Blocking and tackling are kind of important in football.
There is no pressure on the quarterback to speak of so the only thing you can guage from them in a mini is their ability to learn quickly, their arm-strength and accuracy. How well they read defenses, how tough they are in the pocket, and how well they move in the pocket are pretty tough to measure.
Having said that, Justin Holland was easily Miami's best quarterback at the camp. He stands 6-2 but throws over the top so he finds passing lanes. I wouldn't say he has the strongest arm in the world, but it's at the very least Jay Fiedler good. And he is quite accurate, especially on deep passes, which was the most impressive thing about him.
The Dolphins drafted two interior linemen and one offensive linemen. Rodrique Wright missed Saturday's practice because of a death in the family. When he was present he moved around well enough. But here's the thing, this is a mini. No hitting, no blocking, no tackling.
So you can't really say anything definitive about Wright (other than the fact he probably won't play in 2006 because he had surgery Monday). I believe Wright will be stashed away on IR and allowed to mature. He could eventually be asked to play a 3-4 tackle, ala Vonnie Holliday. He certainly has the build and size for it.
As for Joe Toledo and Fred Evans -- the other two interior line draftees -- who knows. Toledo worked at OG and Evans at NT. But they weren't asked to block and weren't asked to tackle.
I heard reports that former Pro Bowl tackle Kyle Turley was looking great during the camp. Really? I thought he was OK as a 260-pound TE but the thing that will make or break his comeback is his ability to become a premier blocking TE.
He's not going to be Antonio Gates. Think more like Hunter Goodwin.
So it's really tough to judge Turley for his on-field abilities in a camp where, you guessed it, there was no blocking or tackling.
“I think that first off, you’re talking about a guy who was an offensive tackle who’s strength as a tight end is probably going to be his ability to block, if anything translates from the former player he was to the player that he might be now, even though it’s at a different position and a little different body type relative to the weight that he’s lost," Nick Saban said.
"So this kind of a camp would not enhance a guy like that, because we’re out there in shorts and tee-shirts or just jerseys or whatever, and most of the blocking is just kind of fit-up, everybody stay up, tag off the runner. The guys who are the explosive good tacklers, explosive good blockers can get moving guys; they don’t really show up in this."
Saban told me the things he's gauging most about Turley is his ability to grasp the concept of the passing game, but more importantly, what his attitude was in practices, meetings, in the locker room, and particularly how he responded to coaches.
From all accounts I've heard, Turley was professional.
Now onto the players one could make some judgements about: The offensive and defensive skill positions.
You can tell whether a receiver has separation and accelaration and hands regardless of whether you're talking about a game or in a minicamp. Sure, some guys get a little nervous when they know the defense is actually hitting, but I'm assuming none of these guys will be like Charles Jordan -- looked like Tarzan during minicamps, played like Jane during the season.
Frank Murphy was without a doubt the most impressive receiver in the camp. He was smooth, he seemed more polished than the others, and he found open spots in the defenses. Obviously, the guy is older (29) than most of the other receivers in camp, so perhaps this shouldn't surprise. But at least the guy showed no ill effects of an Achilles' injury he struggled with in 2004-2005.
I'm not saying Murphy is the answer as Miami seeks a No. 3 receiver in the fall. But he'll be a good training camp addition who will raise the level of competition at the position.
A position that should concern Dolphins fans is the running back spot. Sure, Ronnie Brown is the starter, but then what?
Gerald Riggs Jr.?
Sammy Morris is still better than either of those two and I don't think the Dolphins are totally comfortable with him as the backup. I think either Harris and Riggs will get a chance to make the team but, unless they turn it up a notch when the hitting starts, I don't think they're ready to challenge Morris.
Both will have to serve time on special teams first and show a toughness when they run the rock. This minicamp didn't allow them to show that toughness, if they indeed have it.
Regardless, don't be surprised if the Dolphins No. 2 back is not on the roster yet. There is still a round of cuts coming after June 1 and then there are guys who will get cut once camp begins. I guess Lamar Gordon is still out there but don't think he's the answer.
One last thing: Thought Ron Israel looked good as a tryout player at safety. He was always around the ball. And I think it's a virtual lock Jason Allen will be a starter at one safety spot. He adds a degree of speed to the deep secondary that wasn't there last season.