NFL Draft Preview: Miami Needs To Go Long (Jake)
The 2008 NFL Draft is one week away (awesome) and this will be my first year with the NFL Network so I can watch the full show rather then following slowly on the Internet.
This year the Draft is considered to be fairly flat in terms of talent and lacking a breakaway Superstar. So in this case, who do the Miami Dolphins with the #1 overall selection look to take?
It needs to be Jake Long, without a doubt, absolutely NEEDS to be Jake Long.
There are other options... Vernon Gholston (Ohio State), Chris Long (Virginia), and Glen Dorsey (LSU) are all defensive line guys who will be difference makers in the NFL and it is widely acknowledged that when Bill Parcells takes over a team he likes to begin the rebuilding on the defensive side of the ball. However, in this case there is something that stands to be very special about Jake Long.
The primary knock on Long is that he's not really projected at excelling as a left tackle and would be better suited on the right side. Obviously left tackle is a bedrock position along an offensive line because it is the left tackle that protects a right handed quarterback's blindside from an outside pass rush. Right tackle... not as important as the quarterback can usually see oncoming pash rushes from that side given his throwing stance.
To draft Jake Long and put him out of position at left tackle would be all right, he would be pretty good but Long has the tools to be one of the top 5 right tackles in the game, right away. If I were the Dolphins management I would be looking down the road and saying... what if we could get Jake Long and play him at right tackle with a left handed quarterback? It would be just as good as having a franchise left tackle.
The problem is, left handed QBs are few and far between...
The current Miami Dolphins QBs are Josh McCown, John Beck, and Casey Bramlet (who?)
McCown is a passable backup QB, Beck (right) was drafted in the second round of the 2007 Draft but failed to show much promise when called upon last year, and seriously, who the heck is Casey Bramlet? There is some thought that the Dolphins are going to draft a QB in the second round of the 2008 Draft in one of the usual suspects -- Chad Henne, Joe Flacco, or Brian Brohm.
However, why do that when the Dolphins could make due with Josh McCown or another veteran QB in 2008 and then in 2009 look for a franchise left handed QB that will be available. When I said the Dolphins should look down the road and play Jake Long at Right Tackle, the purpose would be then to draft franchise left-handed QB in waiting, playing down the road from Miami in Gainsville... Tim Tebow.
Tebow is left handed, he'll be a junior next season is the runaway favourite to win his second Heisman Trophy, and after two Heismans it will be a certainty that Tebow will declare for the NFL Draft. Despite the back-and-forth as to whether Tebow is a "pro style" QB or not is for another time, but the fact remains that he is light years ahead of the NCAA competition and possesses a cannon for an arm. His skill set is almost too tantalizing to pass on, and if you are the Miami Dolphins, a franchise with a disgruntled fanbase, and a fanbase that misses the days of having a glory QB since the retirement of Dan Marino. Dolphins fans clamoured for the team to pick Brady Quinn in the 07 Draft, but he passed on in favour of Ted Ginn There is no way the Dolphins, if in position to do so, could not draft Tim Tebow in fear of an all out fan revolt.
This "fantasy" notion of drafting Jake Long now to be the franchise right tackle to the left handed QB Tim Tebow has a lot of elements left to play out. The scenario is surely a stretch, however it is not a stretch to believe that the Dolphins are a team with a lot of holes and they are just starting to put together their rebuilding process under Bill Parcells. Taking Long and then then using the rest of the draft to start to put defensive building blocks in place and then surviving the 2008 season will lead to a high draft pick. The scenario could quite likely play out.
And heck, even if that strategy fails then the Dolphins could potentially make a play for Mike Vick in 2009 when he gets out of the slammer. He's another left handed QB... You never know... The point is, there is no real downside in taking Jake Long #1 as he's going to be a big-time player and he's a significant building block for the future of the Dolphins.
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