Sunday, April 26, 2009
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins now have a quarterback to run their Wildcat offense: West Virginia's Pat White.
And the Dolphins won't limit White to one part of the playbook.
The most prolific running quarterback in major-college history, White was a surprise pick by Miami in the second round of the NFL draft Saturday.
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said White likely will anchor the Wildcat and eventually could compete for the starting quarterback job. That means he'll challenge Chad Henne for the role of heir apparent to Chad Pennington.
"I don't think you can have too many good players at that position," Ireland said. "Pat White has an unusual set of skills that can help us. We're creative enough as a coaching staff that he'll be able to enhance our offense in a multitude of ways."
White could be an ideal triggerman for the Wildcat, a variation of the single wing that rejuvenated the Dolphins' offense last season to help them reach the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
"I guess I fit fairly well in the Wildcat," White said. "Hopefully that will be my quickest way on the field. I'm excited and happy to be a part of it."
Ireland denied that the selection of White meant running back Ronnie Brown is on the trading block. Brown took the snaps in the Wildcat last season.
"We're not looking to trade Ronnie Brown," Ireland said. "Pat is going to be the element of surprise. You can put him at receiver and use Ronnie in the Wildcat still. There are a lot of things you can do when you have great athletes."
The Dolphins devoted their other first-day picks to the secondary, choosing Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis with the 25th selection in the first round, then adding Utah defensive back Sean Smith with their second second-round choice.
The Dolphins made both picks while mindful of the potent passing attacks they'll face next season in the AFC East. Tom Brady is expected to return for the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills signed Pro Bowl wide receiver Terrell Owens and the New York Jets used their top draft pick to select USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.
White could help the Dolphins keep up with high-scoring opponents. He ran for 4,480 yards at West Virginia, where he had a 34-8 record as a starter and became the first quarterback to start in four bowl victories.
White directed a spread offense similar to the Wildcat and is well aware that the Dolphins made a big splash last season with their version of the single wing.
"I definitely watched the Dolphins," he said. "It kind of reminded me of West Virginia a little bit -- get the defense going one way and shoot somebody out the other way. It keeps the defense on their toes."
Last season, the Dolphins averaged 6.4 yards per play in the Wildcat with eight touchdowns in 91 plays, including scores covering 62, 53 and 51 yards.
Miami also might find room for White in the receiving corps, where depth is thin. White worked out as a wideout for NFL teams leading up to the draft.
While White is optimistic he can find a role in the NFL, Davis figures he can make a big difference as a rookie.
"My expectations will be to be the defensive player of the year in the National Football League," he said.
The Dolphins expect Davis and Smith to upgrade a secondary that ranked 25th in the league against the pass last season and lost starting cornerback Andre Goodman to the Denver Broncos in free agency.
Davis worked out for the Dolphins and said he received favorable feedback from the team's football czar, Bill Parcells.
"(He said) I fit the style of their defense with physical play and being aggressive," Davis said. "I consider myself a complete corner. My strength is coming up to tackle and being physical in run support."
Davis would have been drafted higher if not for concerns about his attitude and work ethic. Illinois coach Ron Zook briefly demoted Davis to second string last year but touts him as an excellent NFL prospect.
"People have their opinions," Davis said. "Everybody who knows Vontae knows I'm a great person and a great player. Bill Parcells speaks louder than words. For him to draft me, he knows the type of person I am."
Ireland said Zook reassured the Dolphins about Davis' attitude.
"He's a competitive kid," Ireland said. "He's a gym rat. He's a good kid. I don't think we have to worry about any integrity problems."
A three-year starter who turned pro after his junior season, Davis is durable, tackles well and has good bloodlines. His brother, tight end Vernon Davis, was taken with the sixth overall pick in 2006 by the San Francisco 49ers.
The 6-3, 214-pound Smith is a converted receiver who has been projected as a cornerback or safety in the NFL. He was a two-year starter at cornerback for Utah and had nine career interceptions.
The Dolphins drafted him after trading down. They swapped second-round picks with the Indianapolis Colts and acquired their fifth-round choice.
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