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Now that the NFL Combine has been completed, NFL teams are now scrambling back to take a look at those kids that blew up the combine, but don't play to their combine numbers. They also are going to look at kids that had subpar performances to review what they saw on film.
It has been refered to as the Underwear Olympics, as while it is very true that these teams use film of all these prospect play on the field to largely help them form their opinion of a prospect as a player, a young man that comes to the combines and blow up the 40 yard dash or the drills will make teams go back to check their tape. Especially if that prospect does not play to that times speed.
With that said, let take a look at some prospect that might interest the Dolphins, starting with the unit that needs the most attention, the offensive line. I will also look at Defensive Tackles today as well, with Miami possibly losing both DT Paul Soliai and Randy Starks.
Jake Matthews of Texas A&M, Greg Robinson of Auburn and Taylor Lewan came into this combine considered the top offensive tackles in this draft, and they did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, the one kid that I thought the Dolphins might have had a chance to had drop to them, Lewan, might have had the best combine performance of the trio. With that said, the only way the Dolphins will have a chance at any of the group will be via trade, as I anticipate that all 3 of these kids will go in the top 15.
The prospect that has emerged as the top OLT the Dolphins could obtain without having to trade up would be OLT/OG Zack Martin of Notre Dame. Mike Mayock believes the young man could be and All-Pro OG, and his versatility is indeed one of his biggest strengths. He was also one of the few offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl that could keep up with Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald.
This is from NFL.Com on Martin
Engages quickly. Flexible and light on his feet. Can work his hips and maneuver. Good blocking posture -- bends his knees, sits in his stance and can shuffle, slide and mirror. Good hand placement (can pop and recoil). Seals running lanes. Can combo block and fit on linebackers. Athletic to pull and trap. Passes off stunts and is alert to blitzers. Started all 52 games of his career. Played well against Alabama in the BCS Championship and was MVP of the Pinstripe Bowl. Sparkling intangibles. Highly respected, hardworking leader who does all the right things. Two-time captain.
Lacks ideal length to stay outside in the pros -- relatively small wingspan. Not a pure road grader who rolls off flat-backed and buries defenders. Could be stressed by bigger, more powerful defensive tackles. Can improve balance and sustain on the second level. Does not have experience at guard. Could stand to bulk up in preparation for a move inside.
Athletic, smart, competitive, dependable college left tackle whose length dictates a move inside, where he has plug-and-play ability in a zone-blocking scheme. One of the cleanest prospects in this year’s draft.
Another OLT to look at would be OLT Moses Morgan of Virginia. Alabama OLT Cyrus Kouandjio could be a consideration as well, but red flags from a medical standpoint has dropped Kouandjio on a lot of boards. Both of these prospects are now considered borderline 1st round, 2nd round picks.
At offensive guard, OG David Yankey of Stanford is considered the top OG, and has a chance to go in the 1st round or early in the 2nd round. A couple of OG Miami could look at in the 2nd round would be Xavier Su'a Filo of UCLA along with Gabe Jackson of Mississippi State. Here are some comments from Rob Rang of NFLDraftscout.com & CBS Sports.com. on both Filo and Jackson.
" The most experienced and pro-ready member of UCLA's talented offensive line is Su'a-Filo, a veteran of 38 career starts who some believe may look to leave campus early for the NFL given the fact that he spent two years on a Mormon mission before joining the Bruins. (10/18/13)
Strengths: Powerfully-built. Very good initial quickness, hand placement and impressive upper body strength to gain the initial advantage on defenders. Due to his core strength and flexibility, Su'a-Filo anchors very well against bull-rushes and shows lateral agility and balance in pass pro. Perfect match in UCLA's drive-blocking scheme, but has the athleticism to fit in a zone-blocking scheme as well.
Weaknesses: Has a tendency to lose leverage on contact."
STRENGTHS: Demonstrates not only the raw power expected of a man of his size but also surprisingly nimble feet and balance while in pass protection, to mirror quick rushers. Jackson plays with excellent knee bend and has long arms, which help him stay square and in control of his opponent in pass pro. He's a powerful drive blocker who uses his natural leverage advantage well, showing good leg drive to push defenders off the ball. Despite his girth, Jackson shows good lateral agility and balance to find fits at the second level. Defenders are seldom able to disengage once Jackson locks in. Is not satisfied with simply occupying space, and prides himself on pancaking and rag-doll'ing opponents. Does a nice job of absorbing the bull rush with his lower half, and rarely surrenders more than a step or two before resetting and anchoring. Comes off the snap quickly and gets up to speed quickly when asked to pull.
WEAKNESSES: Doesn't appear quite as comfortable in space, particularly when headhunting at the second level, as he struggles to break down and redirect with suddenness. Is slow to go vertical when navigating through "trash" and will get tangled up. Tends to zone in when competing one-on-one, and will lose awareness of his surroundings at times. Drops his head and throws himself at defenders too often, and will get caught over-extending in pass protection.
COMPARES TO: Larry Warford, Guard, Detroit Lions - Jackson's rare and surprising combination of size, quickness and power should remind a lot of scouts of the 2013 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Warford. Like the former Kentucky Wildcat, Jackson possesses the power to dominate opponents physically, while displaying quickness and fluidity to wall off the interior pass rush, and exhibits the burst and awareness to get down field and block for the run. Look for teams to value Jackson higher than they did Warford, after the 2013 3rd round selection took the league by storm last season, with many of the same traits.
Switching to the other side of the ball, let look at some defensive tackles the Dolphins could consider in the early rounds.
DT Louis Nix of Notre Dame, DT Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh and DT Tim Jernigan are considered the top 3 defensive tackles in this draft. Depending on what mock draft you look at, the Dolphins could have a chance at one of the 3 top DT at #19. Possible 2nd round DT are RaShede Hagerman of Minnesota and Stephen Tuitt of Notre Dame.
Here are comments from NFL.com on the top 3 DT, Nix, Donald and Jernigan.
Outstanding size. Commands a double team and has two-gap ability. Good quickness off the snap. Has press strength and power to push blockers into the backfield. Shows disruptive ability when his battery is charged. Flashes an arm-over. Redirects well for a big man. Nice pursuit effort. Strong wrap tackler. Scheme versatile.
Can play with better leverage against double teams. Does not dominate single blocking. Needs to improve hand use -- punch impact, counter moves and shed timing. Limited pass-rush value (minimal sack production). Can do a better job protecting his legs -- is not as strong on his pegs as you'd expect and spends too much time on the ground. Conditioning and stamina will have to be monitored -- takes plays off and weight has fluctuated.
Despite standing to benefit from a more dominant senior season in South Bend, Nix, who already graduated, opted to forgo his final year of eligibility in order to provide for 13 siblings. He does not enter the NFL with momentum, having coped with knee tendinitis before season-ending surgery to repair a torn left meniscus, and too often his gregarious personality and media hype overshadowed his performance. However, if the massive interior defender taps into his power more consistently, Nix has ample mass, strength and athleticism to anchor a "30" front as a space-eating, block-occupying run stuffer.
Quick off the snap. Natural leverage. Gets under pads and into gaps. Good foot athlete -- redirects well and can work the edges and loop and stunt. Flexible enough to zone drop in short area. Plays with awareness and consistently locates the ball. Closes hard and fast. Keeps working to the ball. Disruptive penetrating ability. Outstanding career production -- 63 TFL and 27.5 sacks the last three seasons. Tough and competitive. Team captain with terrific personal and football character.
Marginal height and frame is nearly maxed out. Hands are more active than strong -- could play with more pop and power. Overpowered in the run game and ground up by double teams. Gets snared and controlled by bigger, longer blockers. Not a two-gap player. Has some tweener traits -- lacks ideal length and bend to play outside.
Short, scrappy, instinctive, highly productive defensive lineman who does not look the part, but inspires confidence he can be an exception to the rule. Is the type you root for and has the quickness, athleticism and motor to earn a spot as a rotational three-technique in a fast-flowing 4-3 scheme.
Strong for his size and clogs the middle. Has disruptive ability. Bends his knees and plays with leverage. Able to stack, locate and shed. Wraps and rips down ball carriers. Coordinated hands and feet. Is difficult to engage -- has quick, active paws. Can slap, rip and swim to beat blockers and turns up the heat on passing downs. Good foot athlete for his size -- changes direction well, gives effort in pursuit and ranges outside the box. Will be a 21-year-old rookie.
Has a fleshy midsection. Lacks ideal height and overall body length. Average get-off. Can be overpowered at the point or neutralized when bigger, longer blockers get into his frame. Limited two-gap ability. Average playing range. Stiff-legged and does not change direction easily. Could stand to improve his stamina. Was a rotational player prior to junior season and would tire and take himself out in critical situations.
Slightly undersized, stoutly built, country-strong run stopper with the ability to drop anchor inside an odd front and develop into a solid, 3-4 movement nose tackle. Strength is his calling card despite his relatively modest size.
Now, let look at comments from Rob Rang of NFLDraftscout.com on Hagerman and Tuitt.
STRENGTHS: Alternately lining up over the nose or as a three-technique, Hageman consistently pushes his counterparts deep into the backfield, demonstrating rare upfield burst for a man of his size, as well as impressive strength. A brute in the middle, combining excellent size and power to push blockers deep into the pocket.
WEAKNESSES: At times struggles to locate the football quickly, can appear a bit stiff changing directions and shows just average speed and determination in pursuit, despite being subbed often. Had two potential big tackles for losses negated by facemask penalties against Minnesota in 2013.
STRENGTHS: Tantalizing upside. Highly athletic frame despite massive size. Impressive combination of length, power and surprising quickness. Scheme versatility for the 3-4 and 4-3, possessing the size of most interior linemen while maintaining the quickness to provide a rush off the edge.
WEAKNESSES: Arrived to 2013 fall came out of shape following hernia surgery and struggled to dominate as he had as a sophomore. Lack of consistency was a concern as a junior.
Next week, I will look at potential mid to late round picks on the offensive line and defensive line that could be potential targets for the Dolphins.
The testing for the NFL Combine got underway Saturday with the Offensive Linemen and Tight Ends taking center stage. The Miami Dolphins in particular, have interest in the offensive lineman, as the Dolphins are in dire need along the offensive line.
I can start off by saying that the consensus 3 top offensive lineman, OLT Jake Matthews of Texas A&M, OLT Greg Robinson of Auburn and OLT Taylor Lewan of Michigan all did very well at the combine on Saturday. Robinson and Lewan ran sub 5.0 40 and Matthews ran a 5.07. Robinson did 32 reps on the bench while Lewan did 29 and Matthews came in at 24. In the 3-cone drill, Robinson ran a 7.87, Lewan ran a 7.39 and Matthews ran a 7.34. In the 20 yard shuttle, Jake Matthews had the best time of 4.47, followed by Taylor Lewan at 4.49 and Greg Robinson ran a 4.86.
I think it safe to say that none of these kids will make it to Miami at #19, and the young man that I had mocked to Miami, Lewan, looked the best of the trio, as he looked very good in the drills as well. If Miami wants to get any of the kids mentioned, they will have to trade up.
A young man that is also a major consideration is OLT/OLG Zack Martin of Notre Dame. He did 29 reps in the bench and ran a 7.65 in the 3-cone drill. He did not run the 40 due to a minor injury. Martin has the ability to play all 5 positions on the offensive line and Mike Mayock thinks Martin can be an All-Pro OG. Plenty of people believe he can also be a top flight OLT, something the Dolphins desperately need. Also, Martin ran a 4.59 in the 20 yard shuttle.
At Offensive Guard, Stanford David Yankey is considered the top OG in the draft along with Xavier Su'a Filo of UCLA, Gabe Jackson of Mississippi State, Cyril Richardson of Baylor and Dakota Dozier of Furman. Filo had the best 40 time of 5.04 and did 25 reps on the bench press. Gabe Jackson was the best in the bench press with 30 reps, and ran a 5.51 40. Yankey did 22 reps on the bench and ran a 5.48 40. The 20 yard shuttle run is more of what you want to look at for OL personnel, and Filo had the best time of 4.44. Gabe Jackson was next at 4.78 followed by Cyril Richardson at 4.83, David Yankey at 4.86 and Dakota Dozier came in at 4.89.
The Tight Ends worked out on Saturday as well, and Eric Ebron of North Carolina, Jace Amaro of Texas Tech and Austin-Seferian-Jenkins, considered the top 3 tight ends of this draft were on hand. Ebron had the top 40 time at 4.6 followed by Amaro at 4.74, while Jenkins did not participate in the 40. Amaro did 28 reps in the bench press followed by Ebron at 24 and Jenkins did 20 reps.
Today you have the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers that are working out today, and on Monday you have the defensive line and linebackers and Tuesday, the last day, you have the defensive backs. Next Sunday I will look at kids that I believe the Dolphins could potentially target and how they did at the combine.
The Miami Dolphins will go into Free Agency in 2014 with close to 30 million dollars, so while they don't have the cap space that they had in 2013, the team still has plenty of cap space to add some key pieces to this roster.
I want to take a look at some possible free agents that I believe the Dolphins could have an interest in. Let's start with the offensive side of the ball and the unit that needs the most help, the offensive line.
Branden Albert, the OLT for Kansas City will likely not be re-signed, as Kansas City drafted OLT Eric Fisher with the thought of possibly moving him to OLT if they could not get Albert signed to a long term deal, which they could not. Albert is 29 years old and a very good OLT who has been durable during his 6 years in the league. This past year he missed 4 games due to injury, the most he has missed in his tenure. The concern is Albert will be in demand, which could spark a bidding war. The Dolphins could have acquired Albert for a 2nd round pick and less in regards to a contract in 2013, but Jeff Ireland balked at giving up the pick. Now, he is going to be a free agent at a PREMIUM position. Another OLT that would be a prime target is Eugene Monroe of the Baltimore Ravens, but it hard for me to see the Ravens letting him get away. If they do, then he would be someone that would probably be more highly thought of than Albert and he is only 26 years old. Jared Veldheer is also 26 years old, and has been solid for Oakland, but he is coming off his 1st year were injuries was a factor, as he missed 11 games in 2013. Anthony Collins of Cincinnati is a consideration as well, for both OLT & ORT. Green Bay OT Marshall Newhouse is another player that has played both OLT & ORT, and is 25 years old.
Make no mistake about it, the Dolphins need to address both OLT and ORT, and it could be via free agency or a combination of free agency and the draft.
Travelle Wharton is a veteran OLG at 32 years old from Carolina, and he is rock solid. Also, it is very apparent that this team needs solid, veteran leadership, something that Wharton can provide along with solid play at the OG position. Denver OLG Zane Beadles was a Pro Bowl player in 2012, and is 27 years old. A couple of Kansas City Cheifs could be prime targets at ORG in Geoff Schwartz, 27 years old and the starter at the end of the year. Jon Asamoah lost his spot due to injury, but is a talented ORG at only 25 years old.
OC is a position I just started considering when the news came out about Mike Pouncey being involved in the Jonathan Martin fiasco, and now it has come out that he could possibly be suspended for 1-4 games. When you combine this with his possible involvement with one Aaron Hernandez, the reason for concern with Pouncey is very legitimate. One player that I would look at if the Dolphins were to look at it a player is OC Alex Mack of Cleveland. At 28 years old, Mack is one of the top OC in the game.
I think if the Dolphins do anything from a wide receiver standpoint, it will be in the draft, and I do think having Brandon Gibson out due to injury really hurt the team, as he and QB Ryan Tannehill had developed a nice chemistry and he was turning into a go to guy for Ryan. At TE, Charles Clay finally showed the talent level and producition on the field that I thought he had when he came out of Tulsa. 1st year player Dion Sims has size and talent, but is a work in progress as is Michael Egnew. IF Miami were to look to add another talented TE, look for Green Bay TE Jermichael Finley to be a possible target if he passes his physical. He is a bigger version of Charles Clay and would give the Dolphins a lethal TE combo. Detroit TE Brandon Pettigrew could be a possible target if the Lions don't get him re-signed. He is what the Dolphins hope Sims can turn into, a player that is very good in the passing game and is a solid blocker as well.
At RB, the Dolphins have to look at a power back and a player that Dennis Hickey is very familar with is 27 year old LeGarrett Blount of New England. He is considered an early down back and not much of a factor in the passing game though. An interesting option could be former Houston Texan Ben Tate, 5'10, 214 lbs with very good speed, Tate has the ability to be an every down back given the chance. He been backing up Arian Foster, but he is now a free agent and he is 25 years old. Another intriguing player is former 1st round Miami Dolphin pick Ronnie Brown. Good in both the pass and run game, Brown, 32 years old, could be a nice veteran pick up for Miami. Oakland Raider Rashad Jennings could be a interesting options if he does not re-sign with the Raiders. Jennings, 29 years old, has the size you like at 6'1, 228 lbs and he good in the passing game as well as the run game.
Switching to the defensive side of the ball, Miami has some of their own free agents that they have to make decisions on. I do believe the Dolphins will look to re-sign DT/NT Paul Soliai and in my opinion, CB Brent Grimes is a MUST re-sign. Grimes, coming off an achilles injury proved not only that he had overcome the injury, but he had a Pro Bowl season for the Dolphins. With that said, let look at the defensive side of the ball.
The Dolphins have went from a top 3 run defense in 2011 to the 24th ranked run defense in 2013. When healthy, Soliai can still be a factor against the run. A kid Miami could look at if Soliai wants more than they want to pay for a player his age is Linval Joseph, the massive 25 year old run stuffer from the New York Giants. He does a pretty good job providing interior pass pressure as well, as he had 3 sacks. DT Pat Sims of Oakland could be a consideration as well, as Kevin Coyle coached Sims while he was with the Benglas. Sims is very good against the run.
At OLB, a kid that Dennis Hickey is familar with is Dekoda Watson, 25, who is starting to get run with Tampa Bay. He has speed and is very good in coverage. OLB Rob Jackson could be an interesting options on the cheap. He is 28 years old. These are guys that Miami can sign at team friendly contracts that can provide depth and compete for playing time.
ILB that can provide depth and compete for playing time are is Arthur Moats of Buffalo. Help Miami and hurt the Bills would be a good thing, and this 25 year old kid has ability. An intriguing veteran would be Daryl Smith of Baltimore. At 31 years old, he could again be a solid veteran on this young team. As much as Darnelle Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler struggled, he could compete for a starting job at a fraction the cost.
At safety, the Dolphins have to make a decision on Chris Clemons. If they decide to go the free agency route, Buffalo safety Jarius Byrd has to be at the top of the list. Byrd is a playmaker with top notch coverage skills and ball skills, something that Clemons lacks. Byrd will be looking for top dollar, but if the Dolphins want to upgrade this position, this 27 year old is THE guy. Clemons has been solid for Miami, and he and Rehad Jones have solid chemistry, so if Byrd is not the guy, I would think the Dolphins would look to bring Clemons back.
At cornerback, as I mentioned, CB Brent Grimes is a free agent, but I fully expect the Dolphins to re-sign him. CB Nolan Carroll is a free agent as well, and he is coming off a very solid year for Miami. You need more than your starting CB to be solid, and I do believe the Dolphins will look to re-sign Carroll as well. Dmitri Patterson is the key piece. When healthy, he has been VERY good. That the problem, as Patterson has played in only 5 games for Miami and is 30 years old. Miami will probably approach Patterson about restructuring his contract to a more team friendly deal, but if he balks at that, he will be released in my opinion. If that happens, a CB that I would look at is CB Sam Shiels of Green Bay. At 26 years old, Shields is coming off a very good year, but he is looking to get paid. Seattle CB Walter Thurmond could be a possiblity as well as Tennessee Titan CB Alterraun Verner. Also, remember the Dolphins have their own draft picks from 2013, Will Davis and Jamar Taylor, and they will be expected to contribute much more in 2014.
There are a lot more names out there, and many, many things will shape how the Dolphins use free agency. This will also shape how the Dolphins approach the draft, and I will discuss the draft much more in the following weeks.
Still trying to get a gauge on how Dennis Hickey and his philosophy on talent. With that said, we know the Dolphins have obvious needs that have to be addressed. Free agency will be used, and that always effects how a team drafts.
One thing that I do believe is that Tampa Bay likes to draft kids from BCS schools.
I thought I would put a little something out there for you guys to chew on.
Without question, OL is THE #1 issue that Miami needs to address. Taylor had an inconsistent year this year, but the talent level around him dropped and OL is about chemistry level as well. He still had a solid year and in his matchup against Jadaveon Clowney in the Outback Bowl in 2013, he did a great job against Clowney.
RB Lamar Miller is a nice back, but he is a finesse back. And while his pass blocking has improved, there has been times were he has just been overpowered. Hyde is a big, physical back that runs with power and has some shake to him and good speed for a back his size. Miami needs a more physical back, especially on short yardage plays.
Once again, the Dolphins have to address the OL, as ORT John Jerry seems to not be able to control his weight and his play has not been what you would want. Thick compact frame that is ideal to gain leverage, but quick enough to pull. Is coming off a partially torn labrum, which he had surgery on and missed the Sugar Bowl.
Miami went from a top 10 unit against the run to finishing 24th against the run. Both Paul Soliai and Randy Starks are free agents. McCullers was a kid that demanded a double team and was still a force against the run.
Chris Clemons is a free agent and the Dolphins could always use a playmaker on the back end. The redshirt junior ended his career as SC with 11 career interceptions and 222 tackles.
ORT Tyson Clabo got off to a slow start, but played better once he got a chance to get his job back after the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito fisaco. But he still had a lot of issues and he getting up in age. Fleming is a powerful run blocker that struggles with speed on the edge, thus he is strictly an ORT.
Aaron would be projected much higher if not for tearing his ACL at the Senior Bowl. Miami has to make a decision on Dmitri Patterson and Brent Grimes is a free agent along with Nolan Carroll. Miami has Will Davis and Jamar Taylor, but Colvin is a talent worth taking a chance on at this point. I also expect Brent Grimes to be re-signed as well.
We got a long way to go and a lot of things that are going to change.
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