (according to NFLDraftScout.com) and the prospect’s scouting grades (according to The NFL Football Post and NFL.com).  Please note that the Post’s scouting grade was assessed on or about the time of the 2012 NFL Combine, whereas the NFL.com scouting grade was assessed closer to the actual draft.  You can click on this table to enlarge.

Based on Combine measureables, it is interesting that the four WRs selected by the Dolphins have relatively the same speed and quickness.  They ran the 40 yard dash within a tenth of a second of each other (4.52 – 4.62 seconds) and ran the 3 cone drill within two-tenths of a second of each other (6.88 – 7.10 seconds).  Matthews stands out with his overall strength — he lifted 20 reps in the bench press and vertically leaped 36″.  Fuller and Moye stand out with their height at 6’3″ and 6’4″ — whereas, Cunningham and Matthews are 6’1″ and 6’0″.  Of the four WRs, B.J. Cunningham has the most deficits based on Combine measureables — particularly, he has really small hands at 8.125″.

Based on their final year in college, Rishard Marshall stands out with his 91 receptions — he also had a total of 1,364 yards (15 yards per reception) and 8 TDs.  B.J. Cunningham stands out with his 12 TD receptions — he also had 79 catches for 1,306 yards (impressive 16.5 yards per reception).  Being at the receiving end of Ryan Tannehill passes at Texas A&M, Jeff Fuller had 70 receptions for 828 yards (only 11.8 yards per reception) and 6 TDs.  However, Fuller had a more productive junior season (2010) with 72 receptions for 1,066 yards (14.8 yards per reception) and 12 TDs.  Derek Moye had a very modest senior season with only 40 receptions for 654 yards (impressive 16.4 yards per reception) and only 3 TDs in the rush happy offense at Penn State.

If you look at the draft projections and scouting grades, they seem to be all over the map.  However, it seems that Mohammed Sanu would have been a value pick for the Dolphins in the third round.  At one time, Sanu was thought to be a first rounder, but his stock dropped after the Combine.  I am not sure exactly why Ireland found more value in TE Agnew over WR Sanu.

It seems that Juron Criner would have been a real steal in the fifth round.  He has good size at 6’2″ along with huge hands at 10.5″ (more than 25% larger than Cunningham) and an impressive vertical leap of 38″.  Criner looks to be a potentially good redzone receiver, but has only modest speed and quickness.  Ireland might have shied away from Criner because of his known character issues.

In order to better understand Ireland’s drafting approach at WR, I took at the overall historical success rate of drafting WRs.  There is a very good article on this subject at draftmetrics.com.  Analyst Tony Villiotti took a look at the period from 1991 thru 2010 and whether a drafted WR became a 5 year starter.  Villiotti found that next to RBs, WRs are the riskiest position to draft.  WRs are least likely to start as rookies.  And, a team will have a very low success rate, if selecting a WR in the middle of the 4th round or later.  For example, WRs selected in the top half of the first round have a 65.4% success rate of being a 5 year starter.  That success rate drops to about 18%, if a WR is selected from the middle of the second round to the middle of the fourth round.  And, the success rate drops further to less than 4%, if a WR is selected after the middle of the fourth round.

So, the fact that historically selecting a TE in the NFL Draft with 78th pick has a 24% success rate versus a WR has only 18% success rate may be the reason why Ireland chose Egnew over Sanu.  The fact that historically selecting a LB with the 155th pick has a 12% success rate versus a WR has only a 3% success rate may be the reason why Ireland chose Kaddu over Criner.

But, I personally have concluded that taking a WR anytime after the middle of the second round is a real crap shoot.  So, I think Ireland was wise to try to beat the odds with numbers — drafting two WRs late in the 2012 NFL Draft and then adding two more UFARs.  Hopefully, one of them will become the next taller and stronger version of Davonne Bess, who succeeded as an UFAR.  My bet, it will be Jeff Fuller.  He looks awfully good with the combination of size, speed, strength, and quickness.  He has the added advantage of having started in the Mike Sherman offense for two years at Texas A&M.  But, he has to stay healthy.  I also like Rashid Marshall with his strength and quickness to run the slant routes in the West Coast Offense.

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What do you think?  Do you like Ireland’s drafting approach at WR?  What would you have done differently?  Which one of the four WRs do you think will make a difference for the Dolphins?

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