Thursday, April 26, 2012

Draftacular 2012

For Dolphins fans, Draft day is like Christmas for the children of a deadbeat alcoholic. For bad football teams, the draft is a time for optimism. Hope for the best but prepare for disappointment. The draft process is kind of like relationships.

Dating: The Pre-Draft
We go out and try to find people we feel like we can commit to. We spend time with them and find out what their strengths are. We talk to them and try to gauge what kind of people they are. Most of them aren't perfect, they almost always come with baggage (injuries, criminal records, too many kids) . Often times we find people we like because they are good but if they could just change one or two things, they could be perfect.

Marriage: The Draft
We take the information we've been given and we commit. People act happy even while some murmur "What are they doing?" but it's our decision to make and we make it.

Honeymoon: Post Draft Bliss
After we choose our people we spend the time from then through the preseason trying to convince ourselves we made the right decision. As fans we comb through every training camp report looking for a sign that we've signed some future Hall of Famers.

Acceptance: Acceptance
Eventually, we finally have to accept what the people actually are. You see which flaws they can grow out of and which ones are just hardwired in who they are. Since Jimmy Johnson, the Dolphins have become known for our terrible judgement. We keep going from bad marriage to bad marriage with black eyes constantly claiming our guys "can change". As you can see on the chart below, in the Ireland administration, a lot of our marriages have ended in divorce.

Jeff Ireland's Drafts 2008-2011

Our most recent divorce with Phillip Merling (32nd overall pick) was just finalized last week. Some of the players on the chart may become starters by the time the season starts but the overall picture is clear. Two Pro Bowlers in 4 drafts. One was the first overall pick and the other is a kicker. Even among the starters there are just a few who seem likely to develop into stars. With all of these poor choices, Dolphins fans have become skeptical, which brings us to today. READ ON

The feeling I have going into today's draft is similar to how I felt going into the 2007 draft. Just in case you forgot how it felt to have your heart ripped out, here is a passage from the very first blog post I ever wrote about the Dolphins and a couple video clips.

April 28, 2007
I was watching the draft earlier today, smiling as Brady Quinn slowly started dropping toward #9. Then it happened, Roger Goddell walked to the podium and said, "The Miami Dolphins select Ted Ginn Jr." Everyone was in disbelief; Jets fans erupted into a chant of "Miami Sucks!"(Their favorite chant when they aren't showing off their ability to spell J-E-T-S) and somewhere, Dan Marino cried a single tear.

Quinn's face expressed what everyone else thought, "You've gotta be kidding me!" The Dolphin's QB coach, Terry Shea was Quinn's QB coach while he prepared for the draft, and they spent enough time with him that they must have seen something they really didn't like. Regardless, the ninth pick is way too early to be drafting an injured kick returner/#3 receiver who is completely unable to run routes because he weighs 100 pounds and can't even celebrate a touchdown without getting seriously hurt.

Obviously, Ginn flopped and so did Quinn. Through the lens of hindsight, we know there were 23 Pro Bowlers selected after Ginn including Patrick Willis and Darrelle Revis. We were looking for a QB and we thought the answer was John Beck. In reality, there was no real answer. Of the 11 Quarterbacks taken in the NFL draft, the best may have been one that went undrafted altogether, a QB out of Oregon State named Matt Moore (It's a tossup between him and Kevin Kolb, but both teams are looking for a new QB).

Even though everyone involved in that draft has been fired,  it did remind me a little bit of this years draft. We are at about the same draft position (8th), we have a QB we are hoping will fall to us (Tannehill) and we have a new coach on our staff who has a special knowledge of him (Mike Sherman, our OC was his college coach).

Over the past few weeks, I have been obsessively watching every bit of film on Ryan Tannehill. Through the magical mix of Youtube and my insomnia, I have watched hours of footage, literally every throw that left his hand last season. On some level I feel like I am scouting which is ridiculous considering I know almost nothing about football talent scouting. What I have been doing to Ryan Tannehill is way more like stalking.

Because I don't know talent scouting, I have buried myself in every scouting report and every word written by so-called experts about Tannehill. At least 90% of what you read before a draft is third-hand information regurgitated from scouts or GMs who may just be throwing smokescreens to begin with. If the top football minds in the world (NFL GMs and scouts) are themselves often wrong more than than they are right, how much stock can you put in the opinion of Mel Kiper?

What I want to hear about Tannehill is that he's a sure thing but the consensus is the opposite. He is raw. Because he played much of his college career as a receiver, he is still learning the position. I have heard people over and over say what he does right can't be taught and what he needs to learn is easy, but that's not reassuring. One of his bad habits is staring down his receivers. Remember when we drafted Chad Henne and everyone said he was great if he could just stop staring down his receivers? Then we found out Henne just loves staring down receivers. We found out it's part of who he is. We found out when he first met his wife at a party, she knew he was into her because he locked onto her with his eyes and stared her down all night from across the room (I made that up, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's true).

In the end, all we can do is hope. I hope Tannehill is the guy we've been searching for since Marino and if he is, I hope we get him. No one knows him better than Mike Sherman so if we pass on him I could live with that. I just hope we don't waste the pick on a special teams guy, no matter how great his family is.

Tonight, I'm going to live tweet through the first round of the Draft on my Twitter, @SavingThePhins so you don't have to fear Ireland's incompetence alone.

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