Last year, London draftnik Simon Clancy wrote the longest, most in-depth posts available examining the Dolphins needs leading into the NFL draft. This year, Simon will take turns with his cohorts at UniversalDraft.com , Richard Lines and Chris Kouffman. (Two new mock drafts are posted on their site.)http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/sports/ ... l+blogs%29
This week, it's all Simon writing aabout the free-agent period and defensive backs. As always, there's a listing of who the Dolphins are interviewing for the draft. There's also an interview with Southern Methodist receiving coach Jeff Reinebold.
The flirtation with Clark, albeit unsuccessfully is also an interesting one because it points again to a rather outdated philosophy; bringing in two run playing safeties, neither of whom are particularly strong when the ball’s in the air. However, the Dolphins clearly and rightly believe that the safety position could be filled via free agency with names such as Rolle/Atogwe/Sharper and Clark.
Dansby aside, they simply cannot strengthen the linebacking corps much more before the draft given the remarkable lack of talent there. Which segueways neatly on to the final portion of the 2010 Scouting Combine in Indianapolis which we couldn’t cover last week as it was still going on.
The defensive backs worked out Tuesday and it was a welcome opportunity to see two of the finest ball playing free safeties to leave the college ranks in many a year. Eric Berry of Tennessee solidified his position as a master of his craft with one of the finest workouts I’ve seen in a long time, displaying better technique and smoother hips than the highest rated corner on many people’s boards, Florida’s Joe Haden. He was outstanding in drills and attacked the ball in the air. Despite him almost certainly not getting out of the top 7 picks, he was one of the busiest prospects in Indianapolis and was interviewed by the Dolphins.
If Berry is the number one ranked safety in the draft then Texas’s Earl Thomas is 1a. Probably better playing the ball in the air than Berry, he’s not quite the gifted run defender that the former Volunteer is, but I believe he’s in a very small group of potential picks at the 12 spot.
His workout was almost as spectacular as Berry’s and both solidified a top 15 spot with 4.4 forty’s. Thomas, like Berry also met with the Dolphins. He would make an awful lot of sense at 12 because of his ability when the ball’s in the air, his instinct and the fact that you could line him up at CB if need be.
As for other prospects that the Dolphins met with in Indianapolis, I spoke to a number of draft eligible prospects this week who all confirmed speaking with Miami at one stage or another. Georgia defensive tackle Jeff Owens, who turned in a very strong performance in Indianapolis told me that he met with Miami at the Combine. As did Oregon State linebacker Keaton Kristick.
This marks the second time that Kristick has spoken with members of the Dolphins as he’d previously confirmed to us that he’d had informal meetings at the Shrine practices in Orlando
I also spoke to Florida WR Riley Cooper who told me that he hadn’t been one of the Dolphins interviews in Indianapolis but that he’d spoken with the coaches down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. Cooper is a solid target, but one who strikes me as possessing a similar skill set to that of last years 4th round pick Brian Hartline.
One receiver with who possesses ability and whose stock is rising into the second round area is Taylor Price of Ohio University. At 6’0 and 204lbs he ran a 4.40 forty and although he’s raw, he’s quick, shows good ability to run the route tree cleanly and can separate from the defensive back to make plays. (There is a short prospect video of his on the website if you’re unfamiliar with his game). He struggles with consistency when blocking but he reminds some people of Green Bay’s vastly underrated Greg Jennings. Price was one of the Dolphins formal interviews in Indianapolis.
The pro days have also started in earnest. Details are still trickling in about Miami attendances, although confirmations should start coming thick and fast. However, I can confirm that we had representatives at the Utah pro day yesterday. One of the great Combine snubs, free safety Robert Johnson ran in the 4.55 region and looked the part in drills, as did slot WR David Reed who I spoke to Sean Smith about a few weeks ago and is a player who our starting corner likes a good deal having gone against him every day in practice: “He’s definitely a challenge, because he’s quick and gets open consistently. I think he's very good at going UP for the ball in the air, and especially with the ball in his hands, his YAC.”
The main attraction at Utah was OLB Koa Misi who didn’t disappoint, with some reports saying that he looked ‘fabulous’ in the drills. At 6’2, 251 he ran a 4.70 forty in Indianapolis and had a similarly strong workout.
SC: You’re not only a coach but you’re also someone who takes a keen interest in both the NFL and the rest of the college football world. Miami clearly need a wide receiver and there is a possibility that Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State makes it to the 12 pick. What’s your opinion of Bryant?
JR: “Dez Bryant will go high. He’s exactly the sort of player that Miami are looking for. He’s got the size and some of the physicality that Jeff (Ireland) will be looking for but I’m not a Bryant fan. He’s a long way from being finished. The biggest issue I have is that he doesn’t play hard every snap. Does he want it enough? No question that he has loads of ability. Crabtree like ability. But my concern is that he doesn’t want it enough.”