The Dolphins are on the road.
General Manager Jeff Ireland, head coach Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll are among a contingent of Dolphins representatives who traveled from Auburn's campus Sunday -- where they met and worked out quarterback Cam Newton -- to Alabama's campus Monday -- where they worked out and met with running back Mark Ingram -- to Arkansas Tuesday -- where they worked out and met with quarterback Ryan Mallet and, according to NFL.com, tight end D.J. Williams.
The Miami contingent, or significant parts of it, will be on campus at Virginia Tech today to check out the talent there. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and tight end Andre Smith are of interest to the Dolphins. As happened at Fayetteville, Ark. on Tuesday, the quarterback will be scheduled to throw to the tight end.
Both Williams and Smith are considered outstanding blockers. Neither will ever be mistaken for Tony Gonzalez. These are H-back types. Sparano said he wants a run-first offense. These guys would certainly add to that.
And the conclusion you should draw from all of this is that the Dolphins are merely doing their due diligence. They are turning over every rook. (Yes, that was supposed to be a pun.)
There's been much speculation that the Dolphins will pick Ingram with the No. 15 overall selection. I will say for the hundreth time since I was told as much by a source: Miami wants to trade down in the coming draft. The Fins believe the value of a pick later in the draft with the addition of a late secod-round pick would be higher (depending on who is actually available at No. 15 on draft day) compared to simply picking at their scheduled spot.
Having said that, the team is considering highly talented players that come with some major flags.
Ingram? Doesn't have prototype size and his speed is a source of interest, depending on whom you're talking to. He isn't necessarily explosive, although the Dolphins aren't overly concerned about that aspect because he's quite dependable. Don't forget these are the negatives. There a ton of positives that make him perhaps the No. 1 back in the draft, according to one scout I trust.
Mallet? Great arm. Good accuracy. He has most of the tangible skills that should make him a fine QB. So why isn't he a certain Top 10 pick? Why isn't he even a certified first round pick?
The problem with him, I'm told, is not whispers of narcotics use or even a drunken disorderly arrest last year. The question with Mallet, one very good NFL source tells me, is the kid is said to have absolutely zero leadership skills. None.
That might not be a big deal if Mallet were, say, a guard or tight end. But a quarterback? Leadership is arguably 50 percent of the job.
Understand this: The Dolphins have a quarterback today, on the roster, who can make practically every throw. He works exceedingly hard. He is smart enough to know what to do. But everyone wonders if he has it. Everyone wonders why he seems so robotic. Everyone wants to see life and leadership from him.
So why is it that the Dolphins would pay a premium draft pick for a kid whose leadership skills are being questioned at this early stage in his career?
To double down on similar problems?
This is where the meetings the Fins are having with Mallet must bring them a comfort level that they can mold Mallet or bring something out of him he apparently hasn't shown in abundance already. It's a hard sell. Yes, someone will believe they can bring it out of him. But at the expense of a first-round pick?
Taylor? He's a leader. He's athletic. He's a worker. But he's not gifted with the kind of accuracy, arm, and size that other QBs in the draft apparently have. He's not a first-round pick. He's probably not a second-round pick.
And after Miami's painful and failed experience with Pat White, the Dolphins are certain not to repeat the mistake again in that they're not going to project undersized, run-first QBs higher than they did in the past.
Oh, did I forget to mention Cam Newton? Yeah, I guess I did. That's because I don't seem him being available when the Dolphins pick at No. 15.