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2 posts from February 28, 2013

February 28, 2013

UF's Josh Evans has ties inside the Dolphins

I made the point in the last post that the Dolphins should know the kids coming out of the University of Miami and Florida International University better than any other team because of the proximity of those two schools. Well, throw in the University of Florida and Florida State, too.

Years ago, the Patriots had a great in at Florida because New England coach Bill Belichick and Gators coach Urban Meyer (now at Ohio St.) are great friends.

But the Dolphins are not without ties to the UF program and players. One player in particular to watch is safety Josh Evans.

He wrote an eloquent combine diary for onlygators.com and I suggest you check out the entire piece.

Basically, Evans met with the entire Dolphins coaching staff at the combine. (He also met with Washington, San Francisco, Tampa and Dallas among others.)

What stood out about Miami's meet is that Evans has a great connection with Dolphins assistant DB coach Blue Adams. Adams recruited Evans out of high school for Purdue.

"It was funny to meet up again because we had a great relationship when I was in high school," Evans tells onlygators.com. "When I was coming up, he showed me a lot of love, and now to see him on the professional level there is a sort of comfort to know this guy actually knows who I am. He knows my character, knows I’m not a problem child and knows I’m someone who is striving to be successful in life."

That's excellent news as one hopes Adams will expand on his relationship when discussing him within the Dolphins facility.

Evans was something of a disappointment in the 40 at the combine, running 4.58. But he has a reason: He tweaked a hamstring prior to the run. He'll get another chance at the Florida Pro Day.

If you are wondering why all the coverage of safeties lately, you should understand that is an area of need for Miami. Chris Clemons is an unrestricted free agent. If he doesn't that is a hole for Miami. But even if he does, which I expect, the Dolphins have no real depth at the position.

They had to sign Tyrone Culver late last season to be the backup when they really had no plans of bringing him back when training camp closed and he was cut.

The need doesn't rise to the first-round status, but it will be a discussion later on. Evans might be a fit. And by the way, Evans is training in Boca. That's really close to the Dolphins' training facility.

Dolphins must know Cyprien better than anyone

One of the defensive back draft prospects that caught the eye of many so-called gurus and experts the past month following the Senior Bowl and Indianapolis Combine is Florida International University's Jonathan Cyprien.

Here's hoping he has the attention of the Dolphins.

No, I'm not saying the Dolphins should draft Cyprien. I've never seen him play in person and have questions about him being even a third-round pick. I'm thinking fourth or fifth based on what I know.

But I hope the Dolphins do their homework on this guy because, well, it is embarrassing or should be when guys who played two, three, four years a few miles from where the Dolphins conduct business go to other NFL teams and succeed.

It suggests the Dolphins are asleep about guys that are right under their noses.

Doesn't happen, you say?

Let me share a couple of names:

Jimmy Graham.

T.Y. Hilton.

Sam Shields.

These guys played either at FIU or the University of Miami. And all were either mid-round picks or, in the case of Shields, not drafted at all.

Yet in each case, other teams valued the players more than the Dolphins. It suggests other teams knew more about the local players and had a greater conviction about them than the Dolphins.

Even when the Dolphins had those players playing a automobile ride away. Even when the Dolphins had the added advantage of being able to bring those players to their camp for "local" visits while other team would have had to bring them in as part of their more valuable "top 30" visits.

That's bothersome.

And as Cyprien is one of the few locals  coming out of either FIU or UM this year, I sincerely hope the Dolphins really, truly grind on his tape and workout and interviews and history.

Again, I've not seen Cyprien play in person. But FIU beat reporter David J. Neal has the past two years. This is his breakdown on the player:

"Good size with a  powerful neck and upper body makes him a boon in run support and why he can play strong safety as well as free. His speed to the ball is deceptively good,  whether playing the run or the pass. He loves contact, which you want even in today’s NFL, but he sometimes seeks it out too readily. Play-action and a little  shiftiness in a receiver or set victimizes him. But especially in the short zones, he’ll anticipate the play and get there with a shot at the  interception.

"He’s a natural  leader and a salt of the earth kind of guy you don’t have to worry about hearing  from at 3 a.m. unless he’s pulling a teammate out of trouble. That Cyprien’s direction and leadership often seemed to fall on clogged ears last season is one  reason FIU’s defense had an Open End Zone policy during the first eight  games."

All this suggests Cyprien should be a keeper in the NFL. For the Dolphins, who might need safety help, the marching orders should be to know more about him than any other NFL team.

Because he played just down the road.