The Final Word on Weaver
Curtis Weaver remained a popular topic Wednesday among Miami Dolphins fans, many of whom weren't happy to see the team part ways with the rookie fifth-round pick.
Some of the frustration, even fear, is that the Dolphins gave up too soon on Weaver and he'll go on to become a star with the Cleveland Browns, who claimed him off waivers or another team.
Using Dolphins history as a gauge, that is an unlikely scenario. Very unlikely.
In fact, it's much more likely — again, using Dolphins history — that Weaver simply will fade into football oblivion.
Here's the research:
Since the NFL draft was reduced to seven rounds in 1994, the Dolphins have had 26 draft picks fail to make the active roster or be placed on injured reserve as rookies.
Of those 26, almost half (12) never played a regular season game in the NFL. Three more played two or fewer games, including 2018 seventh-round pick Quentin Poling, who just last week was placed on injured reserve by the MInnesota Vikings.
Here's the most astounding number: Of those 26 Dolphins draft picks gone before the start of the regular season in their rookie year, only three went on to start more than five games in the NFL.
Those three were defensive tackle Frank Kearse (seventh-round pick in 2011) with eight starts, wide receiver Devin Aromashodu (seventh-round pick in 2006) with 11 and tight end Pete Mitchell (fourth-round pick in 1995) with 63.
Of all the Dolphins draft picks let go in their first training camp since 1994, Mitchell is the only clear mistake. And even then, the Dolphins didn't cut Mitchell, they traded him to Jacksonville in August of 1995 in exchange for wide receiver Mike Williams.
The Dolphins were bringing back Williams, who had signed with Jacksonville in the offseason after playing the previous four seasons with them as a backup.
The traded didn't work out at all.
While Williams played only one more season in the NFL (12 games as a backup with two catches), Mitchell had an eight-year career with the Jaguars, Giants and Lions and had 279 career catches.
Here's the complete list of Dolphins draft picks since 1994 who didn't make the initial 53-man roster or placed on injured reserve, with NFL games later played-started in parentheses:
2018 — LB Quentin Poling, 7th round (1-0)
2015 — S Cedric Thompson, 5th round (0-0)
2012 — WR B.J. Cunningham, 6th round (2-0)
2011 — DT Frank Kearse, 7th round (35-8)
2010 — LB Chris McCoy, 7th round (0-0)
2006 — WR Devin Aromashodu, 7th round (61-11)
2003 — T Tim Provost, 6th round (0-0)
2001 — QB Josh Heupel, 6th round (0-0)
2001 — T Brandon Winey, 6th round (24-3)
2001 — DE Otis Leverette, 6th round (17-1)
2001 — LB Rick Crowell, 6th round (0-0)
1999 — LB Bryan Jones, 5th round (0-0)
1998 — T Jim Bundren, 7th round (27-10)
1998 — QB John Dutton, 6th round (0-0)
1998 — G Nathan Strikwerda, 6th round (0-0)
1998 — G Scott Shaw, 5th round (2-0)
1998 — LB Brad Jackson, 3rd round (50-5)
1997 — CB Hudhaifa Ismaeli, 7 round (0-0)
1997 — LB John Fiala, 6th round (75-1)
1997 — DE Nicholas Lopez, 5th round (0-0)
1997 — G Jerome Daniels, 4th round (8-5)
1996 — CB Kirk Pointer, 4th round (0-0)
1996 — CB Dorian Brew, 3rd round (16-0)
1996 — WR Brice Hunter, 7th round (13-0)
1995 — TE Pete Mitchell, 4th round (114-63)
1994 — LB Ronnie Woolfork, 4th round (0-0)
As you can see, the only ones besides Mitchell who played at least 50 NFL games were John Fiala, Aromashodu and Brad Jackson.
Does anybody other than a hardcore Dolphins fan remember any of those players?
That brings us back to Weaver.
The Browns placed him on injured reserve Thursday morning, meaning his injury is "major" and the Dolphins could have put Weaver on IR without him having to go through waivers.
This basically means the Dolphins were willing to take the chance of a team claiming him, if not downright hoping a team would claim him.
The bottom line is the Dolphins just weren't that high on him as a prospect anymore.
Head coach Brian Flores was asked Wednesday about giving up so quickly on a draft pick.
"Obviously draft picks are very valuable but every situation is a little bit different," Flores said. "I liked Weaver. I thought he was a good player. I thought he had some potential. But like I said yesterday, when we make these decisions, there’s a lot of things that go into them that, quite frankly, you guys don’t know much about — whether it’s the injury itself, salary cap implications, depth at the position, next year’s draft. There’s 10 different things there. We make the decision that we feel is best for the organization. When we make a selection, we feel good about it then and the transactions that happen after that, we live with them and we move on.”
Flores later added this when asked to clarify the IR and waived/injured rule: “I understand the question, but look, we waived/injured Curtis Weaver. He was claimed. I wish him all the best. He’s a good kid. He had a great time here, but I’m more focused on the team today and trying to improve and trying to get better. We’ll basically leave it at that.”
As it turned out, it wasn't only the Browns who claimed Weaver off waivers because the Rams did as well, according to a tweet from NFL reporter Field Yates.
So obviously some teams see something in Weaver, and so did a lot of draft analysts,
When he declared for the NFL draft in late December, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had him as his No. 2 outside linebacker prospect in the draft and Todd McShay had him selected 20th overall — as in, the first round — in his latest mock draft.
But the draft came and Weaver was selected in the fifth round. And he lasted a week of padded practices with the Dolphins.
From a media perspective, Weaver just doesn't pass the eyeball test and simply doesn't look like an NFL defensive end. In limited practice viewing, he also showed little in terms of explosion and functional strength.
In other words, he simply didn't look like much of a prospect.
But those 34 sacks at Boise State were hard to overlook, and one would think that's why he was drafted with the understanding there was no guarantee his skills would translate to the NFL.
The Dolphins clearly decided they didn't or there was something else at play — did find it strange to see Flores say of a rookie that he "had a great time here" — that made them decide to move on.
Sure, it's disappointing to miss on a draft pick. But the Dolphins had 11 draft picks in 2020 and it's pretty safe to assume that nobody expected them to hit on all 11.
Weaver looked like a low-risk, high-reward pick all along based on where he was taken and the high volume of picks the Dophins had.
That it didn't pan out is disappointing, but it's not that big a deal unless he becomes a star somewhere else.
Based on history and based on what was on display in the first week of padded practices, that seems highly unlikely.