Now that the NFL draft is behind us I thought it might be time to wrap it up with some odds and ends left over in the wake of the annual selection process.
1. I for the most part agreed with the assessment of the Dolphins post-draft roster for the Sun-Sentinel on Tuesday. But I have to take exception of his assertion that the defensive backfield is weaker than it was in 2015. The additions of Byron Maxwell and Xavien Howard have transformed an under-sized unit into one with considerable more length that should be able to better deal with the rigors of divisional play with some huge tight ends and wide receivers on the docket. Reshad Jones remains with the team and the addition of Isa Abdul-Quddus is being under-rated.
I’m more in line with Armando Salguero at the Herald when he says that the the success of the Dolphins draft class rides on how well Howard develops. The Dolphins paid a steep price to get him, the 42nd overall pick along with a fourth-round pick (107th overall) to move up four slots in the second round.
If he works out it will be well worth it as the Dolphins should be very solid across the board on the back end. If it doesn’t, it will go down as just one of a series of draft failures for the team at the position.
2. This draft was widely believed to be among the deepest ever in terms of defensive tackles, and players that would have gone in the first round in other drafts were available as late as the third round. The Dolphins decidedly under-performed opposite Ndamukong Suh at this position and you have to wonder if they won’t regret simply sticking with Deandre Coleman and Jordan Phillips.
The Dolphins have staked a lot on the effect of another year’s experience and better coaching when it comes to these players. There’s little hope that the run defense will be better unless there is improvement in the play at defensive tackle.
3. The release of Damontre Moore immediately after the draft was a bit of a surprise. Moore was expected to compete for a backup defensive end spot on a team without a great deal of depth there.
We can only speculate about what precipitated this release but it wasn’t the draft as the Dolphins failed to select a defensive end. Perhaps it had something to do with this tweet from Armando Salguero at the Miami Herald.
It’s also worth noting that Moore was released from the Giants after violating team rules, reportedly after an altercation with Cullen Jenkins over headphones. Jay Glazer at Fox Sports reported that it was only one of many such altercations.
Similar incidents would be a pretty good reason to release such a player in Miami.
4. The Bears evidently took the Giants by surprise when they traded up to get Eli Apple.
Reese is widely believed to be in some trouble in New York and with some justification. Tom Coughlin took the fall for a bad season with a talent-poor roster last year.
I’m convinced that the Bears trade to leap over the Giants did, indeed, throw them for a loop and they reacted poorly with what is widely believed to be a reach. I like Apple more than most because of his length but almost no one believed that he was a top 10 pick.
It had the look of a panic move by a team that didn’t have a plan if the guys they had targeted all went early (no one anticipated Laremy Tunsil's fall and that pushed guys like Floyd up the board a slot or two).
Predictably, Reese defended the pick:
“‘Well, when somebody doesn’t know what they’re talking about, it’s easy to depict it that way because they don’t know what they’re talking about,’ Reese said. ‘We clearly went through this scenario that Apple could be the player we would pick.'”
If you say so.
If Reese really wanted Eli Apple, he needed to be prepared for this scenario by organizing a trade back before the draft started. For instance, the Bears reacted better when the Packers leapfrogged them to take Indiana tackle Jason Spriggs in the second, though general manager Ryan Pace claims that it had no effect on their draft they immediately traded back for the second time in the round when Spriggs went off the board. Though Cody Whitehair is a good pick, a good offensive tackle made a lot more sense than a guard at that point.
But if the Packers outmaneuvered them for Spriggs, at least the Bears were ready and got good value. The Giants really didn’t.
5. If you’re already tired of seeing new Minnesota Viking Moritz Boehringer on your TV screen, I’ve got some bad news for you. You’re going to see a lot more of him this summer and, heaven help us, into the fall.
Boehringer is a German born wide receiver who saw a video of Adrian Peterson when he was seventeen and decided that he wanted to be a NFL football player. He comes to the league as a former member of the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League.
Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer was apparently thrilled as he said, "That's kind of what the draft is all about -- making dreams come true.”
Zimmer has been around long enough to know that is most certainly not what the draft, or anything else associated with the NFL, is about.
Dollar signs appeared in owners' eyes all over the league as an opportunity to further promote football in Europe presented itself on a silver platter and the NFL Network has run with it, making it one of the stories of the draft.
If Boehringer had been Chinese, commissioner Roger Goodell would have probably had to change his pants.
6. The Cowboys have received a lot of good publicity for taking linebacker Jaylon Smith in the second round. Smith was widely believed to be amongst the best players in the draft until he suffered a brutal knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl. The images of Smith’s relief at being drafted so high was heart warming but ultimately the Cowboys may pay a high price for the good feelings this evoked.
Smith’s injury included a damaged nerve similar to what running back Marcus Lattimore suffered in 2012. Lattimore was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft and never played a down for the 49ers.
This is the trouble with nerve injuries. There’s nothing you can do to fix them. Either the body heals on its own or it never heals at all. Before the draft I figured that there were 32 team doctors all telling 32 general managers the same thing: “We don’t know. It could come completely back or it might not.”
I was wrong. It was 31 team doctors.
That’s because the surgeon who fixed Smith’s knee is the Cowboys team doctor. The assumption here is that owner Jerry Jones thought he was getting inside information on this injury but he really should know better.
Surgeons as a group are a different breed. They carry a confidence about them such that I’ve never met one yet that would look you in the eye and say, “Naw. He may never recover.” That confidence is what makes them good surgeons. But it makes the advice that Jones got in this case highly questionable.
Feel good or not, Smith should have never come off the board before the fourth round.
7. Along with Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who got plenty of offensive additions to assist him, Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler is widely believed to be one of the veteran players who benefited most from his team’s picks in the draft. The Texans added a great deal of speed at wide receiver opposite DeAndre Hopkins in the form of Will Fuller in the first round and Braxton Miller in the third.
Here’s the problem with that theory. Fuller is an under-sized body catcher who had 21 drops the last two seasons. Miller made the conversion from quarterback to wide receiver last year at Ohio State and was very athletic. Unfortunately he too has trouble not only with running routes but with just holding on to the ball as demonstrated graphically by his less than stellar performance in the Senior Bowl.
Sure these players are athletic. But how much help are they going to be if they lack the hand-eye coordination to perform the most basic function of any wide receiver: catching the ball.
8. And one final feel good for all of the Dolphins fans out there.
Message to the New York Jets, who pulled off one of the surprises of the draft when they took quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round. It’s not a good thing when the NFL Network flashes up a graphic abut your pick and under “Weaknesses” it simply says, “Game Tape”.
Good luck with that.
This column was written by Tom Shannon. Follow him on Twitter: @bearingthenews
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