For those of you who don’t know him Evan Silva is one of the best in the business with providing NFL and fantasy football news on twitter.
Evan is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld.com and friend and took the time to talk a little Dolphins with us.
1)First impression on the Dolphins draft
The Ja’Wuan James pick is perceived as a reach because most pre-draft mocks didn’t have him in the top 32, but the Fins had a first-round grade on him. So I can’t kill the pick. Their evaluators liked what they saw. It isn’t like they took a guy they gave a day-two grade at 19. James needs to improve as a run blocker, but will solidify Ryan Tannehill’s strong-side protection. Pass pro was a huge problem for last year’s Fins. Jarvis Landry is a stick-moving Hines Ward clone. A mauling college run blocker, Billy Turner has every tool necessary to become a quality pass protector as well. My guess is Miami will start James at right tackle and Turner at right guard. Pairing rookie linemen side by side worked well for the 2013 Bears, who ranked No. 2 in the NFL in scoring. Walt Aikens is a big, long press corner who could push for playing time quickly. The Arthur Lynch and Matt Hazel picks I didn’t like as much. The former doesn’t do anything particularly well and the latter is a low-ceiling slot prospect. Jordan Tripp will immediately help on special teams and could develop into a starting weak-side linebacker down the road. Small-schooler Terrence Fede was worth the seventh-round stab. Rookie GM Dennis Hickey plugged holes and plucked value, for the most part. There wasn’t a lot of flash, but I think the Dolphins got at least four good players.
2) How do you think the Dolphins draft lined up against the rest of the AFC East
I was most impressed by the Dolphins and Jets’ drafts. The Bills gave up too much for Sammy Watkins, in my opinion. Buffalo GM Doug Whaley is essentially betting his job on Watkins becoming the type of wide receiver who can elevate the Bills’ deficient quarterback. I think Watkins was a great college receiver who will prove to be a good, not great NFL wideout. I actually think Mike Evans, at 6-foot-5 and 231 pounds with 35 1/8-inch arms, would’ve given the team a better chance to elevate and prop up E.J. Manuel. Evans’ huge catch radius could have helped mask or compensate for some of Manuel’s accuracy flaws.
The Patriots are one of the best-run organizations in sports, so it’s kind of uncomfortable for me to pretend I know more than them. But at surface level, I’m not sure they’ll get much instant impact from their draft class, despite coming away with nine players. And I think instant impact is crucial for them because Tom Brady is entering his age-37 season. His window will close soon. Their first-round pick (Dominique Easley) tore both of his ACLs at Florida. Second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo is a developmental quarterback who I don’t believe will pan out as an NFL starter. And they didn’t draft again until the fourth round.
I appreciate teams that select a defined way to play and build according to that philosophy. That may sound simplistic or obvious to us, but I don’t think enough teams do it. The Jets realize they can’t be a high-flying passing team. They don’t have the quarterback to do it. So they must play stout defense and run the football with volume to stay competitive. They drafted a tone-setting safety (Calvin Pryor) in round one. Second-rounder Jace Amaro is an underrated blocker and has 34-inch arms. He’ll be a safety valve for Geno Smith. Jets GM John Idzik drafted three defensive backs, a powerful small-school guard in Dakota Dozier, two physical West Coast-type wideouts in Quincy Enunwa and Shaq Evans, an intriguing nickel linebacker in Jeremiah George, two late-round pass rushers, a thick, physical, and athletic quarterback in Tajh Boyd, and special teams help in fourth-rounder Jalen Saunders. The Jets know who they are, and who they must be to win.
3) Do you think the Dolphins have done enough this off season to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC
I definitely think they’ll compete for a playoff spot. I think the question is whether they will indeed secure that playoff spot, and whether they have the team to do anything in the playoffs. I think their chances of making the postseason is 50:50 or better in 2014. I don’t think they have much of a chance to do much in the postseason, however.
This is still a team in transition. They’ll have four new starters on the offensive line, two of which will likely be rookies. Their running game can’t possibly be worse than last year’s, but it’s definitely still a question mark due to the O-Line turnover, and lack of a true foundation running back. Knowshon Moreno isn’t that guy, regardless of the stats he put up in Peyton Manning’s offense. I do think Lamar Miller has the skill level to be that guy, but he needs to run with more physicality and improve in the pass game. The Fins have a lot of theoretical talent on defense, but underachieved under coordinator Kevin Coyle last year, and although I do like some of them, I don’t think their major offseason defensive moves (Earl Mitchell, Cortland Finnegan, Louis Delmas, Aikens) brought in the kind of players who will suddenly put them over the top.
Barring dramatic and unforeseen second-year improvement from E.J. Manuel, I expect the Jets and Dolphins to again compete for the No. 2 slot in the AFC East. One of them will probably sneak into the playoffs, but get bounced quickly.
4) Is there any Dolphin at this point that you would start on your fantasy team
I still believe in Lamar Miller’s talent and would draft him in the mid to late rounds, but would not consider him a bankable second running back on my fantasy team. I do think Jarvis Landry could surprise as a sneaky candidate to lead the Dolphins in catches. Rishard Matthews and Brandon Gibson both had some heavily-targeted 2013 games, and Landry will play that underneath/slot receiver role. Charles Clay is a borderline fantasy starter. Same goes for Ryan Tannehill. I shy away from Brian Hartline because I prefer wide receivers who score touchdowns in fantasy. Mike Wallace offers the highest ceiling among Miami’s skill-position players. My hope is new OC Bill Lazor will do a better job than Mike Sherman did of putting Wallace in position to make big plays.
I wouldn't rule out Jarvis Landry becoming R. Tannehill's most trusted WR at some point in '14. Coaches down on Wallace & Hartline is a JAG.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) May 13, 2014
5) Are you a believer in Ryan Tannehill ?
I’ve been a believer in Ryan Tannehill since he entered the pros. He was a very comfortable pocket quarterback coming out of Texas A&M. I think he has plus arm strength. He is athletic enough to bring a running dimension. He was an accurate thrower coming out of college. I thought his rookie year was quite promising, and I think Tannehill does not get enough credit for being the lone consistently functional part of Miami’s 2013 offense, despite league-worst pass protection, an underutilized and disappointing run game, and poor coaching. I generally thought he had a good second season. And I view him as a player who should continue to ascend.
I am from St. Louis and was a Rams fan in my high school years. I’m not really a “fan” of any team anymore; I just appreciate well-run organizations now. (That’s why I was so critical of the Dolphins under Jeff Ireland.) But I maintain a St. Louis background and have paid particularly close attention their players, specifically Sam Bradford. Like Tannehill, Bradford was an extremely promising young quarterback who endured an incredible amount of early-career hits and sacks. Bradford is now entering his fifth year in the league, and hasn’t gotten better. You could argue he’s regressed. At very best, he’s plateaued. My explanation for Bradford’s plateau and/or regression is the accumulation of pressure. Sam Bradford is no longer a comfortable player in the pocket. He gets jittery with bodies around him. Greg Cosell calls that tendency “Cabin Fever.” Coming out of college, Bradford was a precision-accuracy thrower. His ball placement was utterly exceptional, almost Peyton Manning-esque. Bradford’s ball placement is no longer a strength of his game.
I love Tannehill’s physical tools. I believe in him as a player. But this is my one concern. I think the Dolphins’ organization has failed him, up to this point. His pass protection has been nothing short of abysmal, and Sherman essentially refused to make a commitment to the run game. The result was 58 sacks, and a quarterback who late last year began to show signs of Cabin Fever or shell shock. At the same time, I think that if Tannehill overcomes the abominable early-career situation he had to deal with due to Ireland and Sherman’s failings, he can become a legitimate NFL star. For now, my take is glass-half-full. But there are reasons for concern.
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