By: Jason Sarney
The NFL Draft is approaching with the momentum of a juggernaut as a football selection show is the only action in town these days, thanks to the horrible Covid scare we are all dealing with.
A welcomed distraction, the Draft creates hours and hours of content to absorb, Mock Drafts to simulate and opinions to disagree with. Regardless of who the quarterback is that the Dolphins select, I would say Day 2 and 3 could be more important in the overall team development of this franchise.
The Dolphins have had one of the best to ever do it, but arguably didn’t have the proper components during his prime, save a few magical, yet unfortunate later heart-breaking seasons in the mid-1990’s.
The Dolphins have also had potent defenses in the early 2000’s with an arguably decent, but less-than gifted of a passer, in Jay Fiedler. The team also gave him Ricky Williams, making Miami a fearsome foe with a top-end ground game as well as defensive unit.
Timing is everything, and the stars didn’t align in time.
So, what Miami needs to do, is find a way to make this nucleus around any quarterback so good, that the signal-caller will have to try very, very hard to be the deterrent in the team’s progress. This team needs a core of players so built-up and coached up with the right people, that QB 1 or QB 2 can win games.
OH – the Dolphins also once had Earl Morrall as a back-up on an undefeated team of Hall-of-Famers. Morrall, a 17-year professional football veteran in 1972, stepped in for the 4-0 Miami Dolphins after an injury to Canton-QB, Bob Griese. The Dolphins finished the regular season 14-0, thanks to Morrall salvaging the season, as the team went 10-0 under his leadership, before he handed the reigns back to Griese for the playoffs and title run to cap perfection.
The point is, pick #5, or whatever the QB pick may be, is very important. However, the importance will be weighed a little less, or a little more, based on what this regime does from Round 2 and beyond.
In a loaded class, Day 3 should be a tone of fun for Dolphin fans, as Miami has 8 picks at the moment on the Draft's final day in rounds 4-7.
Here are The Day 3 Amigos I have gotten friendly with, thanks to the ease of watching their film. We all have our coping mechanisms during this time, and for me, a slot-receiver picking up a 3rd and 6th over the middle while covered like a blanket, is just what my Doctor ordered.
Day 3 (Rounds 4-7), and even the undrafted free agency market has been fairly kind to Miami over the last few decades if you really think about it. Some hits, some misses, but certainly some favorites since the late ‘90s.
Zach Thomas, Randy McMichael, Yeremiah Bell, Brian Hartline, Reshad Jones, Lamar Miller, Jay Ajayi, Jakeem Grant, and Davon Godchaux to name a few. Of course, these names were spread out since 1996 to 2017, but also let’s throw in last season’s undrafted impact rookies, Nik Needham and Preston Williams. Yes - more drafted hits are needed, but give Chris Grier credit for the last few seasons and not blame for the previous 15 or so.
Day 3 is not the time to pack up, look at the first three round haul and call it a draft. This is when the fun starts for many…especially a team with a season’s worth of picks on Saturday, April 25th when Round 4 begins.
The Day 3, Amigos:
Devin Duvernay – WR TEXAS- Miami needs a slot-receiver and not an “X” or a “Z” like DeVante Parker and Preston Williams. The Texas Longhorn can fit in nicely as a complimentary weapon with great speed and excellent hands. A perfect chain mover.
James Proche – WR SMU – As recently as a day prior to this article, a profile was put out on Proche. A 4-year starter with 39 touchdowns. As a senior he scored at least once in 12 straight games. A spectacular catch machine, and gritty, over-the middle reception maker. A threat to score anytime, and a carbon-copy in height, weight and ability to Jarvis Landry. Seriously.
Kalija Lipscomb – WR – Vanderbilt – Vandy kids are smart, so the football intelligence Brian Flores is looking for is evident. Lipscomb can bring a return aspect to his game, and if the QB pick Day 1 is Tua Tagovailoa, Lipscomb was one of the wide-outs receiving passes from the Alabama QB last week in a training video. There is at least some familiarity there. An intangible certainly this year, as logistics will play a role with travel bans and social distancing.
Julian Blackmon – Safety Utah – Blackmon is being lost in the shuffle in a top-heavy class at this positional area, but don’t sleep on him. He can be shuffled in at cornerback, and with that flexibility, look for him to be a young player who can learn from Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, as well as current safety Bobby McCain and fellow hybrid, Eric Rowe.
Jaylinn Hawkins – Safety – Cal – Speaking of converts, Hawkins is a converted receiver and has very goods hands, excellent smarts and could be a centerfield like interception machine at free safety. I love that he has been training with NFL receivers this off-season and has done a fine job keeping them social-distanced from the ball. Hawkins could potentially be reunited with his California DB coach, Gerald Alexander. His former coach is currently on Flores’ staff, as he returns to Miami, this time in coaches gear and not a uniform.
A.J. Green - Cornerback - OSU - Forget name recognition, the defensive A.J. Green can play. He takes risks, and does have a propensity to get beat deep, but discipline and coaching could help this physical corner. He plays his best when in pressure situations, and had several pass-defended or even interceptions in protection of this team's end-zone. Green plays fast and physical and with a little tutelage can make him a 4th or 5th rounder with 2nd or 3rd round potential.
Harrison Hand - Cornerback - Temple - There is a theme with corners that I look for and that is physicality and a nose for the ball. No pun intended, Harrison has a pair of hands and tenacity to go with them. A local kid in the Philadelphia area, he stayed close to home at Temple, and I do like that Northeast mentality and weather assimilation to those late-season in-division games up in enemy territory. Hand is another hybrid, who Flores and Alexander can work with and shape in their image.
Josiah Deguara - Tight End - Cincinnati - Mike Gesicki is the lead tight end on the Dolphins and he is heading for a statistical breakout campaign to build on a mini-hello-party in 2019. Enter the next tight end, to make what has become trendy in the NFL lately, to be a part of Miami's offense. Teams like New England, Baltimore and Philadelphia have all deployed a dual TE look at times, and even when having excellent players already at the position, these franchises drafted more to mix it up. Deguara is a better blocker than Gesicki, and that is said respectfully. Deguara can be more physical to help run and pass-protection, while at the same time is a crisp enough route-runner to factor within the air attack. He is an excellent kid, quality person in all forms, and a hard worker. He is a major Flores guy, and a riser to the very early parts of Day 3.
And lastly, there is something those three teams have in common beyond dual-tight end sets...Super Bowl rings. A combined five over the last decade.
You can follow Jason on Twitter @OrangeAquaman
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