The National Football League draft that took place this past weekend was bizarre.
Heading into the draft, the Miami Dolphins were looking for a lineman or two, among other positions, because they and every other person with working eyeballs have seen Ryan Tannehill take a beating over the past four years due to Miami’s lack of effective offensive line play.
Despite that need for linemen, the highest quality draft prospects at the 13th pick were not expected to be linemen, so many draft experts thought that the Dolphins’ first round pick would either be a cornerback, running back Ezekiel Elliot, or linebacker Myles Jack, and that Miami would then circle back to pick up linemen in the second, third or fourth rounds.
But as they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, there was quite a surprise waiting for star left tackle Laremy Tunsil, and by extension the Dolphins’ management team, when right before the draft, a thirty-second video surfaced on Tunsil’s own Instagram account showing… a guy in a gas mask, sitting in a room with a confederate flag on the wall, smoking something from a bong. The guy in the video tries to talk, perhaps to explain himself to the viewing audience, but then just coughs into the camera a few times. My mind is still trying to wrap itself around the video. Without any context to it, it was just plain old weird.
Anyway, the short video was so bizarre that veteran, experienced general managers, who are used to dealing with some truly unpredictable events as far as player off-field conduct goes, were repelled from picking a great player at a premiere position who had been described before the draft as a sure thing, a player born to protect the quarterback. A player who, until about a week or two ago, was considered a lock to be drafted within the top ten picks of the drafts, if not in the number one overall position.
Finally, after a number of teams passed up Tunsil, the Dolphins ran to the podium to pick up the star lineman, with the 13th pick. This lucky pick hearkens back to Miami’s selection of the great #13, Dan Marino, many years ago, when Marino was the next to last pick in the first round of the 1983 draft, where five quarterbacks were selected before him. And like Tunsil, Marino slid in the draft not due to a lack of talent, but due to rumors of off-field indiscretions.
Dolphins fans can only hope that Tunsil’s career is half as successful as that of Dan Marino. And the Dolphins management can only hope that Tunsil’s indiscretions do not come back to bite them.
Questions from the Corner:
I received a couple questions from some readers, which I’d like to share with you.
The first question comes from Reggie in Durham: Given the utter and complete dominance by Brady and the Patriots in the division for a decade and a half, don’t you think a certain mental aspect has seeped in that has to be overcome by the rival teams?
Carlton: Yes, there is certainly a mental issue, which the Dolphins and the other teams in the division need to overcome in order to beat the Patriots. Rex Ryan acknowledged that for many years as the head coach of the Jets. Jarvis Landry also recently stated in an interview with Emily Kaplan of Sports Illustrated that “…we need to figure out a way to win those games on the road, in New England”.
But just because there is a mental issue does not mean that the Dolphins can overcome the Pats by hiring a bunch of sports psychologists to fix our issues. The best way to beat the Pats is to improve our physical talent base; look at the Broncos, who built a defense that defeated Brady twice last year through intense pass rush pressure, up the middle and from the edges, and a secondary that could match up with the Pats passing game. The Dolphins need to improve their talent level, particularly on defense, in order to catch up with and surpass the Patriots.
The second question comes from Jen G. in Princeton: Will Adam Gase be the answer in Miami?
Carlton: I certainly hope so. Gase’s offense with the Broncos in 2013 set the NFL record for points scored, with 606 points for the season, and average of 37.9 points per game. But they didn’t win the Super Bowl, when they were shut down by Seattle’s Legion of Boom defense, and the Dolphins don’t have Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker, so there are some question marks.
A large part of Gase’s success will depend on the performance of the defense, led by new defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph, and the player acquisitions of new general manager, Chris Grier, under the direction of Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Mike Tannenbaum. There are a lot of new variables, so we need to see how they work together.