|NFL DRAFT: Mueller, Cameron hope to reverse Miami's draft fortunes|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 25 April 2007 02:40|
Some of the worst occurred in late April.
Bad drafts are the primary reason the Dolphins are 19-29 over the past three years and without a postseason appearance since 2001. Only four players drafted in 2002-04 remain on the roster, and the most recent draft choice to make the Pro Bowl was receiver Chris Chambers, a 2001 pick.
Miami hopes for better results this weekend, when general manager Randy Mueller will make the final decisions for the first time in consultation with new coach Cam Cameron. The Dolphins have 10 picks, which would be their most since 1998, including the No. 9 choice in the opening round.
``It will be the biggest day for the Dolphins every year,'' Mueller said. ``This is a chance for us to build our team more in two days - 48 hours - than all the other days in the year.''
A former general manager with the New Orleans Saints, Mueller joined the Dolphins in 2005, but coach Nick Saban made personnel decisions the past two years, with lackluster results. Last year, Saban failed to draft a single rookie who started, a factor in Miami's 6-10 season.
When Saban left in January for Alabama and Cameron was hired as his replacement, owner Wayne Huizenga put Mueller in charge of personnel. Mueller and Cameron said they quickly developed a close relationship and expect to easily reach a consensus on decisions this weekend.
``You can bank on this: If we don't agree, we're going to go a different direction,'' Mueller said. ``I can promise you we'll be on the same page.''
Going back to the reign of Don Shula, the Dolphins have traditionally given their head coach authority over personnel. The exception was Dave Wannstedt, who was stripped of the responsibility in 2004, setting the stage for some disastrous personnel moves by general manager Rick Spielman and a 4-12 season, Miami's worst since the 1960s.
Cameron, beginning his first year as an NFL head coach, said he has no problem deferring to Mueller.
``It was very obvious early on that we were going to be able to work and grow together,'' Cameron said. ``We know we're not always going to agree, but we're man enough to put the organization first, take a deep breath and go home and get a good night's sleep, if we can.
``The bottom line is when it comes to personnel, I'm going to trust his expertise.''
Since 2002, the tendency to trade away picks - including four for quarterbacks - has hurt the Dolphins. Deals left them with only six choices each of the past three years.
Lately they've been hoarding picks, acquiring four due to the departures of receiver Wes Welker, kicker Olindo Mare and punter Donnie Jones.
While the Cameron-Mueller regime has altered tactics, it kept the same evaluation system installed by Saban, for this year at least. The organization will go through a series of mock drafts in preparation for the weekend.
``When it comes to Saturday, coach and I won't even have to exchange a sentence,'' Mueller said. ``We'll know what we're going to do.''
And that's the question: How will Mueller and Cameron address Miami's many needs? The focus will be on offense after the Dolphins averaged 16.3 points per game last year, the lowest figure since their second season in 1967. They're unsettled at quarterback, lacking in playmakers and thin in the offensive line.
Miami is the lone team in the AFC East without a clear starter at quarterback. Daunte Culpepper played only four games last season, has yet to recover from a 2005 knee injury and may be released before the season to save his $5.5 million base salary.
The Dolphins want to acquire 36-year-old Trent Green, who is expected to leave Kansas City, but have yet to swing a deal. The addition of Green as a caretaker would give Cameron time to groom a youngster, and if Brady Quinn of Notre Dame is available, Miami might devote its first-round pick to a quarterback for the first time since Dan Marino in 1983.
Miami has four of the first 71 picks and might use them on a receiver and a couple of offensive linemen, along with a quarterback. Running back is also a possibility if Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson slips to the Dolphins in the first round.
Moving up is an option, too. With two picks in the second round, two in the sixth and three in the seventh, Miami will have more flexibility this weekend than in the recent past.
``That's the exciting part about it,'' Mueller said. ``The Dolphins haven't had a lot of picks before. These are all chips that we can play however we need to play them - to move up, to move down.
``Going in, you want to give yourself options. And I think by being able to acquire a few extra picks, we've given ourselves some options. Now we get to see how the game goes.''