The Draft is a very exciting time for fans and teams. It feels like Christmas waiting to see the new presents awaiting you. Every team has hope and every team is looking to get better. Fans are full of hope and optimism leading up to the draft and sometimes after the draft.
The excitement tends to subside after day two or after the fourth round in day three. The fifth/sixth/seventh rounds are boring for some and typically not full of the “sexy” picks that fans tend to enjoy. Although they are not “sexy” they are important pieces for teams, especially when they are developmental players and special teams additions.
Some players were lost in free agency that played a crucial role in depth and special teams. Neville Hewitt was a solid depth linebacker and a special teams player. Michael Thomas was one of the special teams captains, that will be missed. With that said, I feel as if the Dolphins did a great job of filling those voids and giving themselves developmental prospects by drafting Ohio linebacker Quentin Poling and Southern Mississippi corner back, Cornell Armstrong.
Let’s take a look at the developmental ability of these two players and how that translates to special teams.
Quentin Poling Linebacker Ohio (32):
This first play shows his explosive ability going forward. He times his blitz perfectly and hits the quarterback just as he is releasing the ball.
He has decent coverage skills as shown by the next play. He drops back into coverage and drifts towards the receiver. He is able to find the receiver by watching the quarterbacks eyes. He is in position to make a play on the ball.
Talk about effort! The next two plays are the same play, but with two parts. He recognizes the play and sees a fumble and dives after the ball. Great effort, but he isn’t finished.
The Running back scoops the ball up, but notice Poling gets up and hustles to chase the ball carrier down. He hustles for over 30 yards to chase down the ball carrier. That’s effort. That will make him a perfect fit on special teams.
Leadership and toughness. He recognizes the play right away here. He signals to the linebacker just before the snap. He then crashes down and squares to the line of scrimmage. He is able to keep off the block and force the back to the sideline where his help is.
He is a willing tackle and will play the run. Look at him read the run all the way, get to the line of scrimmage and square up for the tackle.
Again, he comes up in run support nicely here. He comes up and makes the tackle on a running back that outweighs him by 50 pounds. That is an impressive open field tackle.
This next play shows his coverage ability. He is in cover 3 and runs with the big receiver, Keith Gavin. Gavin runs the post route and Armstrong plays it perfectly while trailing. He times it just right and gets his hands on the ball and separates Gavin’s hand’s from the football.
Here it is again from the replay angle. He uses his athleticism to time his jump and NOT use the receiver as leverage to go up and get the ball. He avoids pass interference with perfect timing and not impeding the receiver to the ball.
He likes to get hands on when he plays bump and run. He plays it well here, but big body receivers tend to get passed him at the line of scrimmage.
Armstrong’s toughness and leadership should earn him a spot on special teams. He is willing to tackle and do what is necessary. He has good athleticism and very good traits that could translate into him being a nickel corner in the very near future. His athleticism should help him find a spot on special teams to replace Michael Thomas perfectly. He can also fill the Michael Thomas role of playing the nickel corner role opposite of McCain.
I think the Dolphins did a good job of finding developmental talent in the 6th (Armstrong) 7th round (Poling) to fill in the roster and replace some of the special teams players they lost in Hewitt and Thomas.