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Mr. Magoo
03-11-2010, 06:03 PM
Note: This is a very long post, which I apologize for. I intend it mainly as a research tool for Dolfans who want to get a sense of the kind of drafts Mike Nolan has been involved in as a defensive coordinator and a head coach.

A few caveats:

1. I don't pretend to know a lot about many of these players. In fact, there's a good number of them I've absolutely never heard of, so if there's anything about them I've screwed up or anything you'd like to add, by all means go ahead. You'll only be helping create a complete picture of what's likely to come.

2. Even the very clear trends represented in these drafts are in no way definitive. Every year, every draft and every team is different. Nevertheless, it’s the job of a personnel staff to find players that match the system defensive coordinators run and to listen to his priorities in the draft process. These drafts, for example, show a huge bias for defensive ends, especially when compared to nose tackles. Does that tip Mike Nolan’s hand to where his priorities are? I’d have to say yes (more on this in a follow up post).

3. I gathered these heights, weights and positions from the best sources I could find. I’ll admit I didn’t go full out to verify weight changes over the course of a career. But in cases where I found two, I listed them both. Again, this is an area where more information would be helpful.

4. I didn’t have the time or the inclination to play the “what if?” game with these picks. Mike Nolan and the Giants’ staff passed on Ray Lewis in 1996. What does that say about them? Frankly, I have no ****ing clue. It’s complicated enough extrapolating from who they did pick.

5. I also didn’t track free agent pickups over these years.

6. Past performance is an indicator of future performance… ie, this kind of stuff does matter.

New York Giants Defensive Coordinator (1993-1996)

Head Coach: Dan Reeves
General Manager: George Young

Note: Team switched to 4-3 in 1996.

1993:

Format: Pick, position, name, college, height, weight

40: DE/OLB: Michael Strahan, Texas Southern, 6'5, 255 (275 later in career) -- had best years after he was able to bulk up and play end in a 4-3.
66: LB Marcus Buckley, Texas A & M, 6'3, 244
123: LB Tommy Thigpen, North Carolina, 6'2, 242
207: LB Jessie Armstead, Miami, 6'1, 237

1994:

47: DB Thomas Randolph, 5'9, 185 Kansas State
59: DB Jason Seahorn, USC, 6'2, 213
128: DT Chris Maumalanga, Kansas, 6'2, 300
131: DB Tito Wooten, Lousiana Monroe 6'1 195
155: DE Chad Bratzke, Eastern Kentucky 6'5, 270

1995:

85: DB Rodney Young, LSU 6', 210
133: LB Ben Talley, Tennessee 6'3, 248
153: DB Roderick Mullen, Grambling 6'1, 202
204: DE Jamal Duff, SDSU 6'7, 285

1996:

5: DE Cedric Jones, Oklahoma 6'4, 290
171: LB Doug Coleman, Nebraska 6'2, 250
182: LB Scott Galyon, Tennessee 6'2, 240 (remember him?)
214: DB Conrad Hamilton, East New Mexico 5'10, 185

Washington Redskins Defensive Coordinator (1997-1999)

Head Coach: Norv Turner
General Manager: Charlie Casserly

Note: Ran 4-3 defense.

1997:

17: DE Kenard Lang, Miami 6'3, 257 (284 later in career).
51: LB Greg Jones, Colorado 6'4, 248
80: OLB Derek Smith, Arizona State 6'2, 240
132: DB Jamel Williams, Nebraska, 6' 204
140: DB Keith Thibodeaux, 5'10, 189
148: LB Twan Russell, Miami 6'1, 230 (remember him?)

1998:

113: LB Shawn Barber, Richmond 6'2, 240
191: S Davis Terrell, UTEP 6'1, 190
206: LB Antwaune Ponds, Syracuse 6'2, 252 -- one year NFL, 3 games played

1999:

7: CB Champ Bailey, Georgia 6' 192
107: LB Nate Stimson, Georgia Tech 6'2" 251

Defensive Coordinator, New York Jets (2000 only)

Head Coach: Al Groh
Chief of Football Operations: Bill Parcells

12: DE Shaun Ellis, Tennessee 6'5, 285
13: DE/OLB John Abraham, South Carolina 6'3.5, 252 (detailed scouting reports on Abraham would be very valuable to analyze given where they picked him and our needs this year)
179: CB Tony Scott, North Carolina State
218: DT Richard Seals, Utah 6'3, 305

Baltimore Ravens Defensive Coordinator(2002-04)

Head Coach: Brian Billick
General Manager: Ozzie Newsome

24: S Ed Reed, Miami 5'11, 200
52: DE Anthony Weaver, Notre Dame 6'3, 280
195: CB Lamont Brightful, Eastern Washington
209: S Chad Williams, Southern Miss 5'09, 207

Undrafted (for some reason, this is only year where this was listed):

S Will Demps, SDSU 6' 208
LB Bart Scott, Southern Miss 6'2, 240
DT Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Utah 6'5, 345

2003:

10: DE/OLB Terrell Suggs, Arizona State 6'3, 260 (see comments on Abraham)
109: DE/OLB Jarret Johnson, Alabama 6'3 265
146: DT Aubrayo Franklin, Tennessee 6'1 317
182: S Gerome Sapp, Notre Dame 6'1 216
258: DB Antwoine Sanders, Utah 6'1, 202

2004:

51: DT/DE Dwan Edwards, Oregon State 6'3, 290 (moved to end)
153: DE Roderick Green, Central Missouri State 6'2, 274

San Francisco 49ers Head Coach (2005-08)

General Manager: Terry Donahue (through 2005)
Scott McLoughan (2006-)

Note: I couldn't easily find out who was the defensive coordinator during these years. Was it Nolan?

2005:

137: DT Ronald Fields, Miss State 6'2, 315
205: CB Derrick Johnson, Washington 5'10, 186
215: CB Daven Holly, Cincinnati 5'10, 185

2006:

22: DE/OLB Manny Lawson, NC State 6'5, 240
140: DE/OLB Parys Haralson, Tennessee 6', 255
192: S Marcus Hudson, NC State 6'2, 198
197: DE Melvin Oliver, LSU 6'3 280
254: S Vickiel Vaughn, Arkansas 6'1, 204

2007:

11: MLB Patrick Willis, Ole Miss 6'1, 240
97: DE Ray McDonald, UF 6'3 290
104: DE/OLB Jay Moore, Nebraska 6'4, 256
126: S Dashon Goldson, Washington 6'2, 205
135: DE Joe Cohen, UF 6'2, 310
147: CB Tarell Brown, Texas 5'10, 193

2008:

29: DT/DE Kentwan Balmer, UNC 6'5 315 (moved to end)
75: CB Reggie Smith, Oklahoma 6'1, 200
214: LB Larry Grant, Ohio State 6'1, 251

Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator (2009 only)

Head Coach: Josh McDaniels
General Manager: Brian Xanders

18: DE/OLB Robert Ayers, Tennessee 6'3, 272 (OLB)
37: CB Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest 5'9, 193
48: S Darcel McBath, Texas Tech 6'1, 196
114: S David Bruton, Notre Dame 6'2, 219

Mr. Magoo
03-11-2010, 06:10 PM
Ok, now some analysis.

With all the talk about the Dolphins needing a nose tackle and people like Todd McShay and Mel Kiper predicting that we’ll take Dan Williams @ #12, I think probably the most important thing to take away from these drafts is that it is definitely not his MO to take nose tackles at the top of the draft, or really at all.

Of the four (!) he has taken in the draft, the highest was picked @ #128 (late fourth round) – the unforgettable Chris Maumalanga from Kansas.

Since he has spent 13 of his 17 years as a coordinator coaching the 3-4 (he ran a 4-3 in Washington and in his last year with the Giants), I decided to look up the nose tackles who started for all those teams.

New York Giants:

Stacey Dillard, starter from 1993-95. 6’5, 290. 6th round pick of the Giants in 1992.
1996: Went to a 4-3. Nolan leaves after season.

New York Jets:

Jason Ferguson. 6’3, 305. 229th overall pick in 1997.

Baltimore Ravens 2002-04:

Kelly Gregg. 6’ 310. 173rd overall in 1999.

San Francisco 49ers

2005: Anthony Adams. 6’ 300. 57th overall in 2003. Only starts 5 games in 2006. Injury leads to switch to a predominantly 4-3 look.
2007: Aubrayo Franklin takes over. 6’1, 320. From Tennessee. 146th pick in 2003. Free agent/trade from Baltimore. 2008 maintains job.

Denver Broncos 2009:

Ronald Fields. 6’2 310. Mississppi State. 137th pick. Free agent from San Francisco.

Nolan’s pattern seems to be that when he arrives to a team that already has a nose tackle, he's generally willing to stick with that player, or at least doesn't generally seek to replace them by bringing in new players through the draft. And if a player leaves or is ineffective, he prefers to bring in players – especially that he knows – through free agency.

It’s also important take note about the size of these nose tackles (including the one's drafted). Their respective heights, including starters brought in via free agency, have been: 6’2, 6’3, 6’1, 6’2, 6’5, 6’, and 6’. Their weights have been: 300, 305, 317, 315, 290, 305, 310, 300, 320.

The only player that breaks this mold was an undrafted free agent brought in by Nolan when he was with the Ravens, 6’5, 345 pound Ma’ake Kemoeatu from Utah (do those dimensions and that school sound familiar?).

So okay, from all this I think we can extrapolate that Mike Nolan’s ideal nose tackle is somewhere between 6’ and 6’2, weighs between 300 to 320 pounds, and if he’s going to draft them at all, it’s going to be in the fourth round or later.

Who in the draft fits this bill? Well, not Terrence Cody for one, or Dan Williams, or Cam Thomas. Based on Nolan’s history I think you can probably eliminate those players as likely choices. More likely to end up Dolphins than any of those more heralded players are prospects like Jeff Owens (who has interviewed with the Dolphins), Aleric Mullins and Terrell Troup. All players available later in the draft. All players who fit his history.

And that’s just the nose tackles. By looking at the size of the players at each position, patterns begin to emerge for all of them. Patterns that indicate, for one, that Brandon Graham (at shorter than 6'2) is probably a less likely choice for the Dolphins than Jerry Hughes or Thaddeus Gibson (the latter as a second or third round pick, of course, not a first). Jason Worilds also just stands just north of 6'1.

But for right now this is getting very long, so I’ll stop. I hope that at least some of you find this illuminating, because God knows it took a long time to compile.

TedSlimmJr
03-11-2010, 06:17 PM
A lot of those names bring back some memories....lol

The John Abraham and Terrell Suggs picks are what interest me here....because of where they were both picked.....basically right in Miami's wheelhouse where they currently have the 12th pick....

I remember Suggs set an NCAA record in sacks that year at Arizona St. with 24 I think.....and Abraham was actually a track athlete and set a South Carolina record or two in the 200m....

Height doesn't really appear to be much of a factor throughout when you look at ALL the linebackers...

j-off-her-doll
03-11-2010, 06:29 PM
Might R. Sapp (maybe a 3rd rounder with the injuries) remind him of J. Abraham (with the track background)?

TedSlimmJr
03-11-2010, 06:39 PM
Probably...I've always had this strange feeling that they're fond of Sapp for some reason....but you won't be the only person going on a killing spree if they take this guy at #12...

Jerry Hughes and Sergio Kindle are both former running backs in high school....and very good ones....

Mr. Magoo
03-11-2010, 06:40 PM
A lot of those names bring back some memories....lol

The John Abraham and Terrell Suggs picks are what interest me here....because of where they were both picked.....basically right in Miami's wheelhouse where they currently have the 12th pick....

I remember Suggs set an NCAA record in sacks that year at Arizona St. with 24 I think.....and Abraham was actually a track athlete and set a South Carolina record or two in the 200m....

Height doesn't really appear to be much of a factor throughout when you look at ALL the linebackers...

Don't know if I agree with that last part. Here's a breakdown of the whole thing:

Total: 64 3.7 picks per year

Defensive Ends: 11
LBs: 15
DBs (includes both safeties and corners): 26
NT: 4
DE/OLB: 8

Also there's the three undrafted guys: Demps, Scott and Kemoeatu.

Of all those guys who were/are linebackers, only three were/are shorter than 6'2: Patrick Willis, Twan Russell and Parys Harralson (with only Willis being a high pick).

Brandon Graham's 6'103 is going to be a factor there. Especially when the DE/OLB guys were generally more like 6'3+ (again, besides Harralson).

TedSlimmJr
03-11-2010, 06:44 PM
Don't know if I agree with that last part. Here's a breakdown of the whole thing:

Total: 64 – 3.7 picks per year

Defensive Ends: 11
LBs: 15
DBs (includes both safeties and corners): 26
NT: 4
DE/OLB: 8

Also there's the three undrafted guys: Demps, Scott and Kemoeatu.

Of all those guys who were/are linebackers, only three were/are shorter than 6'2: Patrick Willis, Twan Russell and Parys Harralson (with only Willis being a high pick).

Brandon Graham's 6'103 is going to be a factor there. Especially when the DE/OLB guys were generally more like 6'3+ (again, besides Harralson).


When height is a factor....they're left off your draft board all together....as with Parcells....

Even if you use a later round pick (J.D. Folsom last year for example) he's still 6'3".....

You mean there weren't better players that were under 6'3" available? Of course there were...

Mr. Magoo
03-11-2010, 10:02 PM
All of this also makes inside linebackers we've been talking about -- and some of whom are good players -- like Jamar Chaney, Donald Butler, Daryl Washington, Pat Angerer, Phillip Dillard, Mike McLaughlin, Kion Wilson, and Boris Lee -- very unlikely picks. Mike Nolan is a coach (and we all know Parcells places a priority on it) that doesn't sacrifice height, and none of these players stands 6'2 or more. Over 17 years, only three linebackers he's had in drafting have.

SF Dolphin Fan
03-11-2010, 11:07 PM
Great information, Mr. Magoo. One thing that nobody has mentioned, though, is the needs at the time for the specific teams during that draft year. Did those teams have the glaring holes at linebacker (inside and out) that the Dolphins have? In other words, I certainly wouldn't discount a middle linebacker early on. But the point on nose tackles does seem very telling, unless the front office is convinced that one of those type guys can be dominant. Heavy emphasis is on pass rushers and that's definitely an area the Dolphins need to find players.

Mr. Magoo
03-11-2010, 11:30 PM
Great information, Mr. Magoo. One thing that nobody has mentioned, though, is the needs at the time for the specific teams during that draft year. Did those teams have the glaring holes at linebacker (inside and out) that the Dolphins have? In other words, I certainly wouldn't discount a middle linebacker early on. But the point on nose tackles does seem very telling, unless the front office is convinced that one of those type guys can be dominant. Heavy emphasis is on pass rushers and that's definitely an area the Dolphins need to find players.

Thanks. Yeah, that's true. I wish that information was available, but I doubt you could find anything reliable. These things are hard enough to find about modern teams, much less what was going on for the New York Giants 17 years ago.

My key purpose for this thing was more to try to figure out a kind of "central casting" idea for different positions in Mike Nolan's defense.

For instance, while there definitely seems to be an emphasis on size in the secondary, it's not as absolute as the emphasis on size for linebackers. There are a few guys on this list in the 5'9, 5'10, 180-195 pound area. So while we don't really have a big need at cornerback, there's nothing in Nolan's history to suggest he would be freaked out by the fact that Earl Thomas isn't the biggest safety in all the land.

You can see this philosophy reflected in their pursuit of Clark, as well. He's only a 200 pound guy. Smarts and instincts seem more important to him back there.

newlownorder
03-11-2010, 11:31 PM
even if the thread was terrible i would have given you a thanks for all the work that must have gone into it.

hooshoops
03-11-2010, 11:41 PM
All of this also makes inside linebackers we've been talking about -- and some of whom are good players -- like Jamar Chaney, Donald Butler, Daryl Washington, Pat Angerer, Phillip Dillard, Mike McLaughlin, Kion Wilson, and Boris Lee -- very unlikely picks. Mike Nolan is a coach (and we all know Parcells places a priority on it) that doesn't sacrifice height, and none of these players stands 6'2 or more. Over 17 years, only three linebackers he's had in drafting have.

i don't think any of them are in play for us...the depth at ilb in the draft isn't good to begin with and when you take out all these guys names for not meeting certain height requirements etc is it really any question why karlos dansby was such a coveted commodity???

b/t good stuff mr magoo...a good read

hooshoops
03-11-2010, 11:45 PM
the other thing i notice is that while nolan hit on a few real stud draft picks while he was with some of those organizations he also flat out missed on entire drafts to get impact players...how much of that responsibility is actually his??? debatable...

i don't really think that nolan can be given the credit for ed reed and terrell suggs...i think that honor goes to ozzie newsome...

ozzie newsome knows draft talent...

Mr. Magoo
03-12-2010, 12:59 AM
Oh, yeah. Ozzie is one of the great ones. Not only did he get Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs (probably the ultimate modern example of the player we need right now) in successive first rounds, he found Bart Scott as an undrafted free agent.

No wonder their defense has been so good.

Mr_Freezetag
03-12-2010, 01:14 AM
I am not discrediting your hard work on this thread, props to the time you took, but do you know if Nolan hand picked these guys or was it other people?

I do not know the answer myself and I am just curious if anyone knows this.

The way I'm looking at it is that I wouldn't want to be thinking Nolan is some defensive draft expert when it was other people's work.

But I guess there might not be a real answer!

Mr. Magoo
03-12-2010, 01:34 AM
I am not discrediting your hard work on this thread, props to the time you took, but do you know if Nolan hand picked these guys or was it other people?

I do not know the answer myself and I am just curious if anyone knows this.

The way I'm looking at it is that I wouldn't want to be thinking Nolan is some defensive draft expert when it was other people's work.

But I guess there might not be a real answer!

It's not a perfect way to look at it. See caveat #2 at the top of the thread. But it's the job of personnel people to find players for the systems their coaches run. If Mike Nolan went to Jeff Ireland tomorrow and told him the most important, can't-live-without-it position in his defense was nose tackle, you can bet that would affect the way the Dolphins approached their board and the draft itself.

And the end of the day, yes, the general manager picks the players. But they don't pick them just because they like them or even just because they're good players (unless he's Matt Millen). They pick for a system. Under Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens have gone back and forth from a 4-3 to a 3-4, and their drafts have reflected that. It's on that basis from which I draw these conclusions.