Posted: 8:37 pm Thursday, April 28th, 2011
By Post Staff
The Dolphins stayed in the state of Florida with their first-round pick, selecting the Gators’ Mike Pouncey 15th overall in the first round of Thursday night’s draft.
Pouncey, a four-year starter at Florida at center and guard, should immediately improve the Dolphins’ interior offensive line, which was one of the team’s biggest issues in 2010, when they finished 30th in the league in rushing yards per attempt (3.7).
The Dolphins picked Pouncey over quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Andy Dalton, as well as running back Mark Ingram.
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said he believes Pouncey will play center for the Dolphins, who have had a different starting center in each of Tony Sparano’s first three years. Pouncey started 28 games at right guard at Florida, 13 at center and four at defensive tackle.
“I think size wise he’s a perfect center — 6-5, a little bit over 300 pounds,” Gruden said. “This guy can pull, he can get on the perimeter and run, he’s gonna be a factor on the second level. Miami added a leader, a blue-chip player.”
The Dolphins’ 2011 offensive line will now have three first-round picks: Left tackle Jake Long, right tackle Vernon Carey and Pouncey. The Dolphins could also play Pouncey at guard and move Richie Incognito to center. Joe Berger, Nate Garner and John Jerry will likely compete for the other spot.
If Pouncey does play center, he could finally be the Dolphins’ answer after shuffling through Samson Satele, Jake Grove and Joe Berger in Tony Sparano’s three-year tenure.
But ESPN analyst Mel Kiper wasn’t as big a fan of the Pouncey pick, saying he’s not nearly as good as his twin brother, Maurkice, who was drafted 18th by Pittsburgh last year.
“Mike Pouncey is not Maurkice, and the bottom line is Miami passed on a quarterback,” Kiper said.
But Gruden expects Pouncey to be a solid NFL player, even with his struggles snapping the football in 2010. He had somewhere between 12-15 botched fumbles in the Gators’ season-opening game in 2010.
“He struggled in games this year snapping the football, was on the ground a little bit, but he didn’t have Tim Tebow playing quarterback,” Gruden said. “I really like what this guy brings to your team, the energy, and this guy loves to play football. He will compete. Might be as good an athlete at this position that there is in the country.”