Heat On 2009 Draft Picks

The Dolphins are in the process of evaluating prospects for the 2010 draft and it would be a major help if they could land two or three players who could make an immediate impact. It also would help greatly if the Dolphins could get more significant contributions from a couple of 2009 draft picks who did very little last year, namely Pat White and Patrick Turner.

White and Turner were among the Dolphins' top four picks last spring, and one year later neither selection is looking very good.

White got spot duty at quarterback as a rookie, but was used almost exclusively as a runner, with limited success. The bigger problem was that he failed to complete any of his five pass attempts and concerns about his ability to take a hit showed up dramatically in the season finale when he was knocked out of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Turner's season was even more disappointing because he was inactive for 11 of the 16 games and only saw action on special teams in the other five.

Making matters worse, Turner watched as fellow wide receiver Brian Hartline, picked a round later, became a contributor on offense.

From the press box, it appears clear that Turner has the better chance of the two to become an impact player at his college position.

"I hope he takes the next jump, I hope he becomes a little more aggressive with the ball, a little more polished with route running, those kind of things and he uses some of the knowlege Karl Dorrell has given him, some of the wisdom that Karl has given him in the last year from a release standpoint and those type of things," Coach Tony Sparano said this week at the owners' meetings in Orlando. "The fundamental part of the thing with Patrick is the most important thing right now. I want to see that growth. I want to see him more aggressive with the ball when it's in the air. He's a big receiver that I want to see play big."

Sparano also expressed regret over not getting Turner some playing time on offense last season.

"I don't feel good about that from my end," Sparano said. "I did a poor job of that. I should have got him in the game. I should have got him some exposure, so I did not do a good job there."

When it comes to White, his playing time in 2009 appeared forced, as though the Dolphins were trying to justify taking him in the second round.

His running ability does offer an additional dimension to the Dolphins offense, but he needs to show he can make passes at the NFL level for him to be effective.

Unfortunately, we saw no signs of that, either in the preseason or in White's regular season appearances.

Another problem for White is that with the re-signing of Chad Pennington, the Dolphins now have four quarterbacks on the roster. Sparano said this week that Chad Henne will go into training camp as the No. 1 guy and Pennington will be No. 3.

While Sparano wouldn't reveal who was No. 2, it's difficult to imagine that guy being White and not Tyler Thigpen, who also runs well but is a much more accomplisher than White.

At the time White was drafted it was suggested the Dolphins would use him in other areas, namely as a kick returner or receiver, but Sparano said there are no current plans for a position switch.

"Not until we do our due diligence and find out the improvements made, one way or the other, and how good those improvements are," Sparano said. "I would say no, at this time.

"My biggest concern with Pat, and it always has been, is completely understanding our offense. Understanding all that there is to understand. He's a young kid who digested an awful lot of information last year very well. But getting to throw it the way we want him to throw it, the fundamental part of this whole thing, just getting better at the position."

Because he was the 44th overall pick in the 2009 draft, White figures to get more chances than prove himself than most players, but the question is, just how much longer will he get to show the Dolphins he can be an NFL quarterback?

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