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Diner morning news: A new draft philosophy

In Miami, workout warriors, ‘fat cats’ are out, football players are in. Michael Lombardi

Print This April 27, 2010, 11:00 AM EST

QUOTE: “Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish....Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.” -- Hermann Hesse

I love this item:

Two signs hung in the Dolphins’ draft room last week. The first:

“For the next three days, we are going to draft prototypical players that play football well in their pads on the football field.”

My translation: The Dolphins were not going to fall in love with combine players or anyone who had a great workout. They wanted to focus on football players and not let a 40 time or individual workout alter their thought process. They made it a point to have their draft board completely graded before they went to the Indy combine. They weren’t going to be swayed by workout warriors, and they were going to make sure they stayed true to their philosophical beliefs. Those beliefs are centered on size and speed football players — but the speed is functional football speed.

What was the motivation for this sign? It certainly had to do with the Dolphins’ process last year, but more specifically, it had to do with the players they drafted. From quarterback Pat White to wide receiver Patrick Turner, Bill Parcells could not have been happy spending such high picks on players who don’t play as fast as their reported 40 times. Football speed and 40 speed are always different. For example, Rolando McClain of Alabama ran a 4.7, while Brandon Spikes of Florida ran a 5.0. Yet when watching tape, both players play the same, both are similar in their speed on the field and both will be challenged to play on third down in the NFL next season. Both will make an impact in short-yardage, goal-line and red-zone defense with their respected teams. The 40 times of both players can be manipulated in a workout, but on tape, both play football well.

The second sign:

“Mascot players, fat cats and other favorites will wait until late on Saturday.”

My translation: “Mascot players” are the size/speed guys who don’t play well with their pads on. They’re going to be on our free-agent board but not on our draft board. The Dolphins, according to this sign, are not willing to take players strictly on their measurables. They’re also not going to take players who have little production when playing the game. They might sign these players as free agents but won’t invest a draft choice in them. “Fat cat” players are players with weight problems who will have to be managed — something the Dolphins aren’t willing to do. “Other favorites” refers to players who come with media hype but don’t have the production on tape — someone with a huge profile but with little value for the Fins.

I love that the Fins were proactive and reminded everyone in their organization that last year’s draft was part of the reason the 2009 season was disappointing. This year, with the addition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall and a very good draft that centered on finding more speed for their defense, the Dolphins will have a chance to get back to the playoffs. My only hesitation about their return is their tough schedule, particularly in the early part of the season with road games against the Bills, Vikings, Packers, Bengals and Ravens. They have the kind of team that can handle the tough schedule and clearly are a very hungry and determined team.

Big Ben issues statement

Ben Roethlisberger issued a statement saying he accepts full responsibility for his actions and promises to never again place the organization in a bad light. Now, with a six-game suspension a possibility, the Steelers must develop a quarterback to handle the starting job for at least the first four weeks. My guess is that it will be Dennis Dixon, who surprised many people last season with his play in the Baltimore game.

Dixon is athletic, but he’s not a run-around player. He views himself as a quarterback who can make all the throws. I love his potential, and if he gets the work in this summer, he might be able to hold down the fort. How coach Mike Tomlin handles quarterback repetitions at camp this summer will be vital to their start. Right now, Tomlin will use the OTA days and mini-camps to collect information on each quarterback, then make a decision on how to handle training camp reps.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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