Some really good insight on a lot of the Dolphins prospects.
Need for a strong front 7:For anyone to project him as the best player in this draft I think would be surprising —I certainly have not heard a single evaluator ever reference him as that. He is a well-trained, highly productive football player. However, as you singled out with his 40-times that we reported, which were averaged from the hand-held results at the Combine — not the best electronic time, which was initially released by the NFL to encourage players to perform at the workout — the reality is that I do NOT think Long is an elite athlete. And if you watch the tape of some of the better competition he has faced, such as Boston College and Pittsburgh and even Texas Tech, I think you’ll see that he struggled to make his presence felt as a pass rusher. As you mentioned, his best fit in a 4-3 front would be as a strong-side, base end — which still holds a lot of value, but arguably not as much as a premium pass rusher who consistently pressures the quarterback.
Bottom line: Chris Long does not show the burst to get to the quarterback off the edge on third downs, he is light and narrow-framed to play inside and he has little experience from a rush LB role. As a result, any 3-4 team that drafts him in the top 10 to be a 3-4 outside ’backer would be making a projection, which is usually a very scary proposition to make at any position in the draft’s top 10, given the investment that the selections require.
Jake Long:Many think that, because of today's rules, it puts a premium on cover corners. My thinking is just the opposite. Since the current rules (which I feel are a joke) on downfield contact don't even allow for the position to be played effectively, why invest heavily on coverage skills? My philosophy is that, I would never even take a corner higher than the third, and would rather invest my quality picks on "D" on the surrounding positions (front seven/safeties), and would pick my corners more for their open-field/run-supporting tackling skills vs. coverage skills. That being said, and factoring current roster/team needs/strength of draft, I don't see the Dolphins taking a cornerback in the first 100 picks. Your thoughts?
— William Gillespie
Clearly football games are won in the trenches. I’m a staunch proponent of smashmouth, power football and a big believer that the most physical football team usually dominates. Most teams that control the line of scrimmage generally win a lot of football games. Defensively, if you look at how the NFL’s final four teams — the Patriots, Giants, Chargers and Packers — were built, I think you’ll see the importance of drafting pass rushers. Roster depth would dictate whether I would consider drafting a cornerback earlier than the third round, but if given the choice between a good pass rusher and a great cornerback, I would tend to go with the pass rusher who can make the cornerback great. To me, the Dolphins have to get better up front on both sides of the ball first and foremost.
Antoine CasonPlease tell me that Jake Long isn't another Robert Gallery. Maybe I'm getting hysterical here, but didn't Gallery have the same glowing reports as Jake Long does now. Gallery couldn't handle speed rushers at all. Please tell me I'm wrong.
— Chris Craig, San Diego
Outside of both having played in the Big Ten, I don’t think the two players could be described in the same sentence. There were evaluators in the NFL when Gallery entered the draft — some even on the Oakland Raiders’ staff, who were obviously tuned out by Al Davis — who felt that Gallery’s short arms would never allow him to be more than a guard in the NFL. His lack of base strength and power have also been regularly exposed in the pros. Jake Long has long arms, is bigger, stronger and much more powerful in the lower body.
I could see where some concerns could creep in. Florida DE Derrick Harvey showed that Long could be caught off-guard. But Long looked much more comfortable in the second half and helped shut down Harvey later in the game, never giving up a sack. Vernon Gholston also gave Long trouble throughout his career, but keep in mind that Gholston is as physically gifted as most any pass rusher in the NFL and represents the highest level of competition Long will see in the pros.
The reality is that Long was not utilized in a blocking scheme that best displayed his talents during his final two years of college. When asked to come off the ball flat-backed and move a defender one-on-one, he is extremely powerful as a run blocker. So, to answer your question, evaluators see Long much more closely resembling Tony Boselli or Jumbo Elliott than Gallery, whose arm length and base strength limitations have proven to make him best-suited inside.
Antoine Cason is interesting. His overall production, ball skills and instincts catch attention, and he has continually proven wrong those who overlooked his ability coming out of high school. In a predominantly zone scheme, I think he could be very effective, but zone corners typically are not valued highly in the draft. Pro Bowlers such as Ronde Barber and Nathan Vasher were not drafted until the middle rounds. Cason worked out better than both and could be drafted earlier than either. He is a far better football player than Molden, who looks like Tarzan and plays like Jane, but his overall physical ability is a notch below Lee’s or Godfrey’s.