PLAYING THE NUMBERS GAME part 2
In our second part we look back at the Miami Dolphins defensive draft history, back to 1983 when Dan Marino was drafted, just to see how the team faired in selecting talent and what it may tell us when drafting certain positions. As we mentioned yesterday the draft is a lottery and until a college player hits an NFL field for the first time you never quite know how their career will play out.
We start with defensive tackle / nose, the team has been fairly good at selecting quality defensive linemen, but it seems as though they need to be a day one pick if they are to make an impact straight away. This year the interior line could do with some depth / rotational help, but they have more pressing needs elsewhere. It would do no harm though if they looked at the position mid draft to see if they could unearth a Soliai or Godchaux again.
Safety has been one of the positions that the team has struck gold on in the later rounds in the past, finding gems like Reshad Jones and Yerimiah Bell at the bottom end of the draft. Interestingly they have only selected safety twice in the first round throughout their entire history, the first was Louis Oliver the other we all know was Fitzpatrick and that was only because he was too good a player to pass up, at that time it wasn’t a pressing need in reality. There would be no harm in looking at safety in the later rounds with a hope they dig up a diamond again.
If safety has been good, then cornerback has been up there as one of the team’s success stories. It has been one of the least drafted positions since 83 yet there is always a need for 2-3 quality cover men. In all they have only called a cornerback’s number twenty-five times. The intriguing thing is it seems as though there are impact players to be had in round two. Would it be worth investing a pick at number 39 in view of Xavien Howard’s knees? It has provided the most pro-bowlers over the period with three coming from round 2, are there any players in this year’s draft that could add to the list?
Up next is linebacker which is the position that has been drafted the most (53 times) by the team, but then that isn’t surprising as it generally requires the most players on the field at any one time. As with tight ends and safety it isn’t a position they call very often in the first round, twice since Marino was drafted, but that is only if you count Marco Coleman who came out of college as a linebacker but then converted to defensive end during his rookie season. Over the years they have had serviceable backers and truly great ones which have been found in rounds 2-5. Due to the current depth and flexibility following free agency it would be surprising if they drafted a linebacker at all this year. They also have a relatively unknown quantity in Andrew Van Ginkel who came off IR at the start of December and showed up against New England. The team obviously felt it was worth taking a longer look at him as he is now signed through the 2022 season.
Rounding out the defensive side of the team is defensive end; this is where it is pot luck. It is one of the hardest positions to draft, finding a game changer is not an exact science as can be seen from the Dolphins results over the years. Jason Taylor was clearly the gold standard since 83 but then there has been Eric Kumerow, John Bosa and Dion Jordan all of which were first rounders that didn’t amount to much. This is a position that they may look at during day two or three as there currently isn’t a pass rush demon on the team, but on the other hand they may not need that with the defense they are going to be running.
All in all, this is going to be a very interesting draft that could shape the team for years to come providing they get it right. There are rumours that they are looking to trade up to number three while keeping their number five pick as well. This would suggest that they are after a QB as well as a top offensive tackle prospect. It has been reported that there could be a run on tackles early on and they will all be gone by number ten, so the team are looking to get on the bandwagon. Not long to go before we see the smoke clear and find out the facts…