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Week 2: Dolphins at Bills
The 1st week of Free Agency has come and gone and Miami has done a very good job of addressing some key needs on the team, none bigger than obtaining an OLT. After re-signing their own in CB Brent Grimes before free agency started along with Detroit SS Louis Delmas, on the 1st day of free agency, the Dolphins signed OLT Brandon Albert of Kansas City. This signing starts the rebuilding of the offensive line for Miami, and they added OG Shelley Smith of St. Louis on Friday. The Dolphins are pursuing ORT Zach Strief of New Orleans, and if he cannot re-sign with the Saints, which is his preference, Miami will get his first visit.
Miami also re-signed their own DT Randy Starks along with Houston DT Earl Mitchell and also added St. Louis Rams CB Courtland Finnegan. General Manager Dennis Hickey has done a very good job so far, but there is work still to be done. We are now getting into the phase of free agency were the contracts are not nearly as lucrative, and teams can sign players and get value. The Dolphins still have work to do.
With that said, let's take a look at the skill position people the Dolphins could have interest in after the NFL Combine and with the 1st week of free agency behind us, starting with the Running Backs.
Miami is looking at big backs, and RB Carlos Hyde of Ohio State is my #1 RB and a possible 1st-2nd round pick. At 6'0, 230 lbs, Hyde runs with power and has the speed to get the corner as well. He has very good hands and is effective in the pass game, and is a very good pass protector as well. Here is a write up on Hyde from NFL.com.
Very well built -- looks every bit the part. Outstanding size, explosive power and run strength -- can be his own blocker and create his own holes. Punishes linebackers running downhill and almost always falls forward. Superb contact balance and finishing strength -- does not go down easily and can barrel through arm tackles. Extremely powerful short-yardage/goal-line runner. Gets better with a lather as the game progresses. Took over the game in the fourth quarter vs. Northwestern (2013) and willed team to victory. Surprisingly quick in short spaces and can plant hard and go. Is solid in pass protection and can stonewall blitzers in their tracks. Good awareness and anticipation to react to stunts and adjust to movement. Soft hands-catcher.
Lacks elite breakaway speed. Average elusiveness and make-you-miss. Is still learning what it means to really work and be a pro -- entered program with some underachiever traits early in career. Weight fluctuated earlier in his career and needs to pay more attention to nutrition. Has missed at least two games in three seasons.
A big, strong, powerful, NFL feature back who carried the Buckeyes' offense as a senior and proved he can be a workhorse. Solid all-around, chunk runner well-built for the physicality of the AFC North.
Another big back that could intrigue Miami in the 2nd-3rd round is LSU RB Jeremy Hill. At 6'1, 233 lbs, Hill fits the mode as well and is similar in running style to Hyde, although he is not as good in the passing game and like Hyde, has some issues off the field that need to be investigated, especially Hill. Here is a write up on Hill from NFL.com.
Outstanding size. Good initial quickness -- gets rolling downhill in a hurry. Quick feet for a bigger back. Slashes through holes. Spins off tackles and picks up yards after contact. Shows good hands in limited exposure -- effective short receiver. Productive in a pro-style power offense -- averaged nearly 7 yards per carry as a sophomore. Takes care of the ball -- one fumble in 371 career touches. Has tread on his tires and will be a 21-year-old rookie.
Average vision and balance. Shows some hip tightness and does not string moves together. Can do a better job running behind his pads between the tackles -- enters the hole upright, negating his ability to move the pile. Gears down to cut laterally and slide to another hole. Average second-level burst. Lacks elite top-end speed to pull away from the pack and can be tracked down before reaching the edge. Was not used extensively as a receiver and did not run a variety of routes. Was contained by Alabama. Character, maturity and stability must be investigated thoroughly.
Big, thickly built, athletic slasher with an overinflated sense of his abilities and character red flags, which could cause some teams to shy away. Fits best in a downhill scheme and has potential to be a 20-carry back in the NFL, but must run to his size more consistently and prove his unstable behavior is a thing of the past.
A talented back in the 3rd round that the Dolphins could look at is West Virginia RB Charles Sims. Not quite as big as Hill and Hyde, Sims comes in at 6'0, 214 lbs. Sims is an explosive, one cut back that would fit well in the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins employ. Sims is also very good in the passing game as a receiver, although like Hill, he needs work as a pass protector. Here is the write up on Sims from NFL.com.
Quick-footed with first-step suddenness and short-area burst. Fluid and fast -- accelerates in a hurry and shows speed to the edge. Explosive one-cut ability -- understands how to get downhill. Loose lower body with nice ankle flexion to cut sharply. Flashes ability to spin off contact. Soft hands -- catches easily away from his body (had 70 catches as a freshman and averaged more than 10 yards per catch for his career). Creates after the catch. Hardworking and leads by example.
Does not have an ideal build for the position and durability is a concern -- is narrow with a relatively thin lower body. Needs to bulk up. Relatively tall running style. Can do a better job running behind his pads and converting speed to power. Shows some hip tightness. Average tackle breaker (too often grounded by single tacklers). Ran exclusively out of the pistol/shotgun formation. Has very small hands and carries loosely at times. Lacks elite, top-end "wow" speed. Blocking is a question mark. Will be a 24-year-old rookie.
Athletic, competitive, tough, upright slasher who is an asset as a receiver -- hands rate among the best on a RB in recent years. Cannot project as a bellcow, but offers playmaking ability as part of a tandem in a zone scheme. Speed and durability could determine ultimate draft value.
A back that could intrigue the Dolphins in the 5th-6th round is Alabama State RB Isaiah Crowell. At 5'11, 224 lbs, Crowell has the size the Dolphins are looking for. Highly recruited RB that commited to Georgia, Crowell has talent, but is a work in progress still. Here is a write up on Crowell from NFL.com.
Good vision and run strength -- runs hard and has a knack for finding seams. Presses the line of scrimmage and shows nice short-area burst to attack the outside.
Average balance and tackle-breaking power. Cannot make his own holes and goes down too easy on contact, especially inside. Minimal receiving production. Soft, disinterested pass protector. Lacks top finishing speed. Effort waned late in games. Beats to the tune of his own drummer. Extremely immature and has a history of off-field issues. Can be difficult to coach.
An adequate-sized back with the run instincts and perimeter running skills to compete for a job in a situational role if he learns to commit himself to the process and figures out what it means to be a pro.
A couple of talented running backs that Miami could look at in the 2nd-3rd round that don't quite fit the bigger back mode is Auburn RB Tre Mason and Washington RB Bishop Sankey. Kent State Dri Archer is an explosive RB/WR that could be looked at in the 5th-6th round.
Tre Mason is coming off a sensational year with Auburn, and I had a chance to see the young man many times on TV and live at the BCS National Championship game against Florida State. Mason comes in at 5'8, 207 lbs, has very good vision and quick feet and uses the jump cut with ease. Big play ability and has shown he can handle a heavy workload. There are some concerns about the scheme he comes from and has limited exposure to the passing game. Here is a write up on Mason from NFL.com.
Low center of gravity and pad level. Quick out of the blocks. Good vision to pick and slide. Can jump-cut abruptly and change the angle of pursuit. Darts through holes -- excellent stop-and-start quickness. Spins off contact. Forward lean. Runs bigger than his size and finishes runs. Flashes good hands and creativity as a short receiver in limited exposure. Trustworthy in pass protection -- faces up rushers. Has kickoff-return experience and has shown he can take it the distance. Proved capable of handling a heavy workload and played big in big games against top competition.
Lacks ideal size and could stand to bulk up to withstand a pounding. At times dances more than he should instead of taking what the defense gives. Seldom used as a receiver out of the backfield and could sharpen his route running. Can take better care of the football -- eight fumbles the last two seasons. Durability could be an issue given his running style. Played in an up-tempo, power-spread system and benefited from light boxes, fatigued defenses and a strong offensive line.
The SEC Player of the Year, Mason is a compactly built, nifty-footed runner with a balanced skill set to merit 20 touches per game at the next level. Fits in multiple schemes and has the chops to make an impact as a rookie.
Bishop Sankey is very similar to Mason in that he can handle the heavy workload and has a similar build as well, as he comes in at 5'9, 209 lbs. He has the advantage over Mason in that he came from a pro style offense. Here is the write up on Sankey from NFL.com.
Good vision and balance. Subtle lateral agility to pick, slide and accelerate. Reads his blocks and instinctively runs to daylight. Fluid gate and efficient movement. Runs competitively. Good hands to pull in throws off his body. Was productive with a heavy workload in a pro-style offense. Team captain.
Lacks ideal bulk and functional run strength -- not a robust tackle-breaker. Too often grounded by single-tacklers or tripped up by the ankles. Shows some hip tightness. Average explosion, speed and elusiveness. Has shown he can be contained by good defenses. Needs to become a more dependable, physical, fundamentally sound pass protector.
The Pac-12’s leading rusher, Sankey has an overall average skill set and generally gains what is blocked for him. Is instinctive, competitive and shifty enough to be effective as a complementary zone runner, but must improve in pass protection.
A favorite player of mine, and a kid that could have that Darren Sproles type of role and ability is Kent State RB Dri Archer. At 5'8, 173 lbs, Dri had the fastest time at the NFL Combine, running a 4.28 40. He plays at that speed on the field as well and is a bonafide playmaker. His junior year he had 159 carries for 1,429 yards and 16 touchdowns while having 39 catches for 561 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was hurt his senior season and had only68 carries for 527 yards and 6 touchdowns while having 25 catches for 327 yards and 4 touchdowns. He averaged 9.0 and 7.8 yards per carry those respective years. He is considered a 5th-6th round pick and could be looked at as a RB or WR. This is what NFL.com had to say about Archer.
Outstanding burst, acceleration and top-end speed to take the corner and create big plays. Can fly by MAC competition with top gear. Very good agility, balance, vision and creativity. Weaves through a crowd and can find daylight. Soft-handed and plucks the ball with ease. Extremely strong pound-for-pound. Very good career all-purpose yardage. Good versatility -- contributes as a runner, slot receiver and return man. Four career kickoff-return TDs (and was kicked away from).
Very short and rail thin with no strength or running power. Not a tackle-breaker and goes down easy on contact. Limited inside runner. Can be knocked off routes easily and struggles catching on contact. Not a nuanced route runner. Very marginal, underpowered blocker. Could stand to do a better job securing the ball in traffic. Is not ideally built to withstand a full NFL season.
Explosive playmaker lacking requisite size for the pro game. Was slowed by an ankle injury early and did not return to junior form until late in senior season. Can make an immediate impact in the return game and add value as a multipurpose threat. Long-term durability is greatest concern given tiny frame.
Switching over to the Tight Ends, there is a clear cut 1st round pick in this draft, North Carolina Eric Ebron. At 6'4, 250 lbs, Ebron has the size that you like, and while he does not have the freaky athletecism that Vernon Davis has, he is a very athletic big man and is one of those type of tight ends that can be a big play waiting to happen. With the Dolphins addressing some major holes so far during free agency, if Ebron were to be their for Miami at #19, the Dolphins could very well pull the trigger. Let look at the review that NFLDraftScout.com had to say about Ebron.
STRENGTHS: Smooth, gliding athlete with easy acceleration to speed past defenders in coverage and finish. Agile feet and dangerous after the catch to create with quick cuts to make defenders miss.
Quick release off the LOS with route fluidity and natural flexibility. Smooth adjustments to pluck the ball with his hands away from his body - large catching radius. Physical when he wants as a blocker with strong initial power at the point of attack. Very good toughness and plays unintimidated and confident. Good football awareness and plays alert.
Versatile experience lining up in-line, but mostly in the slot - also plays on special teams coverage. Still far from his ceiling.
WEAKNESSES: Still developing his body with room to add bulk and get stronger. Still learning how to use his size to his advantage. Needs to show more authority in his routes and is too easily redirected - needs to be more physical in this area to match up in tight spaces.
Needs to be more aggressive and strong at the catch point, especially in contested situations. Has his share of focus drops and needs to be more consistent finishing catches. Good length, but won't overwhelm defenders in the run game. Blocking technique needs developing - somewhat untested as an in-line blocker. Room to refine and sharpen his routes. Right shoulder injury in 2013.
COMPARES TO: Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers - Freaky athletic specimens, both Ebron and Davis move like wide receivers, but have the size and length of tight ends to create mismatches in coverage.
Another talented tight end that is a borderline 1st round-2nd round pick is Texas Tech Jace Amaro. Amaro has certainly been tremendously productive in the pass happy Texas Tech offense, and has great size at 6'5, 260 lbs. While he did not run as fast as some thought at the combine, he has football speed and has more than enough speed to threaten the seams of a defense. Here is what NFLDraftScout.com had to say about Amaro.
STRENGTHS: Lining up mostly in the slot, Amaro is a big, fluid athlete who uses his thick body to gain proper positioning in coverage and uses his large, soft mitts to attack the ball in the air. He is a balanced route-runner and collects himself when changing direction with smooth moves to create separation. Amaro is dangerous after the catch and isn't an easy ballcarrier to bring down, running with power and toughness.
WEAKNESSES: Some maturity and attitude questions that will need to be addressed. Receiving tight end who won't be a fit for all schemes unless he can get in an NFL training program and bulk up.
A young man that really does intrigue me and is a 2nd round consideration is Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington. A huge target at 6'6, 276 lbs, Jenkins has also been very productive while at Washington and is certainly a big red zone target with 21 career touchdowns. Here is what NFLDraftScout.com had to say about Jenkins.
STRENGTHS: Broad-shouldered, long-armed mismatch in the passing game with rare body control and soft hands for a man of his size. Good initial quickness off the snap and possesses very long arms and strong hands to get a clean release off the line of scrimmage.
Reliable route-runner. Finds holes in the defense and settles, presenting a massive target to his quarterback. Catches the ball with defenders in close proximity due to his size advantage, as well as concentration and toughness to hang on while absorbing a hit. Impressive flexibility and body control for a man of his size. Adjusts well to the ball, showing the range to leap high or bend low, exhibiting an impressive catch radius. Smooth accelerator with at least fair top-end speed.
Imposing ballcarrier with the ball in his hands, capable of running through arm-tackles. Improved significantly as a blocker in 2013, showing greater strength and aggression as the Huskies featured others in a new high-octane spread offense.
Displayed humility and accountability by serving one-day sentence in jail and speaking to youth (along with the arresting officer, and a mother of a high school-aged student killed in a DUI-related accident) about the dangers of alcohol after pleading guilty to a DUI rather than pleading out and taking a lesser sentence.
WEAKNESSES: Not as physically dominating as his size would indicate, playing with more finesse and technique than power. Does not possess the straight-line speed to challenge as a deep threat down the seam and isn't a nifty runner capable of eluding would-be tacklers.
DUI conviction based on a single-car accident on March 9, 2013 in which Seferian-Jenkins reportedly registered a 0.18 blood-alcohol content rating, more than twice Washington's .08 legal limit. Suffered a broken right pinkie prior to the 2013 season.
COMPARES TO: Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars - Like the former UCLA Bruins star, Seferian-Jenkins unique size and hands made him almost impossible to cover in college, especially in the red zone. Less than elite speed and fluidity, however, makes Seferian-Jenkins more of a traditional security blanket over the middle rather than the Jimmy Graham-like seam threat so en vogue in today's NFL.
Another 2nd round consideration is Notre Dame Troy Niklas, another big target that is also a great blocker in the run game. Very versatile, as he was split out as a wide receiver and an H-back for the Irish. Hers what NFLDraftScout.com had to say about Niklas.
STRENGTHS: Prototypical build for today's matchup nightmare at tight end. Excellent height, long arms and a well-built frame. Experience on the defensive side of the ball is shown with his physical nature on the field.
Seems to enjoy blocking, rocking opponents with an impressive initial punch and latching on to control throughout the play. Keeps his legs driving through contact.
Uses his height and strength to get open against tight coverage, consistently winning the physical battle with opponents to create space. Good leaping ability, flashing the ability to extend and pluck.
Used in a variety of roles for the Irish, including as an inline blocker from both sides, split out wide and even used as an occasional H-back or as a third tackle in pass protection. Secures the football quickly and turns aggressively upfield, dragging would-be tacklers along the way.
Good bloodlines. Nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.
WEAKNESSES: Developing route-runner. Rounds off, rather than explodes out of his breaks, allowing defenders to remain closer than they should. Relies on pushing off from defenders too often to get open and wasn't asked to run the complete route tree, typically running just quick curls, drags and posts down the seam.
Possesses sneaky but not elite top-end speed to take the top off the defense and does not possess lateral agility to make defenders miss. A bit of a bull in a china closet.
COMPARES TO: Anthony Fasano, Kansas City Chiefs - Like another former Golden Domer, Niklas isn't going to wow you with his agility or straight-line speed. In just two seasons at the position he is already among the classes' most reliable blockers and is an effective underneath target. With further development, Niklas could ultimately emerge as a much more productive NFL player than Fasano, a solid starter in his own right.
A 3rd-4th round consideration could be C.J Fiedorowicz of Iowa. Another big target at 6'6, 265 lbs, C.J compares favorably to Jenkins, except he is a much better blocker. Here is what NFLDraftScout.com had to say about Fiedorowicz.
STRENGTHS: Good versatility, showing the ability to come off a down block to get past defenders as a receiver. Good body control and soft hands for such a large man, traits that have led Washington junior Austin Seferian-Jenkins to earn a lot of attention as a possible first-round pick. Fiedorowicz isn't as flashy as ASJ, but he's just as big and fast in a straight-line and is a much more physical and attentive blocker.
A 6th-7th round consideration could be Tennessee State A.C Leonard. A very athletic TE that reminds me of the Dolphins Charles Clay, Leonard comes in at 6'2, 252 lbs and has the speed the threaten seams and seperate on crosses. Marginal size and power to be an inline blocker and is a definite work in progress from that standpoint. Off the field issues for Leonard certainly need to be looked into as well. This is what NFL.com had to say about Leonard.
Releases quickly into routes. Relatively loose athlete with nice balance. Good speed to stretch the seam and separate on crossers. Soft hands -- can extend to catch off his frame. Shakes tacklers and creates yards after the catch. Flashes mismatch and playmaking ability. Lined up all over.
Marginal size, bulk and strength to block in-line. Will be overpowered by NFL defensive ends -- struggles to sustain, lets defenders cross his face and is not a finisher. Could stand to sharpen his route running and field awareness. Swings the ball loosely away from his body and fumbled three times in 2013. Marginal competition. Character, maturity and stability need to be investigated.
A highly touted recruit who began his college career at Florida, Leonard is an athletic, one-dimensional, "move" tight end with good hands and run-after-catch ability. Will have to convince decision-makers of his trustworthiness, and will go as far as his receiving ability takes him.
The final group of skill personnel to look at is the wide receivers, and this is considered to be one of the strongest and deepest groups in the draft. Clemson WR Sammy Watkins is considered the top wide receiver in the draft and will not get to the Dolphins. Miami would have to trade up probably into the top 5 to get Watkins, and I don't see Miami doing that.
The thought is that Miami could use a "BIG" wide receiver, and one that could possibly drop to them at #19 is Texas A&M Mike Evans. 6'5, 231 lbs with 4.5 40 speed, Evans was a mismatch for defensive backs in the SEC with his size. He was Johnny Manziel #1 target at Texas A&M, and was very productive while at A&M, coming off of a 65 catch, 1,322 yard and 12 touchdown season. Here is what NFLScoutDraft.com had to say about Evans.
STRENGTHS: Highly physical receiver who uses his size and strength to simply bully defenders. Possesses an NFL-ready body, aiding him in his fight through press coverage, pushing off to generate consistent (if illegal) separation, when boxing out defenders on jump balls and in providing excellent downfield blocking for teammates.
Possesses excellent body control and sticky hands to make difficult receptions. Shows the ability to track passes over either shoulder, as well as the balance and hand-eye coordination to turn and adjust to the ball. Excellent red-zone target.
Evans challenges cornerbacks to tackle him, initiating the contact and, at times, dragging would-be tacklers for extra yardage. Does not possess elite burst but is a smooth accelerator with deceptive straight-line speed, making him a very effective deep threat.
WEAKNESSES: Classic long-strider who does not possess the preferred burst off the snap to instantly challenge defenders off the line or out of his breaks. Relies too much on his size and physicality to win at the catch-point because he struggles to gain consistent separation. Able to dominate the smaller, weaker corners at the collegiate level but could struggle to do so in the NFL.
COMPARES TO: Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Like Jackson, Evans is a huge target whose size, strength and body control make him equally dangerous when fighting off defenders for contested passes and when using his long strides as a deceptive deep threat.
Another big, talented wide receiver that will probably be a late 1st-2nd round pick is Florida State Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin comes in at 6'5, 241 pounds and runs in the 4.6 range, and like Evans, is a mismatch problem for defensive backs. I had a chance to see Benjamin on several occasions, and this is a kid that took a quantum leap in his play from 2012. Could have used another year at FSU, but at 24 years old, I can understand why he came out. Had 54 catches for 1,011 yards while averaging 18.7 yards per catch and 15 touchdown passes. Numbers would have been more if Florida State did not have 2 other wide receivers with over 900 yards. Here is what NFLDraftScout.com had to say about Benjamin.
STRENGTHS: Near-tight end size (6-5, 235) with a ridiculously large wingspan, giving him a catching radius that is probably on-par with anyone at the NFL level.
Shows the gliding speed and short-area quickness to create some separation and be a terror in jump-ball situations, especially in the red zone. Big hands, good hand-eye coordination and impressive body control to snatch passes outside of his frame. Tracks the ball well over his shoulder.
Experienced playing outside and in the slot and shows courage in crossing the middle. Tough to bring down in the open field, using his long arms to effectively stiff-arm defenders and showing suddenness to accelerate once the ball is in his hands. Attentive downfield blocker who works to seal off defenders as well as peel back to take out opponents in pursuit.
WEAKNESSES: Still developing as a route-runner, adding to questions about his ability to play a large role immediately in the NFL. While his size is problematic for defenders, Benjamin's length makes it difficult for him to sink his hips and explodes out of cuts, making him much better suited to verticals and crossing routes than double-moves, limiting his fit to certain schemes.
Drops too many passes. Allows the ball into his chest too often. Will take his eyes off the ball in an attempt to make the defender miss before actually securing the pass, leading to an occasional ugly drop. Seems to especially struggle with low passes, a problem for many taller receivers.
COMPARES TO: Plaxico Burress, Pittsburgh Steelers - Possessing impressive acceleration and a similar frame as the 6-5, 232-pound Burress, Benjamin is a big play waiting to happen. The junior remains rough around the edges, however, making him a bit of a boom-or-bust prospect.
Another big wide receiver that could be a 2nd round consideration will be Vanderbilt Jordan Matthews. At 6'3, 212 lbs with 4.5 speed, Matthews is a polished wide receiver and a talented prospect that has been through the battles in the SEC. Matthews is coming off of a 112 catch, 1,477 yards and 7 touchdown season. Here is the write up from NFLDraftScout.com on Matthews.
STRENGTHS: Chiseled frame that was more impressive than higher-profile names also at the Senior Bowl. Size/speed combination along with his hand/eye coordination and body control makes him an attractive prospect, showing the ability to make plays at all levels of the field and do damage after the catch.
Balanced route-runner with a sizeable catching radius. Size allowed him to be moved inside and out in Vandy's offense, allowing the team to find him favorable matchups. Detailed and reliable route-runner. Very good hand-eye coordination to haul in tough passes, including one-handed catches.
WEAKNESSES: Good, but not great build-up speed and may lack an elite second gear to gain separation. Lean-muscled and needs to do more in contested situations.
Compares To: Earl Bennett, Bears ? Matthews joins Bennett as potentially the best receivers Vanderbilt has produced to the NFL in years. Matthews is two inches taller than Bennett, but share a similar concern about whether he lacks the straight-line speed to consistently beat NFL cornerbacks.
A 3rd round consideration could be Clemson Martavis Bryant. Coming in at 6'4, 211 lbs with 4.4 40 speed, Bryant has intriguing size and speed, but like Benjamin, Bryant certainly could have used another year of school, as he is still raw. Coming off a 42 catch, 828 yards, 7 touchdown season, Bryant would have been the featured wide receiver with Sammy Watkins gone. Let's take a look at what NFLDraftScout.com had to say about Bryant.
STRENGTHS: Tall, linear athlete with long arms. Above average vertical speed with long strides to accelerate and eat up yards quickly - galloping long-speed to easily gain a step (17 receptions of 20-plus yards in 2013). Flexible and balanced with easy body control to adjust and use his length.
Nice job catching the ball in stride and away from his body. Wide catching radius and will make acrobatic and off-target catches look easy. Good timing and aggressiveness in 50/50 chances with very good leaping ability. Quick footwork to release off the line of scrimmage and make sharp cuts in his routes - good short-area burst to gain a step in/out of his breaks.
Competitive kid. Coming off career-bests as a junior in 2013, finishing second on the team in receiving behind Sammy Watkins.
WEAKNESSES: Tall and long, but not physically imposing from a bulk standpoint - very lean and needs to continue to put meat on his bones. Very inconsistent concentration with too many double-catches and drops at the college level.
Wasn't asked to run a full route tree in Clemson's offense and unrefined in this area. Room to learn patience, hesitation and better body language in his patterns to hold defenders and better sell routes. Needs to get stronger to match up better in tight coverage and show better power after the catch. Only one year of starting experience.
COMPARES TO: Stephen Hill, New York Jets - Similar to Hill when he entered the NFL, Bryant is a tall, legit vertical threat with potential to be drafted higher than expected, but needs to become more well-rounded as a pass-catcher and become more consistent at the catch point to reach his full potential.
A 4th-5th round consideration could be Pittsburgh Devin Street. Coming in at 6'3, 200 lbs, Street is a smooth athelet with natural body control and the toughness to work the middle of the field. Big target with a sizable catch radius with deceptive speed. Street is coming off a 51 catch, 854 yards and 7 touchdown season. He averaged 16.7 yards per catch. This is what NFL.com had to say about Devin.
Has excellent length and room for added bulk. Chews up ground with long strides. Is a big target underneath with a sizable catch radius. Shows natural receiving skills to track, concentrate and adjust. Soft, dependable hands to extend and pull in a throw off his body. Uses his big frame to post up defensive backs. Nice field awareness. Lined up outside and inside. Solid personal and football character. Productive, 40-game starter. Team captain.
Has a thin build and could stand to pack on body armor -- durability could be an issue. Needs to get stronger, particularly to improve his release vs. the jam. Builds to speed and is not a threat to take the top off. Leggy and fairly straight-linish -- does not pop out of breaks or separate with quickness. Inconsistent route runner. Not aggressive or physical as a blocker. Can be more cognizant of ball security -- carries loosely and swings the ball away from his body. Limited special-teams utility.
Pitt’s all-time leading pass catcher, Street is a narrowly built, long-levered, smooth-muscled receiver whose best assets are his length and hands. Needs to incorporate more physicality into his overall game, but has the ability to be an effective zone beater and red-zone target.
If the Dolphins decide to look at more explosive wide receivers, you have a bevy of prospects to look at, and let's begin with looking at 1st round target, Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks is a compact 5'11, 189 lbs with great speed, running a 4.33 40. More importantly, he plays to that times speed. Explosive, with a natural burst, excellent stop and start moves, he reminds you of St. Louis wide receiver Tavon Austin, but he is more refined in his game. Brandin is coming off a 128 catch, 1,730 yards, 16 touchdown season. He averaged 13.5 yards per catch. Here is what NFLDraftScout.com had to say about Cooks.
STRENGTHS: Special athlete with explosive feet and natural burst - springs in his legs. Fluid body control with excellent start/stop moves, open-field vision and patient hesitation to elude defenders - joystick moves with loose hips and joints. Beautiful acceleration with speed to burn - electric after the catch.
Quick hands to adjust and pluck with very good coordination to look the ball into his mitts. Quick footwork to set up his routes and fool defenders - has worked hard to fine-tune this area. Works hard to max out his frame.
Strong football character. Tough individual - has never missed a game at any level. Experience on special teams as a return man - became full-time punt returner in 2013 (6.0 average). Very productive and 2013 Biletnikoff Award winner as nation's top receiver - set Oregon State and Pac-12 records for catches (128) and receiving yards (1,730), also setting new school record for touchdown catches (24).
WEAKNESSES: Lacks ideal size with below average height and length for the position. Limited strength, muscle and overall growth potential. Struggles with physical defenders and doesn't have ideal body strength - will be overwhelmed in man coverage. Looks to avoid contact and would much rather escape out of bounds or go around defenses. Needs to secure the ball through the process to eliminate drops and fumbles. Smallish target for quarterbacks.
COMPARES TO: Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams - Cooks is a slightly bigger, not as fast version of Austin due to explosive feet, open-field moves and natural athleticism that makes him a home-run threat whenever he touches the ball.
A 2nd round consideration could be Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson. At 6'0, 175 lbs and blessed with 4.4 40 speed, Richarson is a very good route runner with explosive speed that does a very good job of catching the ball in his hands. Here is a write up on Richardson from NFL.com.
Jab steps and accelerates into routes. Fluid and field fast. Chews up ground with long strides. Stretches the field vertically and can run under deep throws. Can drive off corners, break off and work back to the quarterback. Can extend to pluck off his frame. Shows he's capable of making the spectacular grab. Productive despite a poor supporting cast. Team captain.
Is very lean. Needs to bulk up and get stronger. Has been injured and durability could be an issue. Vulnerable to the jam. Does not separate consistently -- needs to become a more refined, deceptive route runner. Average burst out of breaks. Lets some throws into his body and drops throws he shouldn’t. Gets out-muscled at the catch point for 50-50 balls. Limited run strength. Underpowered blocker.
Very lean, narrow-framed, finesse "X" receiver who made an immediate impact at Colorado before knee injuries derailed his progress. Measurables will go a long way in determining his ultimate draft value, and his success at the next level is dependent upon his ability to make plays in the vertical passing game. Has a boom-or-bust element. Size and durability are question marks.
These are a few of the many prospects that Miami could be looking at. Next week, join me as I switch to the other side of the ball and look at the playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.