1 – QB Ryan Tannehill – Texas A&M – 6-4, 221
2 – OT Jonathan Martin – Stanford – 6-5, 312
3 – LB Olivier Vernon – Miami – 6-2, 261
3 – TE Michael Egnew – Missouri – 6-5, 252
4 – RB Lamar Miller – Miami – 5-11, 212
5 – LB Josh Kaddu – Oregon – 6-3, 239
6 – WR B.J. Cunningham – Michigan State – 6-1, 211
7 – DL Kheeston Randall – Texas – 6-4, 293
7 – WR Rishard Matthews – Nevada – 6-0, 212
Miami was the source of all kinds of pre-draft rumors. Luckily all of that stuff amounted to nothing by empty noise. The Dophins did the wise thing and took QB Ryan Tannehill in the 1st round. Miami has been looking to replace Dan Marino since he walked away to model Isotoner gloves full time. The Dolphins have done a lot of things to find a QB, but taking one early in the 1st round was not among them.
Tannehill isn’t a sure thing franchise QB, but he’s good enough that he was definitely worth the pick and the risk. The primary criticism with him is lack of experience. Tannehill played WR for his first 2 1/2 years. He then moved to QB and started “just” 19 games. That’s more than Mark Sanchez got and I don’t remember many people talking about his experience issues (although I was one who did).
I don’t have major experience concerns with Tannehill. While he only had 19 starts at QB, he was on the field as a WR. This is very different from holding a clipboard and simply being a spectator. While Tannehill did play WR, he went to QB meetings during the week. He was learning the passing attack from QB coaches even though he was a receiver at the time.
Like all college QBs, Tannehill has some things he needs to work on. He is far from a polished QB. He did play a mixture of shotgun and under Center so that makes the transition easier than for some other guys. Tannehill has a good arm and is solid mechanically. He needs to work on his decision-making. There are times when he forces the ball. One legit criticism is that he didn’t post great numbers against top competition (3 INTs vs Texas, Oklahoma, and Okla St in 2011). Overall he had 42 TDs and 21 INTs. That is more picks than you would prefer from a star college QB in limited time.
Tannehill has good size, athleticism, and the intangibles to be a successful starter in the NFL. A foot injury kept him from the Senior Bowl and Combine, but he had a good Pro Day. I think the Dolphins made a terrific choice. Now get him some weapons.
In the 2nd round Miami decided to get a blocker for Tannehill and they took Jonathan Martin, the OT from Stanford. There was a point when he was talked about as Top 20 material. I think he was very good value in the 2nd round. Martin has the talent to be a good starting LT in the NFL. He has some issues to work through. He must consistently play well in the NFL. You can’t pick and choose when to be good. Also, he must use his arms better. Martin has a bad habit of keeping his arms close to his body. If he can learn to extend then and engage rushers, he can be a good pass blocker.
With Jake Long already at LT, Martin will start out on the right side. He should battle Lydon Murtha for the RT spot. Martin is a better player than Murtha, but you don’t know if the coaches will want a rookie starting at OT. They may prefer to go with a vet initially and let Martin work his way into the lineup. Miami has looked to build a cohesive O-line for a few years. Long is the LT. Mike Pouncey is the C. John Jerry could win the RG spot. LG should belong to veteran Ritchie Incognito. If Martin wins RT, that would give them 4 young OL starters and a good foundation for the present and future.
With the first of 2 picks in the 3rd round, the Dolphins took DE Olivier Vernon from…Miami. Vernon missed a lot of time in 2011 due to suspension and that kept him a bit under the radar. There were plenty of people who thought he should have been a 2nd round selection. Instead, he lasted all the way to pick 72.
Vernon is an odd player. He doesn’t explode off the edge. He has the quickness to do that, but he’s still somewhat new to the game and plays with more discipline than you would expect. He is a physical player, despite having just average size. With coaching, Vernon has the potential to become a very good pass rusher in the NFL. He finished his college career with only 9 sacks (just 1.5 in ’11). He has the raw potential. Now he needs to learn the techniques and subtleties of how to rush the passer.
One thing I did really like about Vernon was the way that the Canes moved him around. He rushed from DE, DT, and LB. I was surprised at how natural he looked as an inside rusher. I’ll be interested to see if the Dolphins experiment with him in there or have him purely as a backup DE.
The other 3rd round pick was one of my favorite guys in the draft, TE Michael Egnew from Missouri. I liked him a lot because normally I hate Mizzou TEs and Egnew was so different. Most Mizzou TEs are essentially big WRs that catch a ton of passes, but have no blocking skills or physicality to their play. Egnew went down to the Senior Bowl and got my attention in a hurry. He was not only a willing blocker, but showed the potential to become a good blocker. And he was a TE from Missouri? Can’t be.
He was also a good athlete and talented pass catcher. He didn’t play the role of traditional TE at Mizzou, but he’s got the size, skills, and athleticism to be a very good TE in the NFL. Egnew was 90-7662-5 in 2010. His numbers dropped in 2011, but that was due to not having Blaine Gabbert around. The QB play was more erratic and Egnew caught just 50 passes (50-523-3).
TE is a weak spot for Miami, with only Anthony Fasano ahead of Egnew. Fasano has been solid since coming over from Dallas, but seems more like a complementary receiver than at TE you feed the ball to. Joe Philbin had very good TE play up in Green Bay and is likely to want to feature them in the passing game. Egnew will have a chance to make his presence known very quickly.
In the 4th round, the Dolphins went back to The U and snagged RB Lamar Miller. I am shocked that Miller fell that far. I had him as my #2 RB because he looked like such a natural runner to me. Also, Miami has had a bunch of good RBs going back 25 years. Those guys are athletes. They play in a pro style offense. They don’t post inflated numbers due to the option or spread. Apparently there were some questions about durability and Miller being a one-year wonder that led to him sliding in the draft.
I think the Dolphins got very lucky in finding Miller in the 4th. Reggie Bush had a terrific season in 2011, but he’s not shown the ability to be a go to RB in his NFL career. We don’t know what to expect from him this year. 2nd year RB Daniel Thomas didn’t exactly set the world on fire and might not be an ideal fit in Philbin’s offense. Miller is a complete RB with the ability to be a key player for the Dolphins.
Oregon LB Josh Kaddu was Miami’s 5th round pick. Kaddu is a talented project. Put on the game tape and you can see his athleticism, but also that he’s raw. Kaddu was only a one-year starter. He’s got a lot to learn. I like his size and skill set for SAM, but right now the Dolphins seem to be using him at WLB. That will allow him to operate more in space, which might be the best way for him to get used to the NFL. He could be a very good STer. Solid value pick.
In the 6th round Miami took another of my favorite players, WR B.J. Cunningham. He was part of a very good passing attack at Michigan State, along with QB Kirk Cousins and WR Keshawn Martin. Cunningham has good size and is a possession type of receiver. He only runs in the 4.6 range, but he is a good downfield pass catcher. I think he might surprise some people with his ability to be a playamker despite not having ideal speed.
Cunningham is the second biggest receiver on the team now and might actually be able to press for playing time as a rookie. The Dolphins aren’t exactly loaded at WR. Philbin had a similar player in GB, WR James Jones. He became a good receiver for the Packers and Cunningham has that kind of potential in Miami. B.J. played in a pro style system and with a drop back passer so that should ease his transition to the NFL.
The Dolphins had a pair of 7th round picks. First up was DT Kheeston Randall from Texas. I remember watching Randall at the Senior Bowl. You would watch the DL going through some warm-up drills and see really good movement skills and athleticism from Randall. If practice ended right then, you’d guess he was a star player. Once the actual football drills started, he looked much more pedestrian. Randall has ability. He needs coaching and also must show the desire to make it in the NFL. Texas has had more than a few talented DL who failed miserably in the NFL. You must be a tremendous competitor to succeed in the trenches of pro football. Randall was solid value in the 7th round, but I don’t think he’ll survive.
The final pick was another player I loved, WR Rishard Matthews. I had the Nevada star going much earlier. I can’t believe he fell this far based on game tape so there must be an issue I’m not aware of. Matthews isn’t all that tall, but has a thick build. He has great RAC skills. He is a very good PR as well. I was really impressed with him because of what a physical player he was. Guys that are finesse players in college will often struggle with the tough, physical nature of the NFL. I think Matthews can thrive. He was great value in the 7th round. I’ll be highly disappointed if he doesn’t make the team and become at least a good role player.