GRADE THE DOLPHINS DRAFT: New poll. Vote now!: plus analysis on all 8 Miami picks; also, your verdict on Fitzpatrick at No. 1, today's Day 3 action, 4-Man Outfield update & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It's SATURDAY, APRIL 28. Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft Minkah Fitzpatrick with poll, my Mock Draft with results, your verdict on Fins' position-preference and Wade's return, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.
GRADE THE DOLPHINS DRAFT! NEW POLL. VOTE NOW: [Note: Poll has moved to our newest blogpost. Chcek it out there]. I know, we all hate instant analysis, right? And yet we all have instant opinions. An instant gut feeling on how much we like (or don't like, or somewhere in between) our team's draft. So this isn't science. We all might feel differently in a year or so. This is just a pulse read now on how Dolfans are feeling about Miami's '18 draft. I'd base my vote on the quality of players drafted and on how they addressed needs. But your criteria is your own. Does the Dolphins' haul leave you happy? Disappointed? What? Poll purposely does not include an 'F' grade because, well, come on. Vote now!
DOLPHINS 2018 DRAFT: A RUNNING ANALYSIS: TOP THREE PICKS AND INTO DAY 3: Below is a pick-by-pick synopsis and analysis of Miami's ongoing 2018 NFL Draft -- three selections made, five more today as the draft wraps up. We'll be updating throughout the afternoon on all the Day 3 picks, after which we'll have a grade-the-draft poll right here.
1st (11th): MINKAH FITZPATRICK, S, ALABAMA -- Draft's 2nd-ranked safety. Grade 6.19 (should become instant starter). NFL.com overview: "Fitzpatrick turns up the intensity level as high as it will go and and rips off the knob until game is over. Has experience as slot cornerback but will likely be targeted as "do-everything" safety who can be deployed as sub-package linebacker, blitzer or in slot against big receivers and tight ends. Has consistently shined since his freshman season. Versatility, football character and desire should make him early starter." Caution: Smallish at 6-0, 204 vs. huge TEs like Gronk. Position need: Moderate. Dolphins had chance to move up or otherwise land their future quarterback but instead picked a player whose position was not among the most urgent needs. That is why my initial mini-column reaction was Solid Contact, No Home Run.
My full column on top pick: Dolphins Needed Boldness But Played It Safe.
Your poll verdict on Fitzpatrick pick: Two-thirds favorable: More than 3,500 voted online and in our blog (you may still vote in previous post), and it was 67.17 percent favorable (36.50% like, 30.67% love) versus 32.83% less than favorable (19.80% so-so, 7.59% dislike, 5.44% hate).
2nd (42nd): MIKE GESICKI, TE, PENN STATE -- Draft's 3rd-ranked tight end. Grade 5.92 (chance to become NFL starter). NFL.com overview: "If you are looking for a tight end who can line up and help in the running game, he's not your guy. However, if you want a pass-catcher who can get open and has the ball skills to win against linebackers and safeties, he might be your guy. Gesicki needs to improve his strength and issues as a blocker but has chance to become one of better pass catching tight ends in league." Position need: High. Plus, at 6-6, 247, he's in the Gronk mold physically.
3rd (73rd): JEROME BAKER, OLB, OHIO STATE -- Draft's 7th-ranked outside linebacker. Grade 5.65 (chance to become NFL starter). NFL.com overview: "Likely 4-3 weakside LB with range and speed to chase and tackle around the field and coverage talent to squeeze routes from man or zone. What Baker has in athletic ability and speed, he lacks in strength and toughness against run. Teams will have to decide if he's sub-package LB or three-down talent. May never be more than an average backup to below average starter." Position need: High. OLB fits a need, and he has desirable speed, but Baker is very small for the role at 6-1, 229.
My mini-column on 2nd and 3rd picks: Next Gronk (They Hope) And A Mini-Linebacker.
4th (123rd): DURHAM SMYTHE, TE, NOTRE DAME -- Draft's 12th-ranked tight end. Grade 5.60 (chance to become NFL starter). NFL.com overview: "Smythe is a classic 'Y' tight end who carries himself like an offensive lineman. He has the frame, toughness and ability to help do the dirty work as a run blocker for teams in need of toughness at the position. While he can catch what is thrown to him, he's unlikely to be a targeted pass catcher on the next level. Smythe's particular talent as a run blocker should create an opportunity to become a solid starter." Position need: Was high, until they went TE with second pick. Taking another one seems weird, although Gesecki is a pure offense-minded pass-catcher, while Smythe is a blocker-first. So they're complementary.
4th (131st): KALEN BALLAGE, RB, ARIZONA STATE -- Draft ranking outside top 20 running backs. Grade 5.46 (NFL backup or special teams potential). NFL.com overview: "Ballage looks great on the hoof, but his lack of decisiveness and vision make it hard to envision him as a full-time RB1. Ballage can do a little of this and a little of that, but a team will need to have a clear-cut plan for how to use him. Ballage's size and athletic ability will appeal to teams as will his ability to play on third downs and return kicks." Position need: Fairly high. Glad they got a RB, with Frank Gore so old, but will Ballage, though fast, be a guy who's going to challenge Kenyan Drake or Gore for touches?
6th (209th): CORNELL ARMSTRONG, CB, SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI -- Draft ranking outside top 20 cornerbacks. Did not qualify for grade or overview with NFL.com. Fins take a chance on their first small-school pick. The top-ranked CB still available, Holton Hill of Texas, was there. Position need: Medium. Late pick on a corner not a bad idea, but Armsrtong is a real long shot.
7th (227th): QUENTIN POLING, ILB, OHIO -- Draft ranking outside top 15 inside linebackers. Grade 5.15 (better than average chance to make NFL roster). NFL.com overview: "Poling's production, athletic testing and ability to potentially handle some coverage duties could make him a late Day 3 selection. He unleashes his true speed when he's chasing down tackles from behind, but needs to play to that same speed when he's attacking near the line of scrimmage. Poling has some holes in his game, but he has the ability to become a special teams player with backup linebacker potential." Position need: Medum. Raekwon McMillan the solid MLB starter.
7th (229th): JASON SANDERS, PK, NEW MEXICO -- Draft outside top placekickers. Did not qualify for grade or overview on NFL.com. Position need: High. Dolphins do need a kicker, although free agency rather than late-draft would be the typical course.
'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and constantly updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Saturday play:
Player, Team OPS G AB R H BI D-T-HR AVG.
1. Christian Yelich, Brewers .829 15 57 11 16 9 2-1-2 .281
2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees .767 25 101 18 24 15 4-1-5 .238
3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals .623 23 101 8 26 16 3-0-2 .257
4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins .482 24 86 6 13 7 1-0-3 .151
OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNS: The Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose / NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.
Our six-pack of recent Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them, Whiteside Must Rise Up Now, In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust and The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.