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Andy Cohen: Analyzing How The Dolphins Did

Posted Apr 28, 2013

The Dolphins wanted more playmakers and they got some on both sides of the ball.



Time to exhale and reflect. The three-day draft ended Saturday and, at least on paper, the Miami Dolphins came away with an impressive group, filling all sorts of important needs with a nice mixture of potential and productivity.

But what stood out most to me as I comb through bios, statistics and projections is one very significant word:

Speed.

On the first day they select the fastest defensive end in the draft. I mean Dion Jordan has a gear unlike any I have seen from a player this big. I pity the poor offensive tackle trying to keep up with him.

On the second day they select a cornerback (Jamar Taylor) out of Boise State who has been timed in a 4.33 40-yard dash. Any faster than that and he’s building altitude. The other cornerback taken (Will Davis) can be seen in a video taking an interception 100 yards for a score. Can’t be slow-a-foot to do that.

Then there’s outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins from Florida (fourth round) who is as fast as any player at that position. And let’s not forget tight end Dion Sims of Michigan State, who moves awfully well for a 6-5, 265-pound man. Why, even their seventh round pick (defensive back Don Jones) was a high school track star.

But don’t stop there. Check out free agency where the Dolphins might have signed the fastest player in football in wide receiver Mike Wallace and a linebacker in Dannell Ellerbe who can move with ease from sideline to sideline.

Get the idea? The Dolphins went into the offseason looking for playmakers on both sides of the ball, players who can force turnovers on defense and who can make game-changing plays on offense. Based on everything that has transpired so far, mission accomplished.

Yes, this team is still a work in progress. There are many uncertainties and some questions that still need answering. That’s what the next few months are all about. But if you are judging the body of work put together by General Manager Jeff Ireland and his staff, it is already clear, without a shred of doubt, that the Miami Dolphins will be a vastly improved team in 2013.

And a lot quicker as well.

Ireland and his staff deserve plenty of credit for putting this plan together and sticking with it, for being bold enough to make some tough decisions and smart enough not to be tempted by trades that didn’t make sense. Granted, they will ultimately be judged by the won-loss record and that’s the way it should be. But there is no doubt now that between free agency and the draft, Ireland has put this team in position to succeed.

Having said all of that, none of us should lose sight of the fact that these Dolphins will only go as far as second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill takes them.

As Owner Stephen Ross so aptly put it, “It’s a quarterback league.”

If Tannehill takes the next step this season, then all of these offseason moves become that much more important. Last year was about getting the quarterback; this year is about upgrading the supporting cast. The marriage of the two is what winning is all about.

But that’s for another day. What today is all about is the infusion of youth that took place over the last three days, about a gutsy move to trade up to the third overall pick, about a gameplan that was designed to bring in playmakers and fill important holes. (Isolated opinion: Also love the selection of Gators running back Mike Gillislee in the fifth round).

So yes, go ahead and exhale. The Dolphins have plenty of reasons to feel good right now.

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First-round pick Dion Jordan had his initial press conference at Dolphins camp late Saturday morning and I came away with several thoughts:

• This young man clearly has his act together. He says all the right things, looks you in the eye when he talks and somehow combines a humble demeanor with an undeniable level of confidence.

• He looks like a football player. Tall. Slender. Not even the slightest ripple of excess baggage on his 6-foot-6 frame. Why, he’s so tall he had to bend down to talk into the microphone. “I’m blessed,” he said over and over.

• He is a student of the game, more so than most players coming out of college. For instance, he has already studied the tendencies and moves of some of the great pass rushers in league history. “I’m especially impressed with Lawrence Taylor and what I’ve seen of him on tape,” he said.

• Perhaps the most remarkable thing Jordan spoke about was how he ran down on kickoffs for three seasons at Oregon and invariably was the first one down the field to make the tackle. A defensive end that big running down on kickoffs? Beating running backs and receivers down the field? Hard to imagine.

“I loved doing it,” he said. “I made a lot of tackles.”

And if Joe Philbin asks him to run down on kickoffs?

Jordan smiled. “I would say ‘Yes, Sir.’”

How can you not be impressed with that?
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