Brian Flores: ‘It’s about getting 11 guys on the same page’
Allow me to be clear because it seems I have done a terrible job of helping you understand how I do my job: I am about to tell you who I would pick for the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2019 draft were I the team’s general manager.
But as I am not actually and in fact the Dolphins general manager or executive vice president of winning again what I am about to write is all fanciful, fun stuff. It’s fluff, basically.
It is not hard reporting.
Now, I’ve had some years where my fanciful, fun picks would have been better than Miami’s actual pick.
Perhaps some of you remember the following:
2010: Fake GM Mando wanted DE Brandon Graham in the first round and TE Jimmy Graham in the second or third round (because Bernie Kosar told me he’d be great). The Dolphins picked Jared Odrick and Koa Misi. Advantage, Mando.
2011: Fake GM Mando wanted QB Cam Newton and really liked Colin Kaepernick as a short-term project. Amazing right? I’ve been accused of being a racist because I dared criticize Kaepernick for supporting the policies of a genocidal tyrant, thus making him a hypocrite of the highest order. But what the trolls won’t say is I liked Kaepernick coming out in 2011. The Dolphins in 2011 picked Mike Pouncey. Advantage, Dolphins.
2012: Fake GM Mando wanted to adopt Robert Griffin III as his son. The Dolphins picked Ryan Tannehill. Advantage, no one.
2013: Fake GM Mando wanted cornerback D.J. Hayden. The Dolphins picked defensive end Dion Jordan. Advantage, no one.
2014: Fake GM Mando wanted Joel Bitonio. The Dolphins picked Ja’Wuan James. Advantage, no one.
2015: Fake GM Mando wanted Todd Gurley. The Dolphins picked DeVante Parker. Advantage, no one because Gurley was gone before Miami picked, but I think we know who’s better.
2016: Fake GM Mando wanted LB Myles Jack. The Dolphins picked Laremy Tunsil. Advantage, Dolphins although my guy is no slouch.
So, you see, this is just a fun exercise.
But there is a much more serious side to the coverage in this space when I include news along with sourced tidbits and nuggets. Part of that coverage is often telling you what the Dolphins are thinking or about to do as part of my reporting.
To wit, I reported in 2011 the Dolphins were picking Pouncey before it happened.
I reported in 2012 the Dolphins liked Ryan Tannehill.
I reported in 2013 the Dolphins didn’t like offensive tackle Lane Johnson, so when the team traded up and others were thinking it was for Johnson, readers here knew it wasn’t for him.
In 2014, the Dolphins liking James was no secret to anyone, including me. In 2017, I reported it would be Charles Harris or Derek Barnett in the first round. And I reported it would be Cordrea Tankersley later.
These reports are information gathered from sources. They are different from my opinion pieces.
But I haven’t always clearly made the distinction obvious. I’ve counted on the words to speak for themselves. And that is my problem and perhaps the reason Dolphins owner Stephen Ross recently said, “Armando, you’re all over the place.”
Yeah, I am.
Because sometimes I’m writing my opinion.
And sometimes I’m writing what your team is doing and thinking and, by the way, consistency isn’t one of the franchise’s strong suits.
In writing about #TankforTua, I have been sharing what the Dolphins are thinking. When I wrote they weren’t signing Nick Foles, when I wrote they would gut the roster, I was reporting what was about to happen, not advocating for it.
Follow so far?
So let me be crystal clear with an opinion: I believe the Miami Dolphins should draft Florida State edge rusher Brian Burns with the No. 13 pick in the first round on April 25.
I am not reporting that’s what the Dolphins will do. I’m not predicting that’s what the Dolphins will do, based on what I’m hearing from sources.
I am merely saying what I would do if I were in their position.
So, why Burns?
Well, he reminds me of Jason Taylor, for starters. He is 6-foot-5 and between 242 and 249 pounds. He actually gained 21 pounds after the season to prepare for the coming draft, so he played at 228 pounds for FSU last season.
He runs a 4.53. And he produces.
Last year, while the Seminoles were a smoldering, sinking ship, Burns turned in an excellent season. He had 10 sacks. He had 15.5 tackles for loss among his total of 52 total tackles.
But that’s not all because, frankly, this is a great year for pass rushers in the draft and Burns isn’t the best of the lot. But the best of the lot will probably be picked in the Top 10, or well before Miami selects.
Burns, to me, will be the best available.
And Burns might just be the most versatile available.
One of the things the Dolphins want to do on defense under new coach Brian Flores is be more unpredictable and “multiple.”
The Dolphins want to jump in and out of fronts. They want to ask players to do different things. And that fits Burns.
He can be a 4-3 edge rusher.
He can be a 3-4 outside linebacker.
“My first two years I was standing up a lot,” Burns said at the scouting combine. “This last year I was more with my hand in the dirt because it was more four-down, but we did both in my two years prior to that.”
He also can play in space with his athletic ability.
And Burns has the makings of a leader, which the Dolphins need more of in their locker room.
“My teammates voted me leader and captain of the team,” Burns said. “So I took great responsibility in it. I held them accountable and held myself accountable to the season we put up. When the season was going down in slumps, I called a team meeting, a players-only meeting to really hash out the problems to find out what was going on. That’s one of the main things I did as a leader.”
He’s not perfect. Burns needs to get stronger. He needs coaching. He needs to improve his hand placement and learn to disengage from blockers faster. He’s maybe a year or two from being fully developed.
But Burns meets a great need as the Dolphins lack any accomplished edge rushers. And did I mention he’s from Fort Lauderdale?
There is absolutely no excuse for the Dolphins to miss anything about this player. They should know him inside and out.
And I’d pick him with the No. 13 overall selection.