The Dolphins will be bringing dozens of players to their practice facility this week. They'll have their top non-local players visit and then they'll get with their local players who are either from South Florida, from a Florida college, or are now living locally.
USC linebacker Rey Maualuga is among the players meeting and greeting Team Miami today, according to his representation at Premier Sports & Entertainment. San Diego State linebacker Russell Allen is also scheduled to be among the players visiting today, according to his agent Steve Caric.
Maualuga is a beast of an inside linebacker and he is an early first-round pick waiting to happen. It's likely he would be gone by the time the Dolphins select at No. 25 in the first round as San Diego, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City, Detroit and New England, among others, have had collective eyeballs on him.
Russell, 6-3 and 230 pounds, is more of a darkhorse guy because his college team didn't get much national play. But that hasn't stopped San Diego and Chicago from conducting meetings with him already. Meetings with Oakland and Jacksonville are scheduled for next week.
Anyway, out of sheer happenstance that Maualuga is available when Miami picks -- keep in mind that could include a potential trade-up scenario -- it's good to know a little something about this guy.
First of all he is 6-2 and 250 pounds. He ran a 4.6 at his Pro Day after having hamstring issues at the Indy Combine. Maualuga is unquestionably one of the leaders of the USC defense, if not the leader. That says a lot considering the team also has Clay Matthews and Brian Cushing on its linebacker corps.
Unlike Cushing, Maualuga was on the field all three downs. Cushing is a fine player but he typically came off the field on passing downs, which makes me think he's not necessarily a first-round guy because he has not proven he's a three-down linebacker.
But I digress.
"I want to become the player that the offense gameplans around, that the offense fears coming into the game," Maualuga says in his USC bio.
Maualuga had run-in with the law in 2005 but I suppose he's matured since then as he hasn't had any known trouble lately. I'm sure that will come up during his meeting with the Dolphins if it hasn't already in previous discussions with the team.
Several things work in Maualuga's favor as a potential pick if he's on the board at No. 25 (a big assumption). He plays a position that allows players to compete and start immediately. The inside linebacker spot is one where players traditionally make a very quick transition from college to pros -- think Zach Thomas, Jerrod Mayo, Channing Crowder (although he played outside initially, then inside). If a player is talented, he can get on the field immediately.
The Dolphins love that as opposed to picking a receiver who might need to grow into starting because he's got to learn zone principles and get in synch with the QB and other things. The return at ILB is usually faster assuming the player can, well, play.
Allen has played 48 games since arriving at SDSU in 2005 and the Dolphins love that kind of experience. Remember Bill Parcells often advises players to stay in school through their senior seasons because he thinks that makes them better and more likely to succeed in the NFL.
Anyway, Allen has played in both the 3-4 and 4-3 system and has played all the LB positions. He is versatility defined. He's also pretty athletic, having run a 4.58 40-yard dash time at his Pro Day. Allen seems to have the Parcells "makeup." He was a team captain so his leadership is solid, he led the team in tackles in 2007 and 2008 so his production is apparent.
He's a guy to keep your eyes on.
And while you're at it, keep your eyes on the following Maualuga video: