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Maybe Miami should take more risks

Discussion in 'Miami Dolphins Forum' started by DolphinGreg, Apr 29, 2015.

  1. DolphinGreg

    DolphinGreg Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    I recently heard a draft analyst say that topmost picks in the draft (say, for example the top-15 or -20 guys) should be about talent more than team need and I agree with that. For most of the last decade Miami has routinely—often as part of a rebuilding plan—put team needs ahead of overall talent with their highest picks. This pattern has led to a great deal of frustration.

    2004 – Vernon Carey (#19 – solid)
    2005 – Ronnie Brown (#2 – luxury pick, hampered by injuries)
    2006 – Jason Allen (#16 – bust)
    2007 – Ted Ginn (#9 – bust, journeyman)
    2008 – Jake Long (#1 – good, hampered by injuries)
    2009 – Vontae Davis (#25 – good player, character concerns)
    2010 – Jared Odrick (#28 – great attitude, average player)
    2011 – Mike Pouncey (#15 – good)
    2012 – Ryan Tannehill (#8 – good)
    2013 – Dion Jordan (#3 – bust)
    2014 – Juwuan James (#19 – good)

    There are many reasons that can explain why so many picks from the last decade are disappointingly not Miami Dolphins players today or are like Odrick, Tannehill and James, more "solid" than "special." Sometimes it involves conservatively passing on good prospects to avoid risk (i.e. Jake Long over Matt Ryan). Other times it involves overlooking character issues because you have a huge hole on the roster (i.e. Vontae Davis in 2009). Sometimes you’re so anxious to fill a need you just wind up with a solid player instead of a great one (i.e. Ryan Tannehill in 2012). And yes, sometimes you fall so much in love with a player that you imagine the need to reach for him (i.e. Ted Ginn Jr and Dion Jordan).

    This kind of drafting creates a lot of problems over the course of a decade and I think it can be linked to why Miami is:

    (1) routinely a 6- to 8-win team (never bad, but never great)
    (2) rarely in the mix to draft a franchise player despite almost never being a Play-off team (6 of 11 picks are between #8 and #19)
    (3) unable to claim any meaningful players who have stayed for more than 3-4 years
    (4) continually a hotbed for turnover amongst coaches and execs.

    For one, a team that routinely drafts in this manor is almost certain to miss out on most of the great talent in the draft only rarely snatching someone like Mike Pouncey when its needs align perfectly with the draft board. However the secondary effects of placing big expectations on average prospects—particularly when the coaches’ jobs are continually on the line—helps to ensure that over the course of time, virtually no one pans out. Injuries also play a bigger role as there is no one who can truly carry more than their share when other players go down. Lastly, most of the prospects who do survive wind up on other teams once regime changes take place or the team is inevitably overhauled (i.e. Jared Odrick and Vontae Davis).

    Therefore, unless Miami is clearly committed to a long-term starter at a given position like Tannehill at QB, Pouncey at C, Ndamukong Suh at DT, or Brandon Albert and Juwuan James at OT, I largely agree that the team should be open to selecting almost any player with their #14 pick if it means adding an elite prospect. I for one think it’s been too long since Miami struck gold—and let’s not kid ourselves; this is the NFL where teams have to strike gold with either QBs or play-makers! Ryan Tannehill, Vontae Davis, Jake Long, Mike Pouncey, Juwaun James and Jarvis Landry…those are Miami’s best draft picks over the last 5-7 years and it’s possible that non are fully qualified to be labeled “elite.” The last elite prospect Miami did draft was probably Ronnie Brown. But since then Miami has filled holes with expensive picks and it’s hurt them by limiting the upside of the team.

    This logic would suggest that in round-1 Miami should go BPA after eliminating a few positions which include QB, OT, C and probably DE. The door is therefore open to CB, FS, LB, DT, WR, TE, RB and G. Of course, it’s safe to conclude that Miami is likely to eliminate TE, FS and LB given the lack of elite talent in this year’s draft but that’s included in the idea of taking BPA. Just to note, one might add DE to that list depending on what they thought about Wake’s inevitable decline and/or potential to be traded.

    For simplicity’s sake, let’s say the team has narrowed its selection down to CB, WR, DT, RB, or G. I’ve included DT here only because many feel Danny Shelton is an elite talent who may fall and because Miami has no proven, long-term answer for the DT spot next to Suh.

    The point here is that maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to cite team need when comparing a guy like Parker to guys like Gordon or Gurley when the latter two are widely agreed to be the better overall prospects. Gordon and Gurley are to RB what Cooper and White are to WR. So the logic suggested follows that Miami should take one of them, not really caring what position they play as long as it’s not currently filled.

    As I said before, I think Miami’s decision will come down to (CB) Trae Waynes, (WR) Devante Parker, (RB) Todd Gurley, (RB) Melvin Gordon or (OL) La’el Collins.

    I think it might be time Miami starts looking more seriously at these premier prospects instead of addressing core needs. We're a pretty patient fan-base but c'mon, at some point we have to start getting premier weapons on offense that we aren't signing to enormous deals in free agency. This conservative draft philosophy is killing us.

    And before someone argues that Dion Jordan is a bust, note that I addressed that. Don't fall in love with players and pay attention to scheme. After that, busts are highly unlikely. Maybe you do wind up with a Ted Ginn one year, but if you get an elite player the next, no one will blame you.

    When you haven't drafted a truly elite player in over a decade, that's a concern that goes way beyond just bad luck.
  2. cbrad

    cbrad .

    Dec 21, 2014
    I don't think anyone advocating drafting based on "need" or "BPA" totally ignores the other. You didn't either. Essentially you're doing what others do: filter based on both, with maybe a slight bias towards BPA. All the positions you listed are arguably "needs" anyway (with the exception of DT).

    As far as why we haven't drafted well, I think the blame goes mostly to the talent evaluators, not so much the willingness to take risks. When we traded away our 1st in 2010 to draft Odrick and Misi instead of Earl Thomas, you can't tell me that was because Thomas was a "risk", etc.. Ireland just thought his drafting ability was better than it was. And trading away picks to get Jordan was an attempt to get elite talent, but once again talent evaluation was the problem.
    gunn34 and Aquafin like this.
  3. dolfan22

    dolfan22 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Maybe we should just draft better . That probably is the best thing no? How many are contributing now? I'd start with that .
    Aquafin likes this.
  4. Nappy Roots

    Nappy Roots Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2007
    I don't know about any of yall, but when I look at Dolphins first round picks, I think we've taken a lot of chances....

    2004 – Vernon Carey (#19 – solid) - Not a big chance
    2005 – Ronnie Brown (#2 – luxury pick, hampered by injuries) - Shared the backfield and was really #2 RB behind Williams in Auburn. Drafted because great speed and size combo. Took a big risk.
    2006 – Jason Allen (#16 – bust) - Drafted because of elite elite athletic ability, despite not doing to much at Tenn. Took big risk.
    2007 – Ted Ginn (#9 – bust, journeyman) - Drafted the fastest guy in the draft in order to get explosive plays. Took risk.
    2008 – Jake Long (#1 – good, hampered by injuries) - Not a risk.
    2009 – Vontae Davis (#25 – good player, character concerns) - Had character concerns coming out, as well as inconsistent play. But was incredible athlete. Took big risk.
    2010 – Jared Odrick (#28 – great attitude, average player) - Was stacked at position yet took him. Not a huge risk.
    2011 – Mike Pouncey (#15 – good) - Took the safe route. Paid off.
    2012 – Ryan Tannehill (#8 – good) - Drafting third QB in top 10, QB that played just two season at QB prior to season. Pretty friggin big risk.
    2013 – Dion Jordan (#3 – bust) - Traded up to #3 to get the best athlete in the draft. HUGE RISK.
    2014 – Juwuan James (#19 – good) - Took a player a lot of "draft experts" said was a round 2 guy. Nice risk.
    Phins Up Wins Up and Newmpiece like this.
  5. Aquafin

    Aquafin New Member

    Jun 16, 2011
    the poor house
    here is what disappointed me it was bad to pass on DEZ Bryant and we traded for Marshall the turned around and traded him how are we going to win making these kind of moves ?

    the Vernon Carey pick wasn't really a bust but he did not make a bit of difference because of the position taking olinemen in rd one hasn't really helped us. if we had taken Dez and kept Marshall then we would have been closer to being a playoff team . consequently the striking out on qb JOHN BECK AND CHAD HENNE set us back even though I thought Chad Henne would have been a star for that was another factor hurting our growth and productivity.
  6. DolphinGreg

    DolphinGreg Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    I would say that Ted Ginn, Pat White and Dion Jordan were outstanding reaches that were everything to do with Cam Cameron, Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland falling in love with each of the three prospects, respectively. As long as you have reasonable people in charge that doesn’t happen and for that reason those guys are (to me) an altogether different topic than talking about draft value and risk in an intellectual way because it’s such a childish and fundamental mistake to make that it’s more to do with the idiots involved than any sort of real draft ideology.

    However, Miami should be looking for elite talent. I applaud the general spirit of each of those picks. They should however be conscious of their offensive and defensive scheme and their coordinators’ needs. They should avoid trading away a lot of picks to move up and reach for guys (Jordan) as well as the temptation to draft someone way ahead of where they should be selected (White) because of some unique situational or environmental factor (Wildcat). When you look at the most productive of those three “failures” it was without a doubt Ted Ginn. While Ginn wasn’t elite he was definitely at the very least a contributing piece who fit the offensive coordinator’s scheme and therefore Ginn put up receptions, yards and touchdowns—just not in the amount we all hoped for.

    But you know what? I can live with a Ted Ginn here and there if it means we’re also in the mix to take Sammy Watkins or Julio Jones or Dez Bryant, etc. Ted Ginn is far from the reason Miami wasn’t successful under Cam Cameron and he was certainly not to blame for the Parcells-era nonsense. Cam Cameron may not have evaluated Ginn correctly and may have concocted an unrealistic vision in his head of what he could do with his offense, but at least he tried to bring in a player that fit his scheme and that played a critical position! Ireland’s mistake with Dion Jordan was far worse considering he completely ignored scheme-fit at maybe the most fit-critical position. Parcells’ mistake was not in drafting Pat White so much as it was in using a round-2 pick on the kid.

    So, in conclusion, I applaud what Cameron, Parcells and Ireland were trying to do. Cameron was the closest to pulling it off and Ginn’s failure was probably more the result of the Dolphins settling for John Beck after a guy like Joe Flacco came off the board. Cameron may actually have taken Ginn thinking Flacco would fall to him in the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] and that he’d have a perfect pair. My problem is in how these picks are interpreted by fans. People will point to these picks as evidence that Miami should avoid risk. I completely disagree. These picks are evidence of how doing the right thing incorrectly will lead to failure.

    However, doing the safe or conservative thing has just often—if not more routinely—led to failure.

    If we look at the others, we see that the majority were taken because the team was largely forced to fill holes. The 2009 team had no corners so it took Davis and Smith in rounds 1 and 2. The 2011 team had no interior offensive lineman so it drafted Pouncey without much hesitation. The 2012 team had no quarterback so it reached on Ryan Tannehill. The 2014 team had a gaping hole at offensive tackle so it reached on Juwuan James. All of those players have contributed (undoubtedly helped by the fact they were pushed into starting roles) but none are elite, impact players, which means that the Miami Dolphins are—even on their best day—not ever a truly elite team nor do they look like one that will evolve to that point.

    When Miami picked Long and Odrick they were simply conservative picks aimed at getting something reliable instead of taking a risk at all. Looking back, I have more respect for the Ted Ginn pick in spirit (if not in talent evaluation) than I do for either of those. While Long and Odrick again contributed, the upside was limited and again Miami was put in a position in which it was destined to be competitive but not really capable of growing into something all that impressive compared to the rest of the NFL.

    Here are a few simple rules I would infer from those drafts.

    First, don’t fall in love with your vision of any prospect. This should go without saying. This is the best way to ensure that you’ll convince yourself it’s worthwhile to spend high picks on guys like Ted Ginn, Pat White and Dion Jordan when they may not make any sense or justify being picked as high as they are. Those picks weren’t as risky as they were foolish. They don’t represent the kind of risk I’m talking about which is much more refined and aimed at getting prospects with increased impact and elite upside at the cost of treating the draft as a Band-Aid for roster deficiencies.

    Second, don’t (consistently) take solid guys when it means passing up on elite talent. Jake Long and Jared Odrick are perfect examples of solid players that weren’t horrible picks but which represent low-risk, conservative drafting. In the long run, drafting that way seems to have limited the Dolphins’ potential while at the same time made them competitive enough to be taken out of the running for elite prospects.

    Third, don’t leave gaping hopes on your roster so big that you feel forced to take whatever player is available at a given position for fear of getting embarrassed. This is exactly what Miami did in 2009 with Vontae Davis and Sean Smith in rounds 1 and 2, in 2011 with interior linemen Pouncey, in 2012 with QB Ryan Tannehill and in 2014 with offensive tackle Juwuan James. Every one of those guys was picked because the team desperately needed someone to fill a void in the short-term.
  7. Phins Up Wins Up

    Phins Up Wins Up Banned

    Nov 27, 2014
    They took a risk trading up for Dion Jordan and that shat the bed. I'm all for risk based on potential and maybe a player that has injury issues but never again should they get some guy with character issues or drug problems. Unless if Shane Ray or Dupree fall to the 4th round I don't want the Dolphins getting those guys. Justin Blackmon, Josh Gordon, Dion Jordan all talented with potential but they can't even get on the field because of off the field issues.
  8. DolphinGreg

    DolphinGreg Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    I addressed this.

    It's easy to understand why Pat White and Dion Jordan were busts. It should be very easy to avoid those types of catastrophes.

    Assuming you do what I'm saying here, I think the worst you'll get is maybe a Ronnie Brown or a Ted Ginn. At least those players contribute. The upside however--which involves landing an Adrian Peterson or a Dez Bryant--makes it very logical.

    You're point about Dion Jordan is moot. That's not just taking more risk. That also involves being stupid and ignoring clear facts that indicate the player won't fit the scheme and will have off-field issues.

    I'm not advocating the Dolphins throw away information or make very basic, fundamental errors in their evaluations or draft day strategies. What I'm suggesting is that Miami stop filling their biggest, most glaring needs with day-1 draft picks and start drafting whatever (high-character) play-maker is available be it a DE, WR, LB, RB, S, etc.
  9. Phins Up Wins Up

    Phins Up Wins Up Banned

    Nov 27, 2014
    But that is what happens sometimes when people see a talent like Jordan. They get stupid and make a dumb decision because they are taking a risk. They see all this potential and regardless of scheme they think they can just throw him in and get awesome results. Ted Ginn was awful. The day they drafted him I knew he would be a bad pick. What I'm saying is if they are taking risk just don't do it on a character issues or a guy with drug problems.
  10. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh

    Nov 27, 2007
    Step 1: Evaluate on actual ability not potential & 40 times.

    Step 2: Remove as many variables as possible from the actual draft day.

    Step 3: Go after the guys you evaluated the highest and not on need.

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