Dolphin moves could mean it'll be a Long draft
Posted by: J.D. Robinson on February 12, 2008 12:49 AM
Just some guy's opinion, but one that I tend to agree with:
On Monday, Miami's new regime began what is the first of what is expected to be many waves of turning current Dolphins into former ones. In doing so, the team might have tipped off what it's thinking entering April's NFL draft. It appears that former offensive lineman and new head coach Tony Sparano isn't going to waste time molding a line in his image, and Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long might want to start looking for real estate in South Florida.
Four tackles were shown the door Monday by Miami general manager Jeff Ireland, including three who either played significant roles in 2007 or figured into the team's long-term plans during the recent past.
Obviously, there are many different directions the Dolphins can go with the first overall pick in the upcoming draft. If the Dolphins cannot trade down, then they are likely to select one of three players: LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan or Long. Even with Monday's release of Trent Green and Keith Traylor -- potentially paving the way for Ryan or Dorsey to respectively replace them -- the moves indicate that the 6-foot-7, 315-pound Long is the current favorite.
Sparano has probably reviewed the game tape from the 2007 campaign, and likely has come to the conclusion many in South Florida had around the middle of November: Vernon Carey is better suited to play tackle on the right side than the left. After coming along noticeably during 2005 and 2006, Carey was switched from right to left tackle by Cam Cameron before the 2007 season. Carey regressed somewhat this past season, and often showed difficulty in protecting the quarterback's blindside against speed-rushing defensive ends. Shelton's release leaves the right tackle slot open again, and Carey is the most logical replacement.
Drafting Long would also be a benefit to the advancement of John Beck. During the preseason, playing with and against third-stringers, Beck was able to move the Miami offense. When the regular season began, and first-team defensive lines began feasting on the below-average Miami offensive line, Beck struggled. Any hope that Beck can turn into a workable NFL thrower depends on whether he can gain confidence in his passing abilities, which will only happen if he's standing upright. Want to see the difference between a quarterback with time and one without? Go watch Tom Brady against the Giants in Week 17. Then go watch him again in the Super Bowl facing the same team.