Dolphins Fans Used To Draft Mediocrity
By Brian Miller
Nowhere have I seen a fan or media member rave about the Miami Dolphins draft selections. Sure a few guys have the potential to turn out good. No one ever thought Zach Thomas in round five was going to turn out the way he did and Jason Taylor in round three as an absolute steal. This years draft crop falls into the category of the more unknown. Small school kids who need work but have great character and leadership abilities. No, small school don’t indicate a future of failure but it also doesn’t mean that they will be ready to play at such an elite level. Consider that none of these small schools faced anything close to the level of the NFL.
That all being said…good for them.
As I perused the various forums and message boards regarding the Dolphins draft, it dawned on me, the fan base is finally starting to accept mediocrity as the norm. While some fans are saying the draft filled holes (the top of the excitement level by the way), most are saying, “it could be worse”, “it can’t be as bad as last years draft”, “at least Jeff Ireland wasn’t making the decisions”, and my favorite, “Joe Philbin has a lot to work with if they work out”. Not quite sure exactly what that means.
Regardless the bar for the Dolphins has been set pretty low over the last decade of draft busts, mistakes, and players drafted in the top four rounds that make it one year on the roster. This year the Dolphins addressed two needs. Guard and tackle. They drafted a cornerback that needs to develop and a LB that will play a more important role on special teams than on the inside of the defensive schemes. Reality however is a different bird and sings a different tune. We just don’t want to accept it.
The Miami Dolphins did indeed fill a hole on the right side of the offensive line. Ja’Wuan James is a right tackle but those of you who are thinking he can move to guard needs to think again. He has never played the position and his style of play isn’t conducive to moving inside where he will need to be able to pull. He could become a very good RT in this league but he will face a lot of tests in his first NFL season and honestly, of the top tackles taken in the draft, James is probably the least NFL ready. He will need to put in a lot of work.
While fans want to pencil James in immediately as the starter, and he likely will (a first rounder should be given every opportunity to start unless he is a QB) the same can not be said for Billy Turner. Sorry. It’s true.
I have read quite a bit of fan opinions on Turner and most like the selection. I don’t dislike it but I do caution Turner is not ready to start in the NFL right now. Not at tackle and not at guard. He needs work as he is still raw. Turner in my opinion may become the best player of this draft…in a few years. From the start he needs to work on acclimating to a faster game pace, a switch to guard, and a myriad of other fundamentals that he lacks. I would love to see Turner win the starting guard job but make no mistake he will have to “WIN” it. That is what was troubling the most in the trade up. Drafting a top round three lineman who likely won’t be ready to play at seasons start. The Dolphins got a great prospect for a 3rd and a 4th.
The rest of the draft class sans Jarvis Landry who I do like is much of the same. Smallish schools that do not provide the same level of competition as a larger school. I’m all for finding gems from smaller schools but not half of my draft should be there. As Dolphins fans wrap their minds around this they can only assume that the Dolphins will be better simply because Ryan Tannehill should spend less time on his back. The question is will it be enough to get into the playoffs?
The draft simply wasn’t a “wow”. It was mediocre and judging by the comment of fans it appears the best they can say is, “we have to wait two years to judge it”. And that’s fair. It’s just sad that we have to accept mediocrity as the norm. It was the norm under Dave Wannstedt, the norm under Nick Saban, under Cam Cameron, and under Jeff Ireland. In Dennis Hickey’s first draft to do something great, he did what was safe, he did what was normal. He was mediocre.