AFC East: Ernest Wilford
Terms of the Smiley deal aren't yet known, and he must pass a physical before it's official.
Smiley represents another misfire by the Dolphins' front office. Football operations boss Bill Parcells and general manager Jeff Ireland made Smiley their first acquisition when unrestricted free agency opened in 2008, signing him to a five-year, $25 million contract practically at the stroke of midnight.
Smiley was a quality player when healthy but missed significant time with shoulder injuries and a busted up lower leg.
The Dolphins have made their share of mistakes in free agency, but they're not afraid to unload a player quickly when they don't think it's working out.
Under Parcells, the Dolphins previously obtained and unloaded safeties Gibril Wilson and Chris Crocker, receiver Ernest Wilford and quarterback Josh McCown.
If you're a fan of the move, then you should thank former Miami Dolphins general manager Randy Mueller and head coach Cam Cameron.
They're the ones who drafted Ted Ginn Jr. ninth overall in 2007, creating a problem that would take three years to correct.
Brandt, a former Green Bay Packers vice president who writes about the business side of football, cites the Ginn misstep as the reason the Dolphins were compelled to deal two second-round draft picks and then make Marshall one of the highest-paid receivers in NFL history to keep him.
The Marshall trade proves the maxim that, in most cases, big free-agent signings or blockbuster trades are the price paid for high draft picks who don't pan out. Ted Ginn, now being shopped at a bargain price, was the ninth pick in the 2007 draft -- with $14 million guaranteed -- and was projected to be the Dolphins' breakout star at the position. And after trying the free-agent route a couple of years ago with Ernest Wilford and another $7 million, the Dolphins are now taking a different route to fix the mistake of Ginn.
In fairness to Mueller and Cameron, the same front office that swung the Marshall deal also misjudged Wilford, but that was spackling compared to the massive restoration of the receiving corps Marshall provides.
Ginn's days appear to be numbered with the Dolphins. He might be able to bring back a kickoff, but don't expect much return in a trade.
We learned Monday morning they're trying to trade left guard Justin Smiley, the player they signed to a five-year, $25 million contract one minute into 2008 free agency. They've already unloaded notable free agents such as safeties Gibril Wilson and Chris Crocker, receiver Ernest Wilford and quarterback Josh McCown.
But when it comes to running football operations, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross trusts Parcells implicitly.
So completely, in fact, that Ross said Monday he doesn't get involved in even the biggest decisions about his cash.
"I'm putting my money with Bill Parcells and our organization," Ross told a small gathering of reporters during a break in the NFL owners meetings. "Nobody bats 1.000. I just look at the bottom line and end results and where we are and what we're spending. The results are in the won-loss record."
Ross suggested he stood aside two weeks ago, when the Dolphins made Karlos Dansby the NFL's highest-paid inside linebacker with a five-year, $43 million deal.
"Bill tells me beforehand," Ross said. "We have salary caps -- this year we don't, but we still have to live in a financial world today -- and I say 'Hey, what counts is on the field.' That's what he's looking to do: deliver winners.
"I don't try to micromanage him. You can't look at every dollar you spend. One thing I found out: Sports is different than business. From a businessman, when it comes to what you do for paying players, you have to have a little different discipline than you'd otherwise have."
Ross can refrain from meddling because Forbes recently ranked the Manhattan real-estate developer the 277th wealthiest man on the planet with an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion.
» Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)
Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: Biggest needs revisited.
The first "Draft Watch" installment broke down each team's biggest needs before the free-agency period began. Four weeks later, not much has changed for the Bills. Their positional priorities continue to be quarterback, left tackle and a nose tackle for their new 3-4 defense. The Bills have been judicious in their signings, and the players they've brought aboard haven't addressed major areas of concern. They've added right tackle Cornell Green, inside linebacker Andra Davis and defensive end Dwan Edwards.
The Dolphins knew an inside linebacker was essential and threw a ton of money at the best one on the free-agent market. They made Karlos Dansby the highest-paid player at his position. But they haven't found a free safety after cutting last year's starter, Gibril Wilson, and failing to land Pittsburgh Steelers free agent Ryan Clark. Nose tackle remains a question mark. They re-signed veteran Jason Ferguson, but he'll be suspended for the first eight games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. The Dolphins' perennial need is at wide receiver, an area they've declined to address through free agency since misidentifying Ernest Wilford in 2008.
New England Patriots
The Patriots have four draft picks in the top 53 slots. They can address several positions that way. And maybe that's why they haven't been too active in free agency outside of re-signing their own players. Outside linebacker appears to remain a glaring need. Bill Belichick brought back last year's sacks leader, Tully Banta-Cain, but Adalius Thomas' future is in doubt. The Patriots may have tipped their hand about what they consider a need by getting involved in trade talks for Arizona Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin. Last week's news that slot receiver Wes Welker underwent rotator cuff surgery creates that much more concern.
New York Jets
No team's needs have changed as much in the past four weeks as the Jets. General manager Mike Tannenbaum has been busy through trades and free agency. Tannenbaum said the Jets were destined to draft a cornerback with their first-round pick until they traded with the San Diego Chargers for Antonio Cromartie. The Jets haven't brought in any new receivers yet (unless you want to count running back LaDainian Tomlinson for what he adds out of the backfield), but something tells me Tannenbaum will make a trade to improve the receiving corps. As for the draft, the Jets could use safety help after trading Kerry Rhodes and must fortify their general depth on both sides of the ball, particularly on the lines.
Marty Schottenheimer, 21-year NFL head coach:
"That sounds to me that it's expensive. It reminds me of when I was 6 years old and used to walk to the little grocery and candy store. When I say little, I mean you could barely fit five people in there. I used to go in there with my four, five, six, seven pennies. I could barely see above to counter. And I would say 'I want to take one of those, two of those, one of these ...' Mrs. Pascoe would have to stop me and say 'I'm sorry that's all the money you have.' That was my first exposure to what it was like to be a coach in the National Football League. My math has never been very good, but I understood what it meant.
"My theory has always been there's an amount of money you can spend, and you need to spread it out the right way to find the players that will help your football team. Some guys get paid more than they're worth, and some guys get paid less than they're worth. The market for Dansby was established somewhere by somebody.
"There are a number of people that would not be willing to make that kind of commitment, but the Dolphins know their situation better than anybody, and there might be other factors they desired other than play on the field -- leadership ability and the like. I've always thought that when it comes to free agents nobody knows what you're looking for like you do. The benefit you have in free agency is you have a pretty good idea how a guy is going to play at this level. Coming out of college, there are no assurances."
Kim Bokamper, Pro Bowl outside linebacker for the Dolphins and sports anchor of Miami's CBS affiliate:
"I've gotten to a point with free agency where I have to wait and see before I have an opinion because so many times they pick up guys you feel good about and they don't perform. That, to me, has always been the biggest question: Will he play as hard now that he's got the cash in his pocket compared to when he didn't -- relative to the amount of money these guys make. A perfect example is Ernest Wilford. He got some money in his pocket and put it in neutral.
"But with Dansby, you bring in a guy at middle linebacker who's a playmaker that they need. It kind of signals that the owner or the management feels that they're close and they're willing to go out and make a splash and spend a big chunk of change on someone who can put them there they need to be this year, and that's the playoffs.
"I have these visions in my head of running backs and tight ends running crossing routes or running down the middle of the field and watching our linebackers trailing them, two or three steps behind. If Dansby resolves that, then I'm all for it.
"Is there another guy out there considered better? If so, then I'd question the money. I don't think anybody can argue you'd pay more for anybody else out there than you would on this guy."
Keith Sims, three-time Pro Bowl guard for the Dolphins in the 1990s:
"I'm hoping we're not talking about another Dolphins free-agent bust like Eric Green, Ernest Wilford or Gibril Wilson. They haven't hit on their free agents. Otherwise, they'd have that cornerback, have that safety, have that receiver.
"Barring injury, [Dansby] will be a solid player for years. My question is whether he's going to be worth the dollars. I think it was a glaring need for the Dolphins, and he's a guy that's been productive. I think he brings a lot to table, and the one thing the Dolphins did not want to do was allow him to go to another team for a visit. He was able to force their hand and force them to pay top dollars to stop him from getting on that plane.
"Maybe they overpaid a little bit, but he solves a huge hole in the middle of the defense. The Dolphins identified what they wanted, saw he was the best player on the market and did what it took to go out and sign him. They went with the -- quote, unquote -- safest guy as they possibly could find and gave him the money.
"It's perfect timing for the player. He had all the leverage in the world. The team was desperate to fill the position, and they could've drafted [Rolando] McClain out of Alabama, but I always feel more comfortable paying top dollar to a veteran who has produced rather than a guy who's unproven, coming out of college."
In his first day of practice after missing 27 days of training camp, Aaron Maybin worked with the second team at defensive end. On his first play in 11-on-11 drills, he sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Defensive end Aaron Schobel and wide receiver Terrell Owens missed Monday's practice due to injuries.
The Dolphins made a number of personnel moves Monday, including cutting wide receiver Ernest Wilford.
The team also traded offensive linemen Andy Alleman and Ikechuku Ndukwe to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for an undisclosed 2010 draft choice.
New England Patriots
Ron Borges of the Boston Herald explains why the Patriots, after indicating the uncertain status of the CBA made offering long-term deals difficult, finalized a contract extension for right tackle Nick Kaczur.
The Boston Globe asks who the Patriots should have returning punts during the regular season -- a rookie or a veteran?
Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal looks back on some of the high-profile players the team has cut over the years and concludes that when the team cuts ties with someone, it is usually the right move.
New York Jets
The Fifth Down Blog looks at whether coach Rex Ryan should name Mark Sanchez the starter at quarterback. Steve Serby of the New York Post also examines the Jets' quarterback battle.
Running back Leon Washington showed off his versatility in the Jets' 24-23 loss to the Ravens, according to M.A. Mehta of The Star-Ledger.
New England Patriots
- Boston Globe reporter Christopher L. Gasper writes Laurence Maroney's mission this year is to run hard and stay healthy.
- Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald marks the time since Randy Moss last spoke to the media, which just so happened to be the AFC East blog in May.
- Shalise Manza Young takes a look at whether safety Tank Williams can rebound from another knee injury to be a contributor.
- Worcester Telegram & Gazette reporter Jennifer Toland gives an update on Wes Welker's status.
- Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan calls out defensive end Aaron Maybin for being one of only three unsigned first-round draft picks.
- Niagara Gazette sports editor Tim Schmitt writes Buffalo's special teams, its hallmark the past few years, have been ordinary.
- Bryan Sullivan of the Canandaigua Daily Messenger takes a look at the Bills linebacking corps, which returns intact from last year.
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist examines how difficult will be for upstarts to displace veterans on the 53-man roster.
- Palm Beach Post reporter Carlos Frias talks with defensive lineman Paul Soliai about maturing as an NFL player.
- Miami Herald reporter Jeff Darlington notes the precarious roster situation for receiver-turned-tight end Ernest Wilford.
New York Jets
- Bergen Record writer J.P. Pelzman digests the debut of Rex Ryan's defense in the preseason opener.
- Safety Kerry Rhodes won't be making the defensive calls anymore, but he intends to make the plays, writes Newark Star-Ledger reporter Dave Hutchinson.
- After getting a load of training camp at SUNY Cortland, Pelzman insists the Jets need to return home to New Jersey and stay there.
- Dennis Waszak Jr. of the Associated Press gives us a glimpse at the yin-and-yang relationship between inside linebackers Bart Scott and David Harris.
Each AFC East team still has three preseason games left to play.
Too soon to start filling out 53-man rosters? You bet.
But it's fun to check out some projections now that everybody has played at least one exhibition.
Boston Globe reporter Mike Reiss breaks down the New England Patriots. Notable: running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis makes the squad, while tight end Alex Smith is on the bubble. Tedy Bruschi is the last linebacker in.
I had trouble finding a recent Jets projection, but here is one from just before New York Jets training camp opened from TurnontheJets.com. If anyone has an updated analysis, please post a link in the comments section below.
Sloppy conditions made it tough to evaluate. Heavy rains turned the field into soup and made traction even more difficult on the Florida Marlins' infield. The teams also combined for 18 penalties that went for 170 yards, turning the game into a puntfest.
|Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE|
|Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne was inconsistent Monday night.|
If any player needed to make a big play it was Wilford. The Dolphins signed Wilford on the first day of free agency last year and he accomplished a skosh more than nothing. He caught three passes and was inactive for nine games. To recoup some of the $6 million in guarantees they forked over, the Dolphins moved Wilford to tight end. He caught one pass Monday and made it count.
Rookie quarterback Pat White looked antsy, but wasn't bad. White, who played in the fourth-quarter muck, seemed more comfortable scrambling than throwing. White ran six times for 20 yards. He completed 2 of 7 passes for 14 yards and an interception that wasn't his fault. Running back Anthony Kimble bobbled a catchable pass that was plucked out of the air by Jaguars cornerback Pete Ittersagen.
Jason Taylor looked like the one who last played for Miami, not the lost soul who didn't fit last year in with the Washington Redskins. Taylor didn't register any tackles, but he and fellow outside linebacker Joey Porter disrupted David Garrard's pocket. Taylor would have registered a sack had Garrard not unloaded a desperation fling for an incompletion.
Offensive coordinator Dan Henning got receiver Ted Ginn involved. Chad Pennington threw at Ginn five times early in the first quarter. They connected twice for 26 yards, with both completions going for first downs on back-to-back plays. A reception for minus-1 yard was erased by a penalty. Another attempt to hook up drew a 34-yard defensive pass interference penalty. Ginn also ran a reverse 14 yards for a first down.
Bad debut for rookie cornerback Vontae Davis. The 25th overall draft pick was charged with two big penalties on punts and was called for a pass interference. He made contact with Jaguars return man Brian Witherspoon, who called for a fair catch. That's a 15-yarder. Davis later nullified a long Dolphins return with a personal foul behind the play. The foul didn't show up on replays, but Davis went down as the culprit in the game transcript.
Right end Randy Starks might have gotten away with a "Brady Rule" violation. On the last play of the Jaguars' first drive, Starks crawled through the line and lunged at Garrard's knee. There was no clear replay of the hit, though it appeared Starks led with his shoulder. Referee John Parry was on the spot and declined to throw a flag, but Garrard limped off the field.
Undrafted rookie Chris Williams handled all the return duties. He fielded four punts and four kickoffs. He muffed one punt and fielded another at the 5-yard line (then lost 3 yards). He had a 27-yard punt return wiped out by Davis' personal foul. Williams returned his kickoffs 37, 28, 29 and 41 yards.
The kicking competition is open. The Dolphins alternated kickers. Incumbent Dan Carpenter was given the first try and nailed a 48-yarder in the first quarter, but missed the extra point on a third-quarter touchdown because he slipped in the mud. Connor Barth made a 27-yarder off the dirt in the second quarter. Carpenter handled all but one kickoff, sending one into the end zone, another to the 2-yard line and the third one to the 11-yard line. Barth took one kickoff, sending it to the 5-yard line.
Posted by ESPN.com staff
- ESPN anchor Chris Berman was "stunned" and "humbled" by Ralph Wilson's request to present the Bills owner at his Hall of Fame induction. "It really came out of the blue to me," said Berman. "I've rarely been so honored or humbled as that phone call. I said, 'I'll tell you this, I'll do a helluva job for you.'"
- Miami's Ernest Wilford is hoping his versatility as a tight end/wide receiver will put him in a good position to make the team.
- The Palm Beach Post's Edgar Thompson asks, "Which Dolphin will you be focusing on next month?"
New England Patriots
- The Boston Globe's Gary Dzen looks at the possibility of Willie McGinest rejoining the Patriots.
New York Jets
- The New York Post's Mike Vaccaro says the recent suspension of linebacker Calvin Pace for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs won't get Jets fans down.
- Larry Izzo is getting used to wearing a former rival's colors -- again. More on this from the Globe's Christopher L. Gasper.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Nobody posed the question at his Tuesday afternoon news conference, so Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano asked himself.
|Marc Serota/Getty Images|
|Dolphins receiver Ted Ginn has impressed coach Tony Sparano in offseason workouts.|
Sparano claimed he and quarterback Chad Pennington still are trying to identify who their go-to target will be, but a couple big hints dropped like anvils.
"I really have seen him be, in some situations, pretty dominant," Sparano said. "So you can see his confidence really is at a high level right now. He's running better, playing a little bit stronger and really understands what's going on around him."
Those statements should get Dolfans excited. They've booed Ginn literally from the moment he joined the team.
They wanted Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn with the ninth overall draft pick in 2007. Instead, they got Ginn.
He was a quicksilver playmaker at Ohio State, but many analysts viewed him as a return specialist and contributor as a receiver. He seemed like a luxury player you might find on a contender, not a rebuilding team that eventually would go 1-15 and fire the general manager and coach who drafted him.
Sparano arrived last year and became one of Ginn's biggest boosters. Sparano likes even more of what he sees so far this spring, noting the way Ginn is "handling himself out there, with the way the whole offense has started to slow down for him a little bit."
If Ginn doesn't become Miami's so-called No. 1 receiver, I don't know who will be. I don't see an alternative on the roster.
Ginn caught a team-high 56 passes last year for 790 yards and two touchdowns, but he likely wouldn't have led the team had slot receiver Greg Camarillo not suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 12.
Camarillo finished with 55 catches for 613 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow slot man Davone Bess had 54 catches for 554 yards and a touchdown.
Ernest Wilford is the only other receiver with noteworthy experience, but he wasn't good enough to get out of his civvies on game days. Brandon London played 14 games last year as a special-teamer, yet caught just three balls.
"I like our receiving group. I really do," Sparano said. "I think there's several contenders there to be a No. 1 guy, but there's an awful lot of football ahead of us here and an awful lot of opportunity for some of these guys to show us that they can do that."
New England Patriots
- Lawrence Eagle-Tribune columnist Bill Burt advises the Patriots to sign Michael Vick.
- Fred Taylor was one of the few established veterans to take part in Wednesday's organized team activity, the Boston Herald's Karen Guregian writes.
- Christopher L. Gasper of the Boston Globe takes a look at sophomores Terrence Wheatley and Shawn Crable, who were non-factors last year.
- WEEI.com's Christopher Price checks in with Kevin O'Connell on the responsibilities of backing up Tom Brady.
- Providence Journal reporter Shalise Manza Young catches up with new safety Brandon McGowan, who can be a big contributor is he stays healthy.
- Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan talks to owner Ralph Wilson about the loss of his daughter, Bills scouting executive Linda Bogdan.
- Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reporter Sal Maiorana puts the onus on offensive line for 2009 success.
- Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan takes a look at underachieving defensive lineman John McCargo.
- Tonawanda News city editor John Hopkins pens an open letter to Terrell Owens.
- Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero writes the next step in establishing the Dolphins' culture is going farther than last year.
- Palm Beach Post reporter Edgar Thompson takes note of Stephen Ross' comments about Land Shark Stadium's perceived deficiencies. It sounds like Ross is starting to drop hints the Dolphins might need a new stadium.
- Ernest Wilford talks with South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly about playing tight end.
- The Dolphins unveiled a new handheld device premium-seat fans will receive to follow the game, writes Miami Herald reporter Barry Jackson.
- New York Daily News reporter Rich Cimini writes running back Thomas Jones is expected to attend OTAs next week.
- Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reporter Sal Maiorana describes the circus atmosphere surrounding receiver Terrell Owens.
- While almost everybody else focuses on Owens, Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan takes a look at defensive end Aaron Schobel's return.
- Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan shares the latest on safety Donte Whitner's off-field problems.
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Ethan J. Skolnick catches up with Gibril Wilson, who was born in Sierra Leone.
- Palm Beach Post reporter Edgar Thompson writes about new NFL Players Association boss DeMaurice Smith's visit with the Dolphins.
- Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald passes along some Drew Rosenhaus tweets about Ernest Wilford's work as a tight end.
New England Patriots
- Boston Globe reporter Christopher L. Gasper takes a look at outside linebacker Pierre Woods' chances to replace Mike Vrabel.
- Boston Herald reporter Karen Guregian addresses running back Laurence Maroney's decision to let everybody know how bad his shoulder was.
- Left tackle Matt Light is facing assault charges, Laurel J. Sweet reports for the Boston Herald.
New York Jets
- Dave Hutchinson of the Newark Star-Ledger updates Pro Bowler Leon Washington's contract dispute.
As competitive as the AFC East was last year, what happened this weekend at the draft could make the difference in deciding the playoffs.
Eleven victories last year weren't enough to get the New England Patriots into the postseason. With quarterback Tom Brady coming back from his knee injury and with some new blood on board, the Patriots are the favorites to win the AFC East.
The New York Jets, desperate to get over the hump, made two splashy trades to acquire two potential offensive stars.
The Buffalo Bills -- stuck on 7-9 for three straight seasons -- made some head-scratching picks, ignoring tackle and loading up on defensive backs, a position that was relatively healthy.
|James Lang/US Presswire|
| Trading up to draft Mark Sanchez was a bold move for the Jets. |
They parted with two substantial draft picks and three players who might not have started in 2009 to get the franchise-caliber quarterback they believe in.
For that alone, regardless of how Mark Sanchez pans out, the Jets deserve credit for pulling off the deal.
Sanchez gives the Jets the best leading-man candidate in decades. He's their earliest-drafted quarterback since they selected Joe Namath first overall in the 1965 AFL draft.
They obviously haven't been satisfied with Clemens as an option. They wanted him to seize the job last summer, but Pennington outplayed him. The Jets, eager for a solution, boldly traded for Brett Favre and cut Pennington. Favre lasted one season before arm problems forced him to retire again, putting Clemens back atop the depth chart.
In eight months, we'll have a better idea of what Sanchez can do for the Jets, but we probably won't know how great the pick was for three years.
But the Jets gave themselves their best opportunity in generations to find a star quarterback. For that alone, they've made the best move of the draft.
The Buffalo Bills traded Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters a week before the draft and didn't select a tackle.
You can look at this three ways: 1) the Bills are confident veteran Langston Walker and second-year project Demetrius Bell can handle the tackle positions; 2) they might be working on a trade for someone like Levi Jones after the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Andre Smith; or 3) Buffalo's front office doesn't know what it's doing.
Buffalo went with Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin, Louisville center Eric Wood, Oregon defensive back Jairus Byrd, Oregon State guard Andy Levitre, Southern Miss tight end Shawn Nelson, Oklahoma linebacker/safety Nic Harris, Southern California cornerback Cary Harris and West Virginia cornerback Ellis Lankster.
Maybin and Wood can easily be justified as first-round choices. But the Bills are adding a variable to Wood's future by moving him to guard after he started 49 straight games as Louisville's center.
What's with all the defensive backs?
The Bills seemed to have their secondary penciled out heading into the draft: Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin or Drayton Florence at cornerback and Donte Whitner, Bryan Scott and George Wilson at safety.
McKelvin was the 11th player chosen overall last year. He is expe
cted to step in for Jabari Greer, a free agent who went to the New Orleans Saints. The Bills brought in Florence for help. Ashton Youboty and Reggie Corner also are on the roster.
Whitner was the eighth overall pick in 2006.
Within the next nine picks after the Bills selected Levitre, three tackles went off the board. The Minnesota Vikings took Oklahoma's Phil Loadholt. The New England Patriots drafted Houston's Sebastian Vollmer. The New York Giants chose Connecticut's Will Beatty.
Most surprising move
Patriots overlord Bill Belichick passed on a variety of striking defensive prospects when he moved totally out of the first round to gather more draft picks.
None of these decisions seemed like a surprise when it happened, but if someone were to tell you before the draft that the Patriots would have at least one crack at those prospects -- in some cases, two or three cracks -- you would've bet your last penny they'd draft one. Each would look natural in Patriots' gear.
It's not like we misread the Patriots' needs either. The Patriots were going after those positions. They drafted defensive backs Patrick Chung and Darius Butler in the second round and linebacker Tyrone McKenzie in the third round.
You can't argue with Belichick's judgment when it comes to player evaluations, especially on the defensive side.
Still, to think none of those players landed in Foxborough, Mass. seems strange.
File it away
In what could go down as a classic example that Bill Parcells and his acolytes know more than everybody else, the Dolphins drafted Patrick Turner from Southern California in the third round. He was the 13th receiver off the board, and that might have been a reach.
Scouts Inc. rated him the 38th best receiver in the draft. Pro Football Weekly's draft guide ranked Turner 30th, saying he "has no upside" and that he benefited from facing single coverage because the Trojans' offense was so loaded. Lindy's Pro Football ranked him 18th.
But Turner is 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 223 pounds, and the Dolphins don't have much size at receiver. They made a boo-boo when they signed free agent Ernest Wilford to provide a big target, but he played so small he usually wore street clothes on game day.
Turner caught 49 passes for 741 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
"I feel I bring a red-zone threat," Turner said. "I feel I bring a lot of mismatches. I feel like I'm a possession receiver.
"I feel that in the fringe area, to be a bigger guy, I feel I run pretty good routes, and I feel sure-handed, like I can contribute."
If Turner works out, he'll make Parcells look like an even bigger genius.
The most obvious landing pad is the Miami Dolphins.
Coles is close to Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington, and I have a feeling they've already spoken on the phone.
Coles' dissatisfaction with the Jets' decision to bring in Brett Favre and cut Pennington was a major training camp story line in New York. The Dolphins snatched up Pennington, who guided them to the AFC East title with an 11-5 record, one of the most shocking single-season turnarounds in league history.
The Dolphins, though, need help at receiver. Their top three targets had 56, 55 and 54 catches. Ted Ginn led the way followed by Greg Camarillo (coming off knee surgery) and undrafted rookie Davone Bess.
Ernest Wilford, one of Miami's top free-agent acquisitions around this time last year, was a healthy scratch for all but four games. The Dolphins signed him to a four-year, $16 million contract with $6 million in guarantees. He had three catches for 35 yards.
Coles had 70 catches for 850 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns last season.