Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Miami Herald: Fins open negotiations with Jake Long's agent


"Dolphins negotiating for Jake Long as No. 1 pick

The Miami Dolphins could soon be off the clock.

The Dolphins have formally begun contract negotiations with agent Tom Condon about the prospect of selecting former Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long as the first overall selection in this year's draft.

Condon, who also represents Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, was in South Florida early this week to negotiate specifically on behalf of Long at the request of the team, The Miami Herald has learned.

The Dolphins would like to have a contract in place with their first pick before the draft on April 26, which would allow them to avoid a potentially ugly holdout like the one that took place in Oakland last year upon the Raiders' selection of quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

Miami is still intrigued by Virginia defensive end Chris Long, but no in-person talks between Chris Long's agent and Miami are believed to have taken place to date. However, the Dolphins are believed to be happy with quarterback John Beck, and they are not considering Ryan as an option with the first pick.

The latest meeting between Condon and the team doesn't necessarily mean the Dolphins have made their final decision to select Jake Long over Chris Long, but it is certainly a major step in that direction.

By selecting Jake Long, the Dolphins would fill a gaping hole along their offensive line. Vernon Carey is currently slated as the starter at left tackle, but selecting Jake Long would potentially allow the team to move Carey back to his more natural position on the right side of the line."

Naysayers complain that he isn't a left tackle, or is better suited to right tackle in the pros... I say... bullshit. One, he is a beast. Two, he played left tackle the last two years for a major program and dominated there. Three, EVEN IF he plays right tackle, do you know who plays right tackle for the Fins right now? NO ONE. They have VOID on their depth chart. I think he does play left tackle in the pros, and Vernon Carey goes back to his natural right tackle slot, but even if he "only" turns out to be a pro bowl right tackle (which is what his detractors see in him - you hear he'd be a pro bowl RT and a solid but not pro bowl LT), isn't it nice to have a pro bowl right tackle locked in to this line that has been in flux for 10 years or so? Also, Tony Sparano made his bones (while you were banging cheerleaders)as an O-Line coach for Parcells. I think he knows O-Linemen and they would be pretty comfortable in Jake to offer him the #1 money. Also, it could be a smoke screen or an attempt to get Chris Long's dollar amount down, they can negotiate against each other to make sure they get the best price and the player in on time.

Here is Scouts, Inc (ESPN's) profile:

Jake Long
OT (6'7", 313, 5.219) MICHIGAN

Scouts Grade: 98

Flags: (D: DURABILITY) Player that can't stay healthy
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Strengths: An experienced, technically sound OT prospect with great size-potential. Is versatile; has experience at left and right tackle and could play either/both in the NFL. Also has proven capable of performing at a high level in power-run scheme and new zone-blocking scheme. Possesses excellent height, adequate bulk and the frame to get bigger if necessary. He has a massive wingspan with long arms and big hands. A natural knee-bender; he gets set quickly in pass pro, plays with good body lean and rarely gets caught lunging. He shuffles his feet quickly and can get back inside to defend double move. Uses long arms and powerful punch to jar defenders and run them wide as pass rushers. Shows excellent awareness in pass pro; consistently gives inside help and does an great job of picking up stunts, twists and blitzes. He takes very good angles as a run blocker. Has adapted very well zone-blocking and shows the mobility to execute in a similar scheme in the NFL. He has good upper-and-lower body strength as a run blocker. Also works hard to sustain and shows a good mean streak. Great intangibles. A leader and hard worker on-and-off the field. Good student in the classroom and intelligence carries over to the field, where he picks up techniques, schemes and assignments quickly.

Weaknesses: Lacks elite mobility for an elite OT prospect. Has enough quickness and balance to perform at a high level in the NFL, but he is not as nimble as former top OT prospects such as Orlando Pace (Rams), Jonathan Ogden (Ravens), D'Brickashaw Ferguson (Jets) and Joe Thomas (Browns). Had some trouble versus Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston's elite speed rushers. Durability is somewhat of a concern after he missed the first seven games of the 2005 season with an ankle/foot injury.

Overall: Long was redshirted in 2003. In his first active season at Michigan (2004), he appeared in 12 games, starting the last 10 at right tackle, and was selected to the Freshman All-America team. As a sophomore in 2005, played five games (four starts) at right tackle. He moved to left tackle in 2006, and went on to start all 26 of the Wolverines' games over his final two seasons. He was a first team All-America selection and the Big Ten Lineman of the Year in each of his last two seasons. Long missed the first seven games of 2005 while recovering from spring shoulder surgery and suffering from foot and ankle injuries. Long has outstanding experience to go along with his massive frame, above-average quickness for his size, a powerful upper body (37 reps), long arms (35.6 inches) and big hands (11 inches). He is not as athletic as last year's top tackle prospect Joe Thomas (Browns), but Long has more than enough range to effectively protect the quarterback's blindside in the NFL and he's bigger, stronger and more physical than Thomas was coming out of school. One year later, Long grades out slightly lower than Thomas (No. 3 overall in 2007) but he could actually come off the board earlier in what projects to be a weaker class.

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