Barry Jackson

Exploring the Dolphins' late-round additions and the mess at backup quarterback

Linebacker Quentin Poling, No. 32, and Nathan Carpenter, No. 35, of the Ohio Bobcats make a tackle against Eli Rogers, No. 6, of the Louisville Cardinals during a 2013 game. The Dolphins drafted Poling in the seventh round last Saturday.
Linebacker Quentin Poling, No. 32, and Nathan Carpenter, No. 35, of the Ohio Bobcats make a tackle against Eli Rogers, No. 6, of the Louisville Cardinals during a 2013 game. The Dolphins drafted Poling in the seventh round last Saturday. Getty Images

A six-pack of Dolphins notes:

Sixth- and seventh-round picks naturally face longer odds in making an NFL roster and sticking around longterm, unless you’re a punter or kicker.

But the college productivity of two defensive players selected by Miami late in the draft shouldn’t be overlooked.

Keep an eye on Southern Mississippi cornerback Cornell Armstrong, the sixth-round pick. According to PFF, he allowed just 17 of 46 passes thrown against him to be caught in 2017, with a 52.5 passer rating in his coverage area. He can play slot or boundary.

“He was very spotty,” draft analyst Tony Pauline said by phone this week. “He was OK. He does a lot of faceguarding. He can't make a play with his back to the ball. You have to play him in zone.”

But his outstanding metrics in coverage last season suggest he can play. He essentially will be competing with Utah State undrafted free agent Jalen Davis, second-year Torry McTyer, Jordan Lucas and anyone else added over the next few months for the No. 5 cornerback job. Walt Aikens, who's likely to make the team because of his special teams value, can play cornerback or safety.

Miami Dolphins VP Mike Tannenbaum and GM Chris Grier, say they are happy with QB Ryan Tannehill as they talk to the media about the upcoming 2018 Draft Day.

The Dolphins granted Yahoo's Pete Thamel access to their scouting department for a 10-part series, and here was the Dolphins' final summary scouting report on Armstrong, as reported by Thamel: "A perimeter corner that has good short area quickness. Better at press coverage than off coverage. Needs to be more consistent with his awareness in zone from off coverage. Good ball skills when he is in position but needs to be more consistent as a tackler. Needs to develop a role for himself on special teams. Is smart and tough."

The 6-foot Armstrong looks up (figuratively, not literally) to former Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes.

Then there's linebacker Quentin Poling, one of Miami’s two seventh-rounders. He has three things going for him: 1) He plays a position where Miami still needs help; 2) He was a playmaker at Ohio, with 43.5 tackles for loss, 18 career sacks and seven interceptions. 3) He produced elite athletic testing numbers on par with the top linebackers at the NFL Combine.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said Poling “has some holes in his game, but he has the ability to become a special teams player with backup linebacker potential. 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. Ran a 4.58 with a 38-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot-7 broad jump. Has big hands and above average upper body strength. Plays with good knee bend.

With the 11th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from Alabama. Adam Beasley grades the Dolphins on the pick.

“Tackle machine in high school and has carried that over for four years at Ohio. Coaches love his football intelligence and he makes the defensive calls. Former high school safety with feel for where quarterback wants to go with the football. Gets early jumps into space in zone coverage and has ability to handle man coverage.”

Pauline likes him: “I am surprised he got drafted where he did. Very smart, workmanlike, very productive linebacker. Much better pro day than expected. Good linebacker. Doesn’t have great size, but a good player.”

Here was the Dolphins' summary scouting report on Poling, via Yahoo's Thamel: "Athletic linebacker that has outstanding instincts but just average size to take on and shed blocks. Inconsistent at times coming to balance and tackling in space. But will be an outstanding special teams player. Is smart and tough and loves football."

Poling, incidentally, has better college workout numbers than last year's Dolphins second-round pick, Raekwon McMillan, or this year's third-rounder Jerome Baker, in a couple of areas, including the best 40-yard dash time of the three linebackers.

New Mexico kicker Jason Sanders was the Dolphins' other seventh-round pick.

For perspective, here are the Dolphins’ sixth- and seventh-round picks this decade: linebackers Chris McCoy and Austin Spitler, tight end Charles Clay, defensive tackle Frank Kearse, cornerback Jimmy Wilson, receiver B.J. Cunningham, defensive tackle Kheeston Randall, receiver Rishard Matthews, safety Don Jones, receiver Matt Hazel, defensive end Terence Fede, safety Jordan Lucas, quarterback Brandon Doughty and tight end Thomas Duarte, defensive tackle Vincent Taylor and receiver Isaiah Ford.

So the Dolphins unearthed several good players in those rounds: Clay, Matthews, Wilson, Fede and Taylor. That’s not a bad percentage for the sixth and seventh rounds.

The Dolphins, in their backup quarterback battle, now have the quarterbacks with the NFL's worst passer rating last season (Bryce Petty, 55.1) and eighth worst (Brock Osweiler, 72.5), plus David Fales (79.1 rating in three career games).

Of the three, Osweiler is due the most guaranteed money this upcoming season ($720,000), compared with nothing for Petty and $140,000 for Fales.

Osweiler or Fales would make $880,000 if they make the team. Petty would make $705,000.

So Miami will be spending less on a backup quarterback than it has in past years.

Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier talks about their selection of Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick with the draft's 11th pick, adding a dynamic defensive back who can play all five positions.

Contrary to a report, the Dolphins did not pursue Memphis undrafted rookie quarterback Riley Ferguson , who joined Tampa Bay.

They did show a bit of interest in Texas Tech's Nic Shimonek, who signed with San Diego after the draft. But they essentially weren't greatly enamored with any of the undrafted QBs.

The Dolphins needed to do one of two things at quarterback this offseason: If they didn't add a quality backup in free agency, then they needed to find one in the draft. If they didn't have confidence they would find one in the draft, then they needed to do it in free agency. They failed at both, leaving them in even worse shape to handle another devastating Ryan Tannehill injury than they were last season.

Like the rest of the league, the Dolphins regrettably bypassed Colin Kaepernick, who has an 88.9 career passer rating with 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.

Osweiler? He has 31 touchdowns, 27 interceptions and a 76.5 career rating.

Petty? He has four touchdowns, 10 interceptions a 57.7 rating.

The upshot is that the Dolphins - if Tannehill sustains another season-ending injury - likely have positioned themselves to land a top quarterback in the 2019 draft.

Before the 2015 draft, NFL.com's Lance Zierlein said this about Petty: "NFL evaluators felt like Petty's senior season [at Baylor] was disappointing, but those same evaluators love his size, leadership and intangibles. He needs a year or two of practice time and camp work to learn how to get through his progressions, but has the intelligence to do that. Petty flashed plenty of arm strength at the NFL Scouting Combine and as the draft draws closer, teams might very well begin to conceptualize Petty fitting into their offense as a potential starter of the future."

Mike Mayock said before that 2015 draft: "He might [Petty] the most natural thrower in the draft. I really think he's got starter physical traits." But he added: "I don't think he's (NFL-)ready."

Mel Kiper said: "Bryce Petty has ability but will need time to develop because there are so many NFL concepts that are foreign to him."

And Todd McShay said: "Bryce Petty is a very talented passer with everything you want from a quarterback prospect in terms of his work ethic and intangibles, but his challenge is going to be adjusting to an NFL playbook after his time in Baylor's up-tempo spread offense."

▪ The Dolphins were so eager to sign Michigan undrafted rookie linebacker Mike McCray that they gave him a $10,000 signing bonus and $12,000 guaranteed, according to a confidential posting of the contract on the NFLPA web site.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins gave a $6000 bonus to UCF’s Jamiyus Pittman.

Because of limited cap space, the Dolphins indicated to one associate of a draft pick that they probably won't sign their full draft class until June, when $17 million of Ndamukong Suh's dead money comes off their books.

  Comments