Thoughts on the Dolphins Free Spending

Maybe it’s just the bitter Panthers fan in me that wishes we could sign even reasonably priced free agents, maybe not, but I can’t help but be amused by some of the reactions to the first day of Free Agent frenzy.  Whether it be on my favorite message board carolinahuddle.com, twitter, or Sportscenter, I see people going gaga over what’s going down in South Beach.

In the last week the Fish have given out $95 million to two Wide Receivers, and another $61 million to two Linebackers, neither of which look to be superstars at the position.  All this, and they still haven’t addressed the position that is arguably their biggest need.  Then just a little while ago I saw a tweet from the Dolphins twitter account proclaiming that it’s been an “exciting day”, and promising “there’s more to come”.  This makes me wonder, is all this free spending by Miami today really about building a contender?  Or is it more important to a franchise to sell tickets?

Now by no means am I trying to single the Dolphins out, and in no way am I naive enough to think these four players will get the entire amount of their contracts.  But still, is spending for the sake of spending really the way to build a contender?  Plenty of teams have certainly tried.  Just two years ago, the Eagles were the talk of a shortened off-season.  In 2011 they traded backup Quarterback Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals for a package that included Pro Bowl Cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie.  Feeling pairing DRC with fellow Pro Bowler Asante Samuel wasn’t enough they went out and spent big bucks less than 24 hours later on shutdown Corner Nnamdi Asomugha.  They also added Defensive Tackle Cullen Jenkins, and Jason Babin on long-term deals during the same Free Agency period.  Fast forward less than three years (and one poorly timed “Dream Team” comment) later, and not one of the above mentioned players are on the Eagles Roster.  Not only that, but their Head Coach was sent packing to Kansas City because the team didn’t live up to the lofty expectations.

A similar scenario occurred in Charlotte, where the Carolina Panthers paid big money to keep the core of a 2-14 team before the new Head Coach even got a chance to work with them.  Now the General Manager that handed out those contracts is in the unemployment line, and the Panthers are in Cap Hell forced to pick at the scrap heap.

The problem is for many organizations there is no middle ground.  Too many teams try to build contenders through Free Agency, when Super Bowls are won through the Draft.  Take the Baltimore Ravens for example.  Outside of Anquan Boldin who was acquired through a trade, the core of the team is built around smart drafting.  Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Torrey Smith, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis all were drafted by the Ravens.  What the Ravens did however, was to pick and choose moderately priced Free Agents to fill out their roster.  But the star talent on the team outside of Boldin were all Raven Draft picks.  That’s the way it should be, at least in my opinion.  Build your core through the draft, and fill holes with reasonably priced Free Agents.

The Dolphins (like many before them) have tried to challenge the system that seems to work.  Buying up some of the best Free Agents in this class instead of building from within.  It doesn’t matter if the Dolphins are trying to build a contender or not.  If it works out for them, and they end up as a contender people like me have egg on their face and their organization looks like solid gold.  If not…..well I hope Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin have good references.

Daniel Guy

follow me on twitter @danny_g13

Carolina Panthers 2012 Seven Round Mock Draft

Since it would be too easy to mock Fletcher Cox in the first I’m not going to do that.  I’m buying that the Eagles want to move up and get Cox and we would be the primary competition for him.  I say cut out the middle man and add a valuable pick in the process.  The Panthers trade the #9 and #216 picks to the Eagles for the #15, #46, and #172.  Then, with a lot of value still left at the fifteen hole, the Cats manage to move down again trading the #15 to the Green Bay Packers for the #28, #59, and 123.  The Packers move up and get one of the two first round pass rushing specialists in Nick Perry, or Whitney Mercilus.

Pick #28: DT Devon Still, Penn State

6’5/303/4.94/26

While Cox may have more upside then Still, Devon was the more consistent player last year.  I see the talent difference as marginal, which is why I’m trading down.  If you tell me I can get two good to great prospects in the top 60 of the draft, or four, I’m taking four every single time.  Still is strong at the point of attack, and drives lineman back into the pocket on a regular basis.  He’s a well rounded tackle who provides contributions in run support, as well as the pass rush.  Has a similar skill set and size as Ndamukong Suh, but needs to play a little more nasty.

Pick #40: CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

5’10/193/4.46/33.5

This is another value pick, but also comes at a position of need.  Jenkins absolutely should not be on the board at this point of the draft, but he will because of some character red flags.  This guy is an absolute monster, the best cover corner in the draft.  He has top ten talent, and the Panthers have to grab him if he’s there in the second.  He’s a little on the small size at 5’10, but he has elite speed, and is a physical corner who isn’t afraid to initiate contact.  Would be a stellar pickup here, and likely start opposite Gamble from day one.

Pick #46: LB Lavonte David, Nebraska

6’1/233/4.65/19

I like TD, and I hope he comes back healthy and plays every game, but chances are at some point we’ll need a quality backup to come in.  They get that guy in David, who can contribute not only on special teams, but be a quality starter if called upon.  David is a sure tackler, who flows well sideline to sideline.  I’ve been extremely high on Davis ever since the 2010 season, and think he has the tools to be a monster.  Even if TD can go, they get his long term replacement in the second round.

Pick #59: OT Mitchell Schwartz, California

6’5/318/5.45/23

Schwartz is a solid tackle with above average athleticism.  Will provide injury assurance in case Otah can’t go, and valuable depth along with Bruce Campbell.  Also, if needed he can slide around the line and play guard.

Pick #104: TE Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Lafayette

6’6/238/4.53/34.5

Ron Rivera can’t resist as he sees this athletic monster staring him in the face in the fourth.  Green gives Cam Newton another weapon to feed the ball to, and make our offense even more deadly.  At 6’6 with low 4.5 speed Green becomes an instant match up nightmare for opposing defenses.

Pick #123: WR Tommy Streeter, University of Miami

6’5/219/4.40/33

The Panthers need to find a number one receiver in the next three years.  They also would love for that guy to be a freak like Calvin Johnson Jr.  They wanted Stephen Hill, but had too many more important needs to grab him at the end of the first where he went.  They get a guy they think can be groomed to that level much later in the draft in Streeter.  Streeter is an extremely raw route runner and pass catcher, but has size and speed that cannot be taught.  If he can mature as a wide receiver he has a chance to play at an exceptional level down the road.

Pick #143: MLB James-Michael Johnson, Nevada

6’1/241/4.68/23

Outside of the top three MLB’s in the draft, there’s nobody to write home about.  Still, the Panthers are hurting at the position with little to no depth behind Jon Beason.  While I really like Thomas Williams and feel he could fill in on a limited basis, we still need bodies at the position.  Because of this, you take Johnson here based on the skill set he has.  JMJ has great size at 6’1 and around 240 pounds, and above average speed at the position.  He’s a little stiff in coverage, but is excellent in run support attacking the ball carrier with great burst.

Pick #172: P Drew Butler, University of Georgia

6’1/203/5.04

The Panthers jump the gun a little bit here.  They would like to wait till their compensatory pick to address punter, but feel a run on the position is coming.  They pull the trigger and get the best punter in the draft.  Butler has an incredible leg, averaging 44 yards per punt last season.  He also gets great hang time on his kicks, which was one of the main criticisms of Jason Baker.  Butler will come in and make an instant impact on special teams as a punter, and kickoff specialist.

Pick #180: DE Donte Paige-Moss

6’3/268/4.67/26

Much like when the Panthers selected Greg Hardy, Paige-Moss is a guy who has the tools and would have been selected much higher had he stayed an extra year.  At the start of last season, many 2013 mocks had him rated as the top DE.  He has good size for the position at just under 6’4″, and around 270 pounds.  He also has good athleticism, and is a above average edge rusher.  He lost his starting job this year, but in 2010 was a standout with 49 tackles, including 7.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss.  His character has been called into question after he ripped the Carolina coaching staff following their bowl game, and he is recovering from a knee injury.  However, this late in the draft you have to take chances, and Paige-Moss has the ability to turn into a draft gem if he puts it all together.

Pick #207: QB Darron Thomas, Oregon

6’3/220/4.72/36

The Panthers find the perfect backup to Cam at the very end of the sixth round in Thomas.  Thomas is raw as a passer, but has great athleticism and running ability.  The addition of Thomas allows the Panthers to run the same offense if Cam were to ever go down.

Undrafted Free Agents

OT Mike Ryan, UCONN
RB Jeff Demps, Florida (If track doesn’t work out)
WR Lance Lewis, ECU
DT DeAngelo Tyson, Georgia
CB/KR Greg McCoy, TCU
LB Chris Galippo, USC
S   Lance Mitchell, Oregon State
FB Chad Diehl, Clemson