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Week 2: Dolphins at Bills
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.