Monday, July 28, 2014

Dolphins Draft Results: Another Roll Of The Dice, Another Brick In The Wall

1st round: OT Ju’Wuan James
2nd round: WR Jarvis Landry
3rd round: OT/OG Billy Turner
4th round: CB Walt Aikens
5th round: TE Arthur Lynch
5th round: OLB Jordan Tripp
6th round: WR Matt Hazel
7th round: DE Terrence Fede

Usually, three months or so is long enough (like last year) for me to get over all the inevitable and redundant mistakes the Miami Dolphins have made during Draft Day, so as training camp gets hopping in earnest, it’s high time to take a look at the rookie class.

Under new general manager fill in unknown dead man walking here Dennis Hickey, the ‘Fins spent its first three picks on offense. That’s the good news; the bad news is that Miami wasted little time earning guffaws around the league by choosing fast-riser (only for the ‘Fins?) Ju’Wuan James, a tackle out of Tennessee. Considering Miami left a lot of talent on the board and whiffed mightily on a high-round Tennessee offensive lineman just a season ago, the criticism was earned.

The Dolphins were involved in three trades on Friday, but there are legitimate questions (still) on whether Miami got enough. Unfortunately, the Billy Turner pick seemed to ruin all the efforts that went into drafting LSU receiver Jarvis Landry, which seemed to be shifting Miami’s draft in a positive direction when it happened.

The rest of the haul was littered with a whopping five players from non-BCS schools, pegging this is as a bit of a high-risk draft for a first-year GM. In three years or so, we’ll have an indication of what these draft results are returning, but the early impression is that Miami had a middling draft that is largely dependent on how quickly James can land—and solidify—the right tackle position on a woeful offensive front.
Now to the specifics and player profiles

First Round (19th overall): Ju’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
 If you’re a Dolphins fan, this was the sort of trainwreck-in-slow-motion move you were expecting. Sure, he’s a right tackle by trade, is experienced with 40+ starts in the ACC and has the stature at 6-6, 311 pounds … but most had him pegged as a mid-second-round talent. Not only that, but Miami turned down trade requests to move down and acquire an extra third-rounder. So essentially, the ‘Fins elected to not only reach for a guy, but basically use first- and third-round picks on a second-rounder, which is quintessential Miami math and reason #6,408 how bad teams stay bad.
Other guys that were still on the board and intriguing were Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Michigan State corner Darqueze Dennard, Oregon State wideout Brandin Cooks and USC receiver Marquise Lee. Again, I understand the need for James and I don’t hate the pick, but I take issue with the inability or unwillingness to parlay the 19th overall spot into a higher value. Also, I question where his eyebrows are.

Second Round (63rd overall): Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
I almost never say this in conjunction with a Miami Dolphins draft selection, but I absolutely loved this pick. Using a pick from Denver through San Francisco, Landry was the result of a couple of shrew trade-downs that allowed Miami to pick up extra fourth- and fifth-rounders while still adding a playmaker. At 5-11, 205, Landry has great hands, strong slot skills and brings an element of toughness and swagger to a position and an offense that has lacked that for too long. With three wideouts coming off ACLs, he’ll have a great chance to impact right away, and in my estimation, represents the best draft pick in recent memory for this franchise.

Third Round (67th overall): Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
OK, so remember all the praise I bestowed on the ‘Fins braintrust, like, 30 seconds ago? This pick, to me, took a dump on all those shrewd moves. Turner was arguably the second major reach in three picks, and not only was he graded a fifth-rounder by many, but he cost Miami a third- and a fourth-rounder as part of a tradeup with Oakland. That’s an awful lot for a small-school project guy headed for a position change right off the bat.
So that’s the bad news. The good news is Turner is 6-5, 315, has a nasty disposition and likely will have a chip on his shoulder with all the non-BCS talk. He projects to left guard, which is a vacant spot for the Dolphins, so he will certainly have a shot at starting. The biggest issue here, to me, is that this seemed a bit panicky and undid a lot of the strong work done throughout the second round to address value and ammunition.

Fourth Round (125th overall): Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
So Aikens was kicked out of Illinois for stealing a laptop, but that’s where the Cam Newton similarities end. He has good size (6-1, 205) and speed, and the hope is that the character concerns have been addressed through a humbling process that lands you somewhere like Liberty. This would appear to be a good spot to take a chance on a risk like Aikens, but it also points up the pervasive sentiment that Miami whiffed badly on second- and third-round corners a year ago in Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.

Fifth Round (155th overall): Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia
At 6-5, 258 pounds, Lynch is a massive dude and an SEC-tested talent—an anomaly in the midst of a run on small-school diamonds in the rough. However, he’s not a seam threat, which is what Miami ostensibly needs. However, the ‘Fins have been investing heavily in drafting tight ends in recent years, and this is a good draft slot to draft a guy for a position that has increased in importance—and a position at which the Dolphins are by no means set. I’m not sure I see the fit, but hell, if he’s a good in-line blocker who can help the running game while also helping out struggling tackles in pass pro, it’s certainly a worthwhile pick.

Fifth Round (171st overall): Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana
My initial thought was that size (6-3, 234) could be a concern for Tripp, but this selection has been roundly lauded and pointed out as a good sleeper by most draft analysts. At the very least, he could be a special-teams ace, and the promising aspect is that this is a guy who was rising up many draft boards through the process. Chosen with a pick from the Broncos through the 49ers, Tripp is an addition to a position group that struggled mightily a season ago, and he could be a guy to watch throughout the preseason.

Sixth Round (190th overall): Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
The analysts seemed to really like this pick, with the thought process being that the 6-1, 198-pound Hazel could fit on the outside or in the slot. However, the Dolphins are stacked with similarly regarded wideouts, and one gets the impression that a receiver with more of a definitive strength and with kick-return potential would have had a better shot to impact the roster. As it stands now, it would be an upset if Hazel made the practice squad.

Seventh Round (234th overall): Terrence Fede, DE, Marist
Fede is the first player ever taken from Marist. He is 6-4, 276 pounds. I can't tell you much more than that, other than that he is joining perhaps the strength of the 'Fins roster. At the very least, as a representative of the smallest of small schools, he'll be an easy dude to root for.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXIX: A Memorable Open Championship, Plus A Big Day For An Impish Wee One

The runaway story
Was an on-fire Rory
Sergio made a run
By a bunker undone
McIlroy coated in glory

The prose does more hum than sing
The story more clank than ring
Ambivalence the word of the day
For “Mr. Mercedes,” I’d say
Expect more than “enh” from Stephen King

Blood, tears, bruises and sweat
For training camp, we’re all set
Players gained and lost
But hey, fingers crossed
No freaking losses yet!

“Downton Abbey” created all kindsa buzz
So I wanted to see why ‘cause
Buncha wankers sitting around talking?
If I wanted to watch that kinda squawking
Woulda stayed working where I was

A huge fan of Artoo
And anything choo-choo
Even Elmo now and again
For my irrepressible Finn
Hard to believe that you’re two

Friday, July 18, 2014

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXVIII: Six Weeks, 62 Episodes: My “Breaking Bad” Tour de Force

What can you say about Walt?
Cancer freed him from his vault
He paid the ultimate cost
Died like Jack from “Lost”
But at the end, he finally took fault

He found freedom blessedly
His story from sad to messy
No redemption in sight
But he learned love and fight
Now find hope on the horizon, Jesse

An enforcer with a heart of gold
Down the river he finally got sold
Mike Ehrmentraut was calm
‘Til Walt went off like a bomb
Hope his granddaughter gets rich and old

Jesse called him dead-eyed
He shot a kid and then lied
Crushed hard on Lydia
‘Til Walt had to get rid o’ ya
When Opie Todd got his, nobody cried

With visceral pain it was replete
Gut-wrenching from your head to your feet
Comic relief was hard to find
Only two really come to mind
That’s Badger and Skinny Pete

Wasn’t a big Skyler fan
At last, she did as well as she can
Protecting innocent Holly
And Walt Jr. from more folly
A family shattered by a marginalized man

Friday, July 11, 2014

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXVII: Reliving The Final Daze Of “Breaking Bad,” Plus LeBron Could’ve Hat-Tricked Brazil

Coming down the home stretch
Walt’s now such a wretch
Four epis left
For a series with heft
Jesse’s rabid dog does more than fetch

A Pack name called at the NBA Draft
T.J. Warren was like a life raft
Lifted State to an improbable season
Scored like he had no conscience or reason
He looked at the rest of the ACC and just laughed

They hated LeBron down to his socks
“The Decision” every one of them mocks
Now it’s the return of their guy
And for at least one day in July
Maybe Cleveland actually rocks

A King masterpiece eroded
“Under the Dome” has exploded
With “WTF” sounds
Bad acting abounds
The story still engaging and coded
Germany put up a TD on Brazil
Seems like they’re scoring still
All ‘round was heard “Dios mio”
Then riots began in Rio
Admittedly, the World Cup’s been a thrill

Friday, July 04, 2014

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXVI: The Carolina Coverup Is Under Siege, Plus Happy Farkin’ Birthday, ‘Murrica!

Generations of cheating galore
To almighty wins they’re a whore
UNC’s cover-up was a joke
Roy just reached for another Coke
Here comes the NCAA for a little more

Belgium, everybody feared
‘Til Tim Howard stood on his beard
Stymied the waffle-maker mates
But got no help from the rest of the States
Still not world-class, it appeared

I am the danger, said Walt
Ego will be his fatal fault
With Jesse, he’s now switched roles
His plans now full of holes
“Breaking Bad” is intensity with no halt

Collecting lawsuits and losses
Snyder’s the worst of bosses
The Redskins are farked
So I’ve trademarked
The Washington Criss-Cross Apple Sauces

Agreement is rare-ica
But Hobby Lobby is scare-ica
On the Fourth of July
Why do we even try?
Because ‘Murrica