The Dolphins need to rebuild their entire running game. The interior offensive line was a joke in 2010 and Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will both likely sign elsewhere. Having said that, though, you can’t become a legitimate title contender in this league anymore without a franchise quarterback. While Chad Henne hasn’t totally squandered away his chance to be the guy in Miami, his lack of progress in 2010 means that the Dolphins need to find a new potential candidate to be the long-term solution. In my mind, the best case scenario for the Dolphins would be trading down to the late first round, picking up a 2nd round pick, and drafting either Ryan Mallett or Christian Ponder. Mallett is the more physically gifted of the two and the best pure passer in this year’s class, but Ponder on the other hand, is the more accurate, intelligent, and trustworthy option.
2. What effect do you think the whole Jim Harbaugh saga will have on the respect of Tony Sparano in the locker room or on Sparano as a whole, if at all?
I don’t think it will have much of an impact. I wouldn’t even be surprised if it brought the team closer together to be honest. During the whole ordeal, the players were very outspoken in their support for Tony in interviews and on twitter. It’s clear that the players love playing for Tony, and I don’t think the opinion of the owner and general manager will sway those feelings at all.
3. Over the past couple of days, the Dolphins have interviewed Ryan Mallett, the Arkansas quarterback? If Jeff Ireland takes him with this pick, can he beat out Henne for the starting quarterback job?
Ryan Mallet has been my favorite quarterback prospect in this year’s draft since the beginning of the offseason. Christian Ponder’s emergence and insights into Mallet’s character have me currently second guessing that stance, but still, I feel like Mallet has the most potential of any prospect, including Gabbert and Newton. If the Dolphins were to roll the dice on him, ideally, Henne would probably start the season, if not the whole year, as Mallet is given time to develop. But Henne’s starting spot is far from guaranteed, as the Dolphins would likely enter camp with an open competition for the job. We’ve seen rookies like Sam Bradford step in and have an immediate impact, so who says Mallett wouldn’t be capable of just that?
4. How does the lockout affect Miami coming into the draft on a positive/negative standpoint? Will the free agent status of both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams force them to take a running back early say a Mark Ingram?
When you have as many needs as this football team does on offense, not having free agency earlier this month will surely limit the amount of flexibility the Dolphins will have in the draft. If they would have had free agency to work with, they might have been able to answer some of their pressing needs before the draft, and wouldn’t have been as restricted as they figure to be in the first few rounds. They almost have to pick up a running back early, because they simply can’t risk not getting a free agent target to sign in Miami and being stuck with no starting caliber talent. Having said that, I’m not a huge fan of the Dolphins selecting Mark Ingram in the first. I just don’t feel like he’s an elite talent, and don’t think you should take a running back that high unless you’re talking about a can’t miss prospect. Running back’s shelf life is just too short nowadays and the position as a whole is one of the easiest to upgrade. I think the Dolphins could easily find better value by putting off addressing the need until the second or third round. Cal’s Shane Vereen and Oklahoma State’s Kendall Hunter are a couple prospects that are on my radar as shifty, change of pace backs that would give the Dolphins’ offense a little more explosiveness.
5. How is the ownership situation now with Parcells out of the mix? Will we see that celebrity gang of Serena, Marc Anthony, and Gloria Estefan among others have more say or is Stephen Ross taking on more of the load? How is Ross viewed as an owner down in Miami?
Parcells was basically out of the picture in Miami when it was announced that Jeff Ireland would assume full control of personnel decisions about a week before the 2010 regular season kicked off. Technically, Parcells still maintained a title with the team as a consultant, but it was pretty evident that he left a job half done. As far as ownership goes, outside of coaching searches and terminations, Stephen Ross stays out of the front office’s way when it comes to the football stuff. Ross keeps himself busy with promotions. Selling shares of the team to those celebrity owners is a prime example of that. To my knowledge, the celebrities really don’t have much of a say in anything. They were basically brought in to make the Dolphins more marketable in South Florida, and in particular, to the large Latino population that is present in the region. It’s not surprising that many Dolphins fans don’t trust Ross anymore after the Jim Harbaugh controversy. Personally, I think that whole situation was a tad bit overblown, and I’m glad Ross didn’t fire Sparano before courting Harbaugh, because the Dolphins would have been stuck with nothing after Harbaugh opted to sign with the 49ers instead of still possessing a darn good coach. Still though, the fans don’t want an owner that’s going to embarrass the franchise on a national level. I’m not willing to write him off yet, though. I think his heart is in the right place, and so far he seems like a guy who’s willing to do whatever it takes to bring winning football back to Miami. That’s what this franchise needs.
6. What is your take on this whole labor situation as a whole? Whose side are you on and what do you think of these new kickoff rules?
When it comes to billionaires arguing with millionaires over millions and billions of dollars, I don’t exactly feel inclined to take anybody’s side. It all seems very petty to me, and I think it’s unfair what the league is doing to its loyal fans. If we must draw a line in the sand, though, I’m siding with the players. With how the owners have handled the whole 18 game season proposal, I think it’s pretty clear that their sole purpose in all of this is to maximize more revenue. At least the players are concerned with things like improving benefits for retired players. The kickoff rule change is about as ridiculous as it gets. Where did this even come from? I guess it’s pretty obvious that the league is trying to soften up the game even more by avoiding some of the violent hits that take place on kickoffs. But why would you take the ball out of the hands of some of the game’s most electrifying players like Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs?