This off-season started off so strong, good moves by the Fins new GM Dennis Hickey, nice OC coaching hire, the release of Johnathan Martin and Richie Incognito allowing the franchise to move forward from ‘cafeteria-gate’. All things that left the Fin’s fan hopeful for the 2014 draft, for seemingly the first time since Marino was throwing the rock. Sitting here the day after, there is a similar eerie feeling that isn’t so unusual in these parts, it harkens you back to that “lost” decade of failure. It is just one pick, and what makes champions are those picks between rounds 2-7. Round 1 we’ve all heard those players, it’s those guys the scouts find and GMs and coaches draft, who make the winners and losers in the NFL. Plus the 19th pick in the 1st round has not stepped on the field for the Dolphins just yet, so you should reserve judgment until he has a chance to play, very true. However, with the over saturation of draft chatter, by the time the draft rolls around every name that goes off the board is one your so familiar with, you feel they are a family member. Except, for that one name read by Commissioner Roger Goodell at pick number 19, Juwuan James for the Miami Dolphins, a name no person in anyway attached to the draft had connected to the 1st round anywhere.
The Miami Dolphins are in desperate need of offensive line help after giving up 58 sacks last season. GM Dennis Hickey attacked that position this off-season, bringing in top flight left tackle, Branden Albert. Also they went on to sign two other linemen in the process. If one of the top flight draft prospects it made sense for the Dolphins to pluck that player and fill both a need and draft that, “best player available”.
The draft worked itself out and at 19 the Dolphins had their clock start, and what happened next seemed what too familiar. On the board was a strange list of names, a list that was filled with players who were thought to be top 15 prospects, long gone by pick number 19. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Darqueze Dennard, Brandin Cooks, Marqise Lee all talents that were top 20 caliber players. Meaning at 19 they were either a fit or tremendous value, and most importantly would fit the term “best player available”. This seems like a random cliché you hear around draft time that draftniks say to make themselves sound smart. In all reality the teams that draft by this credo win! The Packers had Brett Favre, Hall-of-Fame quarterback, as they were drafting late in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL draft. They had no NEED for a quarterback, but the best player on the board at pick number 24 was AARON RODGERS. Now nearly 10 years later Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the league and a MVP and Super Bowl Champion.
Best player available is what differentiates the winners from the losers; the Dolphins are a team year in and year out who tries to “fill needs”. Also they are a team year in and year out who find themselves out of the contender conversation. There’s a reason your draft the best guy there you can always find room for talent, you can’t always find room for a reach. This was a similar conversation when the Dolphins drafted both Johnathan Martin and John jerry. The offensive line is bad it is a major team need, yes martin and Jerry may be a reach in the 2nd and 3rd round respectively, but they fill a NEED. Well where are they now… GONE, FAR FAR AWAY, after ruining the franchise on the field and off of it.
The Miami Dolphins had an opportunity to fulfill all requirements fulfill both need and best player at their spot and yet again missed. What will Dennis Hickey do in rounds 2-7 are what will define him as GM. What will Juwuan James become has not yet been definitely decided; he has to suit up and step in front of that crowd at Sin Life Stadium. However; as we sit here the day after the draft, you expect to have a feeling of wonder, and hope. Instead the South Florida faithful are left with a feeling of confusion and misery quite too often felt in these parts!