The draft is over and the season still months away, where do the Dolphins stand now. What is the opinion today about the management after an interesting off-season? The free agent period left the fan-base with a feeling of confidence and hope. The re-signing of Brent Grimes, Pro Bowl corner demonstrated the ability to keep great players in house. Along with the re-signing of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Randy Starks, for less than his original asking price, showed that GM Dennis Hickey had the ability to keep talent at home and do it in a smart efficient fashion. This is a sharp contrast to that of the previous GM Jeff Ireland, who seemed to have no clue when it came to keeping his own talent in Miami. Also Hickey brought in the prized offensive line piece of the off-season, in Branden Albert. The offensive line, of the Dolphins’ issues, was #1 on the needs list this off-season. Albert added another Pro Bowl player to Mike Pouncey on the line. This gave a good shine to Hickey, as he did what his predecessor Ireland was unable to do, solidify the Left Tackle spot.
Free agency is not the only place where the roster is improved in the off-season; the place where rosters have the biggest overhaul is in the draft. The Dolphins have several areas of need; slot wide receiver, CB, safety, LB, amongst depth needs as well. The draft came last week and it seems the needs were met, the issue that will have once confident Dolphins’ fans questioning their new GM, is how those needs were met. The Dolphins didn’t trade up into the top 3 of the draft, in an exciting yet unfulfilling manner like in the 2013 draft. This time around under Dennis Hickey the Dolphins drafted 8 players, some times trading down or up in small increments, which is usual for teams in the midst of the hectic NFL draft. The peculiar part of this Dolphins’ draft was the schools these players were drafted from.
In a draft you may see a team select one or two players from smaller, division 1 AA type schools. The Dolphins selected 5 players from these schools, pick 67 of the 3rd Round Billy Turner from North Dakota St., pick 125 of the 4th Round Walt Aikens out of Liberty, pick 171 of the 5th Round Jordan Tripp of Montana, pick 190 of the 6th Round Matt Hazel out of Coastal Carolina, and finally pick 234 of the 7th Round Terrence Fede of Marist. Now players have succeeded, in fact become legends coming from smaller schools. Jerry Rice and Kurt Warner pop off the page. It happens and not every player selected from a big name school goes All Pro, and many don’t even make the roster. The issue here is when one or two smaller named school players make a big name league wide per year, to select 5 in one draft spits in the face of the percentages.
Dennis Hickey set up good will with the Miami fan-base in the free agent period of the off-season; he took a major step backwards in the draft. Yes it takes a year or two to really know the value of a draft. The Seattle Seahawks were rated a D in a recent draft, that draft gave them multiple players who were key cogs on their recent Super Bowl team. It won’t be known how successful Dennis Hickey’s first draft truly is until down the road. The problem is for a team in such need of positive attention and excitement for its fan-base, this draft did nothing to satisfy that. This draft filled needs galore, and targeted players the front office liked; it totally ignored multiple players who seemed to be the best player available. Whatever your needs may be, you ALWAYS go for the best player sitting at your draft spot. The fact Dennis Hickey, like so many before chose to ignore that, and like his predecessors went with “need” instead of the best player, doesn’t speak well for him. He better hope these small school talents learn extremely quickly, because this man who has waited over a decade for this opportunity may see it squandered and taken from him after 1 short season! Nothing for the Dolphins is promised, including a second season to newly minted GM Dennis Hickey. This team is built and paid for to be a play-off team, anything less could mean Hickey’s job. Good luck Dennis, because the fun is just beginning!