Analyzing Miami Dolphin Positional Draft Strategy

The NFL off-season is sometimes more enjoyable for fans from the 31 teams not basking in Super Bowl glory. For long suffering fan bases like the Miami Dolphins, it is truly fantasy football time. The debates ring, Ryan Tannehill regains his franchise QB form. The road to the Lombardi Trophy is paved in draft pick euphoria. Any attempt at moderation or heaven forbid, negativity, is like slugging your red-headed step sister in the face and stealing her ice-cream.

The term “Best Player Available” or BPA for draftnicks, becomes common vernacular this time of year. In the case of the Miami Dolphins, Mike Tannenbaum and his staff will attempt to fill their fantasy roster with starters across the board. Entering the draft with a starting lineup is sound thinking, because “stretching” or “reaching” for a specific position often leads to draft failure.

Attempts at logic are fraught with trepidation, but here comes some mildly Dolphin centric philosophy that might make sense or probably not!

BPA is not linear across a positional draft board…

What???

Define please!

The best player available is not the same for all positions, meaning, some positions have more value or are harder to find. This is obvious when discussing the QB position, it’s perhaps the most pivotal position in team sports. A QB is worth a lot more than a guard, there’s the simple logic. What’s not simple is when this idea is spread out across the remaining positions on a football team.


This
discussion will start on the offensive side and the defense will be added later…

Try doing this exercise on the offensive side of the ball, rank the positions in terms of greatest importance. It would probably go something like, QB, LT, WR-1, RB-1, C, WR-2, TE, RB-2, RT, RG, LG. Variations on the list of importance are system based, a running team may place the guard higher than a passing team or put the running back in front of a wide receiver.

In this scenario the BPA could be a guard, but the position is not as high in the value ranking. A QB ranking lower in talent, could actually be the BPA over the guard because his value ranking is so much higher.


The point is, BPA is not linear across a positional draft board…

Wait! The greatest conundrum in NFL draft history has not been solved, there are more vital exercises. Remember also, this is based on a Miami Dolphin history the writer is well acclimated with, other teams may produce different results. Take the offensive side of the ball and now rank the position in order of how hard it is for your team to find a great player at that position. QB, TE, LG, RG, LT, C, WR-1, RT, RB-1, RB-2, WR-2.

Notice how the list has morphed, the QB is still on the high value side, but now the TE and guards have shifted over to the value side, while the “skill positions” have devalued. Excluding the QB, this could be construed as success based, meaning Miami is good at selecting (acquiring) certain positions, while not very good at acquiring others. Again, these values are Miami based and will be different for other teams.

Now a third list must be added based on how many good players are available at any given positon regardless of a team’s ability to draft them. This list would place value on the hardest positions to find for any NFL team. The hardest position would have the most value. QB, TE, LT, C, WR-1, RT, RB-1, RB-2, WR-2, LG, RG.

So finally, a number value can be placed on these lists from 11 being the highest value to 1 being the lowest. Add the three values together for each position and Miami’s BPA value chart would look like this. QB, LT, TE, C, WR-1, RB-1, RT, RG, LG, WR-2, RB-2. Using first round picks, Miami hasn’t done poorly based on position, QB, LT, WR and C were picked in recent, still relevant drafts. What stands out somewhat is a couple value mistakes.

What cannot be seen by just the positions on the list, is the drop off of value after the top five positions. After WR-1, the last six positions add up to only 72 of 198 total points. RB-1, RT, RG, LG, WR-2, RB-2 are basically positions that do not have as much value on the draft board as QB, LT, TE, C, WR-1. Drafting a RT early is not wise, this is one of the lowest value positions. Not drafting a TE is also an outlier because in Miami’s case, it’s a high value position.

What’s the point of all this mumbo jumbo?


There’s a reason why RTs, guards, RBs and WRs have dropped off many team’s list of first round picks. They’re easy to find either in FA or later in the draft because the positions have a larger pool of available talent. On the other hand QB, TE or LT are difficult to find because these positions require exceptional talents.

Notice how Don Shula and Bill Belichick always draft(ed) a QB every year. When drafting a tackle, they will always draft a LT and move him to RT or guard if required. In the case of Belichick, he will draft multiple TEs because he understands the value of the position in the modern NFL. These picks are always swayed by the bird in the hand theory. A great TE on the team is better than two in the draft!

This is why BPA is complete nonsense. Any team that picks a right tackle because he is the proverbial BPA does not have their statistics in order. For a right tackle to be the BPA he must be exceptionally better than any QB, LT, TE, C, WR-1 in the draft.


This is also why teams that draft in the middle of the draft, more often draft marginal players. At this point in the draft, the exception talent at the value positions has been picked over and teams are left with the BPA at devalued positions.

For your homework! It would interesting to see what your offensive three lists would look like. We’ll do defense later and put together a complete list.

List 1 – The offensive positions of great overall value.
List 2 – The offensive positions Miami picks well.
List 3 – The offensive positions that are the hardest to find.

Place your list in the comments section and I will compile and let’s see what happens.

Have fun Shouters!!!

Mike Tannenbaum is on a Short Leash in Miami

As the Miami Dolphin 1st round draft mistakes pile up, contract disparities will force the team’s best players into the free agent market. Jarvis Landry is not alone, players like Olivier Vernon, Lamar Miller and Rishard Mathews and many others, had to find their way out of Miami to cash in on their talent. The refusal to admit draft mistakes and to make solid first round selections is catching up to the Miami Dolphins.

Jarvis Landry is one of the larger questions looming this offseason. The decision whether to re-sign or let some other team pay his pricey contract demands has ramifications throughout the Dolphin roster. DeVante Parker’s underwhelming performance has again exposed Miami’s complete incompetence in evaluating 1st round talent.

The passing scheme of - Landry as a short yardage monster in the slot; Kenny Stills as the homerun hitter keeping secondary’s honest; Parker as the big target that can win contested throws in critical situations, was a tantalizing thought. Coaching and building off of these players was undoubtedly Adam Gase’s long term vision, but Parker has not developed.

As a first round pick, Miami intended Parker to be a beast. Highly drafted receivers better perform, because as Landry and Mathews have shown, even Miami can draft really good receivers in lower rounds. Mike Tannenbaum certainly does not want to admit he made a mistake with Parker. The Parker Pick came prior to Adam Gase, there’s no telling what Miami would have done differently with Gase’s input.

Many players on the Miami roster have out-performed their draft status, but DeVante Parker is the one making 1st round money. Every team has examples of first round busts, but Miami is in a class by itself. These mistakes are routine and rarely, if ever corrected. Landry should have been signed last year when his price point was much lower. Mike Tannenbaum did nothing and has allowed the situation to simmer to the point where Miami will likely lose one of the team’s best players.

Miami brass decided Jay Cutler was more important than surviving with Matt Moore and paying Jarvis Landry. It turns out they could not have been more wrong. It almost seemed Jay Cutler was Adam Gase’s knee jerk reaction to losing Ryan Tannehill. It was an irrational decision that a good General Manager would have avoided. It will now cost Miami the best wide receiver the team has drafted in years.

It starts with the belief that Parker would finally become the first round beast Tannenbaum thought he drafted. By projecting Parker as a true number one receiver, Jarvis Landry became expendable. It was another poor personnel decision that hasn’t panned out. Miami is still waiting on Parker to develop, while losing Jarvis Landry is a perfect example of managerial ineffectiveness. The Landry situation reeks of Miami’s personnel department being unwilling to admit mistakes.

Ryan Tannehill, 1st round pick, seven years into his career and Miami still does not know whether he’s a true franchise quarterback. DeVante Parker, 1st round pick 4 years into his NFL career and we still don’t know if he’ll ever dominate at the wide receiver position. Ja’Wuan James, 1st round pick 5 years into his NFL career and Miami will likely not pick up his 5th year option and let him go. Dion Jordan, 1st round pick…

Miami drafts pretty good players, such as Landry and Vernon in later rounds, but pays 1st round busts longer than they should and consequently loses these good players. Charles Clay is better than any tight end on the Miami roster, yet the Dolphins let him walk when they should have paid him. These are just examples, and if nothing changes, Miami fans will be looking at mediocrity until Mike Tannenbaum is finally exposed and fired.

Admittedly, there’s still some Jeff Ireland stench in the building, but Tannenbaum has not been able to land a decent first round pick in four tries. How much time does he get Boss Ross? Will Miami fire another coach who is straddled with these inept 1st round busts before the light comes on?

Mediocrity is the worst draft position for a team in the NFL. Bad teams get high draft picks and have a better chance at picking can’t miss players. Great teams draft later, after the talented, but questionable players have been picked by teams like Miami. The Dolphins are constantly picking in the middle of the 1st round where all the busts seem to lurk. Yet in Miami, the mediocrity is blamed on coaches.

The information is available for those who follow the draft. Tannehill had all the tangibles, arm strength, size, great character, athletic, smart, but he was there at the 8th pick because his team lost a lot of close games and he had very limited experience. Truth is, Tannehill would have been there a lot longer had Miami not prematurely pulled the trigger. Tannehill is just good enough to get his coaches fired, unfortunately, the Dolphins are still trying to find a coach that can teach him how to win.

Miami was unprepared for the 3rd pick in the 2013 draft and consequently did not do the diligence needed before picking Dion Jordan. These two picks are on Jeff Ireland and Dion Jordan certainly led to Ireland’s demise in Miami. Tannenbaum is exonerated from these picks and perhaps they were so poor Boss Ross thinks Tannenbaum has done better with his marginal first round picks.

With Tannenbaum as a consultant in 2014, Miami picked Ja’Wuan James at number 19 smack in the middle of the mediocrity zone. James was a right tackle at Tennessee. The pick was suspect immediately because NFL teams don’t pick right tackles in the first round. This is absolutely no fault of James, he is what he is, a right tackle. If he was really good at Tennessee he would have played left tackle.

It’s perplexing that Tannenbaum could not come up with a better option. Miami picked a right tackle from a marginal Tennessee team with the 19th pick in the first round of the NFL draft. Every team in that draft must have chuckled, even Cleveland had to wonder about this ridiculously cautious use of a 1st round pick. This was 2nd round or later talent that Miami paid 1st round money. Since the last collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap floor is 95% league wide. The personnel department is a place with is no salary cap and yet the Dolphins could not evaluate talent any better than this?

The 95% salary floor means Boss Ross is not being generous with free agent money, it means he has to spend this money. If Ross was really interesting in making the Dolphins relevant again he would be spending money paying the best talent evaluators in a department that has no salary cap. Any talk of Ross being generous is bogus, he’s spending money he has to spend on players, while the team is obviously lagging behind in the personnel department.

Now the Landry situation comes full circle back to DeVante Parker… Miami picked Parker 14th, smack in the middle of the mediocrity zone. Parker has one year left on his rookie deal before Miami will have to pick up his 5th year option. It certainly seems Miami is not going to pay Jarvis Landry, leaving a huge void in an already imperfect offense that will now depend on Parker. This is not moving forward, this is moving backward and the reason is simple, horrendous first round picks over the last 6 years.

What is obvious from the outside, is the ego-driven mess going on inside. Landry is better than Tannehill, Jordan, James, Parker, Tunsil and Harris, yet Miami is going to let him walk and keep the first round ineptitude. Do they actually think the locker room does not notice? Is there a separation in the  building? Is Tannenbaum completely disconnected, telling Boss Ross these picks will someday pan out and they should play hard ball with their best player?

The precedent and example Tannenbaum will leave on this locker room by not paying Jarvis Landry will destroy any good Adam Gase will ever do. The players will know, this team is not based on meritocracy, it is based on draft status. Landry is better than the last six first round picks, has been playing much better football for much less money than DeVante Parker. Letting him go will prove Mike Tannenbaum has no clue how to run a football team.

Mike Tannenbaum has one chance to clear the air.

Re-sign Jarvis Landry…

Will The Miami Dolphins Ever Find "It"

Welcome to the Miami Dolphin’s off-season where warts shrink to mere blemishes and gaping holes recede to tiny pinpricks. From the final snap of the Super Bowl until the 2018 regular season begins, our memories will fade and we will try to convince ourselves this is a playoff team.

I know, it’s obnoxious right? As Miami Dolphin fans, we look to the off-season more than the regular season because that’s where we always win. Reality is a wicked little sister and she really knows how to depress Miami fans with all those damn Patriots banners waving in our faces. It’s easier to drink in the mélange of off-season promise and forget the agony of defeat we just endured.

Sorry not yet… I won’t let you off that easy!

While the stink is still fresh and we can think objectively, let’s dive into what it would really take to make the Dolphins relevant again. The starting place must be the quarterback position because, well this is football and football always starts with the quarterback. Yeah, yeah… Team sport and all that stuff, I get it.

Any devout old-school football fan will tell you, the QB doesn’t matter, it’s all about the team. The Eagles won with Nick Foles for heaven’s sake. How valuable can the position be? I guess they give the Super Bowl MVP to QBs as a matter of decorum. I mean just because he’s the guy throwing TD passes and making fourth down plays doesn’t make him deserving of a trip to Disney World.

It’s all about the team…

It’s not.


Nike Foles led the Eagles to 41 points. That doesn’t mean it’s all about Nick, it means Nick did exactly what he was supposed to do in exactly the right moments for the Eagles to win the game. Perhaps it’s not about whether Nike Foles can throw the ball a hundred yards or through a concrete wall while running the 40 yard dash faster than Usain Bolt. Maybe it’s about doing exactly what he’s supposed to do in exactly the right moment.

Notice I’ve used the word “it” a lot…
 

“It” - It’s a really tiny word that is so huge, kind of a conundrum right? How could such a little word be so big as to describe the most difficult position in world of team sports? There “it” is, the white elephant in the locker room.

Since we are working within the parameters of reality we have to ask the simple question, does Ryan Tannehill have, “it?” Regardless of whether his knee is healed, I don’t think the knee will an issue, but “it” is the thing we must reflect upon with absolute clarity and honesty.

Before making a judgement, we must determine if “it” is a thing that can be instilled (taught) or is “it” a thing certain people have in abundance? Is “it” a product of repetition? Can a QB go through so many reps that when the moment comes the “game slows down” and “it” happens all by itself? I’m just a regular guy so the conjecture I’m about to make is purely my own machination, but I’ll run with “it.”

Good is a product of repetition - Great is a product of repetition and “it.”

This is why we have such a hard time with Ryan Tannehill, he has the physical tools, he’s smart, he works extremely hard, he’s a team guy, and he’s coachable. All these things are completely true, except for “it.” Damn tiny little word is like a pestilent worm burrowing into the grey matter of our brains, what is this freaking “it” thing and how does he get some!

I think it’s also important to understand that “it” is not a static state. That’s part of the mystery of “it,” it comes and goes. So a guy like Ryan Tannehill can have some games where his “it” is off the charts and others where “it” doesn’t show up.

Taken one step further and this is what makes “it” really hard on NFL coaches and personnel guys, “it” cannot stand alone. Therefore, until enough reps have been completed (and that number is different for each QB) the “it” factor cannot become the driving force. “It” can take a guy to a bunch of wins, but without the reps, “it” is the same as a guy with great reps and no “it.”

Good but not great…

We can see these guys a little more clearly now, Tannehill, Stafford, Smith, Ryan, Taylor, there’s a bunch of them right? Stafford and Taylor have some “it” but they don’t seem to be repetition guys. Tannehill, Smith and Ryan seem to be repetition guys without a lot of “it.”

Good but not great…

It’s almost humorous how we wonder about offensive linemen or receivers and running backs on a team like the New England Patriots. The genius talent mogul Bill Belichick and his magic talent wand!

Give me a break…

Old School Dolphin fans know the deal. When you got Marino - Webb, Simms and Stevenson are Pro Bowlers. Put those same guys with Matt Schwab and they’re okay. Clayton, Duper, Moore, hell Marino made Pro Bowlers out of Ferrell Edmonds and Crash Jenson. Marino had “it” in abundance and he did the reps to make him great.

So now we have to get back to reality and it bites. Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have enough “it” to be great. It’s depressing because he’s got so much talent and he seems like a really good guy…

All this rambling leads to the next issue in the “it” cycle. Does Adam Gase truly believe he can whisper “it” into Ryan Tannehill? Wow that’s big!


That damn huge little word again!

If we’ve determined that “it” is the mojo, the moxie, the indescribable something that makes winners, what happens if a coach is cocky enough to think he can instill “it?”

I think that’s a problem and why we say, "these QBs are just good enough to get you fired." This is nothing on Adam Gase or Joe Philbin, etc. because, to get where they have, one of 32 head coaches in the NFL, they’ve got some serious skills and moxie of their own. They believe “it” is coachable or they wouldn’t be coaching NFL QBs.


When Philbin said, “I don’t think Tannehill has ‘it,’” he was promptly fired.

That tells us that way up there in the Miami Dolphin stratosphere, someone with more power than Philbin believes “it” is coachable and brought in the whisperer to prove it…

Now I really like Adam Gase and I do believe he could be a very, very good NFL coach but he’s got one fatal flaw, he believes “it” doesn’t matter! He can coach a guy who has the skills to greatness without “it” and someone above him agrees.

This is the reason the Miami Dolphins have been mediocre for last 20 years. They don’t see this “it” factor has having any relevance.

They will read an article like this one and think, “what does this guy know! This guy is so full of bunk his eyes turned brown. Coach Gase made a winner out of Timmy Freaking Tebow, that’s how good he is!” In that statement lies the fatal flaw…

Tim Tebow could never do enough reps to fix his throwing motion… It wasn’t Gase that whispered sweet nothings into Tebow’s ear, “it” was “it!” Tebow has and has always had “it!” That should be the lesson. Just go back and put on the tape of Tebow bringing Denver back against Miami and leading the Bronco’s to the playoffs and tell me…

Am I really full of bunk?