This is Day Two of player Scouting Reports from the Senior Bowl.
Chris Cordero of Miami drove 11 hours from South Florida to Mobile, Alabama to see the North and South teams practice and be able to report back to you his take on the talent. Cordero, 27, is an aspiring professional scout who trained under talented personnel men.Any NFL team interested in seeing Cordero's complete work can e-mail me and I will discretely put you in contact with him.
This is Cordero's abbreviated look at the nose tackle and free safety positions -- two more positions of need for the Dolphins.
After the signing of Gibril Wilson and the resigning of Yeremiah Bell - the Dolphins must have believed they were set at the position for the near future. I must politely disagree. While Bell is a Pro Bowl player and should still have 1 or 2 good years left, Wilson struggled - particularly in coverage - which is a free safety's biggest responsibility in most defenses. While Chris Clemons might yet turn out to be the answer and Tyrone Culver probably deserves more of an opportunity, this position could use an upgrade as Wilson should not be expected back especially in an uncapped year. The top players at this position are underclassmen (Eric Berry, Earl Thomas - who I think is going to be great, Morgan Burnett, Chad Jones, Major Wright). Most of the Safety prospects in the Senior Bowl look to be more of the In-The-Box, Strong Safety variety - but there where a few guys who stood out to me.
1. Nate Allen - 6-1, 205lbs - South Florida
Career numbers: 216 tackles, 1 sack, 2 fumbles forced, 10 interceptions, 1 touchdown
-Ideal build for a free safety with more than adequate speed for the deep secondary.
-Fluid in his movement; accelerates out of his breaks; plants and drives out of his backpedal cleanly.
-Is able to read routes and the QB; making him an ideal centerfielder in the secondary.
-Is not a big hitter; but will support the run and is a solid, wrap-up tackler.
-Leader in the secondary, gets everyone lined up and makes the coverage calls
-Could struggle when asked to man-up a receiver; but his skill set will allow him to get by from time-to-time; although very fast receivers (i.e. a DeSean Jackson) would eat him up.
-Might have reached his physical limits (weight, height, speed) and does not have the upside of some of the underclassmen.
A player that I really like and would be a good fit in the 2nd Round for the Dolphins. Sometimes when a player doesn't stand out with big plays or big hits, he tends to get looked over - and that could happen with this guy. He could be a solid free safety for a very long time in this league thanks to his smarts and abilities.
2. Myron Rolle - 6-1, 217lbs - Florida State / Oxford University in England
Career numbers at FSU: 207 tackles, 1 fumble forced, 1 interception
-A genius outside of football; he has a great mind for the game as well - rarely out of position and is always asking the coaches questions; won't make the same mistake twice.
-Stays low, with good technique, in his backpedal and drives to the ball when it is in the air.
-Good size for the position; not afraid to hit, and is a secure tackler (not always looking for the big hit - but he can bring it).
-When in coverage - did a nice job of using his body to keep the receiver near the sideline a few times.
-Has good range despite a lack of speed due to his route reading ability.
-Lacks top end speed which could force him to be more of a Strong Safety.
-Didn't show up in the practices - but a year away from the game could hurt him.
-Had some trouble flipping his hips and turning and running with the WR.
-Doesn't have great hands to make INTs.
Here is Rolle in a nutshell - on one play, he got beat on a double move (I think by Shay Hodge from Mississippi - who was one of the better receivers here) a couple of plays later - Jeremy Williams of Tulane tried the same move and Rolle recognized and broke on the ball; disallowing the completion. I can't say for certain that he can be a free safety in the NFL due to his weaknesses, but failure is not an option for this guy and I wouldn't bet against him. If he runs well at the Combine he'll be a solid 2nd Round pick and would be a steal in the 3rd. You can't teach a lot of the things that he has.
3. Taylor Mays - 6-3, 231lbs - Southern Cal
Career numbers: 268 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 5 interceptions
-Physically - he has no faults; speed, size, leaping ability, he has all those tools.
-Aggressive hitter - brings the wood and will clean some clocks if you dare go in his zone.
-Has decent hands when actually going for the ball and plucks it at it's highest point.
-Will be a beast in run support - as he was at USC and is very good between the numbers on the field.
-Can jam the receiver with good hand usage and upper body strength at the line of scrimmage.
-Seems to want to learn and reports say he studies the lots of film.
-Coverage skills are extremely lacking - stiff in the hips; trouble backpedaling; doesn't plant and drive to the ball; gets too high out of his backpedal; slow in reverse - got beat constantly with double moves.
-Has little range - if the play isn't going on around him - will be late to react.
-Gave up a lot of underneath receptions during practice that occurred right in front of him.
I almost put Terrell Skinner out of Maryland in this spot. Mays will be a 1st Round Pick (Al Davis in Oakland loves this type of guy and maybe his college coach Pete Carroll in Seattle will take him) and if he gets past those two teams; some team in the 20's will take him because his potential is just too great. As an athletic specimen - he has no peers. I don't see him making it as a FS and could see him ending up like Thomas Davis of Carolina - a college safety out of Georgia who was a physical specimen but ended up at OLB. Doesn't fit the Dolphins unless they are looking to groom Yeremiah's replacement.
HONORABLE MENTION: The above mentioned Terrell Skinner out of Maryland was the only other FS of note. He is a converted receiver still learning the position - but has great size and is a big hitter. He needs work on his technique - but could be a good value in the late rounds. Kurt Coleman of Ohio State and Kyle McCarthy of Notre Dame were thoroughly unimpressive; Harry Coleman of LSU - who played OLB this year in college - looked like a good in-the-box strong safety. Larry Asante of Nebraska also looked very good and got better as the week went on - but again is more of a Strong Safety, but has good range for the position. Another player I would like to mention is Chris Cook, a big Cornerback out of Virginia, he reminds me some of the Dolphins own Sean Smith and would seem to have the tools to play the free safety spot.
After Jason Ferguson went down - so did the Dolphins run defense. Paul Soliai had his moments - but would be better off in a rotation; although he is so big and young enough that he can improve. This is a vital position for the 3-4 defense; and such a tough one to get a read on as not too many colleges run a 3-4. A nose tackle in most 3-4 defenses is usually responsible for occupying blockers and allowing the LBs to make the plays; although there are exceptions (Jay Ratliff, a Parcells pick, out of Dallas made an extraordinary number of plays for a NT last year). You generally don't see them go too high in the draft as they have to learn the position and are drafted later in the draft and developed - like Jason Ferguson and Ratliff. Here are some names not at this game to remember - Brian Price from UCLA (Underclassman - likely 1st Rounder); Torrell Troup from UCF; Vince Oghobaase from Duke; Linval Joseph from East Carolina (Underclassman); Al Woods from LSU; Jay Ross from East Carolina; Martin Tevaseu from UNLV, and Kade Weston from Georgia (there are a few more names - but I don't want to concentrate on players not at the game). These are only the players I feel can play NT - so stud DT Jared Odrick from Penn State won't be ranked (although he would be a GREAT 3-4 DE - but that position seems set with Phillip Merling, Randy Starks, and Kendall Langford).
1. Dan Williams - 6-2, 329lbs - Tennessee
Career numbers: 153 tackles, 6 sacks
-Very strong, stout, huge lower body - looks fire hydrant-ish (for lack of better terminology - is that even a word?).
-Fires off the ball, low and hard and gets underneath the Offensive Lineman's pads to push back.
-Is able to draw and hold a double team - allowing his teammates to make the play (telling sign of a good NT).
-Has long arms allowing him to keep linemen off his frame.
-Is a good tackler to boot.
-Only pass-rush move is a bullrush; which worked in college-but won't work consistently in the pros.
-Could use his hands better - some of the interior linemen, like John Jerry, were able to jam him up.
A 1st Rounder - but not the 12th pick. If the Dolphins decide the player that they want is not available at #12, they could trade back to the late teens or early 20s and take this guy. Watching him up close most of his weight is in his lower body - with extremely thick legs which means a strong base. I didn't see him on the ground much and that is a testament to that base. I DID see him bury Southern Cal Interior Lineman Jeff Byers once and his strength is evident. Has few visible weaknesses.
2. Cam Thomas - 6-4, 331lbs - North Carolina
Career Numbers: 83 tackles, 3 sacks
-Massive - but carries it well - doesn't look fat (unlike SOMEONE that I will mention next) and carries his weight exceptionally well - could possibly put even more weight/strength on and still look this way.
-Vocal leader - rallied the DLineman and was always hooting and hollering (I'm in Alabama so I can say that); watching him and Sean Weatherspoon of Missouri (who I have as a possible top ILB for the Fins) jabbering was one of the joys of the week.
-Very strong - pushes blockers into the backfield.
-Has good hand usage and is active and aggressive with them.
-Draws double teams and reestablishes the line of scrimmage with his strength.
-Looked athletic in drills for a man of his size.
-Lack of pass rush moves (a common theme amongst this position).
-Needs work on his pad level as it is inconsistent - this could be due to his getting too upright after the snap due to his height.
If he is available in the 4th Round (or if the Dolphins can pick a 5th Rounder somehow and he is there) - they should jump on this guy without hesitation. I feel after this week he could have possibly moved into the 3rd Round range though. Didn't have many weaknesses that I saw and his attitude and loud mouth are a plus in my book (someone has to replace Joey Porter right?). Could be in the league 10 years as a run-stopping NT much like Jason Ferguson.
3. Terrence "Mount" Cody - 6-4, 370lbs - Alabama
Career numbers: 51 tackles, 1 forced fumble
-As his nickname attest - a huge human being - I got a chance to stand next to him and it was impressive how big he is.
-Natural strength; is immovable when he wants to be.
-Demands a double team - as he will throw a single blocker off him like a fly for the most part (John Jerry was among the only OLinemen that stood his ground versus this guy).
-Plays are very rarely run at him so that would make it seem like he doesn't make many plays - but his presence allows his teammates to make plays.
-Imposes his will, stands his ground, and will push blockers into the backfield.
-I'm sure everyone saw the picture on Mando's previous blog......
-Stamina is an issue.
-Inconsistent effort - maturity could be an issue as I saw him goofing off a lot during drills.
-Needs to stay low coming off the snap.
-Lacks pass rush moves; although he had a nice swim move that I saw him make.
-Was shut down by the aforementioned Jeff Byers at one point.
-Was on the ground more often than I expected; which causes concern about his lower-body strength.
If you are going to draft this guy it is knowing that he will strictly play 2 downs (or on short yardage situations) and that you have to monitor his weight and get him on a strict training regimen and diet. I don't see him as a 1st Rounder - but if the Dolphins are as impressed by him as they seemed to be (DLine Coach Kacy Rodgers was always with him and Sparano made it a point to check him out more than a couple times every practice) then maybe trading back from our 2nd round pick to a later one and picking up some extra picks would be a good spot for him. I think he could be the ideal NT - but at the same time he could be out of the league in 3 years.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jeff Owens from Georgia spent a lot of time with Dan Williams and Terrence Cody with Coach Kacy Rodgers working on technique to break the double team. He is very short and looks like a mini version of Cody - so his conditioning would need work; but he is quite strong. None of the other DTs looked to be able to play the Nose; but again a lot of these players are developed. The most impressive Defensive Tackles were Jared Odrick of Penn State - who as mentioned would be a stud 3-4 DE and should be a 1st Rounder; Geno Atkins from Georgia - who at one point got some work with Mike Nolan and some of the DEs on OLB work - he is very quick and has good pass rush moves. None of the other DTs really stood out.
Tomorrow: Look for ILB and OLB reports following the game. There are some very good 3-4 OLB prospects in the game - so keep an eye out for that.