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News » Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-04-27

Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-04-27

Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-04-27

Vice president of football operations Bill Parcells believes in building franchises from the inside-out, so this year he and general manager
After shoring up the trenches last year with overall No. 1 pick tackle Jake Long and sixth-round guard Donald Thomas, as well as defensive ends Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling and Lionel Dotson, Miami this year fortified the edges and skill positions by adding two cornerbacks with its first three picks, and two receivers with his first two picks on the second day of the draft.

Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis (25th overall) and Utah cornerback Sean Smith (61st) fit the Parcells' mold of being tall and physical, while also taking care of team needs. They had to shore up the 25th-ranked passing defense, especially with the free-agent departure of Andre' Goodman and the lame-duck status of Will Allen. In a division that has become receivers-rich with the addition of Terrell Owens to the Bills to go with the Patriots star-studded corps of Randy Moss, Wes Welker and rookie Brandon Tate, not having cornerbacks is painting yourself into a corner.

Miami sent a loud message to the rest of the league that they haven't seen anything yet in regards to the "Wildcat" formation when they drafted West Virginia quarterback Pat White at No. 44. The Wildcat brought life to a comatose offense by using versatile running back Ronnie Brown as the linchpin, but with White taking the direct snap, the Dolphins add a major threat to the old Wing-T formation because of his throwing ability.

No longer will Chad Pennington have to line up outside. Cornerbacks will be trembling, not knowing when to abandon their assignment. It also underlines the fact that Chad Henne and White are the Dolphins' quarterbacks 1 and 1A of the future with John Beck on the outside looking in.

The addition of Southern Cal wide receiver Patrick Turner and Ohio State receiver Brian Hartline is an attempt to give Henne some weapons down the road. At 6-foot-5, Turner is a Keyshawn Johnson "wannabe" who could be a possession receiver and be effective in the red zone. Hartline almost kept pace with former Buckeye teammate Ted Ginn Jr. during high school track meets (hurdles), but he is more of a long-term NFL project.

As usual, coach Tony Sparano added some beef to the line with Monmouth tight end John Nalbone (fifth round) and hardnosed, durable Georgia Tech tackle Andrew Gardner (sixth round), who could supply depth behind Long and right tackle Vernon Carey. As New Jersey native Parcells often does, he taps his home state for hidden talent. Nalbone, a former teammate of Cowboys receiver Miles Austin -- another Parcells' find -- is built in the similar mold of Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano, another New Jersey native.

In the project department, the Dolphins also selected speed-burner safety Chris Clemons from Clemson in the fifth round and wrapped up the draft by surprising Weber State linebacker J.D. Folsom in the seventh round. The board was so bereft of talent by then, that the Dolphins and Parcells gave their second seventh-round pick to the Chiefs and Tuna's son-in-law GM Scott Pioli for a 2010 seventh rounder.

BEST PICK: Illinois CB Vontae Davis is an absolute necessity in an AFC East Division that includes Tom Brady throwing to Randy Moss, Wes Welker and now Brandon Tate. Same goes for the Bills star-studded tandem of Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. Davis is physical, an absolute specimen, who is excellent in run support. The loss of veteran Andre' Goodman, along with Will Allen in the final year of his contract and not getting any younger, screamed for an upgrade at this position.

COULD SURPRISE: West Virginia quarterback Pat White has suddenly emerged as competition for Chad Henne as the heir apparent to Chad Pennington. White, who of course, was picked to direct the trendy "Wildcat" offense, taking over for RB Ronnie Brown, but GM Jeff Ireland made it clear that he is in the running at quarterback. However, his 6-foot, slight frame suggests otherwise, but still he is the Big East's all-time leading rusher with 4,480 yards (and multipurpose yards) at quarterback, not to mention a leader who has garnered MVP honors in his last three bowl-led victories.

A closer look at the Dolphins' picks:

Round 1/25 -- Vontae Davis, CB, 5-11, 203, Illinois

The loss of Andre' Goodman along with the addition of Terrell Owens in a division that already has Randy Moss, Lee Evans and Wes Welker forced the Dolphins to address the cornerback position, especially with a physical one like Davis.

Round 2/44 -- Pat White, QB/RB/WR, 6-0, 190, West Virginia

Despite comments to the contrary, the Dolphins cemented their commitment to enhancing the Wildcat formation with White taking over, or at least becoming a very strong second fiddle to RB Ronnie Brown's linchpin role.

Round 2/61 -- Sean Smith, CB, 6-3, 214, Utah

This regime loves strong, tall, physical corners and Smith fits the bill in another effort to bolster Miami's 25th-ranked pass defense.

Round 3/87 -- Patrick Turner, WR, 6-5, 223, Southern Cal

The search for a playmaking receiver continues and again this regime craves tall, physical ones like Turner, who can fend off cornerbacks with his body ala Keyshawn Johnson, a longtime favorite of Bill Parcells.

Round 4/108 -- Brian Hartline, WR, 6-2,195, Ohio State

Cornerbacks on the first day and receivers on the second with Hartline bringing lightning speed, large hands, a long wing span, and Ohio State wideout tradition to the table as he challenges former teammate Ted Ginn Jr. for playing time.

Round 5/161 -- John Nalbone, TE, 6-4, 255, Monmouth

Jersey native Bill Parcells loves his hometown guys, especially tight ends who can catch (42 catches for 491 yards and five TDs his senior year) and block. Parcells has gone this route before when he signed college free agent receiver Miles Austin, a teammate of Nalbone his freshman year at Monmouth.

Round 5/165 -- Chris Clemons, S, 6-0, 208, Clemson

Speed burner ran a 4.33 at the Combine but the three-year starter lacks technique and tackling skills. Destined for the practice squad.

Round 6/181 -- Andrew Gardner, OT, 6-6, 304, Georgia Tech

Started 48 consecutive games at left tackle before sustaining a torn left labrum. He could provide depth on both sides of the line.

Round 7/214 -- J.D. Folsom, LB, 6-3, 230, Weber State

One of those hustling, character guys with non-stop motor that Parcells loves. He was ready to go to veterinarian school until the phone rang Sunday.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 27, 2009

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Sean Ryan Name: Sean Ryan
Position: TE
Age: 28
Experience: 5 years
College: Boston College
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